The Ortler Circuit
Please contact us if you are interested in 2016 dates.
This is our favorite place to go hut ski touring in the Alps. The Ortler range straddles the border between Italy and Austria, providing incredible terrain and a relaxed, convivial atmosphere in the huts. It's honestly hard to say which is more memorable: the skiing, or the food. Northern Italy serves up unforgettable pasta and delicious wines, while a foray over the border can win you the schnitzel of your life.
Along the way we may catch sight of foxes, chamois, and the wide-ranging chouca with its vivid yellow beak and jet black plumage. We're sure to see barbed wire and other relics from the high alpine skirmishes fought here during the first world war.
The best part about the Ortler Circuit is an itinerary designed to maximize fun skiing, with ample room for tours and detours. Our packs stay light, and we can seek out the best snow. There is a reason we don't call it a traverse!
Day 0: Milan to Santa Catarina Valfurva
Milan is the closest airport to the Ortler range, and a series of buses and trains gets us to Santa Catarina. Because we know jet lag can render travel challenging in an unfamiliar place, we will meet you in Milan and get you to Santa Catarina. We will do a gear check in the evening at the hotel, then enjoy a well-earned meal. If you are coming from somewhere else and would prefer to travel on your own, just let us know and we can meet you in Santa Catarina Valfurva.
Day 1: Santa Catarina Valfurva to Pizzini Hut, Afternoon Tour
We take a taxi from Santa Catarina up to the end of the road and make our way up to the Pizzini hut. We can leave a bit of gear at the hut, and then head out for an afternoon tour underneath the spectacular Gran Zebru.
Day 2: Another Night in Pizzini Hut, Ski Monte Cevedale 3769m
By spending another night at the Pizzini hut, we can leave in the morning with light packs and ski Monte Cevedale 3769m.
Day 3: Pizzini Hut to Marteller Hut via Lunga Glacier
We will say goodbye to the wonderful Pizzini hut, and make our way to the Marteller hut. We climb past the Cassati hut, and then ski down the Lunga glacier, a 1000m (3300ft) descent.
Day 4: Marteller Hut to Branca Hut via Cevedale High Route
After enjoying our Austrian breakfast, we have a big climb up the Cevedale glacier to the Cevedale high route that allows us to ski down to the Branca Hut. Depending on the day, we may also ski Monte Pasquale 3553m.
Day 5: Another Night in Branca Hut, Ski the Best Objective!
From the Branca hut, there are many options! These include Punta San Matteo 3678m, Punta Tresero 3594m, and Punta Cadini 3524m. After another great day of skiing, we will enjoy our last mountain night at the Branca hut.
Day 6: Branca Hut to Santa Catarina Valfurva, Ski Cima San Giacomo
We will wake up early and climb up and ski Cima San Giacomo, and then ski down to the Forni hut. A quick taxi ride will take us back to Santa Catarina. Depending on everyones travel plans, we can either celebrate in town, or say our goodbyes and people can make their way back to Milan.
$2200 per skier
- Hotel in Santa Catarina the night before the trip starts
- Hut lodging fees
- IFMGA Guide fees
- Taxi from Santa Catarina to Forni hut
Price does not include:
- Transportation to/from Santa Catarina
- Lunches (can be purchased in the huts, or you can carry food along the way)
- Any extra items purchased at the huts (drinks, extra food, souvenirs)
This multi-day ski touring trip requires strong all-around backcountry skiing skills. We encounter a variety of terrain and snow conditions, and in a number of places your safety will depend on your ability to ski in control. In order to safely enjoy the Ortler Circuit, you should feel competent with the following:
- Skiing a variety of conditions, including powder, crud, glop, breakable crust, and very firm snow.
- Side-slipping both forward and backward on steep, firm snow up to 45º
- Skating on flat ground
Crucially, you need to ski efficiently; if variable conditions wear you out quickly, then it's time to hit the slopes and work on getting comfortable with steep terrain and funky snow.
This should not be your first ski tour, but it's a fine introduction to multi-day ski touring. If you are reasonably efficient transitioning from uphill to downhill and back, we can build on your skills from there.
We will typically be moving for around 6 hours a day at a moderate pace. Be able to cover 3,000 to 4,000 feet of gain per day for a week carrying a 20 to 30 pound pack. Factor in the fatigue of skiing based on your ability–if you don't know what it's like to go for a long ski tour with a pack, the Ortler Circuit isn't the best time to find out. Come ski with us for some prep, or let us set you up with a good guide near you who can help get you up to speed with any of these pre-requisites.