After a near two-hour flight into Innsbruck plus a further four hours on a transfer coach travelling through the Austrian hinterland and then on through Switzerland, we eventually exited the Tunnel ‘Munt La Schera’ and entered our country of destination – Italy!
We quietly crossed over the border via the impressively built Punt dal Gall arch dam which holds back the mighty waters of the Lago di Livigno and to our amazement where Switzerland had been dry and Austria worse still the beautiful Livigno Valley was completely caked in deep powdery brilliantly white snow!
Spread out before us as far as the eye could see was an epic winter playground and we had an entire week to play in it! After hastily checking into our abode for the week (the rather pleasant and fantastically located) Garni Francescato we then made quickly for the SkiPass and ski-hire shop with as much haste as we could summon.
I had travelled all the way to Italy with my brother-in-law Paul with one intention in mind – and one intention only – to ski until we could ski no more! While other areas across Europe were struggling this year with unseasonably high temperatures and a distinct lack of fresh snow we had hit the jackpot and the lottery all rolled into one. Livigno was absolutely smothered in the white stuff!
After a very sleepless first night we were kitted up and ready to go with the first rays of daylight, both straining at the leash to be let loose on this amazing landscape that panned out for 360 degrees around us. The Corosello 3000 we determined would be our first port of call, we headed upward in the gondola car towards M.Cantone at 2904m and the vast Federia ski bowl – hidden from view on the ascent but then dramatically revealed upon descent into the valley beyond and below.
The snow pack was fantastic, far beyond all our expectation, and with fresh flakes already in the air and with hardly anyone venturing over this far we were more or less on our own in this most magnificent of mountain amphitheatres. We skied on and on, well into the late afternoon, before pausing for refreshment at an isolated Rifugio situated at 2797m. The magnificent views from the Rifugio across to the Gruppo Del Bernia range consisted of some of the most amazing and stunning mountain scenery I have ever witnessed in my life and only served to whet the appetite still further, encouraging us to ski evermore distance and evermore metres of descent for the remainder of the day.
Alas, the day had to end, and so rather reluctantly we skied back, all the way back right up to our wintery looking chalet door in Livigno.
Talk back at the basement ski locker room was of nothing else but the days adventures, with tall stories of exaggerated descents and near fatal recoveries from impending crashes! Best of all we knew that we had a further week of these amazing days ahead of us, with no responsibility in the world, other than to ourselves and to the environment we were in.
Among subsequent days we skied out the entire Carosello and Costaccia slopes on the eastern side of the Livigno Valley, then turning our attentions excitedly towards the western side of the valley we skied out the opposite Mottolino slopes, traversing all the way over to the small hamlet of Trepalle situated at 2096m then to Passo D’Eira at 2210m and back again in a mammoth all day ski safari.
During what turned out to be a truly epic week we encountered three days and nights of constant snow, white outs and near blizzard conditions, (one day with visibility so bad we were forced back down to the lower and safer climes of the valley floor). We experienced extreme temperatures that ranged from a barmy +7 degrees, to a bone chilling -17 degrees, plus glorious days of sunshine and bitter days of intense wind chill and near frostbite amid the ravaging cold.
To tell the whole story of the weeks skiing would take just too long here, so for the purposes of this blogpost I want to let some of my photography tell the story instead, let the pictures fill in some of the blanks. I hope you enjoy the pics and if you ever get the chance to ski at Livigno – high up in the Italian Alps – then grab it with both hands and anything else you may have available, I promise that you will not be disappointed! As they say in Italy – ‘Avere una grande giornata di sci‘!