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Trip Report - Pozza di Fassa, Italian Dolomites 13-20 March 2010

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Just returned from a great week's skking in the Dolomites. Here is my trip report with day to day blog.

Hotel
We booked a week at the Hotel San Nicolo in Pozza di Fassa with Crystal. The hotel is a very modern 3 star in an Austrian style within 20 metres of the gondola station. Our room was huge with a 4 poster bed, sofa area and small dining table. The board was on a bed and breakfast basis which had a wide choice of cereals, breads, pastries, fruit, cheese and ham in a buffet style. The hotel was a gem and the brochure price with Crystal was just £460 each including flights from Manchester to Verona and transfers.

Village

Pozza di Fassa is a small town in the Fassa valley in north east Italy. It has its own pistes in 3 areas: Pera – a total of 6 runs through a tree lined area, a black and red run in the centre of the village which is floodlit on a few nights a week and the Buffaure area which links Pozza to Alba and onto the main Sella Ronda area.

As we stayed on a Bed and Breakfast basis we ate out each night. The selection of restaurants was quite limited with Pizzerias or traditional Italian restaurants the order of the day. We ended up going to 2 of them more than once because there were so few.

Costs
Typical costs were as follows:
Large beer (0.4 litre): €4
Pizza: €6 - €8
Spaghetti Bolognese: €7.50
Area Ski Pass (6 days, low season): €198

Prices were the same on the mountain as in village

Skiing
The skiing everywhere was superb with great snow and empty pistes except for the Sella Ronda circuit routes. We don't go off piste but appeared to be frowned upon in the area and our Crystal rep reported that he had been fined €30 for going off piste the week before.

Day 1
We had a 6.00 morning flight from Manchester and landed at Verona at 9.30 local time. By the time we collected our luggage, got on our coach and transferred to resort it was 1.30 but it gave us the opportunity to hit the slopes. We stayed local and did the Buffaure slopes around Pozza for a couple of hours which really helped us get our ski legs back. Just a note on the grading of the pistes in the area. They were all graded as reds but were more like the blues when compared to the slopes we skiied in Austria earlier this year. The 5km run back to Pozza was a lovely, gentle run through the trees.

Day 2
Our main concern about our location was that there wasn't a straightforward route into the Sella Ronda. There were 2 options – take an infrequent bus to Campitello or ski over to Alba and a short shuttle bus ride to Canazei. We decided to do the latter option and made the right choice. As stated above the reds were all gentle and cruisey and a great way to warm up the muscles. The final run into Alba was classified black but as before it was overgraded and more like a red. In all it took around 40 minutes to ski to Alba.

The bus ride to Canazei took just 10 minutes and once we got to the Canazei slopes we decided to stay in the area for the day. All of the pistes were wide and gentle and it was great skiing in the sunshine. We took the gondola back down to the valley, got the bus to Alba and skiied back the way we came.

Day 3

We decided to stay local on day 3. We went to Alba and back in the morning and then took a “train” to an area called Pera on the other side of Pozza. When I say train, think of a road going vehicle made up to look like a steam engine pulling some coaches in a similar fashion to the ones they have at zoos and Butlins holiday camps.

There were only a few runs in the Pera area but with the conditions again being superb we probably had one of the best afternoon's skiing we have ever had. The long run down to the village of Vigo was superb.

Day 4
Our plan for day 4 was to “do the Sella Ronda” but this was quickly threatened. Firstly the bus to Campitello was late and nearly full when it reached our stop and so was standing room only. As we travelled through Pozza and on to Campitello the bus took on more and more passengers. I had a growing sense of claustrophobia and just kept thinking “just 10 more minutes” but the journey took more like 30 to 40 minutes.

When we arrived at Campitello the queue for the cable car extended 6 deep out of the station for around 400 yards down the road. Another hour's wait and we were finally on the mountain wishing we had just skiied over to Alba as we had done on previous days.

When we got to the top there were signs warning caution if doing the circuit as there were very high winds. We did not want to be caught on the opposite side of the Sella Massif facing a long and costly taxi ride back and so decided to stay around Campitello and then skiing on to Canazei and back to Pozza. It turned out to be a wise choice and we had a nice lunch in Campitello and a beer in the sunshine at Passo Pordoi.

Day 5
The winds had died down so we decided to do the Sella Ronda. After skiing over to Canazei we took the anti-clockwise circuit towards Arabba. The lifts and pistes throughout the day were busier than we had encountered on previous days. This was probably due to the nice weather and most visitors having it on their “to do” list.

I had read that there was a lot of poling required to get around but apart from a couple of runs we didn't need to use our poles. However, there were some instances of us having to take our skis off and cross roads or walk through villages to get to the next lift. The signage was excellent and it was easy to work out where we needed to go next. The chairlifts were, in the main, more up to date than the average lifts not on the Sella Ronda circuit.

The route itself was very easy to ski apart from a slope near Selva which was very steep and mogulled. Its piste number was 5 but there was an alternative so it may be worth trying that one if you ever do the circuit.

We set off from Pozza at 9.00 and had less than an hour for lunch. We are not slow skiers but we didn't return back to Pozza until 5.00, just making the final chairlift before it shut. If you need to travel some way before joining the circuit as we did, please bear this in mind. A positive note on our late return was we had the mountain to ourselves when we descended into Pozza.

Day 6
After the previous day's excursion (we skied more than 40km) we decided to have a lie in and stay local. We woke up to blue skies and took the Buffaure gondola at around 10.30. After all the touring we had done in the week we decided the best slopes in the region were actually the ones that were closest. The grooming of the pistes had been top notch and it made it a pleasure to cruise around the Buffaure slopes.

Day 7
We awoke to high cloud cover on our final day and decided going to Arabba via our usual route to Alba. By the time we had got to Arabba the clouds had cleared and the temperature has risen significantly; spring had definitely sprung. We decided to have a long leisurely lunch in the sunshine before returning back to our hotel.

Conclusion
If you like off piste skiing or being surrounded by english voices then the Dolomites are not for you. If, however, you like cruising immaculately prepared pistes, being surrounded by spectacular scenery and an Italian attitude that doesn't take things too seriously then the Dolomites is worth a try.

Would we do it again? Most definitely. However, because we don't like to do the same run twice we will probably try somewhere else just off the main Sella Ronda circuit like Pedraces or Ortisei because its better value for money and will be a little less crowded. If we had to stay on the circuit I would recommend Canazei over Campitello mainly due to the horrendous queues for the cable car we encountered at Campitello.[img][/img][img][/img]
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
SCollier1, Glad you had a good time - we were there last January and had a great time - we stayed at the Hotel Saas Morin - great food and a good location. Will certainly go back - our highlight was ski-ing the Hidden Valley run on a day trip near to Cortina. We found the ski-ing above Arraba also first rate and easily reachable via Canazei. The Sella Ronda was o.k. - but very busy and all in all probably overated - will not bother with it again . Great mountain restaurants on a par with Zermatt (our other stamping ground) - but much cheaper - a big bonus in these recessionary times, Toofy Grin
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Just got back from a week in Arraba. It was a bit warm but the pistes remained in surprisingly good nick. Got a late deal staying half-board in a 3-star hotel for £349, including flights and transfers.

Didn't see any queues and had no problem completing the Sella Ronda in a clockwise direction in just over 2.5 hours (travelling time). Glad we stayed in Arabba but would be tempted to stay in Selva if visiting again. The hidden valley is well worth a visit Cool
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SCollier1, nice report, though there is plenty of off-piste to be had - just not in the Alba/Pozza area. A group from the recent Birthday Bash went up Passo Pordoi and over through the gap to the north side of the circuit, and from the photos I wished I had the skills to have joined them!

The original Birthday Bash (in 2009) was based in Campitello and I would have to agree on the cable car - if you're not there for opening, it's horrendous Sad This year we stayed in Arabba and it was fabulous Very Happy Oh and if you can get a week in early February, then you'd be welcome to join us there next year as we'll be going back for our seventh birthday!
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Oh and that long red back into Pozza is one of my favourite runs in the Dolomites snowHead
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TallTone,
Quote:

there is plenty of off-piste to be had - just not in the Alba/Pozza area

Apparently it has been banned over the entire region, following the Dolomites' recognition last June as a World Heritage Site. We were advised that the laws are currently being updated to this effect. May well be heresay but there are signs all over the place stating that off-piste is not allowed.

Quote:

that long red back into Pozza is one of my favourite runs in the Dolomites

A lovely run indeed snowHead
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Great report thank you! We're off to Canazei Saturday fingers crossed the snow holds for us!! Confused
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