Ortler Tour, Italy
6 day trip | March - May 2020
This 6 day trip is best done in March, April & early May
Custom basis: you pick the dates that work for you
Trip Factsheet (PDF) - coming soon
Price is from $2995 per person (based on private group of 3-4 people
Contact us directly for custom trips:
The Ortler region is located in the Sud Tyrol region of Italy close to the border of Switzerland and Austria between the Bernina mountains around St. Moritz and the Dolomites to the east. The area contains high alpine terrain and large glaciers, but most of the peaks have summits just below 4000 meters. The huts are very comfortable and serve excellent Italian food and the hut guardians are welcoming and friendly.
The Ortler region tends not to attract the big crowds that some of the other ski tours suffer from. It is easy to do many excellent day tours from only 1 or 2 huts as well as linear tours so the area offers lots of options for groups and different levels and ambitions. We can enjoy stunning alpine ski touring as well as the option to summit a number of big peaks in the area that are typically skiable from the summit.
Day 0: Arrive in Santa Caterina, Valfurva, Italy
We recommend you fly into Milan Malpensa, Zurich or Innsbruck airport. Onward travel can be made by train and bus or car hire; please contact us for more information and assistance with this.
We will meet in the hotel in Santa Caterina around 6 pm and our guide will take a welcome meeting and kit check, followed by a group dinner.
Day 1: From Santa Caterina, we drive a short distance to a parking area close to the Rifugio Forni. From here we have an easy ski tour to the Rifugio Branca at 2493m, following the river. Enroute we can head off and do an easy ski tour up the side slopes for some skills training and warm-up. We stay at the Rifugio Branca tonight.
Day 2: We head out from the Rifugio Branca with a quick ski down, then we start the climb to Pizzo or Punta Tresero at 3595m. The climb is quite long, 1145m of elevation gain but we take it steady and as we gain height we start to see the other peaks around the area including Grand Zebru and Monte Cevedale. Depending on the conditions and weather we might leave our skis just below the main summit crest and finish on our feet. A large wooden cross marks the summit and from here we can sit and take a well-earnt break before the ski descent.
Our descent follows our ascent route where we can relax and enjoy a variety of slopes from the easy angled to hunting out some steeper pitches and usually great snow on these north and north-east facing slopes.
We have a final skin back up from the valley to the Rifugio Branca. Overnight in the Rifugio Branca.
Day 3: We leave the Rifugio with a short ski and traverse before putting on skins. Today we are aiming for Punta San Matteo at 3695m, we have a climb of around 1250m to make towards the peak. First, we past the snout of the glacier and follow the easy-rolling slopes before the gradient steepens; but with every step, the views get better and better. We have a steep section to negotiate, which will test the quality of your kick-turns before we reach the plateau below the summit but from here we can see the far-reaching views to the east and the majestic Dolomites in the distance. The summit provides the most spectacular 360-degree panorama and is worth every step to see it.
Our descent route again offers fantastic skiing with wide-open slopes to enjoy and rolling terrain. Once we reach the lower slopes we can make a right-hand traverse to keep our height so we only have a short skin back to the Rifugio.
Day 4: We will leave the Rifugio Branca and ski tour to the Rifugio Pizzini. We usually take the lower route that allows for an active rest day with little height gain some gentle skiing and steady skinning via the Valle di Cedec. This is ideal if the group are tired after the last couple of days, we can also add in enroute a tour to the side slopes of Monte Dei Fori if required. We overnight in the Rifugo Pizzini at 2700m. The Rifugio is very comfortable with recently refurbished rooms some with ensuite bathrooms, hot running water, and great food and hospitality.
Day 5: From the Pizzini our last big aim of the trip is Monte Cevedale the highest peak in the Ortler group at 3769m. We leave the hut and head along the rolling slopes to the northeast with the Gran Zebru to our left and the peak of Cevedale to our right. As we reach the glacier the slopes steepen and we head up the Vedretta di Cedec towards the summit. The summit is impressive and the slopes fall away on all sides and again we can enjoy far-reaching views of the Alps.
We follow a similar route down, sometimes it's possible to ski in a narrow valley under the slopes of Monte Pasquale back to the Rifugio Pizzini. We overnight in the Pizzini.
Day 6: For our final day we have a number of options around the Pizzini hut. We can explore the north-east facing slopes under Cime Dei Forni and the Passo di Zebru Nord and sud. Or we can following the slopes north under the mighty Gran Zebru to Col Pale Rosse, this is a fine ending to the week and the south-facing slopes can hold good snow well into the spring, sometimes powder or sometimes perfect corn snow. We can stop at the Pizzini for lunch on our way past before we ski-out to the valley and make our way back to Santa Caterina. We overnight in the hotel in Santa Caterina.
Day 7: Onward travel from Santa Caterina can be made at your leisure.
$2995 per person (based on private group of 3-4 people)
UIAGM/IFMGA certified guide (1 guide to 4 clients)
2 nights lodging on a shared basis in Santa Caterina, Italy on bed & breakfast
All Hut lodging fees
Hut dinners and breakfast as per hut menu
Ground transportation if required during program
Use of avalanche transceiver, climbing harness, shovel, and probe
Travel to and from Santa Caterina, Italy (flights and transfers)
Dinners in the hotel in Santa Caterina
Drinks and snacks in huts
Cost of hiring ski touring equipment
If you prefer to have a private room at the hotel in Santa Caterina, we can arrange that for an additional $350. The huts are typically dormitory style accommodation but smaller rooms for 4 do exist in both Rifugio's so we try to book these where possible, there is no option for private rooms.
This tour requires good ski touring skills, good downhill skiing skills, and a high level of fitness. We will be touring for 4-6 hours each day with a 20-30 lb pack and on most days we will be gaining in excess of 1000m vertical.
We will be touring through various snow conditions (possibly including everything from deep powder to ice). You should be comfortable touring on slopes up to 40 degrees, using ski crampons, and making kick turns. If you have not had much experience ski touring, we recommend going out with a guide in your local area for a day or two before the trip. Alternatively, if you are a good athlete and a quick learner, you can hire one of our guides for a day or two before the trip to help nail down some of these important touring skills.
The downhill skiing component of this trip is also very important. You should be comfortable skiing black diamond runs in the ski area in any condition (crud, powder, ice, etc). It is very helpful to practice skiing on your touring skis to get used to their performance as it may differ from your typical downhill skis. If you feel comfortable on them on black and double black runs as well as crud and powder, you should do well.
Spring weather in the Alps can vary from hot and sunny to cold and stormy very suddenly. The temperatures can fluctuate between highs in the 70’s and 80’s (Farenheit) during the day to lows below freezing at night. If we are touring on the glacier in the mid-day sun, it can feel extremely hot, but a strong wind or cloud cover can cause the temperature to drop drastically. We could also encounter stormy conditions that could be bad enough to make us abandon the route and search for skiing at lower elevations or in marked ski areas.
The mountain huts in the Alps are essentially high alpine hotels. The huts on this tour are very comfortable, both the Rifugio Branca and the Pizzini have small dormitory rooms, bathrooms with hot showers (purchase of a token for a few Euros is necessary) and flushing toilets. Dinners and breakfasts are included in the hut fee, and there is usually a good selection of drinks and snacks to buy if you wish. The food, wine and coffee is excellent in Italy and the hospitality in the huts is some of the best in the Alps.
We do not put together groups of skiers who do not sign up together. We have found that trips are much more enjoyable when you do them with friends. We run this trip on a ratio of 1:4, 1 guide to 4 skiers, this allows for maximum safety and the ability to enjoy the peaks available to summit and ski in the area. Please do contact us if you have more or less people for a group and we can give you a quote based on your requirements.
There are 2 different types of insurance: Travel or Trip Cancellation insurance and Rescue insurance. Typical travel insurance will cover the cost of the trip if you have to cancel before or during for any reason. There are many companies that offer this type of insurance such as Travelguard and Travelex. For rescue insurance, we recommend getting the Swiss heli rescue insurance (http://www.air-glaciers.ch/sion/carte-de-sauvetage/charte-du-sauvetage/english). If you have rescue insurance through an Alpine Club or your own provider, that should work also.