Ski touring in the Ortler Group, Italy • March 22 - 28, 2012

This year's Ortler tour was great fun! We were joined by several friends from past trips, as well as one newcomer. For a taste of the action, view the video. As you can see, the weather was great.

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Some highlights from our Ortler tour.


Starting out from the Pizzini hut near the end of our tour, the group is all accounted for. On the far left and right are Shaun Guyton and Amy Caddell, both of whom were with us on the Haute Route in 2011; behind Amy is Kathy, and onward from right to left are Sola Didomenico and Dennis Vogler, Debbie Pierce and her husband Bill in the yellow jacket, all four of whom were also with us on a Haute Route in 2009. Finally, hiding in back is Darryl Henson, from London, on his first hut-to-hut ski tour.


Our first night on the trail was spent at this hut, the Marteller hut. Our last flavor of German speaking Sud-Tirol before heading south into the more Italian ambience.


The approach to the Marteller hut. While most of Switzerland particularly to the west and north had a big snow year this season, here in the far east and south the snowpack was quite meager. Still enough to ski on, we did worry about rocks here and there on the first day. A new snowfall a couple of days prior helped give a "fresh coat of paint" that was much needed.


Day two, we head up the Cevedale glacier on our long day to the Branca hut.


Heading up to the Cevedale-Pasquale Col, we see that north facing snow is still cold, soft and light. Something to look forward to!


Heading up to the col, with Cevedale on the left.


The col itself was quite melted out, and we had the "bonus" of some genuine alpine climbing! A brief but sharp and exposed section of mixed snow and rock climbing with skis on backpacks. Yahoo!


Calmer terrain above brings us to the col proper.


Partway down the descent to the Branca hut, we pause to enjoy the spring snow conditions and great views. San Mateo in the background.


On day three we headed up San Mateao. Cumulus build-up started early on this day, threatening showers and poor visibility. But pretty in the making.


Nearing our high point on San Mateo. Squalls did send us down before the summit, though not by much.


A good appetite for dinner!


Day four it's time for Pizzo Tresero. It being a lovely Saturday, we had oodles of company on this day. Still we managed to find some relatively untracked snow on the way down.


Enjoying the sunshine on the summit of Tresero.


With so many others out and about, we had to be a bit creative to find freshies. A bit of extra skinning got us into a steep bowl with few previous tracks, followed by some steep couloirs. A big day (around 5000 feet of skinning when all was said and done) but worth it! Mouse over to see our line of descent.


Skinning up to access the bowl in the previous photo.


A narrow drop into the bowl, what fun!


Recompense for effort, and rehydration.


On day five it was on to the Pizzini hut, where a charming young gal served us lunch on the terrasse.


An afternoon skin up to the Col de la Pale Rosso, and a fine viewpoint.


Views of, among other things, Cevedale (left) and Pasquale (right). Mouse over to see our routes of day 2 (red line) and day 6 (blue line).


Day six we skinned up Cevedale. Icy conditions where the wind had been hammering, but between patches of ice the snow was actually very good "packed powder".


On top of Cevedale, cameras are a'blazin'.


On our last day we took it easy, up and over the Suldenspitze back into Sulden. We wandered a bit and found still virginal patches of powder even after all the skiers this area has hosted over the past weeks. A great run to end a great week!