WildSnow.com Goes Euro – Day 5 – Travel to Suldan Italy and the Refugio/Lodge/Hut

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | January 15, 2007      

Hi all, after an epic 20+ hour travel “day” I’m back in Colorado. Need to thank the Barthels for their generous hosting. They opened their house to me, kept me fed, and made sure I got plenty of stories and history so my appreciation of the Tyrol could quickly go beyond alpi hats and wurst, all the way to forever knowing the name of Andreas Hofer. The old-world hosting was completed by Manfred’s wife, Huberta, sending me off with a gigantic Linzertorte in my luggage.

Luckily I’m sitting in Carbondale now eating Huberta’s torte with my family (Louie consumed mass quantities) as customs can be a bit touchy about food you’re bringing into the U.S. from abroad. There is a “do you have food?” checkoff on the custom’s declaration form you fill out while still on the plane, so being a good honest citizen I duly declared the torte. In Philly my connection was super tight — as I approached the customs station I regretted my honesty, as you can pretty much walk through in seconds if you don’t declare anything. So I think, what do they care about a torte? I ask the officer, “Hey, I declared a torte, but can I just walk through the fast station any way?” He says, “What’s a torte?” “Oh, it’s like a pie.” “A meat pie?” he asks. I say, “No, just a pie…” Officer points his thumb at the fast line and says “Get over there.” Relief.

Since I was away from the internet for about four days and couldn’t blog the ski alpinism and Dynafit meeting part of the trip, I”ll do so after the fact, so here goes:

Day 5: After a day off to regroup and do some writing, we left this morning for the drive from Bad Hering to Sulden, Italy. Normally about a two hour trip, we took a detour through the Dolomite mountains and spent some time in Bozen, Italy where we enjoyed a bit of cafe culture and did some climber’s window shopping.

Backcountry skiing in Italy.
First order of the day is to get off the Autobahn and take the fun winding roads through vineyard countryside up to Sella Pass in the Dolomites. Fritz is an excellent driver who effortlessly keeps his small diesel powered manual-shift car in the power band, stuffing it into the turns like a NASCAR pro with his eye on the victory podium. Fun.

The Dolomites have always been a shrine to me as a climber. Only reason I’d not visited before is that over the years Europe seemed to always be financially out of reach. Finally here at Sella Pass after all these years, I’m wishing it was summer and we were hiking up to one of the incredible classic rock routes for a day of fun in the warm Italian sun.

Backcountry skiing in Italy.
First taste of Italy is the Sella Pass sign. This simply has that Italian feel, what with the colors and style. To make our Italian entry official, we ducked into the small cafe at the pass summit and had a real Italian cappacino.

Backcountry skiing in Italy.
We drive through the Dolomites and down to Bozen, Italy where I get my first taste of an old European city. We walk the narrow streets and stop in for a snack at one of a thousand cafes. This particular cafe is connected to a big mountaineering shop that’s part of the Sportler chain of stores around Europe. The walls of the cafe are decorated with statues of iconic Dolomite climbers. The statue behind us in the photo is of hard man Otto Eisenstecken. We play around with getting our photo taken as debonair “metro-euros” enjoying cafe culture as we solve all the world’s problems. Java at this stop was replaced by a variety of “punch.” Quite tasty. Fritz enjoyed pointing out the self service wine bar — Italian version of fast food.

Backcountry skiing in Italy.
We shop Sportler for a while. I’m curious how a European store merchandises. The array of ski mountaineering gear is stunning. Dynafit compatible boots take center stage: Scarpa Sprit 3 and 4, along with Garmonts and of course Dynafit models. My favorite thing of all is the scale next to the boot display. Curious about the lightest boot? Just walk into a store with every boot model in existence, weigh a few, and make your pick.

Backcountry skiing in Italy.
After an hour’s climbing drive from Bozen into the Alps, we arrive at Sulden, Italy. Here we’ll ride the tram up to a large hut/lodge where Dynafit is holding their annual sales meeting and press product launch.

Backcountry skiing in Italy.
This is my first view of the hut. The color is oh so Italian. I thought it was kind of ugly until I saw it framed by peaks painted with morning alpineglow, then I understood. This is basically a hotel with full restaurant, bar, and rooms. What makes it a “hut” is that it’s an old building, with a ski tuning room, drying rack for ski boots, and association with an Alpine Club for discounted rates etc. Mostly, it just feels like a climber’s refuge, and was here long before the tram was built.

Backcountry skiing in Italy.
Finally, inside for the sales meeting. I was stunned by how nice Dynafit’s new line is (will report more on that in coming days), and no, I didn’t drink the Dynafit koolaid, though I think that’s some there on the table in foreground. Tomorrow, touring to the Suldanspitz


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4 Responses to “WildSnow.com Goes Euro – Day 5 – Travel to Suldan Italy and the Refugio/Lodge/Hut”

  1. Stuart January 15th, 2007 1:26 pm

    I have really enjoyed the Dynafit history and your European travels.

    On a more selfish note, some friends and I are considering the Ortler traverse for this Spring. Since you were in the area, do you have a gut feel about the snowpack and trends for the next few months.
    Keep up the good work!

  2. Tim Carroll January 15th, 2007 7:31 pm

    Lou, thanks for sharing your very interesting travels in Europe. I’m increasingly amazed at the way it seems the European AT skiers heavily emphasize weight and efficiency, while here in the USA it seems that many of the backcountry ski gear makers are trying harder to make stuff that’s burlier and therefore heavier, inching closer to alpine gear.

    Do you feel you sacrificed very much in descending fun/control/power with the lightweight gear that you were loaned by the Dynafit crew? If so, what would you say were the biggest sacrifices?

    PS — when you say that color was “oh so Italian,” I’m guessing that you’re saying it was a shade of pink or something like that. I can’t really tell from the picture but it looks like it’s pink or “salmon” colored.

  3. Jeff Collins June 7th, 2009 10:02 am

    That looks awesome!

  4. Scout July 29th, 2009 3:50 pm

    Cheap travel from or to Germany, if anyone feels like going there, check the airfairs!

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