Steep and tasty, only with the best ingredients: Splitboards, Couloirs, Powder, Sun. A Freeride Weekend at Sella Massif in the Dolomites.
We had planned this longer weekend in Arabba a long time ago, but then we had to reschedule everything despite perfect weather. It was much warmer than expected and so the sun already melts the snow and makes it crusty in the morning. And we prefer good powder to crusty steeps! So North is announced. The well-known Val de Mesdi for example and if it's already tracked, then we go further north. Yes it will be tracked.
Riding Val Pisciadu
With the VW van, we have our hotel always with us but this time we wanted to enjoy a little luxury as well. So on to the village square in Arabba where you can find free rooms on a tourism board. Watched - checked - found. "Hmm, this is not really cheap and quite classy, but better than no hot shower in the van." On the way to a pizzeria we asked just of interest in a small pension. "Until when? Until Sunday! Ah well, we still have something free." And ... even better deals, so we checked out after 10 minutes and checked in again to the new room. Because we are not yet familiar with the Dolomit Superski lifts, we had to pay 50 € for the day ticket. With our smattering of Italian, it was not possible to find a convenient solution with the "points-tickets". Regardless, we want slash pow in unknown territory and in bright sunshine. Let`s go! First, the mandatory check of the avalanche buletin, then checking the feasibility of our tour alternatives and here we go. Up to Saas Pordoi with the cable car. An astonishing number of people up there, so we realized quickly that we would not be the first to track Val De Mesdi today. So we left the beaten track to enjoy the first tour on this Dolomites Freeride weekend at Val Setus.
Crossing the Sella Massif we got a good overview of the excellent possibilities in this area and the incredible versatility of the touring options.
Riding Val Setus
After a leisurely two hours hike, we stood on a nondescript summit next to the Val Pisciadu where already about 20 tracks were inside. Not bad, because there was still enough space for each of us to find a line without crossing another track. The snow was ... dusty and the ride good fun. At the Pisciadu hut we switch our splitboards to split mode to reach Val Setus. It was shady, getting steeper and then we reached the gutter. "Hmm, looks good and although there are quite a few tracks, it is certainly a pleasure." The boards remounted to ride-mode and in excellent spirits we rode down through the relatively narrow, but wide couloir (contradicting ourselves? Depends on the perspective!) Back to civilization we had a welcome drink at the hut and then, with five lifts, we went back to Arabba and into Peter's apres ski bar. Luckily it was still early and the "right" apres-Skiers are not present yet.
Day 2. Again we went to Saas Pordoi and to Val Piscadu to climb a south exposed gully, with the hope of finding an untracked chute to the North.
At the ridge to Val Culea
On the way we talked to a sporty ski tourer who said with a smile in his face: "It will not be untracked, yesterday we made the first 2 lines. But you have already a bootpack, up in the steep south oriented gully that you should overcome before the strong sunlight enters to much." Regardless, two tracks are not bad and powder fun is guaranteed.
Entry Val Culea
So we climbed up through the steep gully to the ridge in Val Culea, that we could ride at excellent conditions. After the second chute you have to pull out to the right, although we would have preferred to go straight, but you HAVE to go to the right! and do the traverse which should be done with caution and only in good snow conditions (note the daily temperature and solar radiation). Getting back to the Skiing Resort Passo Gardena take the lifts back to Arabba.
Day 3. Not at Saas Pordoi. Splitboard technically most demanding, this opened an incredible ride to us.
Ascent at the flat area, Pardon
Since we thought the entry was a little further east, two locals arrived on top at the same time, having chosen an easier ascent. So here "only" 2nd and 3rd line and now we know exactly where it is. Therefore, we choose an alternative exit back to the resort, climbed another peak and got a great finishing run for this weekend.
First Track for the Local
A super-blast holiday weekend, with a lot of POW, fun and of course... pizza and pasta. We will be back!
Good to know:
- If you choose routes with little use of lifts you come along 3 days with the big "points-ticket" for 100€.
- Everyday there is rescued somebody with helicopter, because of dropping in into a "wrong" couloir. This was told us by a local skitouring guy.
- Bed and Breakfast from 34,00€ a night / Hotel with Sauna from 55,00€;.
Thanks to: Völkl Snowboards, Gnu Snowboards, Deeluxe Snowboard Boots, Voile, Black Diamond...