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Passo Tonale trip report - 26th Feb - 5th March 2011

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead

We're just back from a great week in Passo tonale. It suited us well, and we would go there again. I hope this report is useful, if you have any questions let me know.

Passo tonale skiing
Blues were generally short and many were mainly used as short-cuts by fast skiiers, but the long blues numbered 34 and 35 (previously a red) were lovely. Blue 18 is a really gentle starting point for beginners who want to do something longer than the nursery slopes. Most of the reds were fairly easy, although there were some steeper parts to some. The long red no. 20 was great on a quiet day but difficult after fresh snow as it got very choppy. There were rarely any queues for lifts, and on weekdays runs were fairly quiet, very quiet on the snowy days with poor visibility.
Night skiing on one slope was possible on Tue and Thu, and conditions on the Thu were great, tonnes of fresh powder. Bad visibility seemed to have put people off but the floodlights nevertheless allowed you to see the gradient and snow conditions perfectly well.
Ponte di Legno was easily reached on the gondola. You can ski all the way down, but this means you have to ski a black run down to get anywhere else. The runs were mainly reds, and steeper than in the main area of Passo Tonale. We went there on a snowy day, and visibility was better than the main area, but most people seemed to have the same idea meaning runs were quite busy.
Lift pass was E204 for the area and E179 for local pass. The area pass includes a day in Madonna di Campiglio, Marilleva, Folgarida and a few others.

Madonna di Campiglio skiing
We liked this less, mainly because the sunny weather had brought out the crowds, and there were many large groups and people skiing inconsiderately, sometimes dangerously. Our day was made worthwhile by multiple runs down Blue 30 at the end of the day. Watch out for blue 32, it’s completely flat!

Weather/snow conditions
We had 3 snowy days and 3 sunny days in a week, with many inches falling in a day. Piste grooming was good, although steeper runs did get choppy after fresh snow. There was lots of fresh powder between pistes, and experts would have been able to explore lots more.

Mountain restaurants
Mainly fast food self-service places, fairly cheap and cheerful. Generally you have to queue to pay then queue again to order. The place at the top of the glacier gondola was very good, as was the one at the top of the Valbiolo chair. In the village, Barraca was a great place to stop, with a ski-in terrace, and the Magic Pub was also popular.

Après ski
El Bait has a free buffet from 4-8.

We had private lessons from the ski school in the pink building opposite the Vittoria hotel. One of the lessons was with Gianni, an excellent telemark instructor who also teaches freeriding and touring.

Hotel Orchidea

A bit of a walk to the lifts – about 10 mins to nearest chair (walk in the opposite direction to the centre, you can ski a blue across to the other lifts from here). Ski bus stopped outside, but was sometimes full.
Food plentiful, nothing special but perfectly fine. Salad bar was good.
Rooms were nice but noise did travel, especially from bar and restaurant. Bed was comfortable.
Spa was great - large and many facilities.
Very clean but cleaning was sometimes intrusive - cleaning stairways and boot room at 8 or 9 am is not a sensible idea, and cleaners treated us like we were in their way when we were trying to get out to ski. Cleaners also moved things around in the room, and folded wet towels preventing them from drying, which was annoying. Room was not ready when we arrived at 2pm.
Receptionist (owner?) was friendly and helpful.
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