This is about two firsts: my inaugural visit into the heart of the Dolomites, that impossibly beautiful Alpine range in northeastern Italy; and by default my first ski experience in the Dolomiti Superski network. I’m happy to report that on both accounts the standards were set exceptionally high thanks to the near ideal conditions that welcomed me at the San Pellegrino Ski Area.
To be perfectly clear, primary in my skiing missions these days is to position myself in the most beautiful surroundings possible. Winter landscapes that aren’t really possible to experience otherwise. Finding myself above the clouds enjoying the winter wind and sun. The fact that I’m on skis is immensely rewarding, but secondary.
That said, San Pellegrino offers plenty for skiers of all levels –from casual recreationalists like me to the most demanding adrenaline seekers– over its 32 pistes that cover some 60 kilometers with a total vertical drop of 1330m (4364ft).
Falcade as a base
There are several villages where you can base yourself around this sprawling area that give you fairly easy access to both the north and south sides of San Pellegrino, the high mountain pass that connects the villages of Falcade and Moena.
We were in Falcade, a small, sleepy town of about 2,500, to the valley’s southeast. With the opening of the Le Buse Cabin lift in December 2015, it’s a good starting point, too, even if your visit doesn’t involve a birthday party at a hotel just 300m away from the lift. (More on that later.)
Via the lift from Falcade (1200m/3937ft), your final destination is Col Margherita, at 2513m (8245ft), the highest point in the area which towers over the San Pellegrino Pass to the north.
The new Le Buse lift takes you to its eponymous stop at 1890m; from there you continue up the mountain via two separate chair lifts which take you the edge of Lago (Lake) Di Cavia from where a final chair will deliver you to the Col Margherita summit. Even partially shrouded in fog, the views towards the spires of Cima dell’Uomo, which stab the sky at 3010m (9875ft), are sublime.
From the summit, you have three choices: the eponymous freeride park which offers off-trail skiing; expert or intermediate descents towards the valley; or mixed beginner, intermediate and expert descents back towards Falcade. That includes Pista degli Innamorati, at 10km the longest run at San Pellegrino and one of the longest in the network. I saved that one for the next time.
Protip: be sure to overdose on the views before your final descent from above the clouds.
Dolomiti Superski network
There’s lots to keep you busy on longer stays, too. San Pellegrino is just one small part of the Dolomiti Superski network whose 12 ski areas and 450 lifts combine 1200 kilometers of slopes, many just a short car or bus ride away: the Alpe Lusia ski area, based near Moena, is just 18 kilometers from Falcade, and offers another 40km of pistes on 24 runs; Campitello, the center for Val di Fassa, is only another 20 minutes further; and Marmolada (3343m/10,968ft), the highest peak in the Dolomites, is about 42km to the north.
The Nitty and the Gritty:
- Pistes: 32, 60km
- Lifts: 14
- Webcams: 21
- Ticket Prices: High season – Dec 21, 2015 – Jan 6, 2016 and Jan 31, 2016 – Mar 19, 2016
Half-Day: 32 adults, 20 juniors (born before 28 Nov 1999), 29 seniors (born before 28 Nov 1950)
Full-day: 45, 31, 40.50
For multi-day discounts see here.
Roughly 60km northwest of Belluno, 94km northeast of Trento, and 165km northwest of Venice. A map to get your bearings:
And finally, also by default, my first Dolomites image gallery. For just a brisk three-and-a-half hour afternoon tour, I was pleased. Then again, anytime I’m above the clouds I’m pleased.
And last but certainly not least, here’s Ron, the birthday boy who was responsible for dragging me –figuratively, that is– to the area. Many thanks, Ron and happy birthday. I should have listened to you years ago. I’m already looking forward to next year’s bash. 🙂
Ready to go? See what’s available in Falcade right now via Booking.com.