Seven Days In The Dolomites - March 12th To 19th 2005

By Brian Richards

The one negative aspect first. 22 members assembled at Manchester airport at 0400 hours on the Saturday and then waited for Thomas Cook to find some spanners to wind up the engines. Take off was eventually 1030. But it can be reported that we were not charged for breakfast coffee (unlike First Choice in January) and the meals both out and return were acceptable.

The week was spent skiing in warm conditions under wall to wall blue skies. The hotel was very good and the free taxi service from the Hotel Il Caminetto to and from the gondolier was excellent. The local skibus, utilised on several occasions, gave tinned sardines an undeserved reputation - because no skier was refused a ride. The slopes were groomed to a high standard and in excellent condition although as the afternoon progressed the snow became heavy.

Members skied clockwise and anticlockwise around the Sella Ronda, visited and skied the Marmalada, the Cinque Torri slopes and the "Hidden Valley" from the Pt Lagazuoi. The Corvara, St Cristina and Selva runs were bashed by all. Other pistes were skied but having never looked at the map the locations remain a mystery.

Unfortunately two members were mowed down: Martin Smith suffering a broken tibia and Ian Mates a rearranged finger/knuckles (both on day one). A word of warning for future trips. The local clinic was not interested in E111s or insurance details, simply if the victim had a credit card and adequate identification (i.e. passport). Their approach was that the finances could be sorted later, just pay "upfront" now.

The scenery was spectacular, and locals provided service, which was cheerful, friendly and efficient. The slopes and lift systems were well maintained, although there was nothing on piste that was demanding.

I would certainly return to the area again. There are many "side areas", away from the circuit itself to explore.