A delightful walk up a pretty valley leads to a remote and wild saddle on the Swiss-Italian border, offering a degree of solitude not available on many hikes around the Saas Fee area. (full description)
Antrona Pass, on the Swiss-Italian border, was once an important medieval trade route that fell into disuse after a massive landslide in 1642 almost wiped out the village of Antronapianna on the Italian side. Today the pass offers a pleasant refuge from the crowded viewpoints around the Saas Valley. Here there are no ski lifts, huts or cafes instead the pass retains a remote, wild feeling with extended views of the Furgg Valley in Switzerland and high peaks along the south side of the Troncone Valley in Italy.
Two trails lead to Antrona Pass. This hike, starting in Furggstalden, follows an ascending traverse along the Furggtal (Furgg Valley), a long, broad U-shaped valley clad in pretty meadows sprinkled with wildflowers. Waterfalls, fed by glacial meltwater, spill down the valley’s rugged cliffs. Near the head of the valley the path climbs steep, rocky slopes, travels along an old moraine wall and then weaves its way up and around large rock slabs to the pass.
The walk offers a degree of solitude not available on many of the trails around Saas Fee. You may see a few other parties but typically it’s a peaceful walk, giving you the sense of having the valley to yourself. It is also a good workout, gaining a little over 3,000-ft in 5.2 miles.
The alternate route starts at Heidbodme, a scenic belvedere with panoramic views of the peaks rising along the west side of the Saastal, and follows a high route along the Furgg Valley’s steep northeastern slopes. Although the trail starts 1,400-ft. higher than the valley route, it can feel almost as strenuous due to the steep ascents and elevation losses required to circumvent ridges and landslides along the route. For more information see the Antrona Pass via Heidbodme hike.
A great option is the use the two hikes to form a loop that takes the high trail out and the valley trail back, or vis-versa. Be sure to check the times the last lift down from from Heidbodme and Furggstalden. It is a long and very steep walk down to Saas Almagell if you miss the last lift down.
I strongly recommend getting an early start for this hike. Warm air rising from the Troncone Valley in Italy often causes mist/clouds to form around the pass by mid-day, obscuring the views into Italy.