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Old 13.01.2021, 16:39
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Re: Driving from Zurich to St Moritz

It's a journey I have made most winters for the last 38 years.

Only once have I needed chains. Front-wheel drive Golf. It was snowing heavily and in Bivio at the foot of the Julier Pass police were directing 2WD cars into a large car park to mount chains.

The pass road is fairly intensively ploughed and only extreme snow actually falling where the road is snow-covered will require chains.

4WD - no chains required...
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Old 13.01.2021, 17:13
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Re: Driving from Zurich to St Moritz

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It's a journey I have made most winters for the last 38 years.

Only once have I needed chains. Front-wheel drive Golf. It was snowing heavily and in Bivio at the foot of the Julier Pass police were directing 2WD cars into a large car park to mount chains.

The pass road is fairly intensively ploughed and only extreme snow actually falling where the road is snow-covered will require chains.

4WD - no chains required...
This is a major relief to know. Thank you very much for clarifying. Makes me feel a lot more confident!
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  #23  
Old 13.01.2021, 17:28
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Re: Driving from Zurich to St Moritz

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On snowy days there may be a "Kettenpflicht" on some roads.

Symbol is this one:



But in most cases, if you have an 4x4, it's not required.
Wow. That one is a very niece example of the symbol with a very specific AWD exemption: Only uphill (Bergwärts) are AWD vehicles (Allradfahrzeuge) exempt from chains.
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Old 13.01.2021, 18:52
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Re: Driving from Zurich to St Moritz

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If you're renting a car, the car should include snow-chains in the baggage. At least Mobility cars have 'em.
My brother and I were Switzerlanded once with the snow chains fee

The people at the rental company at the ZH airport asked if we wanted the optional snow chains and we inexperienced foreigners said yes. In our minds we imagined snow covered roads and happily payed around 50 or 60 CHF for them. Couple days later we realized we were just driving in highways and secondary roads that are kept perfectly clean. Highest place we went was the Gruyères castle, hahaha.
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Old 13.01.2021, 19:00
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Re: Driving from Zurich to St Moritz

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Wow. That one is a very niece example of the symbol with a very specific AWD exemption: Only uphill (Bergwärts) are AWD vehicles (Allradfahrzeuge) exempt from chains.
So downhill also AWD have to mount chains?
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Old 13.01.2021, 19:16
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Re: Driving from Zurich to St Moritz

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So downhill also AWD have to mount chains?
If AWD cars are exempt only for uphill or either direction depends on the situation and particular signage.

Good thing is that usually within 24 h the major roads free to drive w/o chains.
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Old 13.01.2021, 19:32
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Re: Driving from Zurich to St Moritz

Do Swiss rental cars come with proper winter tyres or all-seasons?
I know agencies like to charge a winter fee even though they don't actually do anything to the car.
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  #28  
Old 13.01.2021, 19:34
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Re: Driving from Zurich to St Moritz

If you take the Vereina tunnel you would be pretty safe. I can see from my window now that the snow chain sign is not up from Klosters to the tunnel and you wouldn't even need to take this road anyway. It used to be the case that chains might have been required to get up the valley but I haven't seen this situation since the two tunnels in Grusch and Saas opened. In any event if you get caught there, the local boys all run out offering to sell you chains and/or mount them for you.
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  #29  
Old 13.01.2021, 22:51
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Re: Driving from Zurich to St Moritz

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Wrong. It is obligatory to put them on the wheels if mandated by the police or signage.
True, that is definitely the law according to Art. 29 SSV.

However, the several times I've been asked about chains at a police checkpoint they have only been checking I had them, and in most cases the snow chain sign was not in place further up the road and they were not needed.

So I guess there are cases where they are non-obligatory but only if you fancy your chance arguing with the police about it.
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Old 14.01.2021, 00:00
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Re: Driving from Zurich to St Moritz

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The easiest way to drive is Zürich to Chur --> Thusis --> St. Moritz.
If you do need chains, you'll need them for the Julierpass and maybe more of the road, depending on the snow level.

It does seem like snow is expected during the next couple of days, so you might need to put chains on... as people said - on your front wheels.

A couple of things to keep in mind:
- You need your tire size to buy the chains - they aren't a 'one size fits all' thing. Just google 'how to find your tire size' and they'll be plenty of guides.
- Putting on chains is really not difficult, but it is difficult to do on the side of a mountain road in the snow while drivers pass very close by. If you have a chance, practice once or twice before you drive off.

Just a thought... did you consider taking the train to St. Moritz? It isn't so quick, but might be much more relaxing that a mountain drive to someplace you've never been in the dark?

Enjoy your trip... the upper engadine valley is beautiful.

Another thought... St. Moritz itself is not a particularily pretty town, but the nearby towns.. moloja, celerina and many others are very cute.
Yes, best route and advice, did this many times both ways every week through winter, never a problem on the Julier Pass even with slight blizzards which are very dramatic. A rental will also have new(ish) tyres too, so enjoy and take it easy.
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  #31  
Old 14.01.2021, 00:07
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Re: Driving from Zurich to St Moritz

chains will not be necessary. end of story.
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  #32  
Old 14.01.2021, 09:57
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Re: Driving from Zurich to St Moritz

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chains will not be necessary. end of story.
A metre of snow overnight in the mountains. Cars are sliding around all over the place. If you hit weather like this, you may well be required to put snow chains on.
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  #33  
Old 14.01.2021, 10:27
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Re: Driving from Zurich to St Moritz

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chains will not be necessary. end of story.
What you wrote contradicts my personal experience.

At least twice in the last 15 years, while driving over the Julierpass, I've had to get out of the car and put on the chains.

The snowfall got harder and harder while driving. At no point were the police controlling (I have heard from others who've been checked and stopped on the Julierpass for not having chains or 4WD/AWD) or telling the drivers to put chains on, but at some point it became clear to all drivers, not just us that it was no longer safe to continue without chains. Many cars pulled over to the side and put chains on their cars. I am glad we had the chains (sad that I hadn't put them on before), because driving was starting to feel super unsafe.

I also want to add, that the road conditions worsen as the altitude increases. That means that while you're driving uphill, you won't know if it is necessary to put on the chains until you either get to the top of the pass and don't need them, or the conditions worsen to the point that you do need them.
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Old 14.01.2021, 10:33
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Re: Driving from Zurich to St Moritz

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If you take the Vereina tunnel you would be pretty safe.
This is good advice, but take into account that the Vereina will add 1 hour to your route, plus the time you need to wait for the train which runs every 30 min. up 8:50PM and then only 1 time per hour until 11:50PM
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Old 14.01.2021, 11:44
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Re: Driving from Zurich to St Moritz

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This is good advice, but take into account that the Vereina will add 1 hour to your route, plus the time you need to wait for the train which runs every 30 min. up 8:50PM and then only 1 time per hour until 11:50PM
Also bear in mind that if you haven't booked and the snow comes in, you'll be very lucky to get onto vereina without a very long wait.

I know a couple of people who ended up leaving their cars and coming home by train, collecting them the following weekend when the snow was thoroughly cleared.
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Old 14.01.2021, 12:29
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Re: Driving from Zurich to St Moritz

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chains will not be necessary. end of story.
famous last words?

I think driving on mountain roads is like recreational aviation. If you're not on a hurry and able to wait for improved conditions, it's safer. Accidents happen when people want to fly/drive no matter the weather.

PS. a bit surprised that the winch guy has not commented yet.
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Old 14.01.2021, 12:40
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Re: Driving from Zurich to St Moritz

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What you wrote contradicts my personal experience.

At least twice in the last 15 years, while driving over the Julierpass, I've had to get out of the car and put on the chains.

The snowfall got harder and harder while driving. At no point were the police controlling (I have heard from others who've been checked and stopped on the Julierpass for not having chains or 4WD/AWD) or telling the drivers to put chains on, but at some point it became clear to all drivers, not just us that it was no longer safe to continue without chains. Many cars pulled over to the side and put chains on their cars. I am glad we had the chains (sad that I hadn't put them on before), because driving was starting to feel super unsafe.

I also want to add, that the road conditions worsen as the altitude increases. That means that while you're driving uphill, you won't know if it is necessary to put on the chains until you either get to the top of the pass and don't need them, or the conditions worsen to the point that you do need them.
i've only once actually needed chains in my life and that was in rear wheel drive car. i've done countless rallies on snow so i know what i'm talking about. if you have 4wd and _good_ winter tyres you'll be fine. good meaning new and premium brand. winter tyres don't last long. once the little cuts are worn they lose a lot of their effectiveness. i buy a new set of michelin alpins every year for all my daily drivers. most people would say the tyres were not worn at all, looking at them.

further to this, driving with chains isn't actually that easy. the grip profile is quite different and can easily take people by surprise. they should be considered an absolutely last resort for those in 1 wheel drive cars (i.e. open diff) or with inappropriate tyres.
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Old 14.01.2021, 12:45
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Re: Driving from Zurich to St Moritz

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famous last words?
For destination Samnaun you would need chains. The Swiss road to Martina is closed and the Austrian road has no AWD exemption. To get from the Engadin to Landeck you must go over the Norbertshöhe.

Also the road to/from Arosa is closed. From Chur to St. Peters you need chains, no AWD exemptions.

The road from Sils to Maloja is closed. (Risk of avalanche)

However, Julier Pass and the Vereina route have still no snow chain. Let us see how the day and the weekend will end.
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Old 14.01.2021, 13:05
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Re: Driving from Zurich to St Moritz

hmm heavy enough snow today. This could be famous last words indeed. I see part of the route already requires snow chains....though it looks like 4x4 exempted....
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Old 14.01.2021, 14:26
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Re: Driving from Zurich to St Moritz

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hmm heavy enough snow today. This could be famous last words indeed. I see part of the route already requires snow chains....though it looks like 4x4 exempted....
As far as I see it so far no parts of the rout need chains. The road up to the Vereina Terminal has no restrictions. It is only the part from the terminal to Davos a.k.a Wolfgang Pass which needs chains or the scenic detour over Lenzerheide.
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