Autumn Walk 2017
Robiei (Val Bavona) - 04.10.2017
The meeting point is the station of the cable car San Carlo – Robiei in Val Bavona. The large cabin takes us up to 1900 m asl. First we visit the newly established information trail inside the dike of the artificial Lake Robiei ( ½ hour), then we walk back and forth to Lake Zött, another artificial lake at the foot of glacier Basodino (1 hour). The common luncheon is served at Hotel Restaurant Robiei.
Robiei – a Basin surrounded by mountains.
This is one of the most impressive mountain landscapes in Ticino. In contrast with the narrow Bavona valley, 1000 m below, here the eye enjoys a 360° view over a wide basin surrounded by high mountains. The highest one is the Basòdino (3272 m) with its majestic glacier covering the upper part of the mountain. Due to climate change it has been shrinking dramatically in recent years. The Ticinese glaciologist Giovanni Kappenberger said that on a hot summer day like during last July the glacier loses 10 cm of its thickness which corresponds to 1 m of new snow. At this pace all glaciers in canton Ticino might have gone by 2030 already.
The area around Robiei is a precious habitat with a big biodiversity of plants and animals. Ibex, chamois and marmot can be observed easily while walking on the wide network of hiking trails. Excursionists can rely not only on the 7-storey Hotel-Restaurant, but also on the beautiful mountain hut Basodino run by the Swiss Alpine club (CAS). Another, bigger and more modern one is located on the Cristallina pass (2568 m) and can be reached from Robiei in 2 ½ hours.
Since the Middle Ages and until the fifties of last century the large grazing grounds at and around Robiei were part of the yearly transhumance system by which cows and goats passed the summer here, eating the alpine grass and herbs and producing high quality milk from which delicious cheese was made. This alpine tradition was abandoned for economic reasons shortly after WW II. Only 50 years later, at the end of last century, the tradition was revived thanks to the Patriziato of Bignasco who is the owner of the land from S. Carlo until the rocks of the high mountains. Step by step the infrastructure was renovated in S. Carlo, Campo, Robiei, Lielp, Arzo. Now every summer around 35 cows and 180 goats come here and produce about 6000 kg of different varieties of the highly appreciated Vallemaggia cheese.
The Hydro-electric Power Plant
In this area we have 4 natural lakes: Lago Bianco, Lago Nero, Lago Sfundau and Lago Matörgn. In addition there are 3 artificial lakes: Lago Robiei, Lago Zött, Lago Cavagnoli. They are part of a large and complex system of a hydro-electric power plant, built and managed by Ofima (Officine idroelettriche della Maggia SA). Ofima was established in1949. In the 50-ies they built part I of the huge project: Lake Sambuco above Fusio, plants at Peccia, Cavergno, Lago Verbano. Part II was Robiei, constructed from 1063 – 1970. This includes also Lake Gries (2386 m) in canton Wallis, near Nufenen pass, and Lake Naret (2310 m) located between Cristallina pass and Lake Sambuco. The whole network consists of 35 points of water capture, 140 km of tunnels and water pipelines, 8 dikes and 6 power centrals. They produce annually about 1300 GWh of energy. They are the biggest producer of energy in Ticino and one of the biggest in Switzerland. The whole material for the dikes and centrals was brought on the road to San Carlo and from there by cable car to Robiei. The workers were accommodated in a 7-storey building, which was then converted into a Hotel – Restaurant. The cable car has now a double function: an Industrial one for the power plant , the restaurant, the grazing economy in Summer and a touristic one for the numerous excursionists.
Centrale Robiei (1900 m)
Centrale S. Carlo (1050 m)
Centrale Cavergno (528 m)
The main shareholders of Ofima are Axpo (30%), Canton Ticino (20%), Alpiq (12,5%), IWB (12.-5%), City of Zurich (10%), BKW (10%). The power plant, the cable car and the Hotel – Restaurant all belong to Ofima,.That's why they can offer special tickets for a good price including the return trip by the cabin and the daily menu in the restaurant. Enjoy the view and bon appétit !