History

About the history of the Pforzheimer Lodge and
the rock tail through the Uina gorge

On 24th August 1899, Professor Dr. Grabendörfer – chairman of our department of the alpine association -, Arch. Maler, Emil and Adolf Witzeman hiked to the Schlinig Pass Lodge. They were accompanied by the builder Wallnöfer who then constructed the new lodge.

Soon an appropriate place for the lodge was found only 2km away from the Swiss border. Then the purchase contract was provisionally closed between our department and the Schlinig municipality. The purchase price was 20 gulden.

It was on 9th October 1899 that they came to a final agreement and Arch. Maler could present the construction plan.

Then in 1900 the building process started. Dr. Heinrich Flora from Mals supported the project and already in summer 1900 the shell construction was finished. In the early summer of 1901 they could begin with the interior construction and furnishing. On 16th July 1901 the Pforzheimer Lodge opened its doors for the first time.

More than 170 people participated at the first inauguration and among the guests were not only local members of the alpine association but also many from Germany, Austria and the nearby Switzerland. After the consecration the completed work was celebrated and many speeches were given.

Even though the lodge was rather plain outside, the inside is said to have been very cosy and comfortable. On the ground floor were the kitchen and a guest room; on the first and last floor were 6 rooms with 12 beds and a dormitory. Water was taken from a nearby spring and conducted to and inside the lodge.

Adolf Witzenmann was the first and only landlord of the section. He gave his eye teeth to improve the lodge and did everything to make known the lodge among mountaineers and alpine literature.

It was in 1907 when the first high alpine skiers discovered the new lodge and soon after, Fritz Becker let write a ski guide for the newcomers. Also for geologists the area was very important.

In 1906 a new train connection between Meran and Mals was built and in 1910 the new rock trail through the Uina gorge was opened. Due to these reasons, it was inevitable that more and more mountaineers came to the lodge and the number increased from 100-150 mountaineers to 600 in 1911. From 1901-1914, 3,500 guests were counted.

Plans were made to enlarge the lodge in summer 1915. But things turned out differently. WW I broke out and on 18th September the tenant Maria Kiem, who was running the lodge since 1901, locked the doors after 14 summers. She was constantly praised by her guests and mountaineers.

Quite far from the Ortler front, close to the heavily guarded Swiss border, the Pforzheimer Lodge sank into a deep sleep from 1914-1918 until after the end of the war, when the Italian Alpini occupied the lodge.

From this point onwards the lodge was used as an occasional base at a forbidden border crossing and was in the hands of the section “Milano” of the alpine association CAI. It was given to them after the peace contract of St. Germain and its name was changed into “Rifugio Rasass”. Unfortunately, they were not interested in maintaining the lodge and so things had changed to the worse.

Though, the rock trail through the upper Uina gorge on the Swiss side was preserved and it is still a beautiful, direct and comfortable connection from the Unterengadin to the Schlinigpass in Vinschgau, South Tyrol.

Already in 1901, Adolf Witzenmann and other members of the alpine association found out that the best route for the trail would be through the eastern rock walls starting in Inner Uina.

The trail became a showpiece and was a good example for similar trails in the Alps. In January 1904 the engineer Coray had elaborated a sophisticated plan with an estimate of costs of 34,000 Swiss francs. Initially, difficulties arose but then, finally, in 1908 the vet Dr. Vital from Sent could guarantee a 50% allowance from the canton Graubünden and raise money from donations. In the end, the local alpine section only had to raise 14,000 Swiss francs.

Work began in 1908 and was finished by the company Baratelli in 1910. The construction of the whole trail cost 32,500 Swiss francs.

They had to break open more than 1,000 metres of the trail and dig 2 tunnels through the rock in order to find a way through this vertical rock wall. Hundreds of visitors came to the old lodge in the following summers, especially in 1911, a summer that was exceptionally hot and sunny.

Open

9. February - 30. April 2018
09. June - 28. October 2018

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South Tyrol Upper Venosta Valley Alpenvereinshütten AVS Venosta Valley