Val Pettorina is a stones throw from the massive Arabba and Val Badia ski ranges. These offer vast amounts of varied skiing with Arabba mainly offering great steeper skiing and Val Badia having something for everybody especially beginners and intermediates. Accessible either from the 3 chair lift from Malga Cipela, or by a 20 minute drive from the house, Arabba is a small village nestled at the centre of the range, with runs extending up to Passo Pordoi in the west and Passo Campolongo in the north, its a great place to start. Each of these passes give access to yet more skiing, Val Badia and Corvara accessed from Passo campolongo, whilst going over Passo Pordoi brings you down to Canazei and the huge possabilites there.
Arabba – an area of two halves.
Lets deal with Arabba first. The core of this range is on the southern side of the valley and is served by two main lifts running from the same lifthouse – an older cable car lift that takes you directly to Portavescovo and the other which is a detachable cabin lift with a mid height station before the top, a few hundred metres from the older station. This cabin lift is in my opinion the more efficient of the two, as people tend to pile into the old lift as its the first in the lift house, so whilst it might be faster once you’re on board, there is usually a longer wait. From the top, a steep and usually bumpy red run leads to the main areas and you have the choice of 2 red and 2 blacks – as I said – great for those looking for steep challenging skiing!
To get to Passo Pordoi, follow piste 1 and then 36, a super long red run which leads you to a fast 3 man lift on the other side. The ride up is great – if you’re cold these lifts have a shield to protect you from the wind as it’s a long ride up. At the top, the area is really fun, lots of steady reds, especially down from the Belvedere hut, with great offpiste on either side of the run, especially on skiers left where you will find a natural halfpipe! Down right, be careful not to wander too far from the runs as you’ll end up with a walk back, but its nice moderate terrain if you’re just starting to ski the sidecountry. Of course with the Superdolomiti ski pass, you can take the runs over to Val di Fassa and Canazei and beyond on the Sella-Ronda, the circular tour that takes you all the way around the Sella Massif. But that’s a whole different blog! Returning to Arabba you have two options, either a super long blue run – boarders make sure you keep you speed up through the trees as once you grind to a halt it can be a pain to get started again, unless you happen to have a handy skier tow machine with you! Or ski down to the road and rather than crossing it to continue the run down, jump on the relatively new lift which delivers to back up the mountain to join a red run which bypasses the worst of the flat areas of the previous option.
Crossing the road to the north of Arraba takes you towards Passo Campolongo. Here the terrain is significantly easier with mainly blues and reds. Whilst these are really mainly linking runs to get you to Val Badia, they are fun in their own right, the blues being nice cruises back to the village, or onwards to Bec di Roces. Just be aware that the run back is red if you are with novice skiers, although in my opinion it’s not a despertely hard run, very much at the lower end of the grade with only a couple of steeper pitches. Lastly for complete beginners and kids, there is a nice little learners area right by the village with the ski school at the base of these runs.
Sking to and from Val Pettorina
Getting to Arabba couldn’t be easier from our valley. If you drive up the valley from the house (or catch the ski bus), you will come to the Padon lift on the left as you approach Passo Fedaia – if you reach the hairpins you’ve gone too far! The lift delivers you quickly to Passo Padon; the run down the far side is quite a steep red run, so if you are with beginners, be aware of this – it’s a little narrow to start with but soon opens out, although it’s steep for quite a way! Once at the bottom, another lift brings you right into the middle of the Arraba area, but again, as these are harder runs, make sure your group feels comfortable with this sort of skiing. If you’ve come here on the lifts from Malga Cipela, getting back is a little less obvious. From the main Arabba lifthouse, take the cabin lifts and jump out at the mid station – a chair lift on the left as you come out of the station takes you to a gentle blue run and then to a lift back to Passo Padon. The red which descends to Val Pettorina is pretty amenable – over all the ski back is easier technically if harder to find.
Alternatively for those with a stronger constitution, take the cabin lifts to Port Vescovo, duck under the barriers and ski towards Lago Fedaia. Pick your route carefully – ski straight down and you end up at the western end of the lake with a long walk back towards Val Pettorina. However ski left and over a shoulder and this takes you back towards the lift system and you should be able to make it without the walk! Just be careful as these slopes are prone to avalanche after heavy snow, being south facing and treeless.