So, late January was spent in the Italian Dolomites, with ten days skiing based in the town of Corvara. Corvara is about 3.5 hours drive north from Venice, into the Italian Alps. Of course, being so close to Venice means a quick visit on the way in is a must, and we were rewarded with a lovely, slightly foggy winter evening.
The Grand Canal
But, after a refreshing break following about 29 hours of travel, we jumped back onto the train the next morning to get ourselves up into the mountains. And what mountains they are.
The Dolomiti Superski pass gives you access to over 450 lifts, and they claim to groom over 1,200km of piste every night. The wider piste map seems to be about 80km x 50km, leaving us with a daily question of "where are we going to go today"? We had no difficulty at all being more than 15km from our village by 2:00pm. The challenge then is to get back in time for the last lifts or else wind up in the wrong valley needing a bus or taxi home.
At the heart of the region is the Sella Massif. The layout allows for both a clockwise and anti-clockwise tour around the Massif via a linked series of runs and lifts - the Sella Ronda. The tour encompasses four passes and four valleys taking you around in a journey that approaches 40km all up. On this day we chose the clockwise (orange) circuit, leaving Corvara via the Passo Campolongo, taking the cable car above Arabba and skiing the valley before being lifted up to the Passo Pordoi, skiing the Val di Fassa to the Passo Sella, skiing the Plan de Gralba to Val Gardena, then being lifted up to the Passo Gardena and into our home valley in the afternoon followed by the long schuss down into Colfosco and the final horizontal lift home to Corvara on the Borest lift.
The Sassongher peak above Corvara.
Looking at the Sella Massif from Passo Campolongo.
The cable car above the village of Arabba.
And looking left towards the Sella Massif.
Looking up towards the Passo Pordoi.
Looking at the Sella Massif across the Plan de Gralba.
The ski-up grappa bars were always a recurring threat in the afternoons.
The next day it was back to Arabba and beyond to ascend (and ski) the Marmolada Glacier.
This is over the back of the slopes above Arabba.
The cable car arriving at the summit.
And the view from the top. Somewhere around 11,500 feet. A few days later we bumped into some Californians who landed up here in their helicopter, having flown in from the Austrian resorts for a change of pace. "It's a seven hour drive, man ... who's got time for that?" I really want their lifestyle one day.
And then we headed off down the glacier. Down there towards the bottom was an intrepid guy skinning up the edge of the piste. Much kudos to him, of course, but I still prefer the idea of the helicopter.
On one day we hopped a bus to the Passo Falzarego, caught the cable car up to Lagazuoi to do a run that has been voted one of the top five most picturesque in the world. The hidden valley from Lagazuoi.
It was gloomy and trying hard to snow at the top, which mostly hid what I'm told is a fantastic view, but we stopped into the Rifugio Scotoni on the way down, and looked at the frozen waterfalls below the rifugio.
And were then dragged along the flat valley floor on the run out behind a horse draw carriage.
Following another successful day in the direction of Seceda, and after a minor "directional hiccup" ending on a bunny slope in the middle of Santa Cristina, here we are at the top of the Passo Gardena, with Corvara visible in the valley below.
On one day we had an "away game" in Cortina d'Ampezzo. Here's the view from the top of the Tofana Schuss in Cortina. This one gets steep ... briefly.
And the amazing view from Rifugio Averau at the top of the Cinque Torri slopes. This one we stumbled upon by accident after hastily departing Cortina to avoid the racers, the nasty snow and the grumpy rifugio staff. "Get us back to our happy valley".
Happy memories of watching the sunset from the deck at Utia Punta Trieste.
'Cause the sunsets were gorgeous.
Although the natives sometimes overdid the celebrations.
But the owls didn't care.
And skiing back into the village in the darkness was such a treat (was the camera out of focus or was it just me I wonder).
And, of course, there's always a few days recuperation to be had in Venice on the way out.
The food was fantastic, the slopes were never ending, the people were friendly and the weather was kind - although a touch more fresh snow would have been the cherry on top.
Would I go back? In a heartbeat.
Edited by sinbad7 - 2/22/11 at 4:00pm