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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Vienna/Austria/Europe
    Posts
    225

    TR: Sella / Dolomites / Italy

    Dolomites. Vertical walls of brown rock scarred with white lines of snow, some
    of them skiable, some only for the imagination. Inbetween, long and deep
    valleys leading down from the plateaus. Bold aerial tramways floating up from the
    passes below provide for rather easy access to the alpine terrain. Sounds like
    the place to go, we had been thinking for quite some years now, but somehow, we never made
    it there. Until last weekend. So here's a little trip report.

    First, the protagonists had to be set into the scene. For me, this
    involved the decision to leave the van at home and grab a ride via
    mitfahrgelegenheit.at to Rosenheim. For some obscure reason, both Latz and me arrived there half an hour early, which was ascribed to cosmic coincidence and is not likely to happen again in the next three millenia. But Sportbohème wouldn't be Sportbohème if we hadn't managed to lose that time searching for gas stations and falsifying the claim that the Brenner state road is almost as fast as the highway.




    After a cozy night in front of the skating rink at Canazei, we woke up to clear
    skies and enjoyed a macchiato at a bar before driving up Passo Pordoi to catch
    the first tram. In the car park, we talked to some Austrians who didn't want to
    believe that skiing frozen couloirs is a bad idea (but they proved themselves
    wrong later), and some nice Germans who were eager to share information on the
    conditions in the different runs while waiting for the tram (thanks!).


    As a warm-up run and to check snow quality, we chose Canale Col Alton. Oh, a
    short interjection for explanation. The Italians call their couloirs "canale".
    Probably because they don't speak French. Don't blame them. For my part, I'd
    gladly call every couloir "canale", if only that coincided with world-wide
    supply of Italian quality coffee.





    To get back to the topic, you reach Col Alton by following the summer trail
    from the Pordoi tram towards Piz Boé, ascending on foot for a couple of minutes
    and then skiing down from the tracks crossing over to the Boé hut and Val Mesdi
    (which is the most famous run, and on good days strongly frequented by
    tourists). Well, we were too early, and had to fight with crust and patches of
    ice in the shady parts that had us revert to sideslipping, all the while being
    glad that this thing was only about 40 degrees steep. We skied out Val Lastis,
    which was also aking for more sun to soften the crust, and hitchhiked back to
    the pass.

    We decided to wait a bit for the sun to soften things up and had lunch. Around
    1:30, Canale Joel, one of the classics at the Sella, was just about perfect:
    not too deep up on top, but already well skiable in the shady part.






    To round the day off, we put on our harnesses and took another ride up to
    ski Canale Holzer (named after Heini Holzer, who did the first descent in
    1972). It starts out as an open bowl with ideal gradients for getting some
    warm-up turns, and then abruptly turns into a steep and tight 45 degree chute
    between vertical rock walls. About half-way down the Canale, it's time to stop
    on a small platform to the left and carefully descend towards an anchor used
    for the subsequent abseil often necessary to overcome a section of water ice.



    Arriving at the anchor, we met two skiers that had followed tracks from the top
    of the plateau and had no idea where they were. Lucky for them (and for us,
    because I didn't want to see anyone die) they managed to climb
    down next to the ice, ignoring our warnings. So, apparently, at the moment you
    don't need a rope in Canale Holzer. We still used ours, as it seemed safer.




    In the evening we found a small pasta and pizza joint near the tourist
    information in Canazei, where we had great pasta and re-boosted our sugar
    levels. After that, back to the skating rink, beer, chips, looking at the map
    and off to sleep.


    Since Saturday was to be the last day with good weather, we decided to take the
    first tram up Sass Pordoi and then climb Piz Boé. From
    the peak, we skied the east face and then turned north towards a small snow
    ridge that marks the entrance to Val de Fontane, a beautiful south-facing 40
    degree run. Snow was nice and soft, and we picked our route back down to the
    road through the great terrain below the Canale.






    After lunch, we took a second ride up to Pordoi, jogging past the entrance to
    Canale Joel and the Boé traverse to race the clouds slowly moving in from all
    sides. Using skins, we crossed the Sella group at high altitude to descend down
    to the Pisciadu valley and the hut located at its end. After crossing a small
    ridge to the left, we were plannig to ski down Val Setus, another classic run.
    Unfortunately, the guidebook has some wrong information here, telling you to
    avoid the first gully after the cable car (used to transport materials to the
    hut during summertime) and ski the second one. Well, the first one had tracks
    going in, but also coming back up, and second one had no tracks but didn't look
    like something we wanted to ski into. Since it was already late we decided to
    cross a bit further to the left and ski Val Cuela, which we could clearly
    identify. Cuela also had the advantage of finishing directly on the pass
    (Grödnerjoch), which allowed us to instantly find a taxi to take us back to
    Pordoi.




    Sunday the visibility was low, as expected, so we crossed over to Val Mezdi as
    it is easy to find and we were expecting better weather further north.
    Surprisingly what looked like a mere cm on the pass turned out to provide ample
    flotation in some places, thanks to the storm during the night, so at least the
    top part of Mesdi was very enjoyable.



    Once out of the valley, we took the Sella
    Ronda lifts back in a hurry (of course, we had forgotten about the change to CET... "oh look, these clocks are all wrong!"). Arriving at the car, we met the two nice Italian skiers we had encountered earlier, and after sharing some cold Augustiner beer for goodbies we hit the road back home..
    Last edited by herr_stoiber; 03-30-2011 at 05:34 AM.
    ~#at night the highway's diesel roar/speaks to me and tells me more/than any book I've ever read/or anything you've ever said#~

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Vienna/Austria/Europe
    Posts
    225
    don't know why the pictures come out so baldy. will try differently next time.

    guidebook:
    http://www.proguide.it/index.php/200...ti-ii/?lang=en
    and also good info on the website. if you need more details on the conditions, I've heard the guide office in Canazei is very helpful.
    single ride up pordoi: 8.-
    sella ronda day pass: 46.-, now 42.- (late season)
    ~#at night the highway's diesel roar/speaks to me and tells me more/than any book I've ever read/or anything you've ever said#~

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    87
    I saw you guy in the parking saturday morning! I was in a yellow norrona jacket...
    well done!!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Eurozone
    Posts
    2,653
    Good stuff, well played!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Alaska
    Posts
    466
    Very nice! I love that area. I'll be heading back down that way in about a week - that is, if there is any snow left after the heatwave that is about to hit.

    by the way - what guidebook were you using?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    SE Alaska
    Posts
    11,707
    I guess that's where the famous Sella Italia bike seats are made?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Schneedorf
    Posts
    223
    Great TR
    Is Italy less expensive than Austria, or about the same, or way less expensive.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Ventura Highway in the Sunshine
    Posts
    19,863
    I always enjoy euro TRs thanks for posting...looks like good time were had.


    Am I confused or were you rappelling with 5mm cord and a clove hitch???

    I agree it is a constitutional right for Americans to be assholes...its just too bad that so many take the opportunity...
    iscariot

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Dolomites
    Posts
    112
    ahaha guys i'm so happy to see your report, i'm one of the two guys with whom you share tha augustiner, did you had a good way back home?
    Thanks again for that good beer!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Treviso, Italia
    Posts
    200
    Quote Originally Posted by Trackhead View Post
    I guess that's where the famous Sella Italia bike seats are made?
    sella=saddle, sella italia bike saddles are produced next to Bassano, 2,30 south west of the Passo Pordoi, by the way, good TR, today and next days is going to be unseasonally hot.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    JH
    Posts
    434
    Great TR! One of the most incredible zones in the world, absolutely surreal lines.

    Powndnstein, Italy lift and lodging prices especially, and food prices were, at least last year, significantly cheaper. The problem with the Sella Group is I'm not even sure how you would make it there or around via public transportion, in my mind renting a car to reach it and get around the area is mandatory, but I also don't read Italian or have access to public transport maps.

    Arriving at the anchor, we met two skiers that had followed tracks from the top
    of the plateau and had no idea where they were. Lucky for them (and for us,
    because I didn't want to see anyone die) they managed to climb
    down next to the ice, ignoring our warnings. So, apparently, at the moment you
    don't need a rope in Canale Holzer.


    This is, quite possibly, the most fucking stupid and insane thing I have ever heard of, on so many levels, ever on this board. And considering the amount of stupid shit this board attracts, I consider that an epic statement. I am literally stunned speechless. Fucking speechless.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    denver
    Posts
    1,864
    good stuff
    I can't believe you are a rando racer because I look so much better in Lycra than you.

    People who don't think the Earth is flat haven't skied Vail.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Southern NH
    Posts
    4,192
    What a TR. Pure Gold! Wow.







    Question: What's up with this setup? Were you descending or ascending?

    The Passion is in the Risk

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Iktsuarpok
    Posts
    3,099
    Awesome stuff there!
    Eats me alive to think that I probably was standing in the liftline beside you guys at some point...to ski piste with my wife...

    Good that you got the goods,though! Thanks for sharing!

    The floggings will continue until morale improves.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Vienna/Austria/Europe
    Posts
    225
    thanks for the positive feedback!
    paz, I think I remember seeing a yellow norrona
    and hello thehaze, great to hear from you! yes, we had a nice drive back home, although I would have loved to stay some more days. and yourself? nice skiing & drinking with you guys!

    probably last saturday would have been a good day to have TGR stickers on the helmet for meeting everyone...

    about the rappell setup:
    actually it was just a 9mm climbing rope (didn't have a half rope here) and what you see in the picture is the short prusik attached to the leg loop of my harness as a backup. I used a figure of eight and Latz an ATC for the abseiling. I haven't used the short prusik very often but its probably a good idea in the alpine as you can just let go of the rope and you're fine. Just make sure it's short enough so it can't get pulled into your abseil device...

    @deutschbag, I have the "Freeride in Dolomiti", 1st edition, book (link in my 2nd post). The 2nd edition also covers the Cortina area. But it still has the same confusing statement about the entry to Val Setus (both in Italian and English).

    About the living costs - the Dolomites are a huge tourist area so the prices vary a lot, but you get a coffee for 1.- at a bar and pasta starting from 6.- euros.
    As far as I know telelebowski is completely right about the public transportation. It's a real problem to get around without a car.
    ~#at night the highway's diesel roar/speaks to me and tells me more/than any book I've ever read/or anything you've ever said#~

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Southern NH
    Posts
    4,192
    Quote Originally Posted by herr_stoiber View Post
    about the rappell setup:
    actually it was just a 9mm climbing rope (didn't have a half rope here) and what you see in the picture is the short prusik attached to the leg loop of my harness as a backup. I used a figure of eight and Latz an ATC for the abseiling. I haven't used the short prusik very often but its probably a good idea in the alpine as you can just let go of the rope and you're fine. Just make sure it's short enough so it can't get pulled into your abseil device...
    Cool. Without seeing your belay device I was concerned you were going all French on me. Use it all the time. Real nice to have that backup with icy ropes. Sweet TR.
    The Passion is in the Risk

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Switzerland
    Posts
    6,595
    euro stoke bump!

    there has been so little this season...

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Vienna/Austria/Europe
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    225
    Quote Originally Posted by Ripzalot View Post

    there has been so little this season...
    yeah... way too much of "you just have to know where to go" required
    ~#at night the highway's diesel roar/speaks to me and tells me more/than any book I've ever read/or anything you've ever said#~

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    OW
    Posts
    539
    Thanks for sharing!

    Yeah, that guidebook is not the most descriptive. Here's what the entrance to Val Setus looks like for future reference:


  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Ibk
    Posts
    870
    hm.do you have some pics about the snow level?
    thought about last we to go there, too. maybe this. but all this stuff looks pretty tracked out.

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Vienna/Austria/Europe
    Posts
    225
    thanks for that pic!! so that really looks like the first chute skier's left of the old lift that comes up the valley (which the guidebook claims to be unskiable). thought so.


    marius: lower elevations have no snow left. the slopes of sella ronda are in good condition and marmolada has tons of snow. in the sella, the easier/more accessible firn runs are getting a bit tracked up and there is some avalanche debris, but as soon as you walk a bit it's ok. the north is mostly really packed powder, hard grippy surface and usually very smooth (except for val mesdi of course). so not a lot of deep stuff, (some fluffy parts still to be had!) but decent snow, with the usual spring complications.
    ~#at night the highway's diesel roar/speaks to me and tells me more/than any book I've ever read/or anything you've ever said#~

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Somewhere In Time
    Posts
    914
    Excellent TR man! Yet another place to go check out someday.

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Schweiz
    Posts
    448
    Hey great to see the stoke! I spent the last month snowcamping and touring in the Vorarlberg Alps (Lech/Zug and further) with similar conditions. Its definitely insane how warm it has been! I'm now In Schweiz (St. Gallen) and its 20 degrees today. What a winter to spend in the Alps...

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Posts
    61

    Quick Question

    Quote Originally Posted by herr_stoiber View Post
    After lunch, we took a second ride up to Pordoi, jogging past the entrance to
    Canale Joel and the Boé traverse to race the clouds slowly moving in from all
    sides. Using skins, we crossed the Sella group at high altitude to descend down
    to the Pisciadu valley and the hut located at its end. After crossing a small
    ridge to the left, we were plannig to ski down Val Setus, another classic run.
    Unfortunately, the guidebook has some wrong information here, telling you to
    avoid the first gully after the cable car (used to transport materials to the
    hut during summertime) and ski the second one. Well, the first one had tracks
    going in, but also coming back up, and second one had no tracks but didn't look
    like something we wanted to ski into.
    Does this mean the correct entrance is the first gully after the cable car? Thanks.

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    188
    Hey dude,

    Thanks for the TR. Thinking of heading to the Dolomites this season for the first time - anywhere you can recommend as a good base to stay? Prefer to not get a car, but willing to if that's worthwhile.

    Cheers

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