Mineralien Surselva, Patrick Reith
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Cavradi Gorge - Unique mountain crystals and hematite

The Cavradi Gorge (Val Curnera, located in front of the dam) runs below Chamut to Lai Curnera. From the golf course Tschamut you walk about 45 minutes to the most interesting area. The path initially increases a bit more and then less and less. You walk on the eastern side of the gorge between 5 and 100 meters above the creek, following a small path, always in the valley until you see a sign "Avoid walks in the Cavradi area". This warning is not without reason there. In the lower, central areas of the Cavradi gorge the Strahlers use explosives!

The local Strahlers have created for decades right small quarries with long heaps. If you want to cross this area, you should know where you want to go and make sure to make yourself visible!

The lower part of the gorge is therefore not suitable for collecting, it should be crossed quickly (not more than 2-3 people). The overburden of some Strahlers is indeed tempting, but it keeps the Strahler off their work and endanger themselves. There are enough free sites which are far away from the main work areas of the other Strahlers and are safe from the threat of flying stones. A look into old, partly overgrown clefts may be rewarding, and there are more than enough of them. As most jobs are below 2000 mH and partly are aligned south-west, you can usually go here in early May. On nice summer days it is sometimes so hot that you can hardly stand it for more than half a day.


Through the Cavradi gorge, there is a hematite zone about 400 meters wide, in which the coveted high-glossy iron roses are found, depending on the area, lush with red rutile. Usually, the fractures of the front Val Curnera provide bright, absolutely perfect quartz, sometimes slightly cognac-colored. However, large quartzes are rarely found, as the clefts are often relatively narrow. Anatase, Gwindel and smoky quartz can also be found in the upper or lower side valleys (Val Aulta, ...).

The Cavradi gorge also features Dravite, Bergslagit, Siderite, Calcite, Strontianite, Amethyst, Rutile, Monazite, Gold, Malachite, Pyrite and other minerals. It must be noted, however, that this wildly rutted ravine only reveals its treasures to those who either work with ropes or have the patience to work over many days in this partly loose, but very tough rock in the day. However, that is only my subjective opinion, it is certainly possible to find in more easily accessible areas.

If you want to work in the walls, make sure to clean the area above you. Especially in the spring, many sharp plates protrude out of the wall, falling down easily. In addition to rockfall there is also the danger that a sharp rock cuts through the rope! Trees, roots, rock heads and bolts are the features you can attach your rope to. Bolts should be used with caution in the cavradi gorge - if the rock sounds hollow, it is better to move to another spot or remove old rock. Nuts and friends are useless, as there are hardly any nice cracks to place your gear and the ground is often too slippery. Blasting and drilling is only allowed for residents of the community Tujetsch.


A word to the Friends of Nature Conservation: It is true that after about 200 years now, you can see clearly what the Strahlers have done with the help of explosives and machines. However, the supports of ski lifts or the Gotthard Base Tunnel are not driven into the rock with just a hammer and a chisel. Aside of that blast is being used only in the Cavradi gorge and more rarely in the Val Giuv, so exaggerated exploitation can not be said. Although I do not work with a machine or explosives myself (beyond that I am not allowed to), I deliberately mention this aspect because it is an integral part of prospecting in the Cavradi and should not be "silenced to death". After the film "Des Strahlers Glück" by Gieri Venzin, there was much discussion about the pros and cons of blasting. In addition to a few extreme opponents you could hear many interesting conversations and comments from mineral collectors and even absolute laymen, who were astonished at the hard work of the Strahlers and in no way condemned the use of explosives and drills. Whether with or without aids, the Cavradi gorge remains a very nice locality, which has a variety of interesting minerals. On sunny days there might be up to 10 Strahlers working in the Cavradi at the same time, but on cold and foggy days one can feel kind of lonely in these walls that rise up to 80 meters from the ground.