Freeride Experience

Powder on the Pale di San Martino

Freeride Emotion

Location/Tourist Area – San Martino di Castrozza, Passo Rolle, Primiero and Vanoi  
Period - weekends, from Christmas to the end of March  
Theme – Ski mountaineering and freeride
Target (suitable for): groups of friends
Duration -  4 days/3 nights

Day 1
Arrival in San Martino di Castrozza – on-piste skiing

Midday in San Martino di Castrozza. All friends are on site, skis and boards are ready, the avalanche beacon too, plus shovel, probe and helmet… We decide to take it easy!  After lunch we pop in at the skipass office to read the avalanche and weather bulletin and get a map of the San Martino di Castrozza-Passo Rolle ski area. In front of a hot “bombardino” we start studying the map to orient ourselves and explore the challenges that the Dolomites may have in store for us in the next few days. We ask right away for tips on steep corridors and slopes covered in powdery snow. We discover that in this area, known as the freeride paradise, a special information campaign, called “#weridesafe”, has been launched to best inform the guests about the areas where they can practice this discipline, and the rules to be observed.In the afternoon we begin with some “light” skiing at the Colverde facilities, right in town, a flying start to our adventure on these extraordinary mountains.  In the evening we return, happy, to our Residence. Our charming landlady is already waiting for us with a freshly baked chocolate cake, the smell is all over the house. The schedule for tomorrow is already set and the programme for the evening is to relax in a pizzeria.

Day 2
Freeride in the Tognola and Ces Ski Area
After an energetic breakfast, we are off! We chose a fairly easy itinerary for the first day. We go down with the skibus to the departure point of the Tognola lift facilities, where a fast gondola cableway takes us to the ski runs. To reach the start of the freeride track we descend along an easy blue run, the "Rododendro", to then go up again with the Cigolera ski lift. Once at the top, we leave the run and move to the right, above the wood, then we descend along most of the track through the trees until we get to a forest road that takes us back to the Tognola Tre run. We go down the run to a narrow, snow covered road climbing up on the right and we decide to follow it until we see a dairy farm among the trees and we decide that it is time for lunch! At Malga Frattazza we enjoy a local dish with polenta, sausage and tosèla (a typical fresh cheese) and some homemade cakes. After lunch, we go back to the lift facilities and take the Tognola gondola cableway once more. Once at the top, we descend again along the Rododendro run, but this time we head left, to the departure point of the Cima Tognola chairlift. When we arrive on top, we move to the start of the Cima Tognola run and go right, to a track slightly more difficult than the previous one. From here we follow the ridge until we find several couloirs leading us to the Scandola pit. The directions they gave us yesterday at the skipass office were spot on! After arriving at the bottom we take the Scandola chairlift, then descend along a short stretch of blue run until we get to the departure point of the Conca chairlift. We go up again and decide to try one last easy off-piste; from the start of the Conca run we go left, descending along several couloirs to finally arrive at the Scandola pit. Up again with the chairlift, to then return to valley on the Tognola Tre run, a medium difficulty red run turning into a blue run in the last section. That’s it for today. We agree to meet in the evening at the “Ranch-the Dolomites Bar”, a western bar in town where, sitting on western saddles, we enjoy an excellent hamburger and a BioNoc’ beer from Primiero.It’s time to go back to the hotel, tomorrow we are in for a fantastic... but very challenging day!

Day 3
Feeride on the Altopiano delle Pale
We get up early, look out of the window and the spectacle before our eyes is just incredible. The day is clear, it is very cold, not a cloud in the sky… The perfect day to climb to the Altopiano delle Pale! We go down and find a rich breakfast waiting for us, just what we need today! We get ready and, in a few minutes’ walk, reach the departure point of the Colverde lift facilities.  It is early, the gondola cableway is doing its first runs, still nobody on the track. We go up with the gondola cableway to an altitude of 2000 m, where we decide to inaugurate our first descent on the Colverde run, a nice 2 Km long red run. We take the gondola once again, but this time continue the ascent with the Rosetta cableway that takes us in a few minutes to 2700 m altitude. We step out on the panoramic terrace, with its splendid view of the town of San Martino di Castrozza. After a quick look at this snow paradise the adventure comes to the crunch: let’s get down to it! We prepare ourselves to face the Canalino della Pala, a fairly challenging track that should not be tackled with fresh snow because of the high danger of avalanches. For this reason, before venturing into the descent, it is advisable to drop in at the Aquile di San Martino Alpine Guides'' office to have the most recent information on the off-piste conditions.
Once out of the uphill station, we head towards the gully under the Sotto Corona peak, get round it on the right and descend until we arrive above the downhill station of the Rosetta cableway.
That was a splendid descent! We go down to Rifugio Colverde and enjoy a tasty roll on the panoramic terrace at 2000 m altitude. Down to valley, we return to the hotel where a brand new wellness centre is awaiting us. Between a dip in the pool, a little relaxation in the sauna and a hay bath the afternoon goes quickly by...
At the hotel we find some young foreigners who recommend a beautiful itinerary for the following day: Val Venegia, within the Paneveggio Pale di San Martino Nature Park. For this, however, we need mountaineering skis and sealskins,  so we go out to find a shop in town where to rent the necessary equipment. We are spoilt for choice!

Day 4
Freeride at Passo Rolle and Val Venegia
Today we go up to Passo Rolle. Just a few steps away from the hotel there is the skibus stop. The trip is free thanks to the guest card they gave us at the hotel. In 15 minutes we are already at the departure point of the Passo Rolle lift facilities. It was really worth it, the scenery here is unique! We decide to start with a medium difficulty track. We go up on the Paradiso chairlift and, once on top, we stop for a few moments to enjoy a truly breathtaking view before we dive into the off-piste. We move to the left of the run, where a beautiful track with continuous changes in slope starts. The snow is nice and compact, and we go up again for another off-piste. Then we move to the opposite side of the ski area. Here we go back up with the Castellazzo chairlift, admiring the unique profile of the Cimon della Pala from a different angle. We descend along the Castellazzo run and arrive at Capanna Cervino, where we have breakfast with some local sweets. After the break, it’s time to take the sealskins out of the rucksack! We prepare the skis and start the climb to Baita Segantini on a beaten track. Here we begin a descent on fresh snow towards Val Venegia until we arrive at Pian dei Casoni. The last stretch is almost flat, so we must give it a good push if we do not want to put the sealskins on again!! From here we continue on the path to Malga Juribello, and descend to the departure point of the Castellazzo chairlift. We are exhausted, but at least we had our fill of excitement! We take the skibus to return to San Martino di Castrozza, accompanied by the Alpenglow on the most beautiful mountains in the world!
Three thrilling days: now we know why they were declared a World Heritage Site!
Ph: Brian Goldstone - Rider: J. Carron - King of Dolomites