Saturday, November 23, 2013

Skiing in Valle Pesio

Parco Alta Valle Pesio, Italy (March 21, 2009)

Valle Pesio is where I learned to ski. Cross country skiing, that is, since the valley doesn't have any real downhill skiing slope, which is good because downhill slopes cuts through the forest and you don't want that in a natural park. Cross country skiing instead gets you everywhere. If there is snow you can ski on it as if you were hiking, skiing on the mountain trails all the way to the end, up to the last gias on the crest of the mountain, in view of the Marguareis veiled by the morning mist.

Pian delle Gorre
The photo on the panoramic below is taken on the road to the gias Mascarone. In summer it is a nice walk through sparse birch trees chattering in the wind with their persistent murmurs. In winter it is an easy ski route, with a gentle slope that goes from the end of the road to the summit of the homonymous mountain. At the end of the fall, when the first cold air announces the coming of the snow, it is like walking in Lothlorien, as the larch trees all turn to a golden shade (larix decidua is one of the few pine-like tree that loses its leaves in winter, and you can see some in one of the small photos here, on the road to the gias  Mascarone). 

My favorite winter trail, however, goes from the Certosa to the Pian delle Gorre. The skiing trail, which is in part groomed as shown above, follows the road that leads to the end of the valley, where most of the park trails start, including the trail to the rifugio Garelli. It goes back and forth on the two sides of the river Pesio, to avoid the steeper spots of the road, and the place where avalanches are more common, a turn in the road aptly named "malavalanca". By the time you reach the pian delle Gorre you are skiing in a forest, right in the heart of the park. It is not uncommon to be the only skier along the trail, with only the crackling noise of the crunching snow interrupting the continuous music of the wind. That's when you can meet the inhabitant of the forest, like the shy roe deer or the massive wild boar (yes, I met both while on the ski, the sight of one more welcomed than the other).

Even now that I live so far from these mountains, I eagerly wait the first few inches of snow, to put on my ski and Kero's skijoring harness, and walk out on the snow on a skiing exploring adventure.

Gias Mascarone, Italy (November 4, 2007)

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