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Ortler Ski Tour

The Ortler begins in Sulden, Italy and does a loop through one of the largest parks in Europe, Stelvio National Park.  This area in the South Tirol region of Northern Italy sits a bit lower than the terrain often found in the Western Alps.  Since no peak hits the magic number of 4000 meters, the Ortler ski tour doesn’t attract the crowds often found on the more popular routes.  The character of this ski tour is equally as amazing with a high alpine feel and big glaciated terrain, but here the actual skiing opportunities are often regarded as far superior.

Our first day, we begin by warming up our ski legs with a day of off-piste skiing at the Sulden Ski Area.  In good conditions, Sulden’s off-piste ski terrain rivals any, with long vertical shots, steep couloirs, and plenty of powder.  Being a popular family resort, there aren’t many skiers heading off-piste, thus keeping these slopes untamed for the adventurous.

Day two we re-ascend to the top of the ski area and start our journey on the Ortler Circuit.  We will plan to spend about 2-3 hours a day traveling hut to hut with additional time being spent ascending surrounding peaks searching for good snow and fun runs.  In addition to the incredible skiing opportunities, another appreciated component of this not-so-crowded tour are the accommodations.  The huts along the Ortler ski tour offer many of life’s simple pleasures; great food, espresso and comfortable sleeping arrangements.  Most of the huts even have hot showers!  And anything from bottled water, wine and chocolate bars to delicious homemade pastries are available for purchase.

With many skiing options from each hut, the Ortler tour is very adaptable allowing for easier to harder variations most days.  Skiers should come prepared for all types of snow conditions and mountain weather.  Spring days often begin with cold morning temperatures and firm snow, which eventually warms up to provide excellent spring (corn) skiing conditions.  However it is not uncommon to see big spring dumps, which often settle quickly and provide those unforgettable powder skiing days.  In addition to preparing for the trip with the proper clothing and equipment, we also suggest coming physically fit to maximize your experience while touring, and having enough energy for the great descents.  This moderate to difficult ski tour is catered to the experienced skier in good physical condition.

Photos of Ortler Ski Tour:

(click on image to view slideshow)

Tentative Itinerary:

Day 0 Meet at prearranged hotel in Sulden for an aperitif. We will then pull out maps for an overview of the tour and do an equipment check before we start our tour.
Day 1 Enjoy a day of lift-assisted off-piste skiing and touring. Spend the evening in Sulden.
Day 2 Take a ski lift in the morning from Sulden to the Madriccio Pass and descend the beautiful valley to the Zufallhutte for a cappuccino. Our destination is the Marteller Hut, a short climb up from there.
Day 3 Our goal is the Branca Hut. From the Marteller Hut we head up valley to the Cevedale Glacier. We will Summit Monte Cevedale and descend on skis from the summit down to the Cevedale-Pasquale Col and the South Flank of Cevedale to the Val di Rosole and the Branca Hut. The Branca has some of the best food on the trip and serves as a perfect basecamp for ski mountaineering day outings.
Day 4-5 The Branca hut’s location at the entrance to a giant cirque of high peaks, all with large glaciers flowing north towards the hut, make it a conveniently situated base from which to do absolutely classic day ski tours. On the afternoon of Day 5 we will tour up the Valle di Cedec to the impressive and deluxe Pizzini Hut, and arrive just in time for a refreshment on the patio.
Day 6 Depending on conditions, we have several options on day six. We can descend the Cedec Glacier on Monte Cevedale, climb up to the Col Pale Rosse, or ascend the Konigsjoch. We will seek the best skiing and vistas we can find and spend our evening at the Pizzini Hut.
Day 7 Tour up to the Cevedale Pass to the Casati Hut (cappuccino of course) then over the shoulder of the Cima di Solda to the Solda Glacier where we take a beautiful glacier run down to the piste and eventually all the way back down to Sulden, completing the circuit! If weather does not cooperate, we will have a nice adventure, skiing down the valley to the picturesque village of Santa Catarina and shuttle from there back to Sulden to celebrate.
Day 8 Flights home or travel to your next destination.

Wigglin’ sure is fun!

Required Skills and Fitness:

The Ortler Circuit is for moderate to advanced skiers who are able to ski in variable snow conditions. Skiers should be able to ski “off piste” (backcountry) in all types of snow (firm, wet, heavy, and breakable crust). You should be comfortable skiing black diamond slopes at US ski areas in just about any condition and be comfortable skiing “off piste” slopes ranging from 35°- 40°.  Also, basic mountaineering knowledge is helpful, but not necessary as it can and will be taught along the way.

Fitness is another very important component. To keep up with the average group you should be able to tour 4 to 6 hours every day with a pack varying from 20 to 30 lbs. This tour is a bit more unique in that traveling to the next hut is generally 2 to 3 hours and the rest of the day is spent seeking good skiing. Therefore opportunities exist to relax and enjoy the huts if doing longer days is less appealing. This has worked well with couples of varied abilities.

Skiing Ability:

  1. The ability to ski in difficult, deep, heavy snow, or bad breakable crust. You never know what it will be like!
  2. The ability to make turns on firm 35° snow slopes in a controlled fashion; either using parallel hop turns or the more conservative Stem-Christie.
  3. The ability to manage firm 40° snow slopes using either a “falling leaf” (sliding back and forth without turns) or side stepping/sliding down as a safe means of descent.
  4. The ability to ski powder. Skiing down the fall-line with short-radius, rhythmic turns. You know, the real fun stuff!
  5. Basic backcountry ski touring experience; using skins and simple understanding of transceiver, shovel, and probe use.

It’s like magic…

Price Includes:

  • – UIAGM / IFMGA  guide
  • – Three nights lodging in Sulden
  • – Five nights lodging in huts
  • – Breakfast and dinners in Huts
  • – Two Lift tickets
  • – Use of avalanche transceiver, climbing harness, shovel and probe (must reserve)

Price Excludes:

  • – Travel to or from Sulden
  • – Food and drinks in huts
  • – Meals in towns
  • – Rescue insurance
  • – Travel insurance
  • – Gratuities

Getting To and From

Getting to Sulden/Solda is 230 miles from Milano’s Malpensa airport (MXP) or 103 miles from Innsbruck (INN). Though the latter is closer it may be a bit more expensive if you choose to rent a car, but shorter taking public transportation.

Flying to Innsbruck:  If you choose to rent a car the average driving time is around 2h 30 to Sulden (map quest).  Taking the public transportation will require two train transfers and a short taxi/bus ride.  Generally the trains leave every hour and will take on average 4h 40 from Innsbruck to Spondinig/Spondigna (this is the gateway into the Stelvio National Park).  Make sure to check the train schedule to hit the right connections. If you get your ticket from a ticket dispenser in Innsbruck choose Merano as your final destination (Spondigna is not available) and you can get the final ticket for Spondigna in Merano.  Once you arrive in Spondinig/Spondigna you will either need to take a taxi or bus to Sulden, which will take on average 30 mins.

Flying to Milano: Most international flights arrive at Milan’s Malpensa (MXP) airport, while flights originating in Europe are likely to land at Milan’s Linate (LIN) airport.  In either case you will need to rent a car (map quest) or take the public transportation, which definitely is a bit more complex.  With public transportation, you will first take the bus to Milan Central Railway Station.  This leaves every 20 mins. and will take about 50 mins. from MXP to reach the Central Railway Station. Their website can be found here. Next, make two changes on the train from Central Railway Station to Merano (4h 40), make another connection to Spondigna and finally take a taxi/bus to Sulden.  With a total of five transfers this might take a full day, so plan accordingly. If you will be reversing this route consider a rental car for your sanity and also getting a GPS as navigating in Italy can become a nightmare.

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  • Dates: March 29-April 3, 2015
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  • Cost: $2,500
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  • Ratio: 4 skiers to 1 guide
  • max. 8 skiers to 2 guides

Pertinent Info

Ski Trips


IFMGA & AMGA certified guides