Dolomites • March 2-8, 2009

By Popular Request, we headed somewhere new this March. Given the good snowpack this winter, we decided it was a good opportunity to explore the Dolomites, with minimal risk of the icy conditions, poorly-buried rocks, and/or melted out bits we had been warned about. The snow was great, if a bit TOO plentiful at times!

Other Recent Trips

These faces should look familiar by now to devotees of the C and H Recent Trips logs. From left to right are Marc Gallie, Elizabeth Moceri, Rich Davis, Kathy, Paul Farrelle, and Chris Robinson. Mark as usual is on the other side of the lens.


Capuccino in the fog, can't be beat.


After the group, by now familiar with the Sella Ronda, guided Kathy and Mark to the top of the correct chairlift, we struck off cross-country. We were the object of interest for a group of Chamois as we trekked through the forests and over a couple of passes.


Our day ended at the Rifugio Lagazuoi, at the top of the cable car of the same name which starts at the Falzarego Pass.


Evening views down the following day's descent route into the Val Travenanzes.


And more sunset shots from near the Lagazuoi hut.


The friendly ambience at the hut, and the hardest decision of the day... the wine list, please!


The next day, the Val Travenanzes "looked" a little different (what we could see of it that is). Near the bottom of our run, the mists lifted a little. This canyon was scenic despite the low visibility.


Waiting for a bus into Cortina from the trailhead... awwww, idn't dat cute?


An all-too-brief visit to Cortina finds us looking for a warm, dry room with late lunch on the menu and a not-too-strict dress code.


After lunch, it's another cable car to our next night's lodging, the rifugio San Forcla hut below Monte Cristallo.


Oh, dear, this isn't such an enticing image. Our original plan of skiing the north side of the Cristallo Group proving un-feasible due to continual heavy snowfalls and dense fog, we bailed to the road and headed up to the Fanes hut. On the way to the road we found a bit of "tree skiing" (though that's supposed to mean skiing in snow between trees, not crawling through thickets of them).


Now this was cool. Our next hut, the Fanes, is accessible by this "taxi" ride from the nearest road at Pederu. We found this welcome sight at the end of a long day. We began by skiing down to the road, then up the Valon Scuro where we had yet another warm and friendly welcome and a delicious lunch in the Rifugio Ra Stua, a trail-side hostelry accessible only by foot at this time of year. We then climbed into a blizzard and over a pass at Fodora Vedla, in a raging storm and wind (visions of the Donner Party). From there, a steep hair-pinned road brought us to the sudden comfort of a solid, well-heated cafe at Pederu. Here, we had more capuccino while awaiting our driver to load us into this contraption and ferry us to the Fanes Hut. What service.


The Fanes "hut" proved to be a rather deluxe hotel! Many people were there for several days, some to ski and snowshoe hike, others just for a little getaway. Families with children mixed with hardy mountain-types. Very fun.


An exterior view of the Fanes hut. The buliding on the right is a bathhouse, not open while we were there but impressive none the less.


Alas, the outdoor conditions were not as welcoming as the indoor ones. Kathy decides to stick to the trees for the morning's powder run, as above things "clag in" decisively.


It's deep, it'll hafta be steep! Lordy.


Heading out the next day for our onward journey, the weather looks much improved.


The day began auspiciously enough, with blue sky and patches of sunshine too. Nevertheless, we altered our route plan again because of the amount of new snow that had fallen in the previous days, which made us feel our Plan A, to exit to La Villa via the Forcla de Medesc, could be too unstable for confidence.


This is becoming a pattern; the fine weather of the morning does not last.


A long hike through a broad, open valley took us over another col, and back down into the woods. Tricky navigation to avoid cliff-bands and dead-ends, we find the the trail through one cliffy section and head down it safely to another road, another lovely lunch spot, and on to La Villa.


Our reward—the ubiquitous capuccino!


Hmmm, kinda makes you think, doesn't it? Not quite sure what they're trying to say here, but it struck Mark's fancy.


The following day, our last, we spent skiing the pistes near La Villa, and working our leisurely way back to Selva where we had reserved rooms. A beautiful sunny day at this elevation, the winds were howling up high. But we found lots of good powder, much of it un-touched for some reason by the happy vacationers around us.


Rich checks out a line for our next virgin powder run...


And we only had to work for it a little bit.


The boys laying some conspiratorial plan no doubt.


Here's to mechanical conveyances! (Actually an important one broke down shortly after this celebratory aperitif, and we had a bit of a cluster getting home! But get home we did in the end).


So the next day, the conspiracy is hatched! To whit, we decided to take an extra half day to ski the Val di Mesdi, whose exit gully had beckoned us, siren-like, as we sipped our beers the previous evening. Once again being guided along the fabulous Sella Ronda by our seasoned friends, we got ourselves onto the Pordoi cable car to the top of Sas Pordoi.


Starting down the steep entry to the Val di Mesdi. The snow was great.


The angle eases as the couloir opens out into a broader valley.


After exploring a field of boulders deeply buried in light powder snow, we exit into trees near the piste. We were told these were the best conditions in about 20 years, and we believed them! It didn't seem to us that the snow could get much better.