News from the snow
Arabba - Marmolada Italy
One of the most famous resorts on the Sella Ronda circuit and indeed in Italian skiing, Arabba has some of the country's most challenging terrain. It's a traditional old mountain village that has grown up on a hillside in a relatively compact formation with buildings in the Tyrolean chalet style, making it rather picturesque beneath its white spired church. Arabba is also one of the few resorts in the area that attracts serious skiers and 'boarders as well as families, because it has some steep and exciting terrain, as well as the kilometres of intermediate cruising. The Sella is a huge mountain massif and it is possible to ski around it in a day via Corvara and Canazei. The largest inter-linked area on the huge Dolomiti Superski lift pass, it also provides lift-linked access into the valleys of Alta Badia (Corvara, Colfosco, La Villa and San Cassiano); famous Val Gardena with Selva, St Christina and St Ulrich and the upper section of the Val di Fassa (Canazei and Campitello). Another skiing benefit is that Arabba is close to the lifts up to the Marmolada glacier which gives more excellent high-altitude skiing. A final benefit is the glorious vista all around, with the pink rock of the Dolomites formed into towering cliffs and spires to create some spectacular scenery. Arabba itself is located at the extreme end of the Alto Agordino area, in the territory of Livinallongo del Col di Lana with pistes leading right back to the village. Settlement here goes back many generations, and on Livinallongo meadows there are the thousand year old ruins of Andraz Castle, a rock transformed into a fortification. Abandoned two centuries, ago it is currently being restored by the Italian State government. At 1602m it is one of the highest resorts in the region, and one of the highest traditional resorts in Italy, and its largely north facing slopes have some of the best natural snow conditions in the entire Dolomites. An Avalanches Experimental Centre, which carries out research into ways in which to minimise the dangers of avalanches, as well as warning about current dangers, is based here.
One of the most famous resorts on the Sella Ronda circuit, having some of the area's most challenging skiing. Sella Ronda is a huge mountain massif and it is possible to ski around it via Corvara and Canazei. The pink Dolomite rock of the area forms some spectacular scenery.
For beginners the nursery slopes are right by the village and, thanks to snow making, high elevation and an overall good snow record, this area is normally open throughout the winter. Intermediates inevitably have the most to enjoy, with few areas in the world able to offer the wonderful sense of lift-served touring right over to Selva in Val Gardena and back so long as you ensure you start out early and don't leave your return too late. Both this epic journey on skis and the Sella Ronda circuit all the way round can be completed in a day by a reasonable intermediate skier on blues (mostly) and a few reds.
An interesting new route, the 'Great War Tour' takes in places in the area of significance to the Italian Resistance of World War One, including the beautiful natural gorge of Serrai. Apart from the huge choice of skiing lift linked around the Sella Ronda, the Dolomiti Superski Pass covers yet more skiing a short bus ride away, including the 80km (50 miles) of mixed terrain above neighbouring Alleghe. Experts have some of the best skiing in the Dolomites in Arabba. The north facing Porta Vescovo runs have legendary snow conditions after a good fall, with a particularly challenging long black beneath the cable car.
The World Cup run on the other side of the area down to La Villa is another on most good skiers' 'must do' list and the trip over to Selva also gives access to the Val Gardena World Cup downhill if not closed off for training. The Marmolada glacier is another option, and off piste routes such as the famous Hidden Valley run from the top of Sella down Val Mesdi to Colfosco is not for the faint hearted. If all that's not enough there's always the heli-skiing offered through the ski school.
Where Arabba may not match the complete wish list of some 'boarders dream resorts is its lack of a thumping nightlife, but on the up side there are plenty of high value bars and places to eat and sleep. Lessons are offered by the ski school.