This book collects a choice of the most interesting itineraries in the central-eastern Dolomites, in an area which ranges from Marmolada to the valleys surrounding the Sella massif to passo Falzarego and the Cortina basin.
The itineraries are divided into 8 chapters.
Chapter I is dedicated to Marmolada, the highest summit in the Dolomites. The itineraries in this chapter, excluding the difficult descent into the Antermoia valley, develop mainly on the glacier’s open slopes, easily accessible from the Punta Rocca cable car which climbs up to 3250m. This is ideal terrain for freeriders and often excellent snow can be found, but is also exposed to wind, which in a few hours can spoil the magic and form dangerous wind slabs.
The itineraries which start from Pian dei Fiacconi, tend to be more of the “ski mountaineering” kind and allow skiing activity to be prolonged all the way into spring.
Chapter II describes the descents which develop from the ridge of volcanic rock which separates Marmolada from the valley of Arabba. The majority of these itineraries are on open terrain and in the woods, many are “new” while others like valle Ornella have by now become a classic of the area thanks to an always abundant snow cover and powder snow is almost always guaranteed.
The ski mountaineering traverses in the Sassolungo group must not be missed, Chapter III, since they allow you to enter one of the most striking environments in the Dolomites. For lovers of steep terrain, Sassopiatto’s northern couloir will attract your attention.
The traverse of Furcia Neigra has been included in this chapter, which goes round the Colac group, it is not at all frequented, but extremely interesting.
In Chapter IV the most important group is described: the Sella group, which with its narrow couloirs wedged into rock faces is the symbol of off-piste skiing in the Dolomites and with its featured terrain allows for never-ending variants and descent possibilities. Val Mesdì, Val Lasties and Forcella Pordoi are the most famous descents and are frequented by many skiers so much so that sometimes the descents seem more like pisted mogul runs. In recent years even val Setus and val Culea have been increasingly “tracked” out but luckily there are many more itineraries which are still adventurous and solitary.
Chapter V collects itineraries which set off from Val Badia and which include very easy off-piste descents, ski mountaineering itineraries with short ascents and three difficult couloirs. Sassongher’s Valscura, has especially become a “classic” steep skiing descent in the last few years, even internationally known thanks to photos of its line which have come out in numerous magazines.
Chapter VI describes the most interesting opportunities in the Lagazuoi - Cinque Torri area. Some are classic, like the couloirs of Col dei Bos, Cadin di Fanis, Cinque Torri’s woods... but the ski mountaineering traverse of forcella Grande, the two “ direct” lines, forcella Salares and the itineraries of Armentarola nord and Croda Negra have never been described before. A varied and interesting area which is still not frequented very much.
Moving towards Cortina d’Ampezzo Chapter VII is dedicated to the majestic Tofana and to the Faloria area. The choices here vary from the grand summit to the ski mountaineering ascent on Tofana di Rozes to the famous Bus de Tofana descents, vallon de Raola, Sci 18 and val Orita. The steep couloirs of Ra Valles are not described here since they end up above the pistes with the consequent problems regarding rules and regulations on ski runs.
The last one, Chapter VIII, is dedicated to the entire Cristallo group. All the itineraries here have high mountain features and not even one is easy…even the more well known Creste Bianche has a difficult alpine access.
For lovers of steep skiing it is one of the most interesting areas in the Dolomites, with long technical descents in an isolated and severe environment.
In general I have chosen to describe descents which are found at a distance from the lifts, both because off-piste skiing is often prohibited in the areas adjacent to the pistes, but especially because (in spite of the prohibitions) the slopes closer to the pistes are always more tracked out since they are easily skied on from the lifts.
Many itineraries require an ascent, which can sometimes be very lengthy, to reach the point where the descent begins or they present technical mountaineering difficulties; almost all itineraries are on high mountain terrain.
It is therefore important to tackle them with the right preparation and experience or better still to use a Mountain Guide.
Francesco Tremolada lives with his family in the Dolomites where he is a full-time professional mountain guide in the “Alta Badia Guides di Corvara” mountaineering school.
His passion for the mountains has taken him to the Himalayas, the Andes, North America and the Caucuses, but the steep couloirs of the Dolomites remain his favourite terrain of action. He is also a professional photographer and has taken the photographs in this guide book; he has collaborated in the production of important photographic volumes and contributed various articles to the main skiing and mountaineering magazines. He has also written 4 other books on itineraries in the Dolomites, amongst which the first edition of “Freeride in Dolomiti” in 2004.