Could these be the most majestic mountains in the world?
I have never in my years travelling the world truly had my breathe taken away from me after stopping just for a second to take in the views of the Dolomites, Italy. I’ve been a snow boarder for about 6 years now and have been to many different places to work, live or holiday. Seeing the mountains when you step outside that gondola, or ride off that chair lift, never ever grows old, no matter how long you’ve been doing it for or even if you keep going to the same place, it will always make you smile. But the Dolomiti Mountains are just in a whole different league – they literally change colour throughout the day, every day, no matter what the conditions.
Now like most mountains ranges are created these are just the same, except these ones have pushed their way up from the sea bed over many, MANY years which is what gives them their “change in colour” and name. These huge…..rocks lets say, act (if you can imagine) as huge shards of glass coming out of the ground containing many different compounds of stone within, so when the sun light comes out from behind the clouds and hits the rocks, it refracts off them (and all those different sea bed elements) making them glow all different shades of colour – changing from sunrise to sunset!
Living in Italy : Canazei
If you ever wanted to be somewhere with the true feeling of authenticity then this is the place! It’s almost as if the Dolomites and its towns within just haven’t given up (or ever would) to the “tourist attraction” phenomenon that most look for. Somehow, whilst holding the record for the largest ski pass in the world, the Dolomites goes along as mostly unknown.
Canazei is a great town within the region of Val di Fassa situated at the top of the mountain near a place called Alba and is actually only ran by 12 different families. The story has it that when The Dolomites was discovered (after the war) families from the south travelled up to North and built towns in and around the mountains, creating history and legacy for their blood lines. Canazei is a very family orientated place and you can feel the warmth of what us brits like to call “a poper-ness” as soon as you’re there.
After living there for the season (5 Months), you would think that it became quite boring going to the same places to; eat, shop, drink and dance – yet it just didn’t. Of course overall there were some places we went to on a more regular occasion than others, which was because; the Italians who would run the restaurant or the club or shop were so genuine you would know it wasn’t a waste of their or your time, it was always a great experience and because, it was worth every penny….but there are many places to be discovered. Canazei has ski shops and rentals for all ages and levels of snowboarders and skiers, many different restaurants for that light lunch, Italian coffee and quick grapa (both of which I couldn’t recommend enough btw) when taking a break from the mountain and/or after a full day on the hill, a few bars and wine bars for apres and/or casual evenings of “wining and dining”, a great selection of shops for the essentials and/or gifts and of course many different places for you to stay. I guess that the best thing about all of this is that (from what I found anyway) The Dolomites is really not that expensive at all, so the money you spend whilst there DOES go a long way – trust me, it’s all totally worth it!
How to possibly ride all of The Dolomites
Unless you live there, return to work there year in year out or are just a general ski bum in that resort then it’s pretty much impossible to do. With over 1200km of piste it is one of the largest ski resorts in the world and just can’t be covered in 5 months let alone a week or two. As a seasonnaire, I work with many people coming from all different walks of life and in this resort I worked with people in Canazei who had been coming to The Dolomites for the past 7 years…..7 YEARS!!! and they still, hadn’t managed to cover all of that piste. It’s a bitter sweet thing, to be able to have such a large ski pass and just never have enough time to cover it all – but of course this never leads to a average riding day.
The Dolomiti Super Ski range has so much to offer other than just riding the pow, it’s what adds to it’s incredible-ness. The mountains are actually made up of three (main) different cultures; Italian, Austrian and Ladino (basically a mixture of the two) and this is because of the war that happened years ago when the Austrians and Italians were fighting over borders and the rights to different areas.
Now this brought about the “war time” run coming from the top of Marmolada (absolutely HUGE mountain!) all the way down and into the gorge. These are both great treats as a rider to go through because it’s not just the conditions you get to enjoy but the history and stunning views right in front you. These both were the main area’s of the war; the gorge used to be the only route into The Dolomites, using the caves as ammunition storage and the Marmolada, whilst a glacier, is melting away (unfortunately but slowly) and as it does so reveals war time artefacts that were used from way back when, for example; helmets, un-exploded grenades (of all varieties btw) , knives, guns, the list goes on. So you can imagine when riding through what used to be an area of such brutality, it brings about all kinds of emotions and yet one the most highly recommended places to go when coming to The Dolomites. Amongst the history there is plenty of fun to be had with the likes of snow-mobiling, ice go-carting, grapa and wine tasting, games of nails (basically you have to hit a nail into a wooden block with a hammer that has a hole down the middle of it), staying up on the mountain over night in a rifugio (my personal favourite) and getting to make those fresh tracks first thing in the morning, dinning with your friends up on the mountain late at night by way of transport there and back in a piste basher mobile (something you HAVE to experience) and of course riding some of the best off and on piste any mountain range has to offer, even at night too.
I imagine this isn’t anywhere close to the extent of what The Dolomites really has to offer and I’ve probably only just scratched the surface, but as a seasonnaire, in this resort, with the people I worked with, I wouldn’t change it for the world and would say it’s probably one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life. I couldn’t be happier to know that at one point I was part of team in what is an amazing ski area, making great memories and helping create them for others!