Piste skiing on Marmolada
The crown jewel of piste skiing in the range is a descent of Marmolada, the Queen of the Dolomites. On paper it doesn’t look particularly extensive, but what it offers is unique in the Dolomites, namely huge uplift to one of the sub-summits of the highest mountain of the range which kicks out directly onto the largest glacier in the Dolomites. The Bellunese is the longest piste in the Dolomites and takes you from Punta Rocca (3269m) down to Malga Ciapela (1446m) over the course of 12km.
The three stage lift which leaves from Malga Cipela is approximately 5 minutes drive from Sottoguda a 10 minute ride on the ski bus which shuttles up and down Val Pettorina. The advantage of starting from this valley is that you are able to reach the first cable car easily which means you will have perfect corduroy and a minimum of skiers to contend with. It allows you you really carve this beautiful piste which is given a red grading. The start is quite exposed and a little steep as there is no tree cover here but rest assured once you start, you will ease into it and as ever it’s getting started which is a little intimidating!
If you are starting from Arabba then try to get there early as the descent can get quite chopped up as this is an obvious goal for the holiday maker – a feather in the cap for skiing the top of the Dolomites.
The views afforded from each of the lift stations are truly breath-taking, the finest being from the viewing platform perched onto of the Punta Rocca lift house. On a clear day you can see all the way to the Adriatic sea and Venice, to the Otler alps in the west, to the Austrian alps and to the Central Dolomites, Civetta, Pelmo, Monte Agner to the east. Look down and catch your breath as you survey the enormous 800m South face of Marmolada and if you are eagle-eyed you can just about make out the Falier hut beneath the face.
After the initial pitch the piste widens as it descends the glacier, before curling down between Punta Serauta and Sass Undici. There are several minor variations to the main run, but this piste is about taking in the majesty of your surroundings. It is rare to ski on a piste in such a place, surrounded by huge rock walls, descending to the frozen Lago Fedaia. Finally you reach Fedaia Pass where you can stop for a drink or continue down to Malga Ciapela. The next section is great fun as the piste rolls through the valley, steepening in places before a long easy schuss down to the Monte Padon Lift. Here either hop on to experience the Marmolada from the opposite side of the valley and continue to Arabba, or continue to have another go on the Marmolada!
The run from Monte Padon is not as fine as Marmolada but is worth it for the views afforded. It also gains access to the fantastic pistes in Arabba which I have covered in a seperate article!
An opportunity which is unfortunately no longer available to skiers is a descent through the Serrai di Sottoguda, a not to be missed is the run through a narrow unpisted canyon. Following a hurricane, the track through the canyon was destroyed but it is in the process of being rebuilt. As soon as it is back in order I will update the information here!