Val Maira • February 10-14, 2014

inspired by some very tantalizing information shared with us by a French guide friend, we put together a new trip this year to the Valle Maira, in the Maritime Alps of Italy. Joining us were some folks who have logged quite a few miles with us on skis over the years: Marc Gallie, Elizabeth Moceri, Chris Robinson, Russ Lee and Kade Spears. The area is known for great food, rugged terrain, and excellent village-based day tours. In all of these respects, it did not disappoint!

The cast of characters, and some of their past trips with us and each other:


Other Trips with Marc Gallie

Queyras, February 2011
Alps climbing, July 2009
Dolomite skiing, March 2009
Ortler skiing, April 2008
Stubai skiing, March 2008
Silvretta skiing, March 2007
Peru Expedition, June 2006
Ötztal skiing, April 2005
Ortler skiing, April 2004
Chamonix to Zermatt skiing, April 2002

Other Trips with Russ Lee

Wildstrubel and more, March 2012
Queyras, February 2012
Ortler, April 2010
Berner Oberland, May 2008
Silvretta, March 2009

Other Trips with Chris Robinson

Albula skiing, March 2013
Queyras, February 2011
Summer Haute Route, July 2010
Alps climbing, July 2010
Dolomite skiing, March 2009
Ortler skiing, April 2008
Stubai skiing, March 2008
Silvretta skiing, March 2007
Ötztal skiing, April 2005
Ortler skiing, April 2004

Other Trips with Mo Moceri

Albula skiing, March 2013
Queyras, February 2011
Summer Haute Route, July 2010
Alps climbing, July 2009
Dolomite skiing, March 2009
Ortler skiing, April 2008
Stubai skiing, March 2008
Alps climbing, August 2007
Silvretta skiing, March 2007
Alps climbing, July 2005
Ötztal skiing, April 2005
Ortler skiing, April 2004
Mount Kenya, September 2002
Berner skiing, May 2002
Cho Oyu Expedition, October 2001

Other trips with Kade Spears

Alps, August 2013
Alps, September 2012
Western Berner, Feb - March 2012
Queyras skiing, February 2012
Queyras skiing, February 2011
Alps with Claire, August 2010
Ortler skiing, April 2010
Silvretta, March 2009
Cogne ice climbing, February 2009
Return to all recent trips


We arrived along with a substantial snow storm, making for tricky driving to get up to Marmorra, and our Pensione and base for the week. Snow tires and chains were both called for on the initial approach! On our first day of skiing, the forecast was for the storm to continue all day. Rather than brave the windy and treacherous roads deep in new snow, we opted for one of several good objectives just behind the village. As we headed off up the road, a local innkeeper sweeping her sidewalk gave a cheerful wave and wished us a good tour.


The first kilometer or two on the road, silent and lonely.


Passing through the last village before we leave the road behind.


In the middle of nowhere, this little gem, hidden away from public view on a back wall of an old farmhouse that seems all but abandoned, took us by surprise.


Up through meadows we gradually gained the forest.


As the trees grew thicker, so did the snowfall. I apologize that we have no photos of the descent, which was really, really fun. Deep light powder in the trees, sometimes thick and challenging but always exhilerating. A blast from top to bottom!


But the gastronomic reputation also proved well deserved. Every night we blazed a happy trail though seven courses of top notch food, beautifully prepared.


And the wine was pretty good too!


The next day we headed to a neighboring side valley to ski north facing woods to the top of Monte Estelletta. The weather was perfect, cold and calm.


Pausing in the sunny open woods.


Kade NOT thinking about work!


Neither is Russ.


I'm pretty sure this is a bit more snow than they usually get in these parts! Amazing coverage.


And fabulous scenery too. Looking toward the peaks forming the border with France.


Pausing to take it in before heading down.


Kade yucking it up in the parking lot! Just testing to make sure this thing works...


Back at our Pensione, we enjoy the sunshine, the cold brews, and the beauty of this building. Lovingly renovated, it retains its authentic architectural uniqueness, but with all the comfort modern plumbing, heating and lighing provide. We were charmed.


Our next day's objective, Bric Boscasso, is also north facing. This view shot was taken from the top of Monte Estelletta on our day 2.


The hamlet of Prato Rotondo, where we first caught the sunshine on this cold morning.


From left to right, Chris, Russ, Marc, Elizabeth ("Mo"), and Kathy.


Up through the woods in fluffly light snow again.


Plenty of company, but plenty of blank canvas still!


It was quite windy up high, but it seemed to calm as we neared the summit ridge.


Chris nearing the top.


Just a few short meters now, to the impressive peak.


The views from the top, over into France.


Our descent through cold north facing snow did not disappoint!


A little bit of ... adventure in the creek bottom!


It really doesn't get much better than this.


Mo is liking it!


The lower we got, the better the snow.


The cars were parked at the road end at Chialvetta, which has a beautiful church and some renovation going on here as well.


And another fine meal.


Indulgences for every alcoholic preference.


Mmmm, speaks for itself.


OK maybe just a TINY bit more pasta... if you insist.


The dining ambience.


An antique enthusiast has filled this pensione with oodles of interesting little treasures, piled in all corners indoors and out. A fascinating collection.


The comfy lounge was clearly a cellar at one point.


Off again on our day 4, we got an early start but the clouds are already building as we get going.


Looking back at the village of Saretto, the clouds are already thick on the border.


We had to make a small detour to check out the black marble quarry. Eerie but beautiful place.


Soon it began to snow and quickly became a blizzard of heavy wet flakes. After about an hour of this we thought better of continuing in terrible visibility. Time to rip the skins and look for a warm place with lunch on offer.


We found it!


Actually most of the villages didn't have much going on, so we retreated to our own tried-and-true kitchens at the Pensione.


Ooooh, what's that? No, not quail legs, just asparragos.


On our last day, it was back up to Chialvetta, to tour up to some of the north facing terrain above Prato Rotondo.


The wind had been busy up high and was still at it.


Wind effected snow as we left the treeline behind.


Given the snow conditions, we made the Caserna Escalon our high point for the day.


If walls could talk.


Chris braves some challenging snow conditions.


But beautiful!


And the usual reward! Buon apetito!

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