Written by Kat Howe
Today we woke to the weather we’ve been waiting for: a clear sky! After breakfast at the Grauer Bear we piled into the van for the drive up to the Stelvio Pass.
The drive up to Stelvio can be done two ways: via Switzerland or by staying in Italy. This morning our vans got separating in traffic and we ended up going different directions. Jere’s van took the Italian route while Colin went through Switzerland. Both drives are quite scenic, with several tiny towns hanging on the hillsides. The Swiss side is a little more gradual and maybe a bit shorter. The Italian side seems shorter distance-wise because you can see the Venosta Valley from the parking area at the pass, but the drive includes an amazing set of switchbacks that increase the drive time.
Looking down on some of the switchbacks on our way back down this afternoon. There are 48 of them!
Looking up the road just before we reached the snow line this morning.
When we arrived in the parking lot near the base of the gondola we found the ground snow covered and were greeted with a stiff and chilly (in the 20s) breeze. Two get to the glacier we have to take two gondolas before putting our skis on for two Pomalift rides up the alpine hills before we finally arrive at the nordic loop. The nordic loop sits on a more level section of the glacier that’s between two alpine runs.
Looking up the hill as we ride the first Pomalift.
Between the two Pomas we had to descend next to an alpine race course. Starting with a big downhill isn’t the easiest reintroduction to skinny skis, but we made it without breaking any gear and only had one rather dramatic wipeout.
When we finally reached the nordic loop we found this. Worth it! It was still quite chilly when we arrived but the mountain in this photo protected us from the wind and made conditions very comfortable for our training session. We waxed with hardwax (yup….hardwax in September!) and headed out for a 2-2.5 hour classic ski.
Grace skiing up one of the top switchbacks on the nordic loop. The mountain behind her is the back of the peak we rode up on the first Pomalift. If you click the photo and enlarge it you can see the top of another Pomalift on the left side of the photo.
Ursula leading Emily through perfect tracks. Unlike years past we had the whole track to ourselves.
Erik hitting a downhill switchback with some speed.
Grace….all smiles, as always. Happy to be on snow and classic skiing.
Rena and Olivia striding together during the first part of the ski.
Carl leading Josh and Matt.
Rena taking an uphill switchback during some of the one-pole laps that we did.
Tanner leading Brian during one-pole work.
Emily and Ursula taking a break (and smiling!).
Josh leading Matt across some flat terrain.
The view to the north and north-west with our skiers in the foreground for some perspective. Gorgeous views the whole time we were up there!
Olivia descending to the bottom of the loop.
Greg leading a line of the boys…fun to see the different ages and abilities working on technique together.
After we finished the workout a few of the kids ventured to the top of the ridge to take in the view of Switzerland and have Kat take some small group photos. Here are Erik, Josh and Matt showing just how excited they were to be on the Stelvio for the day.
Rena, Ursula and Emily with the view off the back of the glacier into Switzerland in the background.
After skiing we descended back down the alpine hills and took the top gondola to the Ortler Restaurant that sits between gondolas. Our hosts at the Sport Oberschule arranged lunch for us so that we wouldn’t have to wait too long before eating. After lunch we finished the descent via the second gondola, took in some of the souvenir shops at the top of the Stelvio Pass before piling into the vans for the trip back down 48 switchbacks.
We got back to our hotel late in the afternoon and had some downtime before dinner for rest, homework, and hanging out together. This evening the crew is split with some preparing for a Chemistry test tomorrow, while others do homework or watch movies together.
Tomorrow will be an easier day athletically with the morning devoted to school work. In the afternoon we’ll head out for a 1.25-1.5 hour run/ski walk with athletes from the Sport Oberschule ski teams.
Hope you enjoyed the photos….thanks for following our adventures!
Parents – I took a LOT more photos today but can’t put them all in a blog post. I will upload hundreds of photos to our shared Google Drive folder when we get back to school (and I have fast internet) so be sure to check that our later this month.