Ascent of Haldensteiner Calanda on 2012-09-09

Climber: Lee Newton

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Sunday, September 9, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Haldensteiner Calanda
    Elevation:2805 m / 9203 ft

Ascent Trip Report

Haldensteiner Calanda towers 2300m over the town of Chur in Eastern Switzerland, rising to that height in only about 5.5km as the crow flies. For those who wish to avoid a 2000m+ ascent there is only one possible starting point, at Vazer Alp to the East. To get there is a little complicated; first find the small village of Untervaz, accessed from junction 15 (Zizers) of the main motorway between Zürich and Chur. Drive over the river and level crossing and enter the village. Turn left at the small square immediately preceeding a restaurant with outside tables. Drive to the top of this road and turn left up a narrow, part tarmac, part dirt road (fine for normal vehicles although severely lacking in parking places. As you turn left at the top of the village, there is a signpost, and at the bottom, instructions (in German) about how to get and pay for permit to drive the road up to Vazer Alp. You can actually do this (and pay) using a mobile phone by calling +41 900 242 000. You will hear a message in German, press the # key to confirm payment (you will get the choice of switching to French or Italian at this point) and enter the location code for Vazer Alp (160) and the numbers (only) from your car registration plate. You can also call +41 800 24 800 to do the same thing but pay by credit card. The permit lasts one week and costs 20 Swiss Francs. The local council produces a flyer with these details (see

I also heard it was possible to get a permit in the restaurant in the village at weekends or from the council office (look up Gemeinde Untervaz) during weekdays. Although there are actually no physical barriers to stop you driving up without a permit, the Swiss are very good at checking and fining you for all sorts of minor traffic violations, and the money goes to the local council to pay for the upkeep of the road so I paid without complaint.

Just over a km past the signpost, you will cross a cattle grid and see the sign showing where the public road ends and the pay to use road starts. Just there is a fork, take the right hand road, fork again right higher up and generally follow the signs for Vazer Alp (left at the final junction) until the road runs out. The road is part tarmac, part dirt but never too difficult. Take care in the early summer, in some years it can remain closed by snow into June. You are now at 1751m, more than 1000m above the end of the public road. There are two paths from there to the Calanda Hut, A higher one over Wolfegg and a lower one via Neusass which is partly on forest roads. I took the higher path steeply up at first and then gently undulating to the very nice hut (open only at weekends in summer). From there the path rises steeply but easily up a broad rib via a series of zigzags to a large cairn and a spectacular view to the deep valleys on both sides of the summit ridge. The last 0.5km to the summit has some light scrambling if you keep to the crest, but a traverse path mainly on the left hand side (paint marks) avoids any difficulties. It warm, slightly hazy but with fine views. A large male Ibex with huge horns enlived proceedings, as did an eagle floating by on a thermal. I took the same way back down and drove back home in time for dinner with the family.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:1112 m / 3654 ft
    Extra Gain:29 m / 98 ft
    Distance:11 km / 6.8 mi
    Route:via Wolfegg
    Trailhead:Vazer Alp  1751 m / 5745 ft
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Scramble
    Weather:Hot, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:3 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:1 Hours 40 Minutes

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