Perfect Weather on the Tofana de Rozes, Dolomites, Italy

Post by blogger | January 6, 2011      

We’ll, almost perfect anyway. Temperatures hovered around 15 degrees F, making for short stops and chilly digits for backcountry skiing on the Tofana de Rozes. Advantage, snow at upper altitudes had a somewhat re-crystalized surface as well as no suncrust — though difficult crust conditions did make the lower part of the mountain a bit of a survival fest. Main thing, I was able to ski directly off the summit of one of the big Dolomite peaks (3,225 meters), and make some fairly nice pow turns on a big alpine face. Who would have thought, this being the central Europe where snow is somewhat thin in many places this year?

Tofana start.

Starting for the Tofana. That's it looming above, with zillions of famous rock climbing routes -- skiing on the opposite side.

The day began with a 6:00 AM start from Bad Haering, Austria planning on a three hour drive to the trailhead on Passo Falzarego just above Cortina. Bummer was I depended too much on my Garmin Nuvi, which turns out to be about as useful for this type of European travel as a brick is for backcountry skiing. (Interestingly, a Tomtom GPS I checked out after the trip worked super well, so a word to the wise, get Tomtom, don’t use Garmin.)

Thus, the drive was 4 hours so tour partner Federico Sbrissa (don of Dynafit boots) and I didn’t leave the trailhead till after 10:00 AM. That’s a bit late for a 1,500 meter climb of a complex ski tour. But we had Dynafit gear, and especially since Fede was in his TLT 5 boots I knew it would go (those things do speed you up, honestly.)

Guidebook photo.

Guidebook photo of the route we got to ski, with similar snow coverage as depicted. I'd driven through the Dolomites a few years ago, but never done any climbing or skiing in the legendary range. To finally do so was a very emotional experience -- another roots journey like my first trip to Austria.

(Oh, almost forgot, guidebook from these guys.)

Italian backcountry skiing, halfway to Tofana.

Fede about half way up. The route climbs by some ski runs, then past a couple of huts (some open, some closed). It involves quite a bit of moving around laterally so you don't climb particularly quickly. Also, with about 5,000 vertical feet of vert to expend calories on, you don't exactly run (or at least I don't, though some of the Euro ski runners probably would.)

First view of upper face, Tofana.

About half way up you climb through a moderate couloir, then up past a closed hut, where you finally get a view of the upper face you need to cross to gain the summit ridge. At times avalanche hazard keeps most winter skiers off this face, but we were hitting it after a long string of snowless days, so I wasn't highly concerned so long as I didn't see any chalk surface wind slab. Turned out the snow was a lightly sastrugied surface with lots of old avalanches still visible and no red-flags. The skiing actually turned out better than it appeared it would be on the way up.

Tofana, northerly ridge used for ascent.

Tofana, northerly ridge used for ascent.

Tofana backcountry skiing, final pitch to summit.

Final summit ridge, foreshortened by the camera. After much vert, this thing seems a bit too long for comfort.

Federico a few feet from Tofana summit.

Federico a few feet from Tofana summit, some of the Dolomites in background, with Alps (Zillertal) farther back on horizon. We arrived at about 3:00 PM, which for Europe in January is a bit late to be starting down from a big summit. Thus, we didn't relax (and it was too cold for hanging out, anyway.)

Backcountry skiing Italy, self portrait.

Your friendly blogger, on top with a tired smile. The skiing was variable, but I did get in some excellent turns on that big face. Super exciting to be on something like that in the Dolomites. And no one else around other than the two of us!

Tentative plans were for me to stay in the Dolomites and do more skiing then head down to the boot mafia region of Italy to check out how they make ski boots. But with weather coming in I opted for a night drive back north to Bad Haering. Thus an incredibly tough day, but the high from Tofana got me home.

Fede gets some turns in.

Fede earned, and then turned.

Might return south this weekend, and perhaps will visit the boot factories early next week, just before the Dynafit press event.

Meanwhile, thanks Fede for getting WildSnow down to the Dolomites during the perfect weather day, on a stupendous route!


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25 Responses to “Perfect Weather on the Tofana de Rozes, Dolomites, Italy”

  1. Randonnee January 6th, 2011 11:40 am

    Ahh, that is what we have been anticipating! Looks great and brings back fond memories! My time in the Dolomiti was most memorable and enjoyable, in spite of a thin snowpack. Federico is on Seven Summit Superlights? I like my SSS!

  2. Lou January 6th, 2011 11:48 am

    Let me tell you, I don’t think Fede was sporting one item of equipment that was not Dynafit logo laden (I think I even saw a tiger face on his camera). Actually pretty cool to see all the stuff working together. He had a pair of pants with precise holes cut for the TLT 5 boot buckles, and was even rocking race bindings on those SSLs. I’d done that buckle access mod on various pants over the years and loved it, nice to see it in production. Tricky, because it’s usually only for one model of boot…

    The full kit of Dynafit stuff can be a bit thin and light for skiing such as midwinter Colorado, but overall the concepts are delightful to see in retail. I was wanting lighter gear myself, that is until I started cranking turns on that big face. Then my Manaslu and Green Machine combo was just perfect.

  3. Nick January 6th, 2011 11:59 am

    Awesome! I always look forward to your Euro TRs (especially the pastries ;))

  4. aviator January 6th, 2011 12:06 pm

    great pics!
    the dolomites really are some of the most spectacular mountains in the world!

  5. Jonathan January 6th, 2011 1:08 pm

    If you are a smart phone user you can download the Tom Tom app for your phone and it works great over there. It is about $35-$40.

  6. Lou January 6th, 2011 1:28 pm

    Hey Nick, I kind of ran out of exotic pastries to cover due to less city/town travel during recent trips. Need to go to Vienna and hit the coffee houses, but that’s for another trip. Nonetheless, I’ll try to find some cool stuff if I travel south.

    Seems like I’m ending up with apple strudel more times than I can count (grin).

  7. Brian January 6th, 2011 1:32 pm

    C’mon Lou, where are the pastries!!

  8. Lou January 6th, 2011 1:34 pm

    Jonathan, good tip. This trip I’m actually trying using my Verizon Escapade which works everywhere, and ends up being just a bit more per minute than buying a Euro throw-away phone or sim card. But it’s not a smart phone, and I’m not sure what it would cost me to run the Tomtom app on a smartphone over here. When I get back, I’m putting the Nuve on Ebay and buying a Tomtom. Weird that Garmin is so lame. I tried to get it to find ONE town on my route, entered about 10 different towns and it couldn’t find one of them in its database. Totally lame. And the European map set cost me a bundle. To be fair, I have used it a bit — when it can find a town. For example, it’ll get me to Munich, or Kufstein.

    Not sure the Garmin can find the words “pastry in Vienna,” but perhaps I should try that, as then I wouldn’t sell it on Ebay (grin).

    Oh, and also to be fair, Garmin has worked fine in places such as Salt Lake City, though it did send us over some pretty strange rural routes during our Alaska road trip.

  9. Eric January 6th, 2011 2:29 pm

    Awesome! Thanks Lou!

  10. Matus January 6th, 2011 3:07 pm

    Lou I am glad you a had a good day on Tofana. We tried to climb+ski it last May. However, there was an avalanche accident and we ended up helping to find the victim of the avalanche (this included lots of helicopters, RECCO searching, dogs, newspaper people and even tears)… Sad story.

  11. NT January 6th, 2011 3:20 pm

    incredible. love it! request more dolomite stoke

  12. RHSman January 6th, 2011 3:30 pm

    Great to see some Euro action on Wildsnow. It might not all be pow pow but the Ambience (Coffee and Cake) plus views make up for it.
    What a face. Haven’t been to Dolomites for 5 years. Must return asap.

  13. mtnrunner2 January 6th, 2011 3:55 pm

    Now THAT is a great day out.

    The snowy ridge near the summit is crazy. Awesome mountains.

  14. Michael Kennedy January 6th, 2011 8:13 pm

    Super cool tour! In summer 2007 Hayden and I did two routes on the big face in the first photo. The buttress above Fede’s right shoulder was a classic from 1946, the Constantini-Ghedina, and the face right of that a harder, more modern route, the G. Villeneuve. Both were incredible, and we managed to get back to the Rifugio Giussani for a midafternoon lunch after each route. The Dolomites rule!

  15. Lou January 7th, 2011 1:23 am

    MK, I was thinking that’s one of the places where you guys had done some routes. I’d driven through the Dolomite a few years ago, but never done any climbing or skiing, was excited to finally get on it!

  16. Ai@ce January 7th, 2011 3:19 am

    wow, tofana in january: federico really wanted surprising you 🙂

    I personally like this kind of antispam: better of any boring captcha

  17. Dan Patitucci January 7th, 2011 4:26 am

    Lou! you are in the Dolomites? Let’s play if you are around longer –Dan

  18. Lou January 7th, 2011 5:02 am

    Hi Dan, am heading down again this afternoon, going with Fritz and I think we’ve already got plans, but I’ll let you know. I’ll send you an email. ‘best, Lou

  19. Alberto De Giuli January 7th, 2011 5:55 am

    Great report Lou!
    When the Ski Resort is open there’s an interesting option: skiing the famous Bus de Tofana and you’re right to Rifugio Giussani.skinning up to Tofana di Rozes would be shorter 😉 and you’d enjoy a GREAT combo + 2 long and beautiful descent!

  20. Francesco January 7th, 2011 5:55 am

    Hi everybody, I am an Italian skialpinist from Verona..crazy about Dolomiti!..Compliments for your tour on Tofana di Rozes, with such a day despite the cold, I can imagine how you enjoied the panorama on the top! This is a quite technical trip, in Italian classification OSA ( ottimo sci alpinista ). I hope you could stay longer next time…!!
    I take this opportunity to ask you and your friend what do you think and if you tried the ski Dynafit Stoke and if you think that even on such a kind of mountains and snow it could be ok . I use to ski with K 2 sukshan ( almost the same weight but much more narrow..)
    Sorry for my English and thanks a lot!

  21. Lou January 7th, 2011 7:52 am

    Hello Francesco, I use Manaslu ski for this sort of thing because it’s got enough width and very little weight, and also less weight of snow piling up on top while going uphill. But Stoke would work fine as well. I just don’t feel big need for anything wider than Manaslu, though wider is fun and sometimes easier in poor conditions.

    Glad you enjoyed the trip report!

  22. Federico January 7th, 2011 12:44 pm

    nice pictures 😉 … unfortunately the weather on the WE will be bad so there will not be a second great tour for tomorrow lou …

    Ai@ce tofana in Jan is a bit unusual but we’ve been brave and lucky, the snow was a shit and the final ridge much more difficult than in spring but we did and loved it 🙂

    Lou, the pant I had are called Gallium flex pant, it’s a mid weight pant good for all ski mountaineering conditions… if you’re moving fast… they are made with a system you can cut yourself the holes for all fast closure boots like dynafit TLT5/DyNA or Scarpa F1. They works really good.
    See you tomorrow.

  23. myska January 8th, 2011 2:22 am

    lou, that is awsome trip! i just don”t understand how you make it all sunshine on your trips. I spent 6 days in the italian alps and 5 days in the ukrainian mountains recently and had 3 days of sunshine all together. kinda sucks since i can hardly ski in flat light- makes me really sick. by the way, do you have any remedy for that? gravol didn”help… 8) enjoy your euro trip, the alps are amazing! 😉

  24. Lou January 8th, 2011 10:50 am

    Myska, the key is to only talk about the good days (grin). As in “keep the myth alive.”

  25. myska January 8th, 2011 10:54 am

    hahaha, i thought so lou… that is ok, we all know what it is about… 😉
    life is good

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