The Sella group in the Dolomites has got to be one of the raddest spots to ski couloirs in the world. There are many lines that are accessible within and hour or two long tour from the Passo Pordoi tram and range from casual 40 degree lines to the ultimate in mandatory rappel 60 degree sickness. We were a moderate bunch, so this trip was to ski the Piz Boe Direttissima-Val de la Fontane.
This was our second time skiing off the Passo Pordie tram, the first being the classic Joel Canale. We stuck out like sore thumbs over in Italy, and I was approached by Francesco Tramolada, author of Freeride in the Dolomiti, on the ride to the top. I had seen his guidebook back at the hotel, so I was psyched to be meeting one of the masters. He gave us some beta on the descent of the day and mentioned that he wanted to ski the Grand Teton. Maybe I can return the favor and help him with that someday if he is ever in the States.
We made our way down from the tram dock and threw the skins on for the tour to the top of Piz Boe. The skinning got pretty grim after a bit and the wind was ripping by the time we decided to toss the skis on our backs. It was fun climbing to the summit, a bit of rock hopping here and there kept it interesting, and keeping you face protected from the wind was always a challenge. The sun busted out nicely as we topped out and we were able to find shelter from the gails behind the Capanna-Fassa Hut (sorry, dorks-r-us) at the top of the mountain.
There are many big cliffs and lines off the top of the peak, so we referenced the guidebook and got our bearings so we would pick the right line. The view into the Misty Valley blew my mind. This is home to one of the radder descents in the Dolomites, the Canale Holzer being the first that comes to mind. SICK!!
We skied down and right to the east until we found the entrance to the Direttissima, and it was obvious when we found it. The ships prow on the skier left was truly impressive and it was the kind of thing that I dream about in my sleep. The snow looked to be variable at the top (surprise…surprise), but I knew it would transform into choice corn as we lost elevation. I skied into the couloir and soon found great snow as I carved a few hundred feet before finding a safe spot to wait for Cary and Amy.
As we exited the bottom of the couloir, the route finding got a little tricky due the thin snowpack (yes…global warming in Italy too), but the views were amazing and I love this shot I got of Cary Smith. The clouds, the peaks, the slough, the critter tracks, the skier…I love it!! This line has got to be one of the best moderate descents of the area. The cliffs rose over a 1000′ on either side, and the southern exposure offers good snow conditions in the springtime. Definitely a ‘must do’ on any skiers Dolomite hit list.