The Cinque Torri & getting high in a hot tub!

This morning has dawned a little grey and windy, but we’re hopeful of a clearance by mid-morning so we can do a planned ski tour in the 5 Torri.   It’s a bit of a shock to the system!  We’re used to only sunny still weather in Universe Dolomiti.   In the meantime, we did a run through the Croda Negra which is a small col which allows you to do a circuit of this area with the Lagazuoi.   They call it the “Super 8” – we just did the “Super 2”, but it was a chairlift we hadn’t been on before.  They have no snow-making here and they have really struggled to scrape and scratch enough real snow to cover the rocky ground.   Even then, it was remarkably scratchy for what we’ve come to expect of the pistes here.   Also the run off from the chairlift is not for the faint hearted.  They don’t have enough snow for a proper ramp, so you literally just drop straight off the ridge onto the steep first part of the run.  I expect it’s given some intermediate skiers quite a fright.  The photo doesn’t quite do it justice. But the people scattered to each side give you a little clue.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Heading back to the main chairlift that takes us up Rifugio Scioattoli where we will be staying tonight, we spied a ski demo fleet of Black Crow skis.  MT Outdoors will be selling these skis in Wanaka this coming winter, so it seemed a perfect opportunity to take them for a test run.

We introduced ourselves to a young Italian man who was offering the skis for demo as well as doing ski tuning at the bottom of the run.  It’s actually the first time we’ve seen ski demo’ing on the slopes for the whole time we’ve been here.  Of course, this lovely young man spoke very good English, but we had to laugh when we asked his name.  “It’s Kevin” he said.  We were tempted to say “Seriously?”  We thought maybe it was a nickname?  But no, when we politely questioned his name explaining that “Kevin” was a very popular Australian and Kiwi name, but not, we thought that common in Italy?   Apparently his mum fell in love with Kevin Costner, the movie star….and hence his name.

Me and the Italian "Kevin"
Me and the Italian “Kevin”

Many of this Black Crow skis were fitted with touring bindings so my boots will work.  How auspicious!   Gra often accuses me of being blindly loyal to my skis and also being reluctant to try new gear.   It was a hard road last winter that led me to true love with my Dynastar Cham ’97’s and I didn’t want to be disloyal to my trusty companions.    [ I do realise that any non-skier reading this will be shaking their heads and thinking I have a screw loose to be waxing lyrical about a pair of skis!]

Nevertheless, I whispered a sincere apology to my Cham’s and promised them that I’d only have one run.   ” I don’t like the colour, Graeme!”  ” Why not?  It’s red.  Red goes faster!” he replied.  “I don’t want to go faster…and  …it’s quite icy this morning, what happens if they don’t grip well?” as I started to move away from the stand of skis.   “The edges feel plenty sharp to me!  You’ll be fine!” he said.   Using increasingly exasperated tones, Gra finally got me sorted with Kevin and pushed me on to the chairlift for one run down.

I'm not sure about the colour!?
Test Run on the Red Black Crows! [Don’t look Cham’s!]
Well…the Black Crows that are actually red….weren’t too bad.  I didn’t crash on the first turn. They didn’t bounce and burp me all over the slope like another brand that I tried last winter…but who shall remain nameless.  And by the fourth turn I was thoroughly enjoying them.  Took them off-piste and they didn’t buck me off…better and better.  Nice and stiff in the front part of the ski and easy to turn on & off piste.   I was suitably impressed.   I will concede that I am sometimes a little too loyal to gear I love…..but don’t mention this to my Cham’s.

After mucking around with Red Black Crows, the clouds had disappeared and the sun was shining. Now, that’s more like the Dolomiti we know!  We had planned a ski tour today which took us across from R.Scioattoli to the rock formations known as the Cinque Torri (5 Torri) and then down a rock gully to a sparsely forested area and then down further to the very bottom to the main road where we’d need to catch a bus or hitch back up to the chairlift.

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Almost  OK until here and then it got gnarly!!

Well we tried.  Truly.  But despite looking very promising with the shaded north facing slopes still with nice fluffy snow, we scraped and bounced over rocks and hidden tree stumps for the first eight turns to find that below us was a little rock escarpment with a narrow exit into the forest below.  It would be a downclimb with so little snow.  “How much can a koala bear?”  or the Kiwi version “Fair suck of the Saveloy!”   Gra looked at me and said, “There’s no way I’m going to get down that and through the forest with my huge tele-turns without damage to either to me or my skis.”   So….back on  with the skins to boot pack/ skin back up the gully.    Sigh.

OK, so plan B.  Ditch the skis and do a circumnavigation of the 5 Torri on foot.  Turned out to be a fairly good consolation prize as the views were spectacular.  Yes. I know we always say that, but for us, we are starting to wonder why Europeans rave on about NZ scenery?   We find the Dolomiti to be draw-dropping every day.   Here’s the photos!

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On our way around the rock outcrop, we spied another potential slope to ski.  It was close to the Rifugio and still untracked.   It was getting late in the afternoon and we had to check-in before 4:30pm.

There’s a reason it was untracked.  Sure, it was north facing, and deceptively dappled like old but still soft snow fall, but up close and personal…wind slab and crust.  No pretty turns laid by us in that gully.  All we left were turns of shame etched into the hill that could be seen from the Rifugio.   We need a drink!  Fortunately help was just a short skin away at R. Scioattoli.

For those of you who know us.  We’re partial to mixing a bit of skiing with a hot tub or onsen or two.  And R. Scioattoli has a wood-fired tub set out in the snow.  To top it off you also get prosecco and hors d’oevres served to you while you luxuriate in the hot water and take in the 360° views.   Not a bad way to end any day in the snow.  Here’s the clip.

Hot tub at 2225m!
Hot tub at 2225m!

Suffice to say, we love it so much here at R.Scioattoli – we’re playing hookey from Arabba for another night!

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