Ski Safari in the Dolomites (part 2)

18 August 2016

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.

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