Backcountry Skiing In Italy — Steve Romeo

Post by blogger | March 15, 2006      

US Rando Race team member and Jackson, Wyoming backcountry skier Steve Romeo sent me this excellent report. Time for a trip to Italy?
Hey Lou,

I recently made a trip to Cortina, home to some of the most incredible terrain for ski mountaineering/alpinism. The areas extensive system of trams and lifts offer easy access to the alpine world and the dolomiti strata is perfect for the splitter couloirs that we love to ski. It reminded me of a smaller Baffin Island or a larger Absarokas (closer to home) of Wyoming and Montana. Upon arrival, I instantly picked out a handful of lines from a guidebook lent to me from the very helpful Max, at the popular Casa Tua hospice . The weather held out long enough for us to get a few things done, though it was a bit windy. A few highlights:

Italian backcountry skiing.
Cary Smith Skis Tofana, more about this below.


Shrine Mountain Inn Backcountry Skiing
The Canale Joel is a quick 20-minute hike from the Sass Pordoi tram in the impressive Sella group about a one hour drive west of Cortina. It is known as one of the more aesthetic lines in the range due to its overhanging walls that seem to form an arch. After chopping off a little cornice to gain entry, a quick ski-cut produced a small slab that had developed from the lingering high winds. Conditions proved a bit variable (just like home) with the best snow piled up in the crux from the constant sloughing of snow from above.


Shrine Mountain Inn Backcountry Skiing
On the drive back to Cortina, we decided to throw on the skins and tour in between the massive Tofana di Rozes and Tofana di Mezzo. After a couple hours of climbing, we arrived at a col that was home to many stone structures, artifacts from the WWI, when the Austrians and Italians battled over this beautiful piece of earth. The late hour provided awesome views of the peaks to the south of us. The next day we cheated and took the high lift on Mount Cristallo to access the Canale Staunies Nord. A quick jump of a fence awarded us with a 5000ft descent with over 3500ft in the 45-50 degree couloir. Access to the steeps does not get any easier.


Italian backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering.
Another day of sun and wind brought us back to the Sella group for a 1.5 hour climb from the tram to the top of Piz Boe and a descent of the south facing Direttissima Val De La Fontane. The views into the Val Lasties (Misty Valley) made my heart pound for more exploration of this ski mountaineers paradise. The snow was perfect ‘corn slab’ (sun softened wind slab) in the Direttissima and allowed for fast, TGR-style turns down its wide and moderately steep slope. It was one of those runs that give you the warm fuzzies inside: SWEET!


Italian backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering.
Heading down to Val Lasties, Steve in Direttissima


Italian backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering.
Our final tour lured us up to the infamous Bus di Tofana (Hole in the Tofana). The lifts bring you close to this natural arch on the high ridge, but we wanted the exercise so we hiked up the descent route from the backside of the mountain. Clearing clouds provided mystical lighting on the surrounding peaks.


Italian backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering.
Views like these made every day special, what a trip!


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


10 Responses to “Backcountry Skiing In Italy — Steve Romeo”

  1. Jason McGowin March 15th, 2006 8:56 am

    Headed there in 3 weeks for our honeymoon. Thanks for the stoke. Can’t wait!

  2. Giovanni March 15th, 2006 11:08 am

    Great to see some of our favourite downhils here in Italy. I can suggest this great guide full of details for the area:

    Also consider for the next trip the Marmolada and Presanella glaciers…


  3. Mark Worley March 15th, 2006 6:15 pm

    Looks like spectacular stuff for sure. It is easy for me to say I’m happy to make my turns here, but in reality I remember the time I flew over the alps with clear views of the peaks. I took photos like a crazed tourist. Perhaps one day I’ll ski some of that unbelieveable terrain as well. Glad Steve and friends enjoyed it.


  4. Steve Romeo March 15th, 2006 8:41 pm


    You are going to have such a good time! I can definately recommend some stuff for you!


    Funny you mention the guidebook, that’s the one Max lent me. I actualy saw and met Fancesco a few times while I was overthere. He mentioned reading about skiing the Grand Teton in Couloir Magazine. He wants to come to the Tetons this May…hope he can make it.

  5. Giovanni March 16th, 2006 4:28 am

    Take a look also to these photos to have an idea of the Val Del Mezdì downhill in the Sella group in Dolomites:

  6. Giovanni March 16th, 2006 7:10 am


    Great you you should suggest us some nice locations on the Tetons so next season you will have around some spaghetti eaters from the CAI:

    Where have you been on the Baffin. I am planning a trip here for August:

  7. Alex March 16th, 2006 10:35 am

    Wow, Steve, those are some good looking coolies. Glad you’re having a great time out there, and thanks for the stoke!

  8. Hamish Gowans March 17th, 2006 12:27 am

    Very funny this is, but trying to get ahold of you I have. You’re one of a couple rando rebels in Boulder and we have yet to meet. I got your phone no. out of the phone book so, if I don’t get you, please return my message.

  9. Hamish Gowans March 17th, 2006 12:27 am

    So Steve,
    You were skiing in the Alpinist cover photo.

  10. Jason McGowin March 20th, 2006 10:44 am


    You can also email me at


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