Marmolada, called the Queen of the Dolomites by the locals, has very little pisted skiing considering her size. The tallest mountains in the range due to her formation from harder Calcarious Limestone and sporting the largest and only notable glacier, it’s the perfect place for Freerie skiing. Easy access due to the three stage lift means that you can have three big offpiste runs in one day, and when the conditions are good, there really is no better place to learn about skiing in a wilder environment. There are a great number of runs you can take, varying in their difficulty, length, ease of return and seriousness. of course there are basically an infinite number of variations, but here I’ve collated the basics together. Please note, the top section of ALL these runs are on a glacier. Therefore you must pay attention to where you are going. It is not the most crevassed of glaciers, but it is still possible to fall in. Generally the further west you are skiing, the more serious the route is, with the furthest east basically being sidecountry riding.
Please note – this is an offpiste area in which you should carry all the appropriate equipment – avalanche beacon and probe and a shovel at the minimum preferably an Avalung or Airbag system aswell. It is ILLEGAL to ride offpiste without a beacon and you can be stopped and fined if you do not have one. If you are unsure, take an IFMGA guide like Manfred Stuffer or Enrico Geremia – as us and we will put you in contact.
Route 1: from second station – used to be groomed as a black run, now left to it’s own devices. Ski beneath Punta Serrauta until you are above Sass de Mul where either you can cut leftwards down a shallow valley back to the piste, or ski right on Route 2 all the way down to near Capanna Bill by the road. The second option can suffer from slabby snow as it catches northerly winds and also at the base there is a section down through small Pine trees (Pino Mugo – look for the Grappa made from it!).
Route 3: Take the lift to Punta Rocca and after having gone up to the viewing platform for a minute or two, ski down the piste a few metres until you can ski off the left side and down towards Sass Undici, aiming to it’s righthand side, bewteen the piste and the rock. As you reach Sass Undici there is a steeper slope which drops down the snout of the glacier back to the piste. Here if you have wide skis aor the conditions permit you can continue directly beneath Sass Undici, or take the piste for a little while until you can ski back left to rejoin the direct route, Route 4. This drops you down through a gully towards the reservoir. Make sure you are close to the foot of Sass Unidici as the terrain steepens to the right into small cliffs.
Route 5: A Fantastic route which takes the slopes just to the left of Sass Undici in the valley between the former and Sass Dodici. You can ski into the valley in a variety of ways, from the piste like route 3 at a shallower angle or ski down a hanging spur above the glacier and then drop to skier right down a steeper slope where often you can find untracked snow. Once you enter the valley stay right as there is a large flat area in the middle which will require a walk if you go into the middle of it. Once you reach the foot of Sass Undici, the ride gets more interesting again with some great little valleys and re-entrants to play in before scooting hard right, dropping beneath the rock band and rejoining the piste with a short 5 minute walk to Rifugio Fedaia.
Route 6: Very similar to route 5 but with a longer walk back unless you have the right conditions. Often less tracked. This time ski towards Sass Dodici and drop into the bowl between the two rocks more steeply. Exit to the left to the Fedaia Dam and walk back to Rifugio Fedaia at the Eastern end of the reservoir or if you are lucky you might be able to ski back towards route 5.
Route 7: From the exit of the Gondola station, take route 6 but this time ski left of Sass Dodici, passing directly beneath the rock to rejoin the piste low down the mountain. Walk back to Rigugio Fedaia.
Route 8: Ski directly down towards the Fedaia dam from the station, quite steeply to begin with, 35-40 degrees. This area is potentially crevassed so be careful. Descend towards Rifugio Fiaconi keeping it to your left and then head down the side of Sass Dodici to join route 7 and then the Piste. Walk back to Rifugio Fedaia.
Route 9: The last is a fantastic route which takes in the famous Marmolada Canyon. Follow Route 8 but as you reach the lower glacier keep bearing left beneath a rock buttress (which leads above to Punta Penia, the summit of Marmolada). Keep skiing down and left until you ski off the snout of the glacier and into a faint gully. This quickly turns into a very tight, twisting canyon around 4 metres wide and 150m long. Once you’ve passed through the canyon keep descending towards a rock face on your right which often sports a 50m high ice fall. The terrain will funnel you into a steepening and narrowing slope directly below the rock face. You will reach a terrace which crosses the face to your right. In icy conditions you must be exceedingly careful here as one foot wrong could lead to your demise as the slope ends in large cliffs. Traverse back towards the dam – gradually the slope eases off in angle and seriousness. When you reach the dam, walk back to Rifugio Fedaia.