The fascination of this place
is not about what there is
but about what is missing.

This is not a cliché.

January 2017

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Thursday,
26 January 2017

A ski life

We ski guides are not simple folk: if there is not enough snow we moan, if there is too much we complain: we are never satisfied but nevertheless we are snow crazy.
There is no such thing as good or bad snow – there are only good or bad skiers.
As I look around me in the hotel all are busy doing this and that. in the kitchen, at reception, at the bar. Every little problem seems to have its immediate response. A tap not working means a call to the plumber, a light not working and an electrician is on hand. And what about the snow not falling? Who should I call? As of yet I do not have the mobile number of the Lord above and even if I shout at the top of my voice there is no guarantee that he will hear me. Oh dear snow, you wonderful substance, where might you be? We mountain guides never get used to the whims of nature. Even if it is part and parcel of our profession we are never of the best humour when things do not go as we would wish: if there is not enough snow we cannot ski off-slope, if there is too much of the stuff there is the risk of avalanche. If there is a strong wind during a snowfall then it is probable that patches of ice will form. It seems we are condemned to suffer. And whilst these words flow out of me I recall the famous phrase of the celebrated Swiss guide, Andre Roch: “There is no such thing as good or bad snow but certainly there are good or bad skiers”. And low and behold I look outside and the snow is falling from the heavens. At last! Immediately I start to contact a few of the guests so as to put together a group for the day after. The plan is to to do the most famous off-piste run in the Dolomites – the Val Mesdi. It is an itinerary I really adore. Let me describe it to you. Setting off from Corvara we reach Passo Pordoi and then with the cablecar we go up to the Pordoi peak itself, from where after an easy downhill we carry the skis for a bit and get to Rifugio Boè. It is from here that the real fun begins, a series of curves, jumps, and a few yipees too, as we go down through a gorge and side valley which is six kilometres long and takes us down to Colfosco, and from here it is easy to quickly return to La Perla. Not a bad trip all round. It takes about 5 hours to do, the level of difficulty is average, and no special equipment is required. The customary glass of wine after such a trip is always a pleasure, the skiers chatting away about their day out, and of course asking advice on the best ski equipment for other itineraries. I am always happy to oblige with the odd tip or two gained over many years skiing here, there, and everywhere. After all skis are just like a fishing rod – they need to obey your every move! Happy skiing to one and all.

Pippo