Ski touring on the largest glacier in the Italian Alps. Five ski tours described by mountain guide Cain Olsen: Calotta, Ficazza, Pisgana, Pisganino and the legendary Adamello Tour.
âIt’s a huge boulder, big enough to provide materials for half a dozen beautiful mountains. But it is actually only one. the field feeds the glaciers which flow at all the cardinal points. The highest peaks, such as CarÃ¨ Alto and Adamello, are just slight elevations from the edge of this elevated plain. Seen from the inside, they are just mounds; from the outside, they are very noble mountains. falling in great precipices towards the wild valleys close to the glaciers which run to their feet. Imagine a huge white tablecloth unevenly laid on a table, and its shiny skirts hanging here and there between the massive dark supports. “This is how DW Freshfield described the Adamello Massif Central when he first saw it on August 25, 1864. The famous British mountaineer stood atop Presanella and had just performed the first ascent of this mountain.
In nearly a century and a half, this white fabric has shrunk. 30 square kilometers in late 1800, 25 in the 1920s, 17 in 1997 and barely 13 square kilometers in the last measurement in summer 2009. The message is clear: if you want to see this giant before it melts, make sure you come quickly. Also because, if the glacier continues to disappear at this rate, in about 30 years it will completely disappear.
You will find 4-day outings below, the classic outings of this region, each more beautiful than the next. The famous Pisgana is described, as well as his little brother, Pisaganino. Calotta feels like stepping back in time. All these have little elevation gain thanks to the Adamello ski lifts and massive descents. A âski touring passâ has been created specifically for the needs of mountaineers who wish to ski in Pisgana or Pisganino and this ticket allows you to use a total of 5 ski lifts: the Ponte di Legno-Tonale and Paradiso cable cars, the Presena and Val Sozzine chairlifts and Presena chairlift. This means you can start from Ponte di Legno or Passo del Tonale, use the ski lifts, then ski to your car. The fourth day of Ficazza, is quite new and offers fantastic snow, far from the crowds in a wild mountain environment … all the ingredients for a grandiose outing.
And then there’s the Adamello Tour, a three-day ski trip to discover the places of the Great War, with nights spent in mountain huts. This is a true Haute Route with many variations, which means that your stay in these wonderful mountains can be extended even further, and careful transport planning will allow you to discover magnificent crossings away from the crowds. Val AdamÃ¨, Val Salarno, Val Miller and Val d’Avio are all ideal valleys for day trips thanks to the Paradiso – Presena ski lifts.
Last but not least, it should be noted that these high mountain crossings require maximum care and attention. Often there is no mobile phone network. Check snow and avalanche reports well in advance of planning your trip. Carefully prepare the route at home, study the map and draw a sketch using a compass or GPS. Orientation in bad weather can be difficult, being able to use these instruments is important, but to navigate safely in fog you need to have a lot of mountain experience and in-depth knowledge of this terrain. Keep in mind that a large portion of these routes are located on a glacier, make sure you have all the proper gear for glacier travel. Adamello’s mountain guides can accompany trips of one or more days. In addition to accompanying you, they can also organize mini ski touring courses for individuals or groups, spending the night at the Passo del Tonale or in mountain huts when they are open.
Best time of the year
Usually the best time of year for these routes is January through May, but snow conditions obviously vary considerably from year to year. The best time of year for the Adamello Tour coincides with the spring opening of the huts (mid-March – early May). Tailor-made trips of all shapes and sizes can be arranged by Adamello mountain guides. Always check the avalanche danger, weather forecast and snow cover. All this information can be found on the AINEVA website which brings together all the Italian local newsletters. Otherwise, call +39 0461 230030.
Rifugio CittÃ di Trento (Mandrone) 0465501193
Rifugio ai Caduti dell’Adamello (Lobbia Alta) 0465502615
Auto: From Verona – A22 motorway (Brennero / Modena) towards Brennero, exit at S. Michele all’Adige; continue on the SS43 towards Passo Tonale until the Mostizzolo bridge (4 km after Cles) then take the SS42 until Passo Tonale (Verona – Passo Tonale km 190).
From Milan – A4 motorway (Milano / Venezia) head east towards Venice, exit at Ospitaletto; continue on the SP19 towards Valle Camonica, in Rodengo Saiano take the SP510 and continue until Piancamuno. From there, take the SS42 to Passo Tonale (Milano – Pontedilegno km 180).
Form: From Trento – take the train to MalÃ¨, then continue by bus to Passo Tonale. From Milan – take the train to Brescia, then change to Edolo. In Edolo continue by bus to Passo del Tonale.
For the routes: ski mountaineering skis, ski mountaineering boots, climbing skins, ski crampons, poles, rescue beacon, shovel, probe
For glacial trips: rope, glacier crampons, classic ice ax, harness, small screw karabiners, garland, ice screws, slings, belay plate
Personal equipment: Backpack 30/40 liters, thermos with hot tea, provisions (energy bars, bread, dried fruits), first aid kit, sunglasses (protection factor 3 or 4), goggles, jacket and Gore-tex overpants , fleece jacket, pants and breathable base layers, light gloves, thick gloves, hat, bandana, tanning lotion.
For the night: inner sleeping bag, spare socks, spare headlamp and batteries, mountaineering club membership, toothbrush and toothpaste, small towel, wipes
Other equipment: compass or GPS, map, photocopies of routes, pencil and paper for route sketches, camera and batteries, handkerchief, jacket, backpack cover, Swiss Army knife, energy drinks