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Sciare Italia

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  • Sciare Italia

    The Alps are bigger mountains than the Rockies or Sierra. Sad fact of life for Americans.

    We scheduled our food and cappuccino trip to spend a few days at La Skieda, the 25th and perhaps final year of this Italian telemark festival. However, they said this was, so far, the fourth "last year". Wow. Talk about hundreds of damn fine knee droppers. These were no flower-smelling granola crunchers; they were damn good and damn serious about their skiing.

    Livigno is a valley deep in the alps, in Italy but actually north of the crest, draining into the Black Sea (eventually via the Danube) rather than the Mediterranean. For centuries it was isolated in winter, then they built a tunnel as part of a hydro project...and then they built a ski resort. What an amazing place for a ski resort. A long, flat valley sandwiched between two huge ridges with above treeline bowls. I don't know anyplace that has a higher lift capacity....four gondolas...high speed, with some carrying 10 or 12 per car. (I'm not sure cause they were never full.) Add to that a dozen or more high speed sixes and quads, most with bubble covers,,,and you have some astounding uphill capacity...but it was maybe at 5% during our visit. Euroids generally stop skiing in late March.

    Here's a shot of the town with the bigger ski ridge on the background. Most of the skiing is in the left third of the photo, above treeline. Click image for larger version

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  • #2
    Here's an offpiste area. Back bowls anyone? Click image for larger version  Name:	DSC00200.JPG Views:	0 Size:	2.33 MB ID:	95424

    Not very crowded! And over here, at least in Italy, it's all about carving deep GS turns, leaning one's butt as close to the ground as possible. Few people chasing powder! Click image for larger version  Name:	DSC00223a.jpg Views:	0 Size:	2.47 MB ID:	95425
    However, this was before the big storm and there wasn't any powder anyway. The next day. after the storm had started, I tried a little BC and offpiste the snow was as hollow as I've ever encountered...I guess a very continental snowpack....a few inches of snow on top of a crust and, below the crust, bottomless nothing. Very disconcerting.

    Almost all the skiers here are telemark. Click image for larger version  Name:	DSC00216a.jpg Views:	0 Size:	1.90 MB ID:	95426

    Big mountains.
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    Next up...perhaps the most beautiful ski resort in the world......
    Last edited by Baaahb; 9th April 2019, 12:14 PM.


    • #3
      Nice Baaahb, It looks beautiful. Lots of people skiing tele when you enlarge the picture you posted of people on the slopes. Was the food and wine as good as the skiing?
      the fall line is your friend.... resistance is futile


      • #4
        Our budget only covers house wine but the food was excellent with a one or two exceptions. One of our best meals was at a small refugio on the ski hill. Lots of pasta, pizza and panna cotta. As well as a dish of local varieties of cooked pork, aptly called "The Piggy".

        We had just two ways of leaving Livigno, either over a set of passes or thru the tunnel and opted for the tunnel due to the storm...this being a one-lane (unidirectional) tunnel into Switzerland, where the Swiss border guards barely condescended to even speak to us. (Livigno is a duty free area, harking back to its time of relative inaccessibility...gas was 2/3 the price elsewhere and Italians flock to the town over the weekend to stock up on booze and cigarettes, leading to massive traffic jams leaving the area through the Italian (as well as Swiss) customs gates.) Immediately leaving the tunnel we had to climb a long but (I had presumed more gentle) pass back into Italy and immediately our flatland tires started spinning out. So, with the snow puking, I attempted to install the rental chains (which of course did not fit as intended) and prayed for the next 20 kilometers that they would stay on the tires (they did!)

        Next stop was Canazei, in the Dolomites, where I had hoped to do the Sella Ronda, a 42k tour around the Sella mountain complex, involving over a dozen lifts in a couple of ski areas, on the last weekend the lifts were running. (The Dolomite Superski pass allows access to over 300 lifts in over 12 areas....perhaps the inspiration/model for Ikon/Epic/Mtn Collective??). But a set of injuries too boring to describe as well as low cloud cover, avalanche danger from the wet snow, as well as high winds closing lifts rendered that a pipe dream. Something to return for!

        After a side excursion to a certain city of canals -- irrelevant to the TR -- we returned back to the Dolomites and -- I've said it before and hope I say it again -- the amazing Cortina d'Ampezzo, surely one of the most beautiful spots in the world. The Dolomites are the mountains of fairy tales -- the kind you see on the covers of Tolkien books. Thankfully the clouds lifted enough one morning to allow a few shots to begin to tell the story.

        Click image for larger version

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        • #5
          Note the lift: Click image for larger version

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          • #6
            The iconic Tre Cime de Lavaredo (the third one is there somewhere, I promise!) Click image for larger version  Name:	DSC00236 (2).JPG Views:	0 Size:	1.86 MB ID:	95438 The town of Cortina (or most of it): Click image for larger version  Name:	DSC00251 (2).JPG Views:	0 Size:	2.03 MB ID:	95439
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            (BTW, my morning (9 to 1) pass to ski Cortina was $32.)

            Last edited by Baaahb; 10th April 2019, 12:43 AM.


            • #7
              Nice work. IME, the Sella Ronda is worth it for the views and familiarizing yourself with the area(s), but the skiing isn't mindblowing, and it's often crowded. Try Saturday/change over day to avoid the masses. If you only had one day out of Canazei, I'd recommend the Val Mezdi from Passo Pordoi. You'd then get half of the Sella Ronda (your pick which direction) on the way back. The War Route is supposed to be excellent as well, but I have not done it. This trip, we did ski to Armentarola from Alta Badia, took the $4 or $6 shuttle to Passo Falzarego (grab a window seat), took the bin up and skied to the Scotoni Hütte. This had been recommended to me for years but I'd never taken the time. It was so worth it. The hut is really neat but the surprise was how beautiful the skiing was. I cannot recommend the Dolomites for the on-piste, but this trail was exceptional. Also, lots of side-country options to spice it up.
              Glad you liked Cortina. It has replaced Wengen, Davos, and St. Anton as my mother's favorite ski town. Will take the bus over for the day next trip.


              • #8
                Nice tip. It was our third time to Cortina, the second with skiing. The town was more than half shut down, but our hotel and the other restaurant we frequented were near full...perhaps shoulder season is catching on.

                We did not get great views of the mountain around Canazei but enough to see they were just as big, though the valley is narrower. I'm basically there for the views and not for anything special in the way of skiing...that requires too much timing to be expected on a Yurp trip, though as tele-skier noted, great when you also snag it. We picked up a brochure on the war route,'s interesting how much the region has interest in its war history and they're working to make the other routes as easy as Sella Ronda (i.e. no bus connections.) I guess they saw some substantial fighting in WWI especially...leading to the via ferratas.

                BTW, the devastation from their big storm last November is pretty amazing. Entire slopes blown down and road washouts from Bolzano to Belluno. They had some nasty hurricane force winds after a substantial soaking.

                We were hoping to do some skinning around Prato Piazza or Misurina, but not this time.


                • #9
                  ....I guess they saw some substantial fighting in WWI especially...leading to the via ferratas.
                  Off Topic, a bit but a good movie about the fighting in the mountains, during WW I, between the Austrian and Italian Mountain troops is "Berge in Flammen", or Mountains in Flames. B&W in German with English subtitles. All shot in the Dolomites. Lots of skiing too.
                  Last edited by chamonix; 11th April 2019, 08:24 PM.


                  • #10
                    I had a holiday in Canazei with the kids some while back. Loved it. The trick with skiing in Italy is to start first thing, then take an early lunch, the locals start late and enjoy their long lunches on the hill. Cheap coffees on the hill and the best take-away pizza in the town. We just had the local area pass, which covered a big area, with free buses. Though not the Sella Ronda. Their were a few circular routes which was fun. As you say the powder was not that touched, though the off piste route from top of Passo Pordoi was getting some action - including one tele skier and wide skis with 3 pin bindings - powder must have been good for that set up.