The Val Gardena: The Perfect Journey With Summer Sun And Winter Snow
What also impresses is the quality and efficiency of the ski infrastructure, with lifts that are swift, efficient, comfortable and modern in the immense ski area of Val Gardena/Alpe di Siusi, covering some 500 kilometres with some 200 lifts. Beyond that, the Dolomiti Superskipass offers access to 1,220 kilometres of slopes and 450 ski lifts across 12 ski areas – including the famous ski circuit of Sellaronda – making it the world’s largest ski carousel.With a ski season that starts early in December and runs through until mid-April, the Sellaronda route remains highly popular, covering a total distance of 44 kilometres including lifts – much of it above 2,200 metres – and can be skied either way round.
We accessed the Sella massif above Selva via the Dantercepies cable car, heading along the clockwise route in the morning to take advantage of the sun. For the next few exhilarating hours we covered the four valleys of Val Gardena, Alta Badia, Arabba and Val di Fassa on skis, following a route from Selva to Passo Gardena, Corvara and Arabba, with its views of the monumental Marmolada – at 3,342 metres, the highest mountain in the region – and then on to Porta Vescovo and into the Passo Sella area.While the Sellaronda (which doubles as an invigorating 58-kilometre mountain biking area in the summer months) is an imaginative circuit that will take the morning to ski, the most famous winter piste is Saslong, the course for World Cup downhill races.
This one is, of course, highly significant for British ski enthusiasts, because this is where former alpine ski racer Konrad Bartelski produced the best ever result recorded by a Briton, on December 13, 1981, by coming second in the Alpine Skiing World Cup downhill race, just 0.11 seconds behind the race winner, Austria’s Erwin Resch. After the thrill of Saslong, I found myself back on the slopes of Col Raiser and Seceda, and in the region I had hiked through months earlier. Wearing a different coat (both the mountains and I) it had a comfortable familiarity, with recognisable contours and peaks, and with the lovely village of Selva in the valley below.