Our first big tour of the season, the Ortler • March 3-9, 2013

Italy's Ortler was our first hut-to-hut tour of the season. Normally we do this tour just a bit later in the year, but this year we scheduled our trip to coincide with the opening of the huts. It worked out great, less crowds and colder snow. The weather was a bit challenging, but that can happen at any time.

We were joined by a few a few old friends (well, not so old really), Kiwis Rachelle and Hamish (Haute Route in 2007) and Jay (same Haute Route, but also the Berner in 2008). And we also had the pleasure to meet a group of five pals from the Pacific Northwest.

Other Trips with Rachelle and Hamish

Haute Route, April 2007

Other Trips with Jay

Haute Route, April 2007
Berner Oberland, May 2008

Return to all recent trips


In this photo, left to right are Brian, Joe, Doug, Hamish, Rachelle, Jay, Scott and John. We're at the top of the lifts of the Solda ski area, about to jump the fence into the "wilderness".


Our first descent was, I have to admit, surprisingly good skiing. In general, the Alps had not received any new snow in quite some time, and we were fearing that this initial sunny descent would have suffered under the warmth of the previous days. But the temperatures were low enough to keep us all happy.

Hamish right off the top of the Passo del Madriccio.


After a very satisfying descent, we of course we had to stop at the Zufall hut for their justly famous strudel and cappuccino.


Skins on and up to the Marteller hut.


After lunch at the hut, a few of us toured up to near the summit of the Cima Marmotta. We were rewarded with another fine powdery descent.


Day 2 dawns cold and clear. We skin up towards Cevedale.


On the summit of Monte Cevedale.


Then after another great descent (first and only tracks on what is usually a busy slope) we tour up to the Cevedale - Pasquale Col.


A bit of crampon work required to reach the col, and a ski-in ramp onto the south facing slopes of the Val di Rossole.


Monte Pasquale on the left and Cevedale on the right. Mouse over to see our line of descent. The Branca hut, our destination for the night is just out of view below the foreground snow.


Dinner in the Branca hut.


Day 3 marked the end of a long, long spell of fine weather. Our objective for the day was Tresero, the right-most of the high peaks shown here. We reached the col on the high ridge, but did not summit due to the winds, and the icy nature of the final skin track. But we did manage to make the most of the long ride down with some of the group skiing the left line (mouse over the image) and some, after a short skin up to a col, skiing the right.


Heading up to Tresero. The light is getting a bit flat.


Back in the comfort of the Branca hut.


But it is only "Poco Alcolico". Says so right there on the bottle.


The following day we had less than ideal weather. So, rather than beating our heads against an ice wall, we skinned up towards San Mateo. Though the light was difficult, the snow was really quite good. Back to the Branca hut for the night.


On day 5, we changed our base of operation to the Pizzini hut. A short morning's skin and we arrive at the hut, in rather murky weather.


But a few hardy souls decided to earn a few more turns (or justify another beer) and we skinned up to the Col Pale Rosse. Though hard to see, we did enjoy the run back down to the hut (as well as our well-deserved rewards once arriving there).

Here, we have Joe, Brian, Scott and Rachelle trying to stay warm in the misty wind.


Day 6, however dawned beautifully clear. Sunrise on the Gran Zebru.


On this day, we opted for a loop over the south and north Zebru passes, including a nice north-facing run down into the Val Zebru. In this photo, we are not far out of the hut.


The sun, finally rising over Monte Pasquale.


And the beginning of a fantastic descent from the South Zebru Pass, into the Val Zebru.


Such a beautiful setting.


And beautiful snow as well!


Partway down the Val Zebru.


But all the fun had to end eventually. We don skins and head back up over the North Zebru Pass.


Climbing up into the bowl below the pass.


Darker clouds encroaching from the west. We arrived at the Pass just in time with complete cloud cover, and completely flat light.


But we made it back down to the hut.


Our last night's stay in the Pizzini hut.


Like the previous day, our last starts out lovely. Before heading down to Solda, we decide to skin partway up to the Cevedale - Pasquale Col for a few more powder turns.


Clouds coming in as we near our high point.


Up close and personal with the glacier. A few meters higher and we ripped our skins, and had a great descent to below the Casati hut.


A final boot up to the Casati hut. Watch out for the World War One barbed wire!


Unfortunately, the Casati hut was still closed, so no strudel stop for us. We continued up to the Cima di Solda in a white out and GPS'ed our way down the glacier back to the edge of the Solda ski area.

A great trip with great folks. Thank you all.

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