Val Pettorina is a stones throw from the fantastic Arabba ski range. It offers fantastically varied skiing and is ideal for those looking for more taxing runs, especially steep blacks. From Val Pettorina you can either drive to Arabba via Digonera in 30 minutes, or leave from Monte Padon and ski there in around 40 minutes. The one caveat that the return journey must be completed quite early as the last lift to Monte Padon is early to prevent skiers based in Arabba from getting stuck!
Arabba itself is a quiet village nestled amongst the mountains at the foot of the Sella Massif. The ski area therefore encompasses an area up to Passo Campolongo to the North, to Passo Pordoi to the west and Passo Padon to the south.
Arabba can be reached:
- from the south by driving from Alleghe in 20 minutes
- from Corvara unless Passo Campolongo is closed which rarely happens in 20 minutes. This is also the most snow safe route to arrive from Austria.
- From the west by Passo Pordoi. This is the main route from western Italy, but check that the pass is open before choosing this route. If there is snow it’s best to arrive from the south and accept the slightly longer distance involved.
- From the east via Passo Falzarego. Driving time from Cortina is around 1 hour.
The resort is really a story of two halves. The southern slopes in my opinion are what the place is about. It’s jam packed with excellent, harder runs, the reds are often tough for red and the blacks are steep and unrelenting. Indeed the Fodoma #3 is as steep a piste as I have skied anywhere. Fall here and you won’t stop easily!
The area is served by 3 main lifts which leave from the same lifthouse just above the village.
The first lift is the newly constructed bubble Portados which is useful for accessing Passo Pordoi if you have timid skiers with you – by combining this lift with Carpazza you can avoid the steep and bumpy run from Portovescovo which is truly unpleasant when busy.
The second is the original lift to Portovescovo, the “Rifugio Luigi Gorza” which is a cable car with the resultant queues and I rarely use it. Walk a few metres further and you’ll find the DMC Europa Express, a high speed two stage bubble. Whether this lift is faster than the former I really don’t know, I just hate queues and the DMC seems to be easy to board most of the time.
The mid stage of the DMC Europa is the ticket to returning to Val Pettorina – so take note! It also accesses the lower section of the red Ornella, and the black varient, Ornella-Sourasass. These are both excellent runs, Ornella being significantly easier and the preferred descent for intermediates.
Continue to Portovescovo and you will be greeted with incredible views of Marmolada to the South and the Sella Massif to the North. The descent of the Salere is unforgiving as it is a piste with high traffic being part of the Sellaronda Orange circuit. In late afternoon it is a nightmare of bumps and stricken skiers – be warned! Descend to the right of the obvious chairlift station at the base of this steep pitch and you will encounter Sourasass, a steep black with enough twists and turns to keep the best skier entertained.
Go left of the lift station and you are now on your way to Passo Pordoi or the notorious Fodoma which splits off to the right. This wide piste is steep and long in the initial section. After a break in the mid section to steepens again into an enjoyable technical run.
The run towards Pordoi is quite fun although eternally busy as it’s the main path of the Sellaronda Orange. It starts with a long schuss into a steeper section which can provide considerable interest for the weaker skier especially late in the day with bumps and other skiers to miss. It turns into a long easy schuss after this and soon deposits you at Pont de Vauz. You can return to Arabba by a very easy blue or continue to Pordoi.
By taking the lift up you reach Passo Pordoi where there is a fun bowl, with a couple of great red runs, some natural half pipes to play in and some great huts for refreshments. It also gives access to the summit of Piz Pordoi by cable car which is worthwhile for the incredible views of Sassolungo, Marmolada, Piz Boe, Civazes and many others. It’s also the starting point for an off-piste run back to Passo Pordoi, or if you are into Freeride, there is the traverse across the Sella which I cover elsewhere.
The northern side of Arabba is a much more relaxed affair, in the sun all day long, with runs for all levels. From the southern side, there is the new Arabba Fly lift which transports you across the village (what a relief after the booted stomp of old!) After a short schuss you jump on another lift to Monte Burz with a wide easy blue or a steep black whioch returns directly to Arabba to choose from.
The blue leads to the Bec de Roces lift which has three great reds and a blue run, Bec de Roces and Savine both return to Arabba, Campolongo and Rutort both descend northwards towards Corvara and Passo Campolongo.
Rutort is a great run, a little narrow and it can get bumpy for a blue. Campolongo is quite easy for a red and nice and wide. There is a kids park half way down Bec de Roces – bear right for this – it usually has a corckscrew tunnel, some punch hands, a musical carpet and a coupe of jumps.
Getting to and from Arabba from Val Pettorina
Getting to Arabba couldn’t be easier from our valley. If you drive up the valley (or catch the ski bus), you will come to the Padon lift on the left as you approach Passo Fedaia – if you reach the hairpins you’ve gone too far! The lift delivers you quickly to Passo Padon; the run down the far side is quite a steep red run, so if you are with beginners, be aware of this – it’s a little narrow to start with but soon opens out, although it’s steep for quite a way! Once at the bottom, another lift brings you right into the middle of the Arraba area, but again, as these are harder runs, make sure your group feels comfortable with this sort of skiing. If you’ve come here on the lifts from Malga Cipela, getting back is a little less obvious. From the main Arabba lifthouse, take the DMC Europa cabin lifts and jump out at the mid station – a chair lift on the right as you come out of the station takes you to a gentle blue run and then to a lift back to Passo Padon. The red which descends to Val Pettorina is pretty amenable although it can get very icy after a spell without snow – over all the ski back is easier technically if harder to find.
Off-Piste and free ride in Arabba
Off piste in Arabba is great with tree lines, open slopes and a great variety of steepness to play with. If you’re looking to get into off piste, we can recommend hiring a guide for a day who will be able to quickly assess your level and help you get the most from your day!