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TR Colfosco Feb 2018

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
My first time staying in Colfosco, although I am a regular visitor to the Sella Ronda region (esp Arabba). This was a family friends trip for some relaxed skiing and socialising, 6 of us (mainly 50-somethings) and 2 dogs for the last week of Feb leading into March. Apparently Colfosco gets its name from the word for shade - the valley being almost always in the shade due to the alignment with the Sella massif.

Travel: We flew EasyJet to Verona and then organised private transfers from there to Colfosco using I was a little apprehensive about the use of gettransfer, not really knowing who would turn up as the driver (some tales of "random russians") but had established some contact with the chosen provider before departing UK so hoped for the best. For those that don't know - it is basically a website where you enter your desired transfer details and then various providers bid for the journey, you get some idea of vehicle and some level of rating for the provider although it is not possible as far as I could tell to see any comments about them. Anyway, in the end the journeys both ways worked out well, good drivers in smart vehicles with water/sweets provided and punctual collections. There were only 4 of us travelling this way (the couple with dogs drove themselves up from elsewhere in Italy) and we had chosen to go with larger vehicles (ie vans) so we would have extra space for the journey. Although the vans are supposedly rated for 8 people (inc driver) and luggage, I would say v comfortable for 4 of us (incl 1 ski bag), would have been fine for 5 and bearable for 6 pax but not 7 (again depending to some degree on amounts of luggage). The route from Verona is basically autostrada to Bolzano and then winds gradually up the valley to Ortisei then Santa Christina, Selva and ultimately over Passo Gardena and down into Colfosco. About 3 hours all told.

Accommodation: We stayed half board at Hotel Sport di Colfosco, a 3 star hotel with annex on the "main" road through Colfosco. I had chosen it as Colfosco has some local blue skiing with straightforward access to the blues above Corvara as well, it is basically "ski in ski out" and the hotel accepts pets. Colfosco seemed to be cheaper for those accomodations which were basically slopeside. The previous year we had stayed at Mountainsun Albergo Frohsinn in San Cassiano which is also very much on the piste but they do not accept pets. We had rooms in the annex building which is about 30m from walk from door to door for the main hotel entrance, slightly less for the bar entrance. The sauna and gym are in the annex building which was convenient and we did not find the walk to main building for meals any problem. Both buildings have their own ski & boot rooms, ours was in basement level of annex with plenty of boot warmers that worked well. The boot room probably only allowed for about half a dozen folk to get their boots on at one time but we never had a problem - obviously this could vary depending on how many people from the annex are trying to get out at once. Rooms of good size (juniorsuite category) with balcony and large bathroom, plenty of storage space in room and small table/chairs for 2, comfortable beds - all told very happy with rooms.

The hotel has a restaurant and a dining room - the latter used for people on half board for breakfast and dinner. Good range of choice at breakfast, the only thing I would have liked was some fresh fruit (did not ask for any though). Dinners include a salad bar, fixed antipasto course (eg salami), pasta/soup course with a choice from 3 alternatives, main course with a choice from 3 alternatives and then dessert (or ice cream or fresh fruit salad). We all enjoyed the food (you indicate your dinner choices from the menu presented at breakfast table) and house red wine seemed to be easily quaffable. No one course is very large but nobody is hungry after the dinner is done. Staff for meals and at reception all friendly and helpful. The other guests seemed to be a fair mix of nationalities including Italian, Scandinavian, Dutch, German/Austrian. Don't think there were any other Brits staying that week. One night they did starters as a buffet in the bar downstairs, which was an excellent spread. That night also offered free prosecco with the starters.

Access to the slopes is very easy - walk across the road and then put on skis to go down 200m of flat slope to the junction point where Corvara (Borest) gondola and Colfosco (Edelweiss) gondola meet and just above the start of Sodlisia chairlift. There is a new ski school centre down there with a bistro/cafe as well so it is a convenient place to be able to rendezvous. At the end of the day the easiest way back is to take the Colfosco gondola up towards Edelweiss valley then ski down to just before the bridge over the road, turn right off the edge of the piste and there you are at the front door of the hotel. On less snowy years there may be a tiny walk.

Skiing: Some in the party basically like blues & lunch, some are open for half days on reds and a couple who are willing to ski all day including some nice blacks. As a result we tended to be skiing in smaller groups - especially on the first few days when the more timid just practised using the runs off the Sodlisia chair and from the mid station of the Plans/Frara gondola which leads up towards Passo Gardena. The downside of these is that they form part of the Sella Ronda (green) circuit and so can build up some reasonable queues (more so on the chair) at times especially mid week on a sunny day. The snow conditions this year have been good and those runs were skiing well even with a fair amount of traffic, no doubt kept in better condition by the shade. During the week the "beast from the east" visited and so night time temps were approx -20 and a couple of days had temps of approx -10 and there was no thaw/freeze cycle. However the least pleasant slope was the one down the Edelweiss valley as it looked like the previous week it had thawed and then had frozen hard, now with some artificial snow spread on top which meant by later in the day it was quite a mix of clumps of artificial and some icy patches in between which was not great for the timid. The other slopes up the Edelweiss valley (Forcelles red off the chair and Pradat black off the eponymous gondola) were much better.

As the week went by all headed off to the runs above Corvara - easily done by taking Borest gondola then the short chair and ski down to Col Alt gondola. Once up in that area and heading up to Pralongia it is easy to come back to Colfosco by a series of blues leading back to the Borest gondola. In the meantime, Colfosco provides good access to other favourite more challenging runs in the area - eg up to the Gardena pass and then down Black 1 Cir or the Dantercepies red. Or via Corvara and then up Col Alt to Piz La Ila for Gran Risa red and black options. Or via Corvara and up Boe to pass through Campolongo and Arabba for the blacks and reds on the Portavescovo sides.

For those wanting easy reds in the morning in Colfosco, I recommend the Forcelles and also the red down to the road from Jimmy's Hutte (always empty and a nice wide rolling piste). The run down the valley to the mid station of Plans/Frara gondola is fine in the morning as the little section above the mid station has not got rucked up - later in the day with Sella Ronda traffic it is less pleasant for some.

On a cloudy day a couple of us headed via La Villa to Pedraces for a visit to Santa Croce where the visibility was much better so looped there a few times before making our way back. Other memorable days were an excursion via Arabba blacks to Canazei Belvedere area, down Col de Rossi to Alba and up the Ciampac on the other side for a small ski and then long black run back down to Alba and carry on round the orange circuit taking into account some runs in Monte Pana / Monte Seura area. That sunny day we encountered the worst queue I have seen in the area, to get the gondola up to Col Rodella above Campitello from the Lupo Bianco valley. Must have been 10 mins before we even entered the gondola building. But aside from that, with some knowledge of where to go and when, we really did not have any other memorable queues.

A nice loop for intermediates is via Corvara and Col Alt then make your way over to Pralongia, ski there and down Pista del Sole to La Viza, up to Monet Cherz (and loop back down to La Viza) then via Campolongo back to Corvara (taking blue option if needs be on the Boe run back to Corvara.

Snow: No significant snowfall while we were there. But it has been a good snow season and most places in excellent nick with some exceptions noted above. Red runs off Col Alt back to Corvara were a bit scraped but other runs around the area all good.

Crowds: Yes and no. A sunny day in a mainly cloudy week and then everyone hits the Sella Ronda circuit - so better to choose that day to ski the areas off it. In the main, no significant queues. The week seemed to have a lot of Swedes and Dutch about.

Food on the mountain: Lunches were taken and enjoyed at Luianta and Mathiaskeller in Colfosco, also on the Saturday when we arrived fairly early we had good pizza in the L'Tabladel restaurant. Great spaghetti carbonara in Mesoles above Colfosco. Good more fancy lunches at Bioch above Corvara/San Cassiano. There was probably only one day of the week when it was ok to eat outside and so we were reminded how much the restaurants rely on those outside spaces to handle volumes of people. As a result it was very busy inside at peak lunch times.

Infrastructure: Ongoing developments in the Sella Ronda area as a whole but nothing new this season in Colfosco/Corvara itself. The new bubble up to Passo Pordoi on the orange route is nice. The new Piz Seteur bubble is also swanky but I don't understand why they have not improved access from it to the 3 chairs (Gran Paradiso, Sotsaslong and Comici 1) for blue run skiers - the bit where you descend from the edge of Piz Seteur hut to those chairs is another bad place for the timid. Maybe another year. In the meantime I was wondering whether it is better for a timid blue run skier to exit at mid station and walk _up_ a bit to get to the chairs, or go to top station and ski down to Citta dei Sassi lift and then at the top walk/pole to top of Gran Paradiso to enter the blue region. The position of the Piz Seteur mid station just does not quite seem to be optimal but I suppose they were limited as to where they could put it. Plus I dare say the Piz Seteur hut owners want to keep the traffic volume passing them high, but that bit of red while not complex off the top station of gondola was often very busy and would be offputting for timid skiers even before you get to the narrow passage down the back of the Piz Seteur. On a more positive note, the new gondola from Alba to Ciampac is great for access up there.

Apres: Sorry, we retired to bed too early. The hotel bar had a nice relaxed feel for a brief after dinner digestivo.

Conclusion: Colfosco worked well as a base, great week even if we would have liked more sun and perhaps not quite so cold. But please don't tell even more people how lovely the whole area is!
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Quality report and a great guide to the area snowHead
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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?
Great report thanks. Just had a week in Canazei and were thinking about Corvara for a future holiday as we loved the area but I'm a fairly nervous intermediate and tbe number of blues in that area appealed
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