US Rando Race team member and Jackson, Wyoming backcountry skier Steve Romeo sent me this excellent report. Time for a trip to Italy?
I recently made a trip to Cortina, home to some of the most incredible terrain for ski mountaineering/alpinism. The areas extensive system of trams and lifts offer easy access to the alpine world and the dolomiti strata is perfect for the splitter couloirs that we love to ski. It reminded me of a smaller Baffin Island or a larger Absarokas (closer to home) of Wyoming and Montana. Upon arrival, I instantly picked out a handful of lines from a guidebook lent to me from the very helpful Max, at the popular Casa Tua hospice . The weather held out long enough for us to get a few things done, though it was a bit windy. A few highlights:
|Cary Smith Skis Tofana, more about this below.|
|The Canale Joel is a quick 20-minute hike from the Sass Pordoi tram in the impressive Sella group about a one hour drive west of Cortina. It is known as one of the more aesthetic lines in the range due to its overhanging walls that seem to form an arch. After chopping off a little cornice to gain entry, a quick ski-cut produced a small slab that had developed from the lingering high winds. Conditions proved a bit variable (just like home) with the best snow piled up in the crux from the constant sloughing of snow from above.|
|On the drive back to Cortina, we decided to throw on the skins and tour in between the massive Tofana di Rozes and Tofana di Mezzo. After a couple hours of climbing, we arrived at a col that was home to many stone structures, artifacts from the WWI, when the Austrians and Italians battled over this beautiful piece of earth. The late hour provided awesome views of the peaks to the south of us. The next day we cheated and took the high lift on Mount Cristallo to access the Canale Staunies Nord. A quick jump of a fence awarded us with a 5000ft descent with over 3500ft in the 45-50 degree couloir. Access to the steeps does not get any easier.|
|Another day of sun and wind brought us back to the Sella group for a 1.5 hour climb from the tram to the top of Piz Boe and a descent of the south facing Direttissima Val De La Fontane. The views into the Val Lasties (Misty Valley) made my heart pound for more exploration of this ski mountaineers paradise. The snow was perfect â€˜corn slabâ€™ (sun softened wind slab) in the Direttissima and allowed for fast, TGR-style turns down its wide and moderately steep slope. It was one of those runs that give you the warm fuzzies inside: SWEET!|
|Heading down to Val Lasties, Steve in Direttissima|
|Our final tour lured us up to the infamous Bus di Tofana (Hole in the Tofana). The lifts bring you close to this natural arch on the high ridge, but we wanted the exercise so we hiked up the descent route from the backside of the mountain. Clearing clouds provided mystical lighting on the surrounding peaks.|
|Views like these made every day special, what a trip!|
The late Steve Romeo (perished in avalanche, 2012) was a prolific blogger who founded and operated the famed TetonAT.com website from September 2006 to March 2012. Steve did exciting and inspiring backcountry skiing worldwide, and concentrated on beautiful descents in his home mountains, Wyoming Tetons. Before starting his website Steve filed a few guest blogs here at WildSnow. We’re honored to host Romeo’s first blog post, and offer our condolences to his family and friends.
(Please note that as of August 2013 Steve’s website had been hacked Consequently, we are not linking to his legacy website. We’ll link again once we’re sure his site is stable.)