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Road trip Italy: Spring powder search in Livigno, Bormio, Madesimo

Happy end to freeride winter | Part II – Italy road trip

by Tobias Kurzeder 03/30/2010
Lush green meadows and colorful flowering bushes in the low altitudes of the Valtellina. But what a wonderful contrast to the horrible shades of yellow and green the high valley of Livigno offered us, kept in clear white. And just in time for our arrival, the sky opened up.

Lush green meadows and colorful flowering bushes in the low altitudes of the Valtellina. But what a wonderful contrast to the horrible shades of yellow and green the high valley of Livigno offered us, kept in clear white. And just in time for our arrival, the sky cleared.

As a reward for the long journey through various paid tunnels, we were rewarded with a fine day of freeriding on the gently sloping freeride slopes of Livigno. The wide, medium-steep slopes in the various side valleys showed hardly any signs of other freeriders, which is probably due to the fact that most Livigno skiers don't leave the slopes there.

Sometimes all it takes is one turn and all is right with the world again...

Whether this is due to the drastic freeride prohibition signs threatening that no first aid would be provided off-piste or the aforementioned blanket freeride ban "is to blame", we don't know. In any case, nobody was interested in our turns in the powder snow, at most when the downhill lines were particularly successful. After two days - and still an enormous amount of untracked but increasingly crusty snow - the worsening weather forced us to set off in the direction of the südstau epicenter.

Do they still exist, the places where you are all alone?

Next stop: Bormio in Valtellina

As our route took us past Bormio, we decided to take a quick look at this actually quite manageable freeride area. After extremely tough negotiations, the moderately friendly lady at the ski ticket office gave us the free tickets we had been promised, albeit in obvious pain, so we headed up to the summit station, which is just over 3000 m high, rather unambitiously - and wow? Perfect freeride and deep snow terrain opened up before our eyes as the sky brightened up, and at an altitude of 3000 m the snow had even remained powdery despite the very mild temperatures. However, as the descent to Bormio, which is only 1200 m above sea level, was only possible on the artificial snow band of the World Cup slope, we decided not to attempt the 1,800-metre freeride descent, as we would probably have had to walk a kilometer or two across the brown meadows. But even without the superlative descent, the steep freeride slopes below the summit station provided us with very beautiful descents that far exceeded our expectations for the day. (Unfortunately, a human-technical defect prevented the pictures we took from ending up on the hard disk in the form of bytes, for which we are very sorry. Marius wishes he had a camera that alerted him when a memory card was not inserted...)

We shouldn't miss out on a quick visit to the beautiful little town of Bormio, so we didn't mind that a friendly Italian off-road vehicle driver had parked us without further ado and we were happy to wait until she allowed us to continue to Madesimo

Hidden freeride gem: Madesimo, Valchiavenna

Just under 150 km in a good three hours, nobody will be interested in the details of the unavoidable gherkin ride through the Valtellina. The südstau welcomed us there with medium rain and we were delighted not to have to spend the night in Mariu's zero-point-three-star powder-mobile and checked into our chic hotel.

Unfortunately, it was still raining in the morning, albeit with little commitment. As a result, we weren't very motivated, but towards the end of the morning we did manage to motivate ourselves to go skiing. And it turned out as it should: The rain turned more and more into snow, and a very fun afternoon awaited us in the wet fresh snow and sparse larch forest of Madesimo.

And the best was saved for last

Unfortunately, the gondola to Pizzo Groppera had remained closed the day before due to the increased risk of avalanches. Madesimo is one of the great freeride spots in the Alps only when the cable car to Pizzo Groppera at around 2900 m is running and the racy freeride slopes are accessible. When the lift is not running, the terrain is nice, but not very extensive. When we asked, the patrollers told us that the lift would open the next day if the weather was good, which immediately got us excited? Accordingly, we were disappointed by the heavy snowfall on the morning of April 1st. We were still expecting the weather to improve. But exactly the opposite happened: intense snowfall, which intensified into heavy snowfall, lasted the whole day. And so we drove through dense snowfall and through sparse, open larch forest. However, the large amounts of fresh snow made it more and more difficult to get around, as the snow was so light and dry that even with wide rocker skis you almost sank in completely; it was the kind of high winter day you would expect in January. After a good half meter of fresh snow within just a few hours, it was over and the sun came out just in time for the lift closing time.

Carf Friday - Big Powder Day

For the first time, more than what felt like a handful of people were out and about in the ski area and, to our dismay, they were actually extremely motivated to ride the fresh snow - against all the rules of freeriding. Ten people skiing 40-degree slopes without any gaps, five people skiing 45-degree slopes despite massive snow drifts, etc. It wasn't really fun to watch, but the riding was. I particularly liked the Italian ski instructor who, while skiing ahead of his 15 ski students in the powder, checked with additional weight hops "whether the almost 40 degree steep section was stable. 10 meters behind him, his unequipped group was already criss-crossing the slope.

Other countries, other customs, and suddenly we even have a little understanding for the restrictive attitude of many Italian ski resorts towards freeriders. We avoid the powder battle as much as possible and retreat to the rather cozy, but all the more fun Val di Lei. A near-perfect powder day passes downhill after downhill - and whenever we need a refreshment against the warming sun, the next powder shower comes at the touch of a button, so to speak.

Diverse commitments now force me home, while Marius, as the lone-some-powder-boy, sets his rolling powder-and-sleep-mobile, which is halfway back in working order, in the direction of Alagna and thus the epicenter of the next traffic jam.

More pictures in the gallery

And the very best thing of all: the happy freeride late winter continues!

Photo gallery

This article has been automatically translated by DeepL with subsequent editing. If you notice any spelling or grammatical errors or if the translation has lost its meaning, please write an e-mail to the editors.

Show original (German)

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