Stunning views towards Cortina
"I’ve got butterflies." "So have I." "It’s just nerves." All of which were unfounded and after the first morning spent assessing our skiing ability we all settled down and had an enjoyable afternoon learning to apply skins, kick turns and pace ourselves as we ascended our first peak to Rif Nuvolou. Then to relax, throughout, the huts were luxurious: hot water, delicious food, wine and even comfortable beds.
On day 2 we started our first real tour with a quick skin followed by an hilarious morning skinning through the woods around the Col Galina. Once we'd become experts in hugging trees and extracting skis from the snow drifts we advanced on up Spiz de Poure where we were taught to use couteaux and ascended an icy slope turning before the summit for safety, descending into the valley on powder snow. Then an option – to the lift or to skin, we chose to skin and learnt the importance of regular snacks as we neared Rif Averau on empty tanks dreaming of the cold beer awaiting.
Day 3 was the coldest, with a long ascent around Spitz de Mondeval and up to the Forc de Formin. We were rewarded by an afternoon of virgin snow and an exciting forest descent fully stretching everyone’s skiing ability. A drink in the restaurant at Pocol resulted in us missing the bus link to the Lagazuoi cable car. After interesting negotiations in Czech, Italian and English we were safely ensconced in the Rif Lagazuoi dormitory of 12.
Day 4 saw a fresh snow fall of which we took full advantage before climbing a very steep ascent up through Plan de Furcia to the Col de Locia, sighting chamois en route. Then a grey schlep to Ucia Lavarella, which was to be our home for the next 2 nights.
Day 5 was the most exciting due to avalanche conditions. Guido and Olly guided us skilfully through the cracking snow up towards Sas des Diesc, deciding to turn around after we saw one avalanche too many – never has an ascent been so quiet nor a descent speedier! Once revived in the refuge and a lesson in snow reading we went on a short adrenaline bursting skin and powder kick around the area.
Day 6 saw a change of plans to suit conditions as we sought out north facing slopes up Mount Castel to breathtaking views over the Dolomites, more indulgent deep powder and brilliant blue skies took us down to Fiames via a Nordic ski route. We had finished our tour and missed the bus again!