Good piste skiing in the southern Sella Ronda

14th March 2019, by Chris Gill

Arabba seen from the road down from Passo Campolongo, a week ago

Arabba seen from the road down from Passo Campolongo, a week ago

After two days skiing Cortina’s several areas, editor Watts and I drove an hour or so via Passo Valparola to the famous Sella Ronda - by a country mile Italy’s biggest linked ski area, and the only one in the country to rival the big French and Austrian areas.

When skiing this area, we’ve often stayed in Alta Badia / Corvara or Val Gardena / Selva at the NE and NW corners of the area, but this time we had a mission that took us to the south side of the massif. Alba, effectively a suburb of Canazei at the SW corner, now has slick lifts from a shared station into the Sella Ronda slopes and into the smaller Ciampac-Buffaure area which it shares with Pozza di Fassa, further down the Val di Fassa.

On the way to Alba we wanted to have a bit of fun on the excellent testing slopes of Arabba, at the SE corner of the Sella Ronda. The tourist office had arranged rooms at Passo Campolongo, between Arabba and Corvara, which suited us very well: before setting off for Porta Vescovo above Arabba, we were able to check out the southern extremities of the Alta Badia slopes, and confirm that (like most of the others in that area) these slopes are generally proper blues. But the home blue run to Passo Campolongo is very tough at the end.

We were staying at the hotel Boè, which has been entirely revamped and considerably extended with great style. The welcome was warm, the rooms very smart and comfortable, the dining rooms traditionally inviting and the half-board food excellent. Ski-in, ski-out on the Sella Ronda circuit. Highly recommended.

The Ciampac-Buffaure area – entirely new to me – turned out to be excellent for confident intermediates. The two high-points of Sella Brunech and Col de Valvacin (both at about 2400m) have good red slopes back towards their base resorts and in the intervening valley. From mid-mountain at each end of the area there are excellent easy black runs to valley level, with the option at the Pozza end of a red which has a superb top half and a bearable cruise on the lower half.

The cable car in the opposite direction from Alba rises 900m to Col dei Rossi on the edge of the sunny Belvedere sector of the Sella Ronda above Canazei. This makes Alba an excellent base, offering the option of exploring the Sella Ronda if it’s not too busy, or retreating to Ciampac-Buffaure if it is.

At Pozza you can also cross the valley for a few hours on the small but pleasant and very scenic Catinaccio area. We’re told there are free mini-bus shuttles across the valley operating on a turn-up-and-go basis, but we didn’t see them in our brief visit to the Pozza lift base.

In Alba we stayed at the traditional old hotel Fedaia, which has had a slightly funky makeover and has gained a small but smart spa, and now prefers to be called Joy Hotel Fedaia. With doubles from €70 a night (daily cleaning and breakfast optional extras) and singles from €45, it’s excellent value. There are suites, too. It’s just a bit too far from the lifts to walk, but the ski bus stop is just over the road.
All of this was about a week ago, on 4-6 March. There had been no significant natural snow for weeks, but as usual the Dolomite snowmaking turned up trumps, with pistes intact and generally very enjoyable with decent edges on your skis.

I’ll post some more photos when I find time. But first I’ll report on the subsequent week, which I spent west of the Dolomiti Superski area in Madesimo, Livigno, Bormio, Ponte di Legno-Tonale (as we are now asked to call it) and Madonna di Campiglio.

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