First World War Ski Tour, Italy, Jan. 21, 2018

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First World War Ski Tour, Italy, Jan. 21, 2018

Postby Tony Crocker » Sat Feb 10, 2018 9:27 pm

During our first 52 hours in Europe we skied 2 areas with overnights in Aosta and Bolzano and 700km of driving so we were glad to settle in at Fraser Wilkins’ recommended Hotel Evaldo in Arabba. Arabba is the southeast corner of the Dolomites’ famous Sella Ronda circuit and on the west side of the lesser known World War I ski circuit. https://www.altabadia.org/en/winter-hol ... -tour.html In summer many of the fortifications can be explored but this winter they were well buried in snow.

Sunday was the most severe storm day in the Alps, but as it was a northwest storm there were expected only flurries and some high winds in the Dolomites. Weather was supposed to let up in the afternoon, so we figured the World War I tour with morning bus rides might work out best.
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The green line marks the front line between Austria-Hungary to the NW and Italy to the SE between May 1915 and November 1918. The Dolomite ski region north and west of Arabba is still majority German speaking.

We did not get out the door as soon as we should have, and arrived at the top of Arabba’s tram at 8,150 feet after 10AM.
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We were pleased that the cloud layer was higher than the pistes we expected to ski. There were also about 3 inches of overnight snow so surfaces were excellent except for a few wind stripped areas we encountered late in the day.

After two chair lifts and 4,800 vertical of skiing we arrived at Malga Ciapela, where it was lightly snowing and the cloud was lower. Thus we were not tempted to ascend the tram to the Marmolada Glacier at 10,700 feet. Fortunately we got up there on Tuesday. Marmolada has a sequence of 3 trams and there is a World War I museum in the second station. Including the museum and the Marmolada Glacier on the World War I ski tour would be very challenging in terms of timing.

Our hotel had given us the bus schedules but the first bus schedule from Malga Ciapela to Alleghe was incorrect, departing at 11:31AM instead of 11:10. Dolomite ski trails may be mostly mellow but the roads are tough, slow with frequent hairpin turns. So both bus legs on the World War I circuit take half an hour.

Alleghe/Pescul is one of two small terrain pods labeled as the Civetta ski sector on most Dolomite ski maps and it was surprisingly busy. While it is modest in size Alleghe is no slouch when it comes to its panoramic views from the top.
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I took an extra lap here, as we would not make the 12:45 bus from Pescul to Fedare and had to take the 1:15 bus.

The Fedare/Nuvolao/Lagazoui sector has a much more remote feel than anywhere else we skied in the Dolomites. This was a slow lift from Fedare to Nuvolao.
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While the clouds are clearing, the wind was strong at Nuvolao.

We skied the other side of the saddle with a great view of the Cinque Torii rock formations.
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The smudge in the bottom of the picture is blowing snow from the wind.

More views from the Cinque Torii sector:
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When we got down to Bai de Dones, we realized we had to go back up to Nuvolao and ski to lift #8 to continue the World War I circuit. When we got there, lift #8 was closed by the wind, so we had to ski back to Fedare, ride its lift and ski to Bai de Dones again, hoping to get a ride up to Passo Falzarego.

The Fedare/Nuvolao/Lagazoui sector is considered a satellite of Cortina d’Ampezzo, and most of the skiers there had driven or taken the bus from Cortina. It was now past 3PM and we had to wait for the 3:30 bus to get up to Passo Falzarego, where we might have to take a 4th bus if the winds were too strong up there. We followed a local Italian who was trying to get back to his lodging base in San Cassiano.

The Lagazoui tram had been on wind hold, but the Italian inquired and they were going to send one last tram up for the 15 or so people waiting for it. There was a WWI artillery carrier in the tram waiting area.
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Lagazoui and Marmolada were key contested strongpoints during WWI.

Views riding the Lagazoui tram about 3:45PM:
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Here’s the view off the back of the tram deck in the direction we are going to ski.
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The back of Lagazoui is one of those long pistes carved into the wilderness, 3,800 verticaI ending in a flat valley where the exit into the Alta Badia lift system is by horse drawn sleigh. I thought there might be powder potential out here but the upper third of the run was into the howling wind with the surface buffed very hard. Only lower down did I take any pictures.
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The Italian remarked that “we were good skiers.” I think up top he was a little worried that these American tourists might be in trouble in such a remote area late in the day with less than ideal weather and snow surfaces.

One consequence of the late hour and bad weather is that the horselift was not running at 4:30PM.
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We had to skate on the flats for a mile or so to Armentarola. There we saw this marker from the First World War.
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The last words are World War 1917 in German, but perhaps James can translate the rest of it. We managed 18,900 vertical today despite the logistics hangups.

At 4:45 the conventional Alta Badia lifts were closed. The Italian called a taxi for us as we would have had to wait 40 minutes for a bus and it would have taken at least two buses to get to Arabba. The taxi dropped the Italian in San Cassiano and we paid 60 Euros to continue through La Villa and Corvara and over Passo Campolongo to Arabba. The remainder of the World War I ski tour from San Cassiano to Arabba is also part of the Sella Ronda which we planned to ski Monday.
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Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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Re: First World War Ski Tour, Italy, Jan. 21, 2018

Postby jamesdeluxe » Mon Feb 12, 2018 6:27 am

Thanks, a good complement to my WWII sightings at Isola. A shame you missed the horse-drawn sleigh -- that would've been a nice touch.
Last edited by jamesdeluxe on Mon Feb 12, 2018 9:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: First World War Ski Tour, Italy, Jan. 21, 2018

Postby jamesdeluxe » Mon Feb 12, 2018 9:53 am

Tony Crocker wrote:The Italian remarked that “we were good skiers.” I think up top he was a little worried that these American tourists might be in trouble in such a remote area late in the day with less than ideal weather and snow surfaces.

At virtually every stop on the recently-concluded Maritimes Alps trip, my on-snow hosts were shocked that I a) could keep up with them on a variety of terrain, b) actually requested to go offpiste, and especially c) brought my own skis and boots -- they were delighted not to have to go through the process of going to the equipment shop for rentals. When I asked which percentage of their press guests were decent skiers, they said "maybe a third, if that." I guess this goes back to Tony's earlier comment about how in Europe there's a much higher percentage of casual skiers than in North America, which helps the industry's bottom line considerably.
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Re: First World War Ski Tour, Italy, Jan. 21, 2018

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:19 pm

jamesdeluxe wrote:When I asked which percentage of their press guests were decent skiers, they said "maybe a third, if that."

That may not be so different from here. When I was at Mad River Glen in 2003, the marketing guy was delighted to be rid of the N.Y. Times low intermediate with whom he had been puttering around Mad River and Sugarbush most of the day and guided me to Paradise around 2:30PM. Then there was the NASJA writer who wrote up our 2004 Petit Envers tour of the Vallee Blanche in the L.A. Times Travel section as "an extreme skiing experience."
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
User avatar
Tony Crocker
 
Posts: 9715
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California


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