Skiing in Val Gardena
How do you end a day after watching the Solar Eclipse at over 2,300m and skiing the Saslong alongside Konrad Bartelski? An amazing meal in the smallest mountain hut in the valley, followed by a very interesting night ski is probably the only way to do it.
I had the great pleasure of visiting Val Gardena in the stunning Dolomites, where I explored the fantastic skiing and absorbed the breath taking scenery, which was like nothing I’ve seen before. And whilst winding my way up the sun drenched valley the sheer beauty of Val Gardena with its villages of Ortisei, St Christina and Selva was made apparent.
I had never skied in Italy before, but had been told many great things regarding the Dolomites, particularly about the landscape and of course the food, something I was very excited about trying.
My first day skiing did not disappoint, despite visiting fairly late in the season and being confronted with a fair amount of dirt streaked snow. Regardless, the pistes were in good condition as 98% are covered by snow cannons.
In the shadows of the Sassolungo mountain, I discovered the Saslong, the run famed for its World Cup downhill champions, and I got to ski it with an unusual twist….we worked our way down the black piste with Konrad Bartelski who explained how it felt to negotiate the famous Camel Humps, a series of three small jumps that racers must attack in quick succession. These were not unlike the ones Konrad skied to win Silver in the 1981 Alpine Skiing World Cup. Skiing with Konrad gave me such a great insight into the mind of a serious winter sportsman, something that not everyone can say that they have experienced.
As the sun was setting in the clear sky, our skis by our sides we made our way back up the hill We wound our way through the beautiful terrain until we were met by a piste basher, which was our transport to dinner. Emerging from the ‘beast’, smiles on our faces, we were greeted by the warm glow of the Fineile Monte mountain restaurant, the smallest of its kind in the valley, and a plateau of fantastic nibbles and sparkling wine. Over the next three hours we were treated to more than 6 courses of tantalising traditional culinary goodness, and were given a passionate history of the Ladin language and culture – the third dialect spoken in this area of the South Tyrol, by David Larschneider, the publisher of the Ladin weekly paper ‘La USC Di Ladins’.
Whilst digesting the delights of dinner, next came the highlight of my day; skiing down on freshly pisted runs in the utter darkness with only a head torch and the light from those in my group forging the way. Our decent was livened up as we were joined by competitors taking place in the 20th Sellaronda Skimarathon that was taking place and as they avoided our snake trail, their super powered lights momentarily lit the whole area and we were reminded of our surroundings. Following candles and small fires along the route, I felt peaceful and calm despite the fact it was pitch black and that there could have been anything hiding out amongst the tree lined runs we were haphazardly making our way down; it really was quite an experience and one I will never forget. The perfect way to end a fabulous day in Val Gardena.
Pulling the quilt over my weary body in bed in the early hours I looked forward to the next adventure….skiing the Sellaronda and tasting yet more fabulous Italian cooking, if I had room for more food that is!!
She flew with EasyJet from London Gatwick to Innsbruck. For further information on Val Gardena visit www.valgardena.it.