To Italy and back ... just

26th January 2010, by Chris Gill

Which country now?

Which country now?

Well, that was a really fun and interesting drive this morning. It was a shame to leave Kranjska just as the racing fever got going, but my plan was to be in Bovec with time to ski at the newly linked Kanin-Sella Nevea resort today.

One of the quickest ways to reach Bovec from Kranjska is actually over a high mountain pass that has fifty hairpin bends to negotiate. Er, no thanks. The alternative is to go via Italy and the Predel pass. It takes about an hour and a half. So, off I tootled. This route is also very winding and typical of a high mountain road; it crosses the border and back again – but the scenery is stunning along the way. Much of it resembles the Dolomites, with hugh limestone rock faces. Photo stops a must, despite the lack of sunshine. Not sure I’d want to attempt it in poor weather though.

Border hopping. Before the descent to Bovec.

Once settled in to the hotel Kanin, I was keen to get out on the slopes and so met up with Ales, my guide for the morning. It’s a 15-20 minute gondola ride from the edge of Bovec village, with its attractive main street and handful of hotels, up to the Kanin-Sella Nevea ski area. Visibility wasn’t looking too great as we emerged from the lift – low cloud that has been a feature for much of this week – but the snow was in excellent shape: the area is in a very snow-sure bowl, and the slopes high.

They don’t have snowmaking on the Slovenian side, because they are that confident of good snow. Is 2m good enough? I think so. At the top we skied virtually deserted pistes, most of which are classified red, and rightly so. They are few, but there is a good long red back to mid-station, and more over the border – where a new red run was cut down a rocky gorge as part of the huge investment to connect the two resorts.

The new lift is a welcome addition, an ultra-modern cable car that makes quite an impression in bright orange – though it seems a little out of place for an area its size. At the top there is a short linking run back to the Slovenian border (only known as such by a small plaque embedded in the rock). A slow quad takes you back to the Bovec slopes. There are some good off-piste options too, with a guide. Problem with the terrain here is that the limestone rocks mean lots of hollows and holes to swallow you up – you can see them clearly from the chairlifts. But there is a popular route, down a quiet valley back to Bovec.

After a decent lunch at the gondola restaurant (actually much nicer than it looks from the outside, and serving good food), Ales left and I decided to ski into Italy, down to Sella Nevea in the next valley. The two 5km red runs down to this rather strange looking place are excellent: fast, wide and with decent steep pitches. Both are enclosed between steep rock faces and some trees. The resort is an obvious purpose-built place, of mainly private apartment blocks. But the runs on this side of the mountain have more trees and were the best retreat from the flat light up top. Taking the gondola back up, I popped in to Refugi Gilbert for a hot choc. This small, cute hut is the main stop on Sella Nevea’s slopes. Problem was, I lingered too long and almost missed the last lifts back towards Bovec. They close from 3.20 and 3.45, and the piste patrol were following me. Phew – that was close …

Across the divide. The swanky new cable cars.

No sooner back from the slopes, than I was whisked away on a special tour of the Triglav National Park centre (very informative) and some night sledding. The latter was a great laugh; five of us were taken up a 2km long pitch black trail by 4×4, then let loose with wooden sleds and head torches for the icy descent. Me being the least experienced in these matters (the locals are brought up on these things!) took it a bit steadier first go down. It wasn’t so easy controlling the sled as it looks and there were some fierce bends. But we went back up for more fun, before stopping at a small farmhouse. The owner served us tea and goodies – cheeses and meats produced on the farm, as well as some tasty cakes.

Farmhouse supper – Triglav National Park

Tomorrow I spend the morning here again, before jumping back in the car and heading towards the beautiful Lake Bohinji and my final two ski areas of the trip. And there is an interesting ski train to take on this route …

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