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LIVE TR: Varena, Val di Fiemme & southern Dolomites, 11th-18th Mar 2019 - now with photos

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
We've managed to squeeze in a second ski trip this year, so I'm going to clutter the forum with another live trip report! After spending late March 2018 in Ponte di Legno / Passo Tonale, we've inched a little further east this year to the Val di Fiemme, at the southern edge of the vast Dolomiti Superski region. The unconventional Monday to Monday slot helps fit in with work commitments, with the added bonus of lower flight costs. As always I'll post photos and a cost breakdown after we return, but during the week will try to post updates here via my phone.

Our stingy accommodation budget means we're staying in Varena, a small, south-facing village at 1200m. A few hairpins connect Varena to lower, bigger Cavalese, which is where the nearest slopes are (piste maps here - first one showing the local area, second one the wider Val di Fiemme). This means having a car is necessary, but there are lots of small, individual ski areas in this part of the Dolomites so we'll head to a different one each day. Hopefully snow won't cause road problems to our village - this was a risk we knew about when booking, so we'll see if it comes back to haunt us. There are a wealth of ski pass options. Biggest and best is the full Dolomiti Superski pass, but we'll probably go for the more obscure Valle Silver one. At €247 for 6 days in high season (low season begins midway through our trip) it's more affordable than the full area pass, but still covers a claimed 390km of pistes across Val di Fiemme / Latemar, Val di Fassa, San Pellegrino / Falcade / Alpe Lusia and San Martino / Passo Rolle, all of which have their own even cheaper passes. Should be plenty for a week! We also hope to fit in a few hours on departure day at yet another small area yet to be revealed...

Now to the snow. February has been exceptionally warm, but in the Dolomites snowmaking is king, and cover looks fine on the 95%+ of pistes with cannons. A few odds and ends in the other 5% might be vulnerable (such as the 11km Innamorati piste to Falcade - I'm keen to try that so hope it stays open), but the resorts' positioning of webcams is cunning enough not to show these! Laughing Temperatures have also come down a notch as March has arrived, with the potential for a little fresh snow (or rain, low down) before we arrive. During our week out there - a bit early to tell, but I reckon a mixture of sunshine and showers with temperatures around the seasonal average. Sounds pleasant enough...

It's a week until we head out but I wanted to get the ball rolling early in case anyone had any tips. Not just about the skiing - restaurants, tobogganing, parking, days to avoid certain areas etc. - all advice welcome! Smile

Link to January's trip report:
Jan 2019: St Gervais (Evasion Mont Blanc)

Link to our last Italy trip report:
Mar 2018: Ponte di Legno (Passo Tonale)


Cavalese's local slopes, Alpe Cermis, from the church in Daiano, below Varena


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Thu 21-03-19 23:34; edited 3 times in total
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@denfinella, looking forward to the updates. Live TR by phone is quite a commitment every evening.
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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?
@mgrolf, thanks, will do my best.

Thought I might bump this in case anybody would like to add their tuppenceworth before we fly out on Monday. Or perhaps no-one knows anything about the Val di Fiemme / I'm just unpopular (delete as appropriate!) Toofy Grin

Weather forecast hasn't changed hugely, but seems to be gravitating towards some sort of midweek snowfall - though the jury still out on how much. Quite a few of the ski areas are accessed by (or are on) high passes so we might need to brush up on our (currently non-existent) snow chain fitting skills...


Last edited by Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see? on Fri 8-03-19 0:39; edited 1 time in total
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@denfinella, Don't know Val di Fiemme , stayed a couple of times in Val DI Fassa which was great and loved the skiing.
Looking forward to the reports. snowHead
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Monday - arrival day

Well, travel logistics all went smoothly last night. The flight itself was anything but smooth, however, with plenty of turbulence at both the Scottish and Italian ends. A tailwind helped us touch down 20 minutes early in Treviso, so we were treated to the annoying Ryanair fanfare again. Bags were already waiting for us after passport control - very efficient.

For car hire, Firefly gave us an Opel Corsa with a few knocks and scrapes (a couple of which weren't originally listed on the sheet - naughty) for the 2hr 45min drive to Varena. We took the Feltre - Levico Terme - Cavalese route which was a bit tedious in the night (scenery is probably lovely in the day), with quite low speed limits even on the dual carriageway sections. Dry but strong winds as we trundled through a snowless landscape. The last 50km is on a twistier road, but little ascent until the final 2km to Cavalese. An extended stop en route at a supermarket for supplies, and then a second stop at a second supermarket for the supplies we forgot to buy at the first one Embarassed Arrived at our apartment (key waiting in the mailbox) at 10.45pm.

More about the accommodation and village later in the week, but before that we've got some more important things to do like skiing! Very Happy
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Tuesday: Alpe Cermis & Passo Rolle

Alpe Cermis piste map here.
Passo Rolle piste map here.

Whew! As first days skiing go, that was a busy one. A short drive down to Cavalese to pick up ski hire by the gondola station at 8am, buy a 6 day Valle Silver pass (€270 each) then straight onto the local slopes. Tuesday had dawned sunny, though with a strong wind at altitude.

Alpe Cermis claims 24 km of slopes, roughly north facing and mostly wooded. A respectable 1400m vertical and some excellent long runs - perhaps exceptionally long if you link all the winding blues together.

The lift system is excellent: the whole mountain is covered by three gondola stages (the upper one with WiFi in the cabins) and three fast chairs. Plenty of snow on the pistes, all open thanks to comprehensive snowmaking, but off-piste the hillside was bare below about 1700m, or higher on southern aspects! Runs were hard-packed but not really icy. In fact we were very impressed by the resort's snow management and quality given a month of almost zero precipitation. Reasonably busy for mid March but not unpleasantly so.

The best runs are off the Prafiori chair, at the top on skier's left. 82 (red) was a great blast and 83 (red) even better, with interesting twists and turns. Negligible difference between the blacks and the harder reds. We enjoyed the long 74 (blue) Via del Bosco track through the trees, with lots of information panels and sculpture about the local flora and fauna. Less impressive was the closure for 15 minutes of the Prafiori chairlift while the two attendants had a simultaneous smoking break!

By 12.30pm the lowest runs were getting slushy (understandable in March at 850m, where the home run was a white ribbon through green landscape). We'd explored all the runs by now so bailed and drove up to Passo Rolle, eating our packed lunch en route. Several hairpins near the top.

Passo Rolle is even smaller than Alpe Cermis (15 km claimed), but crucially all at 1900m or over, so just below freezing today and no hint of slush. In fact the pistes were rock hard in places. Everything open and eerily quiet - we usually had whole pistes to ourselves. The lift system is antique and runs a bit short, but spectacular views of the spires of the Rosetta (?) range. No amazing runs, but 9 (black) off the Paradiso chair was good fun. 10 (red) no longer exists and had been crudely tippexed off the piste boards. The pistes are on both sides of the pass and switching between the two is a bit awkward (skis off, some flat bits), so if visiting try to keep that to a minimum.

Finished about 4pm and drove home via Predazzo, where we stopped for a little sightseeing. Smart centre with impressive church, fancy geology museum (which we hope to visit later in the week - closes at 7pm!) and an excellent supermarket (and two average ones). Pasta for dinner chez nous, or whatever the Italian equivalent is.

Runs of the day: 83 (red) in Alpe Cermis, or any variant of the full 1400m vertical.

Tomorrow: Sun forecast in the morning, with possible light snow later in the day. We'll probably go to Latemar as it's close by and no road passes involved.

Alpe Cermis pics


Top gondola station


Home run red 87


Prafiori sector


Paion del Cermis sector

Passo Rolle pics


Cimon chair, peaks of the Pale di San Martino behind


Black 9 (Paradiso 1) from the Paradiso chair


Top of the pass beyond red 8 (Fiamme gialle)


Red 4 (Castellazzo 1), Castellazzo peak behind

Predazzo pics



Last edited by You'll need to Register first of course. on Sat 14-09-19 15:02; edited 8 times in total
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Accommodation: We booked our apartment, a 1-bed studio, through Airbnb. It's towards the top end of Varena, next to a small car park and a couple of minutes' walk from the village centre.

The studio is very nicely decorated but very small, with a double sofa bed only a few feet away from the hob / kitchen area. Kitchen well stocked with utensils. The bathroom has a few unnecessary luxuries (jacuzzi bath, bidet) but lacks a few basic things (shower fixture for the shower, a shower curtain rail). It was pretty cheap - I'll detail prices at the end of the week - and check-in was straightforward. WiFi is a big plus, and everything is very clean.

Would I recommend it? For the price, yes, as long as you don't mind driving each day.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Excellent review thanks for posting
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Following this closely.

Thanks.
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Ski the Net with snowHeads
Interesting stuff, Alpe Cermis & Passo Rolle are both ski areas I've not visited previously.

The mountain backdrop at Passo Rolle would be the Pale ('blades' in English) di San Martino, some very impressive sharp dolomitic spires, one of which is named Cima Rosetta!

I'm sure you will enjoy Passo San Pelegrino/Falcade even if the Innamorati ('the lovers' in English!) run isn't viable. We had fun there last month on a daytrip from Alleghe. Alpe Lusia looks good too with steep runs on the shady side and long cruisers on the sunny side.

Enjoy!! Cool
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snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Wednesday: Latemar

Piste map here.

As planned we drove the few miles up to Pampeago today to ski Latemar. The approach road is straight and wide but has a sustained 15% gradient which tested the 1.2 litre engine of our poor Corsa.

The urinals in the men's loos at the lift base are a bit unusual, not least because they're covered in large photos of attractive ladies inspecting your equipment, armed with cameras, rulers, magnifying glasses... you get the picture! Laughing

Moving on... Latemar claims 48km of pistes (feels a bit bigger, with a good sense of travel when skiing around) and connects the resort of Obereggen with both a cluster of hotels / parking at Pampeago and a gondola up from near Predazzo. In between is a series of minor ridges and bowls, both above and below the treeline. It's all at a respectable height - Obereggen is the lowest point at 1550m. Also a decent snow park and several short boardercross courses, which we like.

The lift system is modern with mostly fast chairs, a couple of gondolas and an unecessary telemix. The high capacity lifts were useful though - it was pretty busy particularly late morning and we had to queue for a minute at a few of the lifts.

Cleverly most of the runs face north-ish, with only a few sunny pistes towards Predazzo and near Pampeago, which we skied first. We also had a go on the Alpine Coaster - €5 which is charged per person, not per sled.

Sunshine gave way to cloud around midday, with some light snow at times in the afternoon. Visibility stayed decent though, and the lack of sun limited too much bumping up of the runs despite some busy traffic. Some ice around nevertheless.

We gradually worked our way across to Obereggen for a late lunch - interestingly this is predominantly German-speaking territory in contrast to the other, Italian-speaking half of the area. Unfortunately we only speak English and schoolboy French and Spanish - no help here! Some type of Schnitzel with roasted vegetables and chips for €13.50 (a bit underwhelming), a large bowl of serve-yourself salad for €7 (excellent), and a white chocolate and raspberry mouse for €4.50 (also excellent).

Finished off with the runs off the Agnello chair out of Pampeago and the one above that. There are more runs here than the piste map suggests, and some clearly hadn't had many skiers all day - great snow. At about 4pm we had a wide view across the entire Pampeago bowl, including half a dozen lifts, several pistes and a large snow park. Completely deserted - not a single person on any of the pistes! A little snowfall and everyone disappears...

Back down to Varena and out for a wander around the village before dinner (pasta again). The garage door opposite our apartment was left ajar and there were at least 3 cows inside - it's that sort of place. Nice church, several fountains, town hall and a well-stocked small supermarket.

Runs of the day: Black 20a for genuine steepness, red 3 to Obereggen (much quieter than the adjacent one), all the runs off the Absam 6-seat chair and all the runs off the Agnello fast quad. More variety than at Alpe Cermis and Passo Rolle (helped by the larger size).

Tomorrow: Probably a trip to San Martino di Castrozza, so an early start!

Latemar pics


Pampeago sector


Gruppo del Latemar from blue 8


Blue 7 through a strange landscape


Obereggen from red 2


Red 30 from the Tresca chair

Varena pics



Last edited by snowHeads are a friendly bunch. on Thu 21-03-19 21:11; edited 7 times in total
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Keep it coming.

San Martino is magic Smile

Pop in to Ranch for apres.
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
@dublin2, @Mike Pow, thanks both. Not really into apres ski but yes, the skiing was magic!

@luigi, cheers for the advice. There's a huge amount of choice on this lift pass! Alpe Cermis definitely worth a visit for a few hours. Passo Rolle if snow's poor low down or you fancy a change of scenery...
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Thursday: San Martino di Castrozza

Piste map here.

Today was a bit more logistically challenging than expected, but it all worked out ok in the end. Into the car at 7am (!) to drive all the way to San Martino. This involved going over Passo Rolle again, with over 20 hairpins on the descent and several more on ascent. Nevertheless we made good time and parked up at the bottom of the Col Verde gondola at 7.55am, in good time for opening at 8.10am (in fact opening was delayed slightly).

San Martino claims 45 km of slopes (after subtracting Passo Rolle's 15 km), but the Col Verde sector only has two runs - gentle, longish, wooded, deserted and immaculately pisted. Nevertheless we wanted to head up the cable car above the first gondola to a viewpoint at 2700m+ while the sun was shining. The cable car runs every 20 minutes, so you get 15 minutes at the top (or 35, etc.) before taking it back down. Only one other person in the cable car: a photographer. No skiing down - it's a cliff - but well worth the detour in morning light as the peaks and pistes across the other side of town were bathed in sun.

Then a short drive across to the Colbricon Express (there's a shuttle bus, but lots of symbols and asterisks on the timetable so didn't want to risk it!) for the main slopes. The Colbricon Express is new for this season and very plush, with slots inside the gondola cabins to hold your skis. The wind was gusting though even at this low altitude - fortunately it didn't lead to any closures.

The plan was originally to work our way across the south facing slopes to Tognola at the other end of the horseshoe-shaped run network, then work out way back through the shadier pistes in the afternoon. This hit a snag when we were the first arrivals at a nasty crash where the Sole (red) 17 meets the Ski Weg Coston 18 (blue). Waited around for piste rescue etc. (initial diagnosis: dislocated pelvis and possibly leg injuries Sad - not good) then headed back up the Coston chair only to find that both the runs mentioned above had been shut following the crash, blocking the route to Tognola.

So instead we finished off the Colbricon area (good reds below the chairs, boring blues below the gondola, but the black no longer exists). This didn't take long but after running out of terrain, the closed pistes were still shut, the Punta Ces chair was too, and there was a helicopter flying about. Clearly this was to be an extended closure, so we hopped back in the car and drove around to the Tognola lift base - our third car park of the day!

The Tognola area is excellent - lots of long, open runs and pretty quiet away from the beginner / blue areas. Christiania 19 (red) is outstanding: great snow, away from the lifts, interesting terrain... and another serious crash near the bottom with bloodwagon in attendance.

Unfortunately there are a lot of rickety chairlifts which take an eternity to ride - I reckon the poorly laid-out group of 5 lifts around Malga Tognola could be replaced by just 2 fast ones and still cover the same terrain.

Lunch at the bottom of the gondola: €14 speciality burger (not so special) and €5 panini (delicious and good value) before pottering around the expanse of blue runs, using all those slow lifts. Skies had clouded over and it was feeling chilly - though freezing level probably only around mid mountain. Another accident requiring the bloodwagon - a real puzzle as the snow conditions were the best we've seen all week - nothing unpredictable. No slush except at the flat valley lift bases, and certainly no bare patches. All three crashes involved a single skier in seemingly innocuous locations.

Finished off with the great runs down the Tognola gondola, including the narrow Fantabosco (blue) 35 where overtaking is banned except in signed passing places Laughing Last run down was Tognola 1 (black) 22, where lower down we found the first ice of the day on the right hand side, and the first moguls of the week on the left hand side.

Overall I thought San Martino was the best ski area of the week so far in terms of actual skiing - long and interesting pistes - but the lift system the weakest so far. A few fast chairs would transform the place. Also despite all the faffing with driving and ski patrol, we had plenty of time to ski the whole area, so it's not huge.

On the way back we stopped in Cavalese to look around. Cavalese is even nicer than Predazzo: evidently wealthy, lots of nice shops, two churches, museum etc. An impressive choice of restaurants (though we ended up getting a cheap takeaway), well stocked Spar and a couple of other supermarkets.

Runs of the day: 19 red in first place. 22 red/black and 24 red down the Tognola gondola were great blasts too, as were the trio of reds 13, 14 and 16 down towards the Colbricon Express from Punta Ces. Long reds are really where this resort excels.

Tomorrow: A bit of snow forecast tonight (snowy roads?) then probably clearing through the morning, but stronger winds than the last few days. We'll probably try a couple of smaller resorts up towards Moena, since they won't involve driving over any passes.

San Martino pics


View from the top of the Rosetta cable car


San Martino & the Colbricon sector from the top of the Rosetta cable car


Blue 31 (Col Verde)


Red 16 (Colbricon)


Red 19 (Cristiania) from Punta Ces


Cima Tognola from Alpe Tognola


Red 19 (Cristiania)


Alpe Tognola from red 28 (Cima Tognola)

Cavalese pics





Last edited by You know it makes sense. on Thu 21-03-19 21:35; edited 3 times in total
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@denfinella, we are really enjoying your reports every evening. Keep them coming. We are in Seiser Alm/Alpe di Siusi for two weeks and loving it, we were in Kronplatz last week staying in San Vigilio, first time in the Dolomites for us. There were slots in practically all the gondolas for skis last week!
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
denfinella wrote:
Thursday: San Martino di Castrozza

San Martino piste map here.

San Martino claims 45 km of slopes (after subtracting Passo Rolle's 15 km), but the Col Verde sector only has two runs - gentle, longish, wooded, deserted and immaculately pisted. Nevertheless we wanted to head up the cable car above the first gondola to a viewpoint at 2700m+ while the sun was shining. The cable car runs every 20 minutes, so you get 15 minutes at the top (or 35, etc.) before taking it back down. Only one other person in the cable car: a photographer. No skiing down - it's a cliff - but well worth the detour in morning light as the peaks and pistes across the other side of town were bathed in sun.


Great to read you enjoyed it.

You can ski down though.

Unpisted, unmarked, unmissable if you have the requisite skills and experience.


http://youtube.com/v/fBZDcrkCazA
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@Mike Pow, nice video! My mistake - and actually it doesn't look as difficult as I'd have imagined. (But don't worry, we'll be staying clear...)
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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?
@Pamski, thanks. So does that mean you're in the Dolomites for 3 weeks or just 2? Either way, I'm jealous...
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Friday: Alpe Lusia & Pozza Di Fassa / Buffaure

Alpe Lusia piste map here.
Pozza / Alba piste map here.

Nice to wake up to a dusting of fresh snow in Varena today - enough to make everything look white again down to about 1100m. The roads to Alpe Lusia are all below 1300m and were clear of snow - just a trace starting to appear as we turned into the car park so the passes might have been tricky today. The sun came out just as we arrived and it stayed sunny all day, becoming warm in the afternoon.

Alpe Lusia is a fun little place with a claimed 28km of pistes, steep and north facing above Moena and gentle and south facing on the other side of the ridge above Bellamonte. A few centimetres of powder on the south facing runs which must have been pisted last. We cruised around these first before the sun spoiled them from late morning. Then onto the shadier north-facing pistes.

The lift system is excellent (100% gondolas and fast chairs) and generally coped well with gusty winds and quite a lot of people - the only lift with a constant short queue was the Laste chair. There are a lot of fun boardercrosses, self-time runs (free of charge, unlike at Latemar) and small snowparks - it's a good spot if you like this sort of thing (we do) and adds considerably to the scope of the area. Excellent gentle blue runs for beginners, and the Laste runs had some nice rollers, through unusual, barren scenery at the top.

The north side was facing into the strong wind with blowing snow on the top section. Several pistes parallel to each other, an excellent boardercross and the Piavac black: the steepest in the area. A single, long black leads back to base.

20min drive around to Pozza di Fassa for the afternoon, with lunch in the car en route. It was interesting to see the bilingual signs and different cultural aspects being advertised as we entered the Ladin speaking area.

Now, this is an area which is mentioned more frequently on SHs, as it's just about connected to the Sella Ronda. People often say it's nice and quiet compared to the main circuit, but to us it felt very busy compared to the other resorts we've visited this week. Moguls forming on all the reds (OK, not helped by the weather conditions) and some fairly crowded pistes.

Our ski pass extends to the Canazei section of the Sella Ronda, but we only skied as far as Alba today, and will probably leave the Sella Ronda slopes for another holiday. Black 10 to Alba is an excellent, testing run with a very plush gondola back up; it would probably have been even more wonderful early on the day before slushy moguls formed.

At the other end, the slopes above Pozza were completely devoid of snow off the pistes and looked a little sad - the overnight snow had melted by now. Similarly to the Alba run, red 1a and black 1b back to Pozza are long and scenic but got very slushy by the end of the day. 1a has a gorgeous second half along the valley bottom, with several restaurants.

The higher runs halfway between Pozza and Alba were much better and surrounded by hillsides which still had a winter cloak. The highlight of the afternoon was red 12 down a high altitude valley served by a fast chair: snow stayed in fairly good nick and not steep enough to bump up too much.

Skied right up until lifts closed at 5pm, then drove home via Moena where we had a look around and shopped for groceries for dinner. Moena didn't seem quite as nice as Predazzo or Cavalese, but has an attractive river through the middle, a war museum and a picturesque hilltop church.

Runs of the day: In Alpe Lusia, both the red and the blue off the Laste chair for scenery and interesting cruising, and the long boardercross on the Moena side. In Pozza / Alba: red 12 was the best ski; black 10 to Alba for a challenge, and red 1a to Pozza for scenery.

Tomorrow: sunny weather forecast and even warmer than today (freezing level 3000m+), so we'll head high. Passo San Pellegrino is the obvious choice, though quite a few of the runs are south facing.

Alpe Lusia pics


Morning dusting on the Viezzena peak


Blue 15 (Castelir)


Black 7 (Direttissima)


Blue 9 (Zirmes)


Snowy side of the Viezzena peak from red 2 (Fiamme Oro II)


Red 3 Mediolanum

Pozza di Fassa / Buffaure pics


View up the Valle San Nicolo from the Buffaure sector


Red 12 from the Orsa Maggiore chair


Red / black 11 in the Ciampc sector, Colac peak behind


Black 10 to Alba


Ciampac hub


Black 1b (Vulcano) to Pozza di Fassa


Red 1a (Panoramica?) to Pozza di Fassa

Moena pics





Last edited by You need to Login to know who's really who. on Thu 21-03-19 22:06; edited 9 times in total
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@denfinella, yes three weeks, we are very lucky! We had four weeks in Austria in January, in four different places. We sold our chalet in Les Gets last summer so after 18 or 19 years are not committed, for the most part, to spending the winter there.

We had snow overnight so a little different up at Seiser Alm this morning. Lovely.
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@Pamski, think our posts crossed. Yes, the new snow made a big difference to the snow conditions - good and bad!
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Saturday: San Pellegrino / Falcade

Piste map here.

I woke up with a bit of a sore back, possibly after going too slowly over a jump.in the snowparks yesterday and landing on the flat part before the proper landing. So took it a little easier today!

Warm and sunny in Passo San Pellegrino, with a freezing level forecast to rise to over 3000m in the afternoon. It was already 4°C at 1900m as we parked up at the top of the pass at 8.15am. The road up was the tamest of the passes we've encountered this week.

San Pellegrino / Falcade claims 55km of pistes but feels a bit bigger. It splits naturally into four areas: a row of mostly gentle south facing runs on the north side of the pass; a trio of steeper, north facing runs from Col Margherita on the other side; a high, open plateau beyond; and long runs leading down to Falcade beyond that. So there's a lot of variety for a small area - it reminded me of Ponte Di Legno / Passo Tonale which we visited last year, though not quite as big.

All the sectors are linked but the piste layout is a bit awkward - lots of runs lead from the top of one lift to the bottom of a different one, and in order to try all the pistes we found ourselves having to repeat a few key, busy runs several times.

Costabella is the only main lift which opens at 8.30am, while other lifts open at 9am. We aimed for low and south facing runs in the morning - the run down to Falcade was slushy even at 10am, and the ones directly above that soon followed. The highest runs kept in good condition right through the afternoon: the three shady red / black runs (40, 41 and 42) from Col Margherita to the pass were in great shape all day - possibly the best runs of the week so far. The pistes on the south facing side of the pass were somewhere in between.

Lunch was at the Rifugio Gigio Picol at Le Buse above Falcade. €10 for a dumpling dish, €9 for a large salad (both interesting though a bit healthy), with an extra side of veg and a cheeky bombardino.

Snowmaking is extensive but some runs aren't covered, leading to our first closed runs of the week: black 34 and blue 20. The latter, called Innermorati, is exceptionally long and scenic, down a gentle valley, so we decided to try it anyway. Snow was thin in places but well worth it and we never had to remove our skis. A bit flat but snow was mostly firm rather than sticky thanks to shade from trees. A little care needed with route finding as the poles had been removed, but we clearly weren't the first people to ski it while shut. It did occur to me afterwards that I perhaps should have considered possible avalanche risk, though there hasn't been significant fresh snow for ages.

A bigger issue than lack of snow was the number of runs closed due to competitions / training. Sure, it's a weekend and teams need to practise somewhere, but I counted at least 6 runs shut for this reason (a few opened later), which is too many for a resort with only about 30 pistes. It also made a few runs very congested and mogulled: 24 blue was the only, convoluted way to get out of the Falcade sector as the direct 25 red was reserved for slalom training; in the other direction, 27 red was the only way towards Falcade as 26 red had a race early on, and 34 black had insufficient snow.

Plenty of decent skiing elsewhere on the mountain though, which brings me to:

Runs of the day: 41 black, 40 red / black and 42 red from Col Margherita to the pass all had great snow and views with 600m vertical. Surprisingly quiet, and you could easily beat the cable car down in time to catch the same one back up for a repeat. Reds 20 and 33 in the other direction for easy cruising. 26 red was the best lowish run on the Falcade side, once it opened. Over at San Pellegrino, the red and black pistes from the 2-seat L'Om Picol chair were both decent, and quite quiet. No notable blues, except for the closed Innamorati.

Tomorrow: Our last full day. Carezza is the remaining big area we haven't visited which is included on our pass. Vigo di Fassa and Jochgrimm are also on the list, and we may try and squeeze one of those in too. Also keeping an eye on the weather for departure day, when we're hoping to get a morning's skiing at one of the above but snow is forecast to low levels...

P.S.: this evening we spent an hour at the excellent, smart Dolomites Geology Museum in Predazzo, on the way back to Varena. Highly recommended if you're interested in geology; only €3.50 admission and stays open til 7pm, so no need to waste skiing time!

Passo San Pellegrino / Falcade pics


Red 20 (Innamorati - top section)


Red 33 (Col Margherita - Lago Cavia


Falcade from red 30 (Le Buse - Molino)


Red 23 (Laresei)


Blue 31 (Raccordo Pradazzo - Zingari)


Closed blue 20 (Innamorati)


This is why Innamorati was closed!


Lunch


Black 41 (La Volata)


Red 42 (La Caviette)


Black 52 (Nuova Cima Uovo) from L'Om Picol, Col Margherita beyond

Geology museum pics



Last edited by Then you can post your own questions or snow reports... on Thu 21-03-19 22:35; edited 2 times in total
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Great info.

Keep it coming please.
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Sunday: Carezza & Jochgrimm

Carezza piste map here.
Jochgrimm piste map here.

For our last day we first headed across Passo Lavaze to Nova Levante to ski Carezza: an outlier of the Val di Fassa region with 40km of slopes claimed. Hazy sunshine and fairly warm all day above a patchy inversion which didn't really affect us at skiing altitude.

The ski area is long and thin, spread along the west side of the pinnacled Rosengarten range. Stunning views, of different peaks to the ones we'd seen for the rest of the week. The lifts are an unusual mix of really ancient and very modern, with 2 smart gondolas, a few fast chairs but also two ancient chairs at King Laurin / Monte Coronelle, and a few unavoidable drag lifts - one very long.

Carezza is quite low and sunny, and while pretty much all the runs were open, there were large areas of water ice on some of the gentler pistes, which I guess would mean water skiing in the afternoon. It closes for the season at end of March. Riding the lifts over vast areas of brown grass and fallen trees (a result of the storms which hit the Dolomites last autumn) was a surreal experience.

The hillside in the Laurin and Paolina sectors is concave, with black slopes at the top mellowing to gentle runouts. These were lovely and firm all morning. Long, gentle blue cruises connect the two ends of the domain: quite slushy by lunchtime. It was much quieter here than it was at Passo San Pellegrino yesterday, and racing was confined to strips at the side of pistes, so no runs closed. The steep runs off the slow chairs at Laurin / Coronelle were almost deserted, and still had grippy, firm snow when we tried them at midday. The red back to Nova Levante is beautiful and very long, but sticky snow in places due to the high temperature - gradient a bit too gentle.

At about 1pm we drove to Jochgrimm for a couple of hours, stopping for lunch at the Passo Lavaze en route. €13.50 for venison goulash and potatoes, €8 for carbonara and €3.50 strudel: probably the best meal out we've had all week.

Jochgrimm is really a beginner's destination with just 7km of pistes at the end of a short road up from Passo Lavaze. Not worth driving a long way for, but it was on our way home. Twin drags serve easy blues (with almost flat, risk-free beginner's off piste through the scrub on either side) on the shady side of the car park, with a longer chair ascending to the shoulder of the elegant Schwarzhorn. Another chair on the sunny side of the road accesses a couple of reds below the odd-looking Weisshorn. The base is 1840m, so a decent height though only 400m vertical. Some trees but mostly open hillside.

The runs on the Weisshorn side were like skiing through thick soup (though pretty untracked soup, it must be said) when we arrived mid-afternoon. Soon we joined everyone else on the other side, which had much better snow. The red off the main chair is a bit short: you're just starting to enjoy it before you reach the top of the blues served by the beginner drags. These blues are worthwhile in their own right, though busy with ski schools and families - the perfect spot for learning to ski if the sun's out. There's also a short black which is left unpisted for moguls to develop.

The cloud inversion crept onto the pass at about 3.30pm, so we called it a day and headed back to Varena. After sorting ourselves out, we drove to the neighboring village of Daiano for a quick poke around (nice church) before continuing to Cavalese for dinner.

Unfortunately dinner was a bad choice. We found a restaurant which had a large, Italian menu outside with reasonable prices and a good selection of pizzas. Upon sitting down we were handed a menu which revealed that this was actually a curry house run by an Indian family which also did Italian food (several extra pages of curries magically appeared on the menu!). We were also given an English menu (unprompted) which had such awful translations that we had to ask for the Italian one to make any sense of it.

It was a bit awkward to leave now. Guessing that in a curry house with Indian staff, the curry would probably be the best thing to order, my other half ordered vegetable pakora and a lamb Karahi with rice. But we didn't really want to have curry in Italy, so I went for a Ladin platter followed by a pizza. We always share our food in restaurants, so ended up with a bizarre assortment of Indian and Italian foods served together. Most of it was pretty awful - stuff you could probably get from a supermarket and make yourself - and the curry was like no curry I'd ever tasted before. But the pizza was surprisingly decent - even if US style with lots of cheese and quite a thick base. We were also given a free shot of limoncello at the bar when settling the €45 bill (our most expensive meal of the week by a considerable margin), so not all bad. Anyway, all very odd Shocked

Runs of the day: In Carezza: 20, 21, 22 and 23 reds / blacks in the Laurin sector for excellent snow, steep at the top then gentler. Similarly 45 from the Paolina chair, though busier. Most of the runs are of the "straight down the mountain" type - a more interesting exception to this rule was 55 red off the Pra di Tori chair - which also had good snow. At Jochgrimm: the red from the top of the chair on the Schwarzhorn side, and the black / blue combination in the same area.

Tomorrow: Departure day. Snow forecast tonight and tomorrow morning, but amount could be anything between a dusting and a moderate fall. Finger's crosses that we can get down the hairpins from Varena. Providing this goes without a hitch, we've deliberately left Vigo di Fassa for our last morning skiing, as the road to it is flat along the valley from Cavalese, it's mostly wooded, and the morning lift pass is reasonably inexpensive (our Valle Silver pass ended today). Originally we'd planned to ski Vigo di Fassa along with Carezza today, and Jochgrimm tomorrow (with an even cheaper lift pass), but didn't want to risk driving up the mountain road.

Then back to Treviso in the afternoon for our flight home - these roads *should* be below the snowline so no problems anticipated there.

Carezza pics


Blacks off the Konig Laurin chair in the shade first thing


Inversion from the top of black 21 at Konig Laurin


Red 45 from the Paolina chair


Black 45, Paolina sector


Blue 54 from the Pra di Tori chair


Black 54, Pra di Tori sector


Black 20 from the Konig Laurin chair, now in sun


View east from the top of the Konig Laurin chair


Red 24 back to Nova Levante

Jochgrimm pics


Main red down the Weisshorn


View from the Weisshorn sector towards the Schwarzhorn sector


Close-up of the Weisshorn


Top of the Doladizza chair, the area's high point


Red from the Doladizza chair, looking towards the beginner area drag lifts


Mogul black run


Heading up the drag lift, Schwarzhorn behind


Last edited by You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net. on Thu 21-03-19 22:56; edited 2 times in total
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Ski the Net with snowHeads
Thank you for all of this. Lots of useful stuff and much inspiration
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Hope it all works out.

Great information.

Ta.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@JohnHSmith, @Mike Pow, cheers. Report from this morning coming up...
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Monday: Catinaccio / Vigo di Fassa

Piste map here.

Opened the curtains this morning to find, as expected, a covering of fresh snow, and still falling moderately. About 8-10cm on the car and a few centimetres to valley level (800m), but the roads to Vigo di Fassa were clear.

Sneaked into a tiny car park right by the cable car, only to find the ticket office was 5 escalators below the cable car, at the main car park. Headed down and picked up a morning pass for €30.50 each (bit pricey for a small area), then back up to the cable car to find there was a second ticket office up there after all rolling eyes

Catinaccio (the ski area is named after the range it sits on the lower slopes of - actually the opposite side of the same range as Carezza) has just 14km of pistes, though most people probably visit as part of a ski tour through the rest of the Val di Fassa areas, using shuttle buses. A cable car goes into the slopes from Vigo di Fassa with the excellent red 1 back down. Alternatively there's a chain of three successive fast chairs up from Pera di Fassa. An excellent area to be in falling snow like today, as almost all the chairs have weather protectors. And all the pistes are wooded.

All the pistes were covered with 5-15cm of powder on a pisted base: wonderful. Just deep enough that our skis didn't usually cut through to the base, except on the bottom blue 8 to Pera, which was a bit scraped and has an annoying walk at the end downhill to the lift!

The stereotype of Italians staying indoors on snowy days didn't hold true today: it was relatively busy, especially on the easier runs. The snow stopped and sun broke through on our last run down to Vigo at 11.45am, before we hopped back in the car to Cavalese to return our skis. Mountains looking like they're supposed to again, though it probably won't last long. Currently on our way back to the airport under sunny skies - snow is already melting fast below 1200m.

Runs of the day: In snow like this - most of them. Red 1 probably the best piste. Red 9 is to be avoided in powder: it's a flat linking piste to red 1.


Blue 4 from Ciampedie


Powder on red 1 to Vigo di Fassa early on


Blue 1 (probably) from Pian Pecei


Black 2 from Pra Martin


Sun coming out at Ciampedie, the Catinaccio range behind


Valley views at last on the flat red 9 from Ciampedie


Rewind to the view from red 1 earlier...


...what a difference a couple of hours make!


Watching the cable car head up to Ciampedie


View from our last run of the holiday into Vigo di Fassa... sad times Sad


Last edited by So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much on Thu 21-03-19 23:32; edited 3 times in total
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@denfinella, Great TR as usual, always enjoy reading your daily updates.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@denfinella, Thanks for taking the time to report Smile
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
albob wrote:
@denfinella, Thanks for taking the time to report Smile

+1 Great reports. snowHead
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Excellent read.

Look forward to pics and costs.
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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?
Departure, summary & costs

Departure

Straightforward trip back to airport - varied the route slightly by going via Bassano del Grappa and Castelfranco instead of Feltre. No difference in time, but the road after Bassano is a bit dull. Stopped off at a hypermarket for packed lunch / dinner for the plane, returned the hire car with no issues and arrived in the airport terminal 2 hours before departure.

Treviso wasn't such a model of efficiency when departing as it had been when arriving last week. No queue for bag drop, but after that it was basically one long, snaking queue through security, passport control and to the gate: almost no time for browsing the shops or even sitting down. Flight left on time and we landed in Edinburgh so early that we were on the bus back into the city before our flight was even scheduled to land! My back has been playing up over the last couple of days (I realise this makes me sound decades older than I really am), and was particularly uncomfortable on the flight home and during the evening.

Summary

Another great trip with no weather disruption despite having to drive every day in a hire car with no winter tyres, often over high passes.

The skiing: lots of variety in this part of the Dolomites with a good mix of wooded runs, open runs, steep and gentle, long and short runs; it was really interesting visiting a new ski area (sometimes multiple areas) each day. My favourite areas were probably Latemar and San Martino; my partner liked Latemar and Alpe Lusia the most. No disappointing areas, though Passo Rolle and Jochgrimm are too small to be interesting for long.
The weather: plenty of sunshine and a powder day on departure day. Average temperatures at the start of the week and on the last day (Monday), but very warm for a couple of days preceding this. Noticeably breezy on many days, but not windy enough to close any lifts.
Things we loved: fantastic snow management (quality and quantity) on piste, especially considering there hadn't been significant snow for about a month beforehand; variety of skiing; generally good lift infrastructure (though an expensive lift pass); stunning scenery; visiting multiple resorts; differences in culture moving between Italian / German / Ladin districts; beautiful valley towns with good shops and services
Things we weren't so keen on: at Passo San Pellegrino, too many runs shut for competitions, and no snowmaking on the signature Innamorati piste; too many similar, "straight down the mountain" pistes in a few spots (especially Carezza); low speed limits on roads; I don't think we saw the best side of Dolomiti food which is often rated so highly on SH's - probably due to poor restaurant choices

Here's a list of the different ski areas we visited. I think we packed quite a lot in: 10 different areas in 7 days!
- Alpe Cermis (Tue)
- Passo Rolle (Tue)
- Latemar (Wed)
- San Martino di Castrozza (Thu)
- Alpe Lusia (Fri)
- Pozza di Fassa / Alba (Fri)
- San Pellegrino / Falcade (Sat)
- Carezza (Sun)
- Jochgrimm (Sun)
- Vigo di Fassa / Pera (Mon)

Varena was a good base, with all the areas within an hour's drive. Cavalese or Predazzo would have been safer had the weather been disruptive. There was only one significant area on the Valle Silver we didn't have time for: the small section of the Sella Ronda directly above Canazei / Campitello. One for the future.

Costs (total for 2 adults, 8 days):

Flights (Ryanair EDI-TSF, incl. 1 hold bag): £118
Car hire (Firefly, incl. snow chains / fuel (no toll roads)): £130
Accommodation (2-person studio in Varena, above Cavalese): £213
Lift passes (Valle Silver 6 days, Vigo di Fassa morning pass): £514
Ski & boot hire (7 days): £112
Total: £1087

Comparison with previous trips:

This is our 8th ski trip together (discounting Scotland day trips). Previous trip reports are linked below if I wrote one. Prices are in total for 2 people, for flights (incl. baggage) + transfer (incl. petrol, tolls, snow chains etc. if hiring a car) + accommodation + lift passes + ski & boot hire. Food is excluded. Trips have all been DIY except 2014 (Crystal) & 2017 (Sunweb for accommodation and passes only). Most have been 7 days skiing, except 6 days in 2014 & 2015, and 8 days in Jan 2019.

Feb 2014: Soll (SkiWelt), Austria £1125
Jan 2015: Alpe d'Huez, France (+ day trips to Les 2 Alpes) £1098
Jan 2016: Les Carroz (Grand Massif), France £1036
Mar 2017: Belle Plagne (Paradiski), France £1148
Jan 2018: Notre Dame de Bellecombe 1150 (Espace Diamant), France £1094
Mar 2018: Ponte di Legno (Passo Tonale), Italy (+ day trips to Pejo, Monte Altissimo & Aprica) £1043
Jan 2019: St Gervais (Evasion Mont Blanc various areas), France (+ day trip to Cordon) £1116
Mar 2019: Varena, Val di Fiemme (Dolomites various areas), Italy £1087

So the trip cost was roughly in line with our other recent trips. However the expensive lift pass made up a bigger proportion of the cost than usual - it was really thanks to low prices for flights and car hire that we kept "on budget".


Last edited by Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see? on Thu 21-03-19 23:37; edited 5 times in total
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You need to Login to know who's really who.
Many thanks.

Great TR.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Photos now added to each day's report.
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You'll need to Register first of course.
Pics are a fabulous addition.

Cheers.

Bookmarked for future reference.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Very nice TR, great summary and interesting comparison on previous years.

Definitely food for thought, thank you for sharing!
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@Mike Pow, thanks. I think you're in the Dolomites at the moment? Enjoy!

@womble, thanks, glad you found it useful.

Keeping track of costs is useful for me too as it gives me a target to aim for next year.
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 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
denfinella wrote:
@Mike Pow, thanks. I think you're in the Dolomites at the moment? Enjoy!

@womble, thanks, glad you found it useful.

Keeping track of costs is useful for me too as it gives me a target to aim for next year.


Yes, in Cortina. Second day skiing today.

Glorious.
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