Ortler ski tour • March 9 - 13, 2014

Early March brought us back to the Ortler region, to ski with four buddies from Norway. We found the terrain buried deep in a very fat snowpack this year.

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The weather had just cleared a couple of days before, and the forecast promised sunny, if windy, weather for the week.


We met at the Rifugio Forni, and after a comfortable night we began with a skin up the peak of San Giacomo.


Near the summit with, from left to right, Kathy, Morten, Baard, Odd Magne, and Henrik.


Wind effected, but cold north facing snow, Henrik has no problem skiing this!


The next day we started out for San Mateo. Pausing briefly to explore an ice cave near the toe of the glacier.


San Mateo in the morning light.


At the top!


There was some nice terrain on the descent, and snow both soft and steep.


The following day we climbed to the top of Tresero peak. The snow is not so yummy, here on the wind-swept final slopes! Baard called this "Uptal Powder" (or that's Kathy's mangling of the real name), after a Norwegian ski area apparently famous for this type of ... "snow".


On top of Tresero.


Plenty of energy for defying gravity!


And for dealing with the variable snow conditions on the descent.


Oh my!


Good thing they train on this snow in Norway!


Those old wind-scoured tracks were real filling-rattlers, but with enough speed you hardly noticed....


Back at the Branca hut, Morten enjoys the afternoon sun.


From there, our itinerary had us skinning up the valley to the Cevedale-Pasquale col. We paused to look back at the scene of our previous days' adventures...


We descended to the north off the Cevedale-Pasquale col, then donned skins once more to head up to summit Cevedale.


On the summit ridge of Cevedale.


Another high point to celebrate!


At the Pizzini hut, Morten samples the "snooss machine"; an elaborate contraption to deliver mint-flavored tabacco dust to the nostrils.


On our last day, we headed over the Col de la Pale Rosse and down the Vedretta de la Miniera glacier. Given the ample snow cover, we figured this tour promised to be more skiable than in past years we have visited. Baard gets a photo into one of the crevasses near the top of the glacier icefall.


A little early in the day for true corn, we did find smooth and steep slopes with good coverage.


Pausing mid-way down our descent, we take in the view of the Forni Peaks, on the other side of which lies our destination and our cars. Near the left hand side of this background ridge is the Cima Centrale. We ultimately skinned up the slopes and bowl to its left in this picture, to gain the top and descend from there.


Lovely corn snow on the last of our descent of the Miniera glacier.


Skinning back up from our low point toward the Forni ridge.


A short bit of steep and very firm traversing leads us into the bowl below the Cima Centrale. No tracks, it will be up to us (well, up to Mark) to beat them in.


A small cornice to surmount to gain the ridge...


And oh, so good corn all the way down, straight down, to the Rifugio Forni a little over 1000m below.


A final celebratory beer, and the boys are off to start their trip homeward. It was a great time!

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