Ortler Circuit, South Tyrol tour report - March 2017 - Snowboarding Forum - Snowboard Enthusiast Forums
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-20-2017, 12:30 AM Thread Starter
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Ortler Circuit, South Tyrol tour report - March 2017

So, just got back from a weeklong backcountry splitting/climbing hut-to-hut tour in Alto Adige.

We had a fairly large group of people, 10 in all, and we organized the trip ourselves electing not to hire a professional guiding operation. Instead, one of the local members, who knew the area well, was going to be our guide. All of us were fairly experienced backcountry tourers and climbers and we also meant to do some rock and ice climbing so our route was designed specifically with that degree of difficulty in mind.

However, as it often happens, the weather was not cooperating. The snow coverage was poor over the Alps in general this winter but NE Italy got a particularly short end of the stick it seemed. It got to the point where the coverage reports were so bad, a week out we realized that we have to scrap good portion of our route because we're just not making the schedule due to the absence of snow in low elevations. We even tried to forgo Ortler altogether and move the trip to Chamonix or Bernese Oberland at the last moment. But couldn't make it happen so close to wire.

Luckily, we got sort of a break (I'm thoroughly convinced it's because Neni finally left the continent; she's becoming Linville of Europe if you ask me), just before we got to Italy a storm system brought about 10" of fresh to the region and the next few days saw even more snow in dribs and drabs. High elevations got the best of it. All in all, maybe not enough for an epic tour but a coat of fresh paint was desperately needed and this is what we got. We even enjoyed a few really nice turns in good dry cold pow before sun came out and baked the hell out of it.

Now, about Ortler. By difficulty the circuit compares to Haute Route (Chamonix-Zermatt). But with less long-ass flat traverses and more options of more to less difficult climbs and descents. Because it's a rather circular route rather than a point A to point B trip it could be customized in a variety of ways. The mountain huts are on the high end side (as these things usually go) and the food is amazing. Well, it's Italy after all. No need to say that the region is gorgeous and the views are out of this world.

The drawback is that the region is not called Italian Siberia for nothing. It's far from everywhere and is seriously difficult to get to, especially during winter because high mountain passes are closed. What you get for it is the absence of the crowds though. In over a week we've only seen other tracks once and haven't met anybody.

So, a few pics...

After meeting in Sulden. Checking gear before the big day.




Moving out over a few inches of fresh snow.





Ortler peak in the distance hidden by a sneaky cloud.



Over the next couple of days a few amazing turns were had...





And a few rock walls scaled.





(cont.)
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-20-2017, 12:49 AM Thread Starter
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But mostly, as is it always on bc trips, there was a lot of this.





A couple of days later the weather broke. You could actually see how bad coverage is. This is above 3000m. Should be all white.



Some pretty couloirs.



Yeah, we tapped this.




Double peaked Cevedale (I think).



Cevedale slopes. I'm the one making turns.



Same. I was usually the first one down.

(cont.)
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-20-2017, 01:04 AM Thread Starter
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Towards the end.



Ortler in the distance.



Navigating one of icy Gran Zebru couloirs.



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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-20-2017, 01:30 AM
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Very Nice!!! Thanks for making me feel old...wish I was about 25 years younger and had gotten to this sport sooner.

Way to get after it!


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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-20-2017, 01:42 AM Thread Starter
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Very Nice!!! Thanks for making me feel old...wish I was about 25 years younger and had gotten to this sport sooner.

Way to get after it!
From what I've seen from the past week you aren't doing yourself justice. Anyway, you'll always have Chomps to keep you company.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-20-2017, 01:16 PM
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Oh wow! That's some gorgeous terrain there! Some serious climbing terrain I reckon in icy conditions... props! Looked pretty cold at those flat light days tho. Glad you got some bluebirds as well.

Yeah, eastern part of the Alps got particularly little snow; but you guys seemed to get there right in time and it seems as if you found a sweet route.

I totally envy the Italian coffe, lol, all the drip coffee over here on your side of the pond makes me wanna cry
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-20-2017, 02:50 PM
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Looks like an awesome adventure anyway.. Most of the snow looks good, albeit there were a few crusty ones (the first pic stands out). Your heelside slash pic is great, along with the ice axe one (could go in the "How Steep is Steep?" thread). All in all, much more of an experience than most of us get to have.


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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-20-2017, 04:57 PM Thread Starter
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Oh wow! That's some gorgeous terrain there! Some serious climbing terrain I reckon in icy conditions... props! Looked pretty cold at those flat light days tho. Glad you got some bluebirds as well.

Yeah, eastern part of the Alps got particularly little snow; but you guys seemed to get there right in time and it seems as if you found a sweet route.

I totally envy the Italian coffe, lol, all the drip coffee over here on your side of the pond makes me wanna cry
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Looks like an awesome adventure anyway.. Most of the snow looks good, albeit there were a few crusty ones (the first pic stands out). Your heelside slash pic is great, along with the ice axe one (could go in the "How Steep is Steep?" thread). All in all, much more of an experience than most of us get to have.
Thanks!

I think I actually figured out the way to end your season with a bang no matter if there's little snow, bad snow, no snow, or any other manner of unforeseen disasters: just go somewhere where they pour a lot of grappa in your scalding hot, steep espresso. Done. Everything gets instantly right with the world around you.

Deagol, thank you for a nice compliment. I don't own a camera and no one I ride with on regular basis cares to stop long enough to take a photo of me either so I probably had more pics of me taken on this trip than in the 10 years prior, hehe.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-20-2017, 05:24 PM
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Thanks!

I think I actually figured out the way to end your season with a bang no matter if there's little snow, bad snow, no snow, or any other manner of unforeseen disasters: just go somewhere where they pour a lot of grappa in your scalding hot, steep espresso. Done. Everything gets instantly right with the world around you.

Deagol, thank you for a nice compliment. I don't own a camera and no one I ride with on regular basis cares to stop long enough to take a photo of me either so I probably had more pics of me taken on this trip than in the 10 years prior, hehe.
I would be proud of those pics if I were you.. they definitely show the more hard-core aspect of the sport. This is the part of the sport that interests me more than anything else.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-20-2017, 10:54 PM
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Giiiiiirrrrrl! Those are some gorgeous pictures and killer turns you got up there. Thanks for sharing this next level of snowboarding most of us will never see or do. I'll stick to the lifts myself
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