Ski touring is a fantastic sport which builds on your skiing experience by adding mountaineering skills. By using slightly different equipment, you are able to go up aswell as down, allowing skiers to access remote mountain areas to find the best fresh snow, completing unique and utterly fulfilling mountain journeys.
The Dolomites with their fabulous spires and walls of rock offer the perfect setting for this type of skiing. There are fantastic easy descents aswell as extremely technically demanding outings and Val Pettorina is one of the finest spots in the entire range.
What to expect from Ski Touring in the area
Of course what you will find away from the pistes will depend enormously on when you happen to be here, and what the conditions have been like in the weeks before your visit. Generally conditions favour lower snow levels but great powder do occur on a regular basis, you just have to hit the right week!
The skiing tends to be best on North Facing aspects where the sun will affect the snowpack less, this also often coincides with steeper slopes and a common feature of skiing here, gullies. However that is not to say that you can’t find great wide, open slopes!
When to come
The ski touring season is somewhat variable, with tours possible on Marmolada as early as early November as late as May. That said, the best times are usually between Mid January and the end of April, with heavy snowfall being delayed recently by changing climate, often until mid January.
Condition build up
To understand conditions well you need to start watching weather patterns early in the year to spot general trends, paying particular attention to High and Low Pressure areas, the Jetstream and it’s position. Generally speaking a high pressure system over Ukraine or Russia can prevent the required air flow over the Sahara and mediterraneanfrom hitting the Dolomites, and this system when in place can unfortunately mean little snow fall for the range. Typical snowfall patterns will see the jetstream moving south over the Sahara where it is heated and dried, before picking up moisture from the mediterranean. The other danger to conditions is a system whereby warm wet air reaches the northern side of the alps which means the Austrian alps see sometimes huge snowfalls. By contrast, the Dolomites receieve very little as by the time the winds cross the mountains they have been stripped of moisture and arrive as a warm dry wind, prone to stripping snow from the mountain!
So make sure that you put in some time to follow what is happening and forecasts which allow you to build up a trend for the season. Of course it can always change but it helps to predict when there might be good conditions if you have the luxuary of choosing!