Friday, January 19, 2018

Skiing in the Dolomites

Possibly the last time there was such a massive avalanche risk , the internet didn't really exist. Therefore I had never seen a forecast like the one in the above picture. The northern alps were pretty much in total avalanche lock down , schools were closed. At the top of the Chamonix valley people were blocked in their houses in Montroc and Le tour for several days. Fortunately I had a long term commitment in the Dolomites which happily coincided with this chaos. Instead I headed off to the Dolomites with Francis Bridgeman. The plan was to meet up with Francis extended family. Down there it was the complete polar-opposite to the northern alps. The Dolomites had loads of cold fresh snow. At night the temperature was -15c. By contrast the temperature in Chamonix was +5c. We were staying Val Gardena in an apartment opposite the World Cup Down Hill in the village of St Christina. On our first day we decided to start by doing the famous Sella Ronda tour which seemed like a good way off sussing where the best skiing might be. This wasn't great , because the weather was very windy and the visibility wasn't great. Further still the Sella Ronda tour was packed. Nevertheless we did find some areas which had fantastic tree skiing with huge potential for the following days. Basically the conclusion I came to was that the skiing is good as long as you stay away from the Sella Ronda circus. At the beginning of the week we skied from the resort of Plan de Gralba. This is truly when we realized we had hit the off piste skiing jack pot. The first clue was when people kept on stopping us and asking us why are skis were so different? No one skis off-piste. There are just acres and acres of un tracked snow in plain sight.
Plus the general scenery makes it a worthy recipient of UNESCO world heritage status.
Later in the week we decided to explore further a field and headed over to the Cinque Torri area above Cortina. This is an area I had climbed at a lot but never skied.
As we arrived we were disappointed to see that the area had suffered a hammering by the wind. But after a bit of scouting we found some breath taking good descents.
When we returned to the car park we then saw how the Italian Tax Man works . He drives into the car park and looks around for the Lamborghini's, Maserati's etc . Traces the number plates to the owners. Then he waits by the car to ask the driver how he can afford a quarter of a million euro car when he has an annual income of around 30,000 euros? If the answers in not satisfactory the Tax Man impounds the car.

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