Monday, February 08, 2016

The Hidden Valley Uncovered *Warning - risk of Clichés and Overstatement*

A tantalisingly small quantity of snow fell last night.  Still, it was nice to see snow in the trees.  We grasped the opportunity to ride up to la Villa in the van with Pietre.  We scooted up to the tops, dropping down to Armentarola with a little diversion via the wrong piste (which was very pleasant).

After wrestling with the bus stop, we paid our 6 Euros each to the taxi driver to ride 25 minutes to Lagazzuoi cable car from where we embarked on the ski run of my life.  (no dramatisations here).

The view starting to appear from the fog.

We started out in thick fog - a kind of snow mizzle.  After around 200 metres we stopped with everyone else that had stepped out of our cable car... only a limited 25-30 people.

We all stood in awe and gawped at the magnificent scenery and laughed amongst ourselves in sharing a moment, luck, virtue, something more pure than a snap on Instagram.
Deep seated shared joy and incredulity.
I waited until everyone had left and set of with my arms outstretched.  Namaste, mother nature, Namaste.

At every turn in terrain the view tumbled away in frosted turrets of pink granite on both sides of the valley.

Tiny mountain huts, chapels, shelters and animal sheds nestled amongst the rocky outcrops.

At times we caught up with our cable car neighbours and at times we let them float ahead and enjoyed the silence.  Crows soared overhead.

Conifers and Ponderosa pines clung to the sides of the valley.

Wisps of cloud filtered through the towers on the crags like the ghosts of soldiers in castles fought for and lost.

The icy fingers of time clutched to rock one moment then slid away to be caressed by the sunshine and blue skies.

A number of flat sections of piste gave away why this route is reserved for experienced skiers only.  Speed is needed to cross flats and rises and with no obvious ski patrol a high-speed crash would be risky.

Some stopped at the refuge part-way down.  Others (including ourselves) continued to the base refuge for coffee where we were mostly entertained by the Newfoundland dog mooching about on the flat roof of the café.

We momentarily made new friends with the Italians on the next table as the waitress grouped our bills together. The first time this week I have not been mistaken for being German.

Taking inspiration from mountain textiles and colours.
It was all over too soon.  I didn't want to leave this beautiful and heavenly place.  I felt like I could have spent my life there - chopping wood or waiting tables.

I was spoilt by the prospect of hiking back up or of moving on to other areas to enjoy the good snow.  TSK didn't feel like he wanted to learn to skin up hill on something so (recently in his mind) steep and intimidating so we set off down the trail to base to practice on something more blue.

The way we just came.
The long ride out of the valley is often (for mere normals) via a horse-tow whereby 2 slightly overweight ponies trot 30-40 people dangling on a rope-tow along a trail of around 1 km.  We had been told that there is one point where the horses have to canter to stay ahead of the ski train and also to get enough momentum to get up an impending slope.

We had visions of a long and steep up hill tow which, to be honest, would make good skinning practice for TSK.   Even though we both fancied the horse tow - I mean who wouldn't? Right?

Sid and Juniper wait to pull some colour
However, when we saw the brightly coloured train of 50 or so skiers and boarders hanging onto the back of the receding horse cart, we quickly decided we fancied neither the thrill or the company of the horse-tow and our somewhat romantic image of gently slaloming behind a stallion with the wind in our hair disappeared.

We were happy to hold on to 3 Euros and ski-glide out.  It was in actual fact quite flat and a bit of an anti-climax so we headed for the nearest blue where we could dig out a pair of skins and give TSK the opportunity to practice on something a little bit challenging.

Unfortunately he forgot his skins.

We set about making the most of the rest of the day by ski-ing a large portion of the Corvara slopes, excepting the ones we will ski later on the Sella Ronde.
Slightly alarming mini golf on offer.
Calling it quits about 3 pm we started to make our way back dropping down to la Villa base after the last lift down to near our hotel.  We had already planned to walk home along the river and passed Frosty about 5:30 on his way to his next appointment as we rocked into our hotel to claim the last two cakes at tea time then hit the sauna.

TSK cooked himself and I threw some yoga shapes in the solarium above the pool.  The perfect end to the perfect day.

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