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The final three days of Beth Lloyd’s ski safari in the Dolomites features skiing in Kronplatz, sunset over the Alta Badia valley and some tips on where to eat.

Check out days 1 – 4 here.

Day 5

Time to move on again! Everyone assembled in front of the hotel with their bags packed and ready. I was feeling fresh after an especially early get up at first light to catch the sunrise. Ironically the best photo of the morning was taken hanging out of the bedroom window.

There was a little more leg work required of us today. Our next destination was the Kronpatz/Plan de Corones ski area and this time we were taking our bags with us! So, all heavily laden, we caught our train out of San Candido for a scenic half an hour journey towards Brunico. The platform is right next to one of the main bubble lifts so as soon as we disembarked we beeped ourselves through the barriers and with skis, bags and the kitchen sink we headed for the top.

Kronplatz is a great location, it is essentially a dome with a crown dotted with lift stations and pistes leading off in every direction. In terms of navigation, if you get lost all you need to do is head back to the top again and you’re back to where you started! This doesn’t mean that the skiing is limited in any way –it’s a big place, with connections on to other ski areas including St Vigilio and Piculin.


When we reached the top we had a short ski ahead of us to reach the Panorama hotel. Many were a little nervous of how their technique would be effected by their heavy backpacks but everyone made it safely down. The highlight however had to be Chris’ wheelie bag. He was catching the eye of many bystanders as he extended the handle and attempted to wheel it down the piste behind him. Brilliant.

Eventually we all reconvened at the Panorama hotel, our accommodation for the night. It’s perched on the edge of the piste with a view that, as it name suggests, stretches for quite some way. I was happy to see the Alta Badia valley after almost a whole week away and all the familiar mountains that I have come to know and love. We moved our bags inside and got a coffee before getting organised and heading out for a ski.

As the day progressed the weather moved in and our view slowly disappeared, taking with it any hope of a mountain sunset. But nevertheless the skiing was good and the instructors kept everyone busy concentrating on their posture and the like. I started the morning with Pietro’s group, skiing some of the steeper black runs, including my favourite, Sylvester! We got to see the famous Concorde bell at the very summit ringing out at twelve and we even bumped into a hosted ski group from chalet Angelo!

The whole group met up again for lunch at the top of Kronplatz at the restaurant Cima –owned by a very friendly, and slightly eccentric chap who kept exclaiming “BELLA!” Every time he arrived at the table of ladies.

In the afternoon I joined Diego’s group to ski the longest run at Kronplatz, Percha, which stretches a full 9km from top to bottom. Understandably everyone by this point had rather tired legs so the rest of the afternoon went at a more leisurely pace –apart from when a straight running race was suggested and competitiveness kicked in.

Eventually we retired to the Panorama refugio where we got the spritz’ and beers in and relaxed in the bar until dinner time. Dinner was lovely and filling, as usual and a few grappas in the bar after went down very well indeed (especially the homemade pinecone one) as we watched the lights of the piste bashers as they trundled about outside. Snow started and the wind picked up a little making the refugio seem cosier than ever!

Day 6

We woke up in a cloud. A thick, grey, snow-filled mist that had the whole of Kronplatz enveloped. The views that we’d been greeted with the previous morning had gone and the snow that had replaced them showed no sign of stopping. Nevertheless we muscled together our bags ready to go and met in the bar for a pre-departure coffee. It was at this point that I found out that the day wasn’t to be as straight forward as hoped! The heavy snow and strong winds overnight had been the cause of high avalanche risk on the passes and roads towards where we needed to travel next and it soon became apparent that our original plan of continuing over the Gardena Pass and towards Ortisei wasn’t going to be possible. Thankfully the owner of the Panorama refugio was a very good friend of our ski instructors and immediately offered us an extra night so we had somewhere to stay. Gratefully, we replaced our bags in our rooms and set out into the snow for another day on Kronplatz.

Initially the weather was difficult, the visibility wasn’t the best and the light quite flat. But within an hour the cloud had lifted and the light improved considerably! This brought with it the chance to ski some amazing fresh powder snow, and the instructors popped on and off the piste with everyone following suit with varying degrees of confidence and success. It was soft landings for anyone who took a tumble though and it was great fun.

We had a play on some of the race courses, fun parks and speed skiing tests that are dotted around the resort too. It was a great morning and no one seemed particularly bothered that we hadn’t gone on to a new area.

We returned to our lunch spot from the day before and were greeted again by the eccentric landlord who provided us with homemade pastries after lunch alongside coffee.

In the afternoon we played a little more in amongst the trees, making again for very tired legs so we returned to the Panorama to put our feet up and settle in the bar. It was nice to be in our little mountainside refuge again.

We were treated by a very unexpected but welcome sunset just before dinner and everyone ran outside to take photos and look out on the Alta Badia valley. The storm had finally lifted and the last light of the day flickered across the mountain tops. I was glad to have stayed one more night so as to witness it.

Day 7

It had to be done. My alarm buzzed enthusiastically and I persuaded myself out of bed and pulled on my clothes and jacket. With camera in hand I let myself out onto the refugio balcony just in time to see the very first light of day. The sky was completely clear and a perfect crescent moon hung above the Marmolda, Queen of the Dolomites. It was bitter cold and crisp as the light gently ebbed into the horizon. Lisa joined me shorty after and we trudged out onto the fresh corduroy piste to watch the bright orange sun arrive on the shoulder of the Dolomites. It was well worth getting up for.

We arrived at breakfast feeling fresh and awake! Everyone else joined us after, all excited for the prospect of first tracks on the mountain! By the time we were ready to leave it was blue skies and sparkling snow. The landlord loaded our bags onto his skidoo and disappeared off down the piste with them. The skiing was fantastic! Potentially the best piste conditions I have ever skied and not another soul around.

We played around on Kromplatz for a few runs and then started our way towards Piculin to catch the ski bus to Sompunt and back into the Alta Badia, home! This was familiar territory for many of the returning guests and people excitedly exchanges facts about the mountains and villages around. We spent our morning on the Santa Croce slopes, opposite Pedraces –the home of Haus Valentin. Some of the group looped the slopes whilst the rest of us took the short walk up a track above the top lift, to visit the famous church and refugio. The views were stunning and the Fanes cliffs stood impressively above us.

After we skied half way down the pistes to our lunch stop. The Oies restaurant is the favourite of many staff and guests alike due to its party trick of being very much off the pistes. From twelve until three the restaurant runs a shuttle service for skiers who wait at the designated spot at the side of the ski run. A horse and cart with a traditionally dressed driver pulls up periodically and transports groups of skiers down to the restaurant. The restaurant itself serves gorgeous, homemade pasta and other Ladin specialities. We sat out in the sun on the balcony and enjoyed our food before returning to the pistes and continuing on. We skied from Badia to La Villa then up onto the Pralongia Plateau, where we had skied on our very first day. Then, with only a few more runs, we dropped over the Campolongo pass and down to Refugio Plan Boe for our last drinks stop of the trip! With music ringing out across the pistes, we got in the Bombardinos and celebrated a fantastic week together. Everyone agreed that the group had worked so well together and that the instructors had led an amazing adventure around the Dolomites!

After we all headed back to Baita for dinner and goodbyes. We were welcomed back by landlord Walter and his wife, and Kiki the fat cat. The ski instructors presented everyone with photos and maps of the week and exchanged heartfelt hugs before making their final farewells. I was soon to follow suit as it was time to head back to Corvara. I said goodbye to everyone too, feeling happy that good friends had been made and an excellent week had by all.

Why not try it for yourself and book a ski safari in the Dolomites now.

Join Collett’s Beth Lloyd on days 1 – 4 of a 7-day ski safari in the Dolomites as she gets to grips with the slopes, samples some wonderful food and enjoys a visit from a baby deer.

Day 1

And so it began! The ski safari team for the week had all been collected from Venice airport and everyone was settled in well for the first night in Chalet Baita. Nestled on the corner of a hairpin bend, surrounded by forests that lead up past Castello and the Falzarego pass, Baita presents a welcome and homely atmosphere. The owners are friendly and attentive, the décor traditional and quirky, there is even a fat, friendly cat wondering about the ground floor giving the place a truly homely feel. It didn’t take long after moving into the rooms for the group to relocate to the bar area to get to know each other over a few drinks. There were seventeen of us in total and so the jumble of names and back stories had us all busy well into the evening. Nibbles were bought to the table and before too long our ski instructors for the week, Diego and Pietro, a fine double act, arrived to give us the low down for the week to come. After our mini office hour we moved through to the next room for an incredible home cooked dinner of Barley soup followed by Sirloin steak cooked in a salt and hay crust –a traditional, local dish that had the whole group piling on the compliments to our hosts. It was beautifully cooked and very tasty. Desert was a classic tiramisu, lovely. We then retired to the bar for a digestive and more chatting. Despite the long day that many had travelling from home to the mountains, the atmosphere had been one of excitement for the rest of the week, and as the snow continued to fall outside it was hard to imagine why anyone wouldn’t be looking forward to it!


Day 2

The first day drew to an end with a chalet full of tired, full and happy people. We travelled far, starting in Arraba after sorting our ski hire. The snow that had been promised arrived and changed the view considerably. The trees had become laden with fresh powdery flakes and the pistes covered in a decent blanket too. This proved for some more challenging conditions in the afternoon, with moguls and choppy slopes making for tired legs all round. We headed over to Corvara first and the Pralongia plateau before dropping down into San Cassiano to catch a taxi up to the Falzarego pass. A short ski took us along to Cinque Torri, with the famous towers enveloped by low lying cloud. We had a long lunch at refugio Averau, sampling many lovely dishes including a carrot gnocci and some local wine too. After lunch we skied down through the Cinque Torri area and caught a bus down to the Tofana ski area, but not before a quick snowball fight, instigated by those pesky ski instructors! Diego and Pietro are both jokers and a great double act fuelled by a very long friendship. Throughout the week they were forever messing around, keeping us entertained in the worst of weather and at any time we found ourselves waiting at a lift or bus stop.

We left the majority of the Tofana slopes until the next morning and retired to the hotel Cantoniere where we would be spending the night. At first impressions this building doesn’t inspire much confidence. From the outside it is a distinctive, old red house standing alone on the hillside, but what it hides underground in a modern extension is just amazing. The rooms are fresh and clean and the bar and communal areas very welcoming. We all had a delightful three course meal, but retired early to bed on the most part feeling a little stuffed!

Day 3

Well if we thought it had snowed a lot the day before…! We woke to the gentle swaying of trees sodden with snow. Big flakes, clumped together were falling at a fair rate and had seemed to have been doing so most of the night. The Cantoniere hotel was completely enveloped in a winter wonderland! Sleepy faces appeared one by one to negotiate the extensive spread of cakes, breads, fruit and cereals that had been laid on for breakfast. The owner popped in and out, bringing the coffees of people’s choice which seemed to help clear some of the sleepy dust. At a leisurely pace we got ourselves ready and met at the front of the hotel.

The instructors told us how we had a short ski through the woods to reunite with the main ski area. The forest was magical with the snow dampening down sounds and giving almost a slow motion effect as it fell. We joined the Tofana area again and went in search of the ladies world cup black run! The slopes were quiet, the cloud was still quite low and the visibility not the easiest but at least we had it to ourselves. The run in question lies between two pillars of rock, which became known to the group as the gates of Modor! It’s an impressive setting for a race, that’s for sure, and everyone gave it a good shot in the less than ideal conditions. After a little more exploring we sought some warmth in a refugio for coffee then descended into Cortina to cross the valley toward Faloria! A short bus journey through the centre of town took us to the bottom of the main cable car, which we found was closed due to technical difficulties… But that was no problem! Alternative transport was arranged and soon enough we were at our lunch stop.

After some well-deserved and warming food we skied the rest of the afternoon away amongst the trees where the visibility was much better –despite the ever continuing snow! We even played on some off the steeper, off piste slopes which was great! Smiles all round! With weary legs we caught our transfer off the slopes and away from Cortina, next stop San Candido and Hotel Capriolo where we would be staying for the next two nights! San Candido is a beautiful town, the buildings are old and traditional, with numerous churches dotted about amongst the shops and bars. I headed down for an evening walk and bumped into the instructors, joining them for a drink in a local bar, and chatting with them about the day.

After this it was back to the hotel for dinner. The hotel was much bigger than our previous nights of accommodation but didn’t fail to be just as welcoming. There was a bar area and large dining room as well as sofas for taking the weight off of those tired legs. The staff were all very helpful and friendly too. Dinner was much appreciated by all after the hard work put in on the slopes and was followed by a few grappas in the bar, looking over the maps to see what ground we had covered on the trip so far.

Day 4

The perfect day. Fresh snow, blue skies and perfectly groomed pistes. We woke just in time to see a dramatic sunrise over San Candido and we treated to our first view of mountains since the trip began and like they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Croda Rossa stood proudly across the valley, its jagged peaks accentuated by the fresh snowfall of yesterday. The good weather had people considerably more motivated than previous mornings and before too long everyone had gathered at the front of the building with skis at the ready. We had a short ride on the train to the bottom of our slopes for the day, exploring the areas of Sexten and Vierschach. We split into two groups at the top of the first gondola and headed off to explore. I joined Pietro’s group for the morning. With the good visibility we could all really start to focus on technique more –rather than just trying to negotiate the best way down soft, moguly slopes! He started to tweak peoples’ posture and performance whilst leading us around the resorts’ long runs. We headed over to the steepest black in northern Italy, Holzier, which everyone survived in style, and then went for coffee.

It really felt like the group bonded that day. Without the distraction of weather, or midday transfers, everyone could just ski and enjoy the mountains at their best. Everyone seemed comfortable in each other’s company and happy to help each other out, a good team. After coffee we headed over to a race course to do some video analysis, not before bumping into a baby reindeer… yes an actual reindeer who was roaming the slopes. One can only assume he’d gotten out of an enclosure somewhere as they’re not all that native to the Dolomites… He was also very tame.

The whole group met for lunch in the sun at a refugio at the bottom of the pistes and then divided again for round two in the afternoon. I joined Diego for this session as we did a few more runs and headed back towards our day’s start point before last lifts. Our lift back to the hotel wasn’t due to arrive for another hour as we cruised onto the last piste of the day so we went to another sunny refugio and did a bit of Apres –would be rude not to!

The Apres continued when we got back, throughout dinner and beyond which was all a great laugh.

Click here for days 4 – 7. If this has inspired you to try the real thing book a ski safari in the Dolomites now. 

Winter Availability in the Dolomites
Arabba, Badia & Corvara
More snow is forecast in the Dolomites over the next two days. We currently have the following offers in February and March including one apartment in Arabba at Half Term. Snow conditions have improved greatly with a couple of heavy snowfalls over the last few weeks. So if you fancy a week in these magical mountains – on skis or snowshoes – please browse the offers below or visit our late sale page here. Also, we still have just one space left on our Ski Safari for the 7th – 14th February – see the relevant link below.

7 – 14 FebSki Safari – One Place Available – £1395 £1195 £1050pp HB
14 – 21 FebHosted Apartments, Arabba – One Apt. Available – from £610 £495pp HB
Self catering at Half Term in Arabba available form £495 £445pppw
14 – 21 Mar Hosted Apartments, Arabba – One Apt. Available – from £550pp HB
Self catering in Arabba available form £395pppw
22 – 29 MarHaus Valentin, Badia – Four Doubles Available – £610 £549pp HB
22 – 29 MarChalet Angelo, Corvara – One Double Available – £660 £594pp HB
22 – 29 MarChalet Verena, Corvara – One Double Available – £660 £594pp HB
29 Mar 5 AprHaus Valentin, Badia – Three Doubles Available – £610pp HB
29 Mar 5 Apr Chalet Verena, Corvara – Five Doubles Available – £660pp HB
5 – 12 Apr Chalet Angelo, Corvara£660pp HB
5 – 12 Apr Haus Valentin, Badia – Three Doubles Available – £610pp HB

Click here for all our latest winter availability and offers.

Also, we still have just one space left on our Ski Safaris on the 7th of February – Click here for more information.

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Skiing & Snowshoeing in the Dolomites – Arabba, Badia & Corvara
Upcoming availability and Special Offers

Snow has been falling over the last couple of weeks in the Dolomites and as we gear up for departure from the UK we look forward to the start of the Winter season on the 13th of December in Arabba, Badia and Corvara. We have a few pockets of availability in December and early January that may be of interest to skiers and snowshoers alike!

Click here for our latest winter availability and offers.

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Chalet Haus Valentin
Snowshoeing on the Pralongià Ridge Ramble above Corvara

Rifugios in the Italian Dolomites
Mangiare bene at our top 5 lunch destinations

There is usually a list of things that attracts a certain person to a certain area. Depending on the destination of course depends on the attraction but I’m sure I can say with some certainty that a high percentage of people arrive in the Dolomites during the winter months with a grin from ear to ear to enjoy the inches upon inches of white stuff; whether that be for skiing, snowshoeing or winter walking. But the activity on offer cannot itself create a memorable holiday for there are other important factors to consider; the people (those you holiday with and the new faces you meet), the weather (which will without doubt always be important to the English), the places you visit (old favourites and newly explored ground) and what else? The food! The South Tyrolean menu is vast and with so many unique and beautiful Rifugios dotted around the area, there is surely something delicious for everyone to get the taste buds tingling.

One of the best things about a winter holiday in the Dolomites is living a rule free lifestyle whilst you’re here. Who says you can’t have a beer with lunch? Why can’t you have a slice of cake at 11am and then another during afternoon tea? Throughout a full day on the mountains, a scrumptious, filling and affordable lunch is certainly something to be deserved and the Dolomite Mountains will not let you down. Whichever direction you head in, no matter how many Kilometres you are away from resort, there is a unique Rifugio awaiting you to walk through the door.

Now, once you have chosen the destination it is up to you so settle on one of the many meals on offer. Italy is a country full of temptation; perhaps you will go for the traditional Italian pizza or maybe try the less-known Ladin variety – my personal favourite is spinach and sauerkraut wrapped in puff pastry. A common dish found in almost every Rifugio (spiegelei und bratkartoffeln) consists of Speck (a dried meat very similar to bacon), fried eggs and sautéed potatoes and although it sounds very basic, is prepared in numerous ways. Of course there are many options to entice the sweet tooth as well and if you choose to resist the conventional apple strudel, then why not try a slice of Sacher cake (chocolate sponge encasing a layer of orange jam) or the typically delicious Tiramisu? Every meal needs something tasty to wash it down with and you’ll find the drinks menu is usually as varied as the food. Aside from the obvious beer and coffee options, enjoy the popular Hugo and Spritz, treat yourself to a Bombardino (or Calimero!) and definitely sample one of many different Grappa flavours for if nothing else, it will surely improve your downhill skiing!

Before doubt creeps into your mind about how much all of this will cost, never fear; a typical meal, which I might add is very generously portioned, will never set you back more than €15. The only piece of advice I have to offer is to resist at least some temptation and leave enough room for your evening three course meal when you arrive back at the chalet!

Top 5 lunch suggestions

Rifugio Bioch, Pralongià Plateau – Perfect 360° views of the area whilst you enjoy a Hunters plate (speck, eggs and potatoes) and drink one of the best Bombardinos in the area.

Rifugio Plan Boé, Arabba – Sellaronda Orange – If you are a fan of pancakes, try the famous Kaiserschmarrn to set you up for the 45km circular route.

Raetia tea rooms, Corvara – Undoubtedly the best apple strudel in the resort – enjoy it with ice-cream, vanilla custard or whipped cream. There is also a choice of 20+ tea flavours to try out.

Rifugio Nagler, Badia – A generous helping of Goulash soup to warm you up on a cold day is definitely recommended. If you haven’t yet sampled the Glühwein here is the place to do it, they serve it in a boot!

Rifugio Punta Trieste, Pralongià Plateau – If you fancy something a bit heartier head to this Rifugio for outstanding ribs and traditional Canederli (bread dumplings only found in this area of Italy).

Collett’s blogs are written by our resort diarist, photographer, walker and skier, Kelly Diggle. If you are out on a winter walk, snowshoe itinerary or ski day with her you are sure to be included in her photographs in one of her weekly blogs. Kelly’s personal travel blog can be found here. You can keep up to date with Kelly on Twitter here.

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Skiing in the Italian Dolomites
1,200km of piste – A day on the ‘Hidden Valley’

Each week our ski hosts put together an itinerary that will excite our guests and offer days out that will encourage strangers to become friends as they sign up to venture out with our organisers. Certain ski days stick week after week because we cannot bring ourselves to deny such a memorable experience; the ‘hidden valley’ is just one example of such a day, a day I joined with a group for the first time and was absolutely blown away by.

Hotel La Perla, Corvara
Hotel Melodia, Badia, Italy
Hotel Melodia, Badia, Italy
Hotel Melodia, Badia, Italy
Hotel Melodia, Badia, Italy
Hotel Melodia, Badia, Italy
Hotel Panorama Dolomites
Hotel Panorama Dolomites
Hotel Panorama Dolomites Corvara
Hotel Panorama Dolomites Corvara

The fog was clinging low to the ground but we all held up hope for a clear day as we headed up on to the Pralongia Plateau. The large group of 15, all staying in Ciasa Verena, were here on their first Dolomiti experience and had shown their enthusiasm for venturing outside of the Alta Badia area this week. As we dropped down into Armenterola, a row of taxi’s awaited passengers – without any connecting slopes this is the only way of reaching the Falzarego Pass and beyond to the famous Hidden Valley run.

Thankfully for everyone, the stunning views were not missed as the fog lifted when we reached the top of the pass. Now that the Cinque Torri was visible to point out, the group decided to head over to explore the slopes surrounding the five towers. A small cloud inversion sat hovering above Cortina which created a view I never thought could get any better, and with a line of snow shoers walking off behind the rocks, Cinque Torri had never looked so tranquil. Some of our guests took this time to sit in the Averau Rifugio to enjoy the views and the coffee, as others drifted down the empty cream-like pistes, taking advantage of the space with wide turns and technique practice.

By this point people were getting very hungry. Having enjoyed what Rifugio Averau had to offer, I suggested hanging on for Rifiguio Lagazuoi at the top of the cable car station. Snow-capped mountains as far as the eye could see and a some-what empty dining area, the original groans at a late lunch turned into a muttering of astounded, satisfied people.

The wind had picked up as we all got ready to take on the long run through the Hidden Valley. We all arranged to meet up at Rif. Scotoni three quarters of the way down and soon enough the group split so that everyone could enjoy it at their own pace.

The gentle descent meant that eyes could fixate on the towering rocks at every angle whilst being slowly engulfed by the valley. Short steep sections kept the speed and the twisting slope kept me guessing as to what was next.
Once we had all re-grouped and had a short break, everyone headed off to enjoy the last section of the run. Within minutes of gathering speed, I soon stopped in my tracks as the frozen waterfall came into view – wow. Huge chunks of ice and long sharp icicles hung from the rock face above the slope, a sight that could be easily missed for those concentrating on their skiing.

Upon reaching the end of the valley, poling was a necessity to keep moving along the rather flat ground. But what was that in the distance? Two horses, a cart and ropes long enough to pull 40 people along back to Armenterola. Whilst the snow-boarders took a luxury seat in the cart, the skiers held on tight as the horses begun the leisurely tow under the bridge and through the trees. Giggles could be heard throughout the journey and who could blame them – can you think of a better way to end such an aesthetically rich and diverse day?

Collett’s blogs are written by our resort diarist, photographer, walker and skier, Kelly Diggle. If you are out on a winter walk, snowshoe itinerary or ski day with her you are sure to be included in her photographs in one of her weekly blogs. Kelly’s personal travel blog can be found here. You can keep up to date with Kelly on Twitter here.

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Learning to ski in Italy
Preparation, Ski Equipment, Lessons & more…

When I mention the words black and run in the same sentence, does your blood run cold? When you get off the chairlift, head towards the edge and cannot see which direction the slope runs; does that make you want to run for the hills? How about being on a slope so steep you’re afraid to point your ski’s down because all of a sudden you have forgotten how to turn? Perhaps it has been a long time since you braved your first black run, but for me the answer rings a very loud truth; YES, skiing my way onto an extremely unnatural terrain is both terrifying and exhilarating.

Chalet Verena, Corvara
Ski Chalet Angelo, Corvara
Chalet Haus Valentin

(Don’t worry though; it’s nothing a few heart-stopping screams can’t do to control the adrenaline rush on the way down).

Some people have a tremendous ability to convince you to take on something you could easily turn your back on. Maybe because you’re scared or because you just don’t feel it is yet the right time. Then again, can anyone really convince you do to anything you don’t really want to do? Most likely not. But this does not mean you cannot later blame them for the experience endured. After only 5 weeks of skiing I wasn’t sure if I was truly ready to take on a dreaded black run, but me being me I quickly decided to go for it anyway.

Spending the day in a new area (Cortina d’Ampezzo) made the decision a lot easier as I was blind to the reality of what I was letting myself in for. By the time I had reached the top, it was too late to turn back. The ‘novice skier feeling’ came rushing back as I stood staring down in fear, my body slowly freezing to the spot. It must have been funny listening to a 23 yr old telling herself to get a grip whilst gently encouraging herself down the slope – if only I could have laughed along too.

I’d sussed it! The only way to get down was to let out a little scream (some might tell you these screams could be heard from the valley but I’d say that was an exaggeration) every time I pointed my ski’s downhill and then use the entire width of the slope before continuing the process. As the end neared my confidence grew (sort of) and I kept going until I was once again on flat, safe ground. Looking back at what I’d just descended, I was finally able to laugh at the whole experience as my hands trembled with adrenaline.

Yes, it may have taken an age to reach the bottom.
No, it wasn’t done with any hint of skill or technique.
Yes, I am a long way from bragging that I can ski black runs.
And no, I am not particularly bouncing my way to the next opportunity..

BUT I have officially overcome my initial fear of steep slopes and can say I have made my first step towards taking on any colour run that comes my way!

(and just for the record, I would only have blamed myself if I hadn’t made the attempt).

Collett’s blogs are written by our resort diarist, photographer, walker and skier, Kelly Diggle. If you are out on a winter walk, snowshoe itinerary or ski day with her you are sure to be included in her photographs in one of her weekly blogs. Kelly’s personal travel blog can be found here. You can keep up to date with Kelly on Twitter here.

Follow Collett’s on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & Pinterest.

Learning to ski in Italy
Preparation, Ski Equipment, Lessons & more…

After seeing a significant increase in my confidence last week, it was up to me to face my fear of steep slopes and throw myself down some more red runs this week.

Feeling excited and ready to get out one morning, a day to try new skis and a new area. In fact, I was so keen to get out that I decided to try pair of skis that seemed to tower above me, but what were also known as ‘advanced’ which were very heavy and had very little bend.

Snowshoeing in the Dolomites
Skiing the Dolomites
Skiing Holidays in the Dolomites
Skiing in the Dolomites
Skiing Holidays
Chalet Haus Valentin
Skiing above Arabba
Snowshoeing Holidays
Chalet Haus Valentin Office Hour
Snowshoeing in Italy
Ski Chalet Angelo, Corvara, Italy

Just to make the experience even more memorable, I decided to take on a run I had never done before. The Boe run is very popular in the area mainly because it is easily accessible from Corvara and it sits as a link to Arabba and the Sellaronda (the most recognised 40km route in the Dolomites). It was a beautiful day out and so the narrow, steep start was not very forgiving due to the sheer amount of people. I could hear skiers all around me which made me nervous and the cut up snow had me bouncing around all over the place – if only I was brave enough to straight line that part down. After a couple of runs and a few nasty falls, I realised these skis were not doing me any good so I sat and had a coffee in the sunshine and made my way home.

When I visited the rental shop the next day, they had no beginner skis to offer. I considered it for a minute and accepted the offer of a pair of intermediates instead as I figured there is only one way to progress!

New Years Day was soon upon me and to seize the day I was to join guests for a day trip to the Marmolada. As I was getting ready in the morning I almost changed my mind; after only 2 weeks of skiing I was about to do a full day of red runs, to an area I had never been and with guests that were very strong skiers. Gulp.

But everyone knows I’m a stubborn mare so I went for it!

Clear skies, beautiful long wide-open runs, great company and barely a fall, I was so happy to be part of such a day. It brought back memories of the glacier trek in the summer, but this time the Marmolada had a completely different feel to it. The summit was buzzing with people and the 12km run could be seen winding its way down and around the mountain. I did stop a considerable amount on the way down (my poor little legs) but I had a blast – what a fantastic way to start the year!

Collett’s blogs are written by our resort diarist, photographer, walker and skier, Kelly Diggle. If you are out on a winter walk, snowshoe itinerary or ski day with her you are sure to be included in her photographs in one of her weekly blogs. Kelly’s personal travel blog can be found here. You can keep up to date with Kelly on Twitter here.

Follow Collett’s on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & Pinterest.

Learning to ski in Italy
Preparation, Ski Equipment, Lessons & more…

I compare a lot to learning to drive, but learning to ski really is very similar. There are so many things you have to remember; where to put your feet, where to put your hands, not letting yourself run away, watching out for other ‘drivers’, keeping your body facing forward, weight distribution and most importantly looking where you are going – something I struggle with hugely. I also find myself feeling exhausted after 2 or 3 hours and it hits me ever so suddenly when my legs refuse to do anything but lead me into the snow bank (luckily never into a brick wall).

But then it starts to come together and you find it suddenly becomes second nature.

Snowshoeing in the Dolomites
Skiing the Dolomites
Skiing Holidays in the Dolomites
Skiing in the Dolomites
Skiing Holidays
Chalet Haus Valentin
Skiing above Arabba
Snowshoeing Holidays
Chalet Haus Valentin Office Hour
Snowshoeing in Italy
Ski Chalet Angelo, Corvara, Italy

Having said that, I still have a long way to go.

On my second day of skiing, I was led to believe I would be going down a blue run all the way to the bottom, only to spot a red sign halfway down. At this point, I was tired and quite frankly scared of the steep ‘drop’ below me, but I understood the learning process, grunted a little and snow-ploughed my way down most of the piste. On the 5th day, as I zig-zagged my way down the same run, I felt a lot more confident and suddenly viewed the pitch to be the same as a blue. Wahoo!

My lesson with Diego which consisted of parallel turns for me and English tuition for him had me perfecting my weight distribution. Whilst exaggerating my turns, by flay-ling my arms in the air and lifting one leg up at a time, it suddenly clicked and my legs began turning together.

After a much needed rest and calf muscle stretch, I was met by the lovely Mario who whisked me away for my very own private lesson. We headed to Colfosco to try out the long blue run which offers a wide slope and an extended time to practise turning. It was also a good lesson in how the chairlifts work, a scary experience in itself when you’re unsure of what to do as you zoom towards a snow mound which drops down the other side. But never fear, with Mario in one hand and my poles in the other, I successfully avoided an embarrassing moment… this time.

As happy as I am with my progress so far, I swallow hard when I think that the next step will see me taking on my first black run. In fact, ignore everything I have said in this post, I still have a LONG way to go…

Collett’s blogs are written by our resort diarist, photographer, walker and skier, Kelly Diggle. If you are out on a winter walk, snowshoe itinerary or ski day with her you are sure to be included in her photographs in one of her weekly blogs. Kelly’s personal travel blog can be found here. You can keep up to date with Kelly on Twitter here.

Follow Collett’s on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & Pinterest.

Skiing in the Dolomites
1,200km of piste – Dolomite Superski

A skiing holiday in the Dolomites offers a whopping 1,200km of piste to each and every guest and year after year people return to fit in as much as possible, perhaps spending a few days in the Alta Badia before heading over to Cortina d’Ampezzo. Surely, you must be asking, there are certain routes and particularly memorable days out that tempt people back for a second (third or fourth) time? Let me introduce the Sella Ronda; claimed to be the most recognised ski route in the Dolomites, the clockwise and counter clockwise loop covers almost 40km and will take you over picturesque passes, through well-known valleys and into three provinces in the South Tyrol – it’s amazing how far you can travel in one day whilst on skis.

Walking Holidays in the Dolomites

Sella Ronda Orange – Clockwise

The orange route winds its way around the Sella Massif in a clockwise direction, covering 25km of piste along the way. Starting the route in Corvara by taking the Boé lift up onto the Sella Massif, a beautiful red run kicks off the day and leads down in to Arabba – a perfect way to warm up your legs for the long day ahead.

Standing at almost 2500m on the Portavescovo Ridge, views across to the Marmolada are breathtaking and the 12km run is a temptation for another day of skiing. As the route reaches the Pordoi pass the protruding mountain known as Sassolungo invites you in its direction, offering a mix of long wide red and blue runs straight to it. The next section drops down into the valley and criss-crosses its way into Selva before heading back up towards the Gardena Pass. From here the last run is long and forgiving as it brings you back to the starting point of the day – if you still have time before the last lift (and have enough energy to spare), why not pop up onto the Pralongia Plateau to end the day with a gluhwein and to watch a dolomiti sunset?

Length of day: With a group of 10 it took 7 hours inc. Coffee stops and a leisurely lunch. If you want to rack up the miles I have known groups of 2/3 to get round 3 times in one day!
Extensions: Option to explore the Belvedere bowl, Canazei, S.Cristina and the Colfosco bowl
Things to look out for: The Dantercepies lift (number 30) from Selva opens its doors halfway up; do not get out at this point like we did or you will end up racing time to get back on before it leaves without you!
Best bit: Every run is new and different to the last. Rifugios are on every corner, take your pick for a delicious Italian/Ladin lunch!

Sella Ronda Green – Anti-clockwise

If you fancy an easier day and want more time to appreciate the surrounding scenery the counter clockwise route, which covers 23km of piste, is for you.

Setting off from Corvara is advised to get the 5 chairlift/gondolas out of the way first thing in the morning. Once you reach the top of the Gardena Pass views open up across to Sassolungo and beyond, exposing beautiful runs (a choice of blue, red and black) down into the pretty village of Selva. Enjoy winding your way through the City of Rocks, a fantastic area for climbing during the summer and note that no slopes match those of the Sella Orange. The two loops do come together at the top of the Pordoi Pass but only so that the Sasbece Rifugio with its panoramic views can be enjoyed. One lovely long blue run brings you to the centre of Arabba, a quaint village that can be explored before heading up to the Campolongo pass and back down in to Corvara.

Length of day: A group of 8 took 6 hours again with a leisurely lunch stop.
Extensions: The same options as the Sellaronda but in reverse – highly recommended to squeeze in some extra slopes as there are a lot more chairlifts this way round.
Things to look out for: Signs into Selva are not very obvious. Stick to the right hand side and follow the narrow track into the town centre.
Best bit: Find the giant cow and ring its bell as you ski underneath!

Collett’s blogs are written by our resort diarist, photographer, walker and skier, Kelly Diggle. If you are out on a winter walk, snowshoe itinerary or ski day with her you are sure to be included in her photographs in one of her weekly blogs. Kelly’s personal travel blog can be found here. You can keep up to date with Kelly on Twitter here.

Follow Collett’s on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & Pinterest.