For an adventure without skis, a snowshoe excursion is a wonderful way to experience the beauty of winter in the mountains, with a snowshoe excursion the ideal way to combine sport, mountains and nature in the cold months of the year. So, accompanied by my best buddy, I decided to savour this to the full in the Gröden Valley. As my alarm goes off at 8 a.m., I notice to my surprise that we are in luck: Jack Frost has been busy during the night and sprinkled the area with some 50 cm of fresh snow, turning the winter’s day into something from a fairytale. The splendour of the Gröden Valley, all in white and surrounded by the Dolomites: slow winter, here we come!
With so much new snow, tour planning is an absolute must! I have no wish to take any risks and according to today’s avalanche report, the mountain pastures and meadows – steep in places – are to be avoided. After a chat with a friendly mountain guide we opt for a snowshoe tour of the Langental Valley, a small side valley in the Puez-Geisler Nature Park and a delight for nature lovers. Winter walkers, cross-country skiers, snowshoers – far from the madding piste, this morning we and other slow-winter lovers can enjoy what is still a practically untouched winter landscape.
The first tracks across the snowy landscape
From the top of the wide valley, lined with rocky towers, it is possible to reach the Val Badia via the Ciampac Scharte col at an altitude of 2,500 metres. But our ambitions today are nowhere near as lofty; even on flatter terrain the large amounts of fresh snow mean we are soon out of breath. After a few metres along the freshly rolled winter hiking trail we veer off left and trudge through the powder snow across the landscape. We pass through pine forests, traverse frozen streams and snow-covered meadows and keep our eyes and cameras focused heavenwards in order to keep the vertical cliffs with our gaze. Dolomite rock has a magical, magnetic effect that draws not only us snowshoers into its spell. Like a smoking chimney, the remaining scraps of cloud wind around the rock walls as they are drawn upwards by the warming rays of the sun. the photos I take are simply incredible!
A warm-up in the snow!
Although we do not attempt any major ascents and have limited the amount of climbing, we soon break sweat, and my shell jacket quickly disappears into my rucksack. We take a tea break at a little chapel and are glad to have chosen this day for our tour. We wish to reach the end of the valley at any rate, then make a short visit to the swimming pool in St. Ulrich. Before my friend and I set off home again, however, we stop at the bar known as La Ciajota to enjoy a quick and restorative espresso. We meet a group of like-minded people on the sun terrace who had originally planned a snowshoe hike into the Val Chedul, a side valley of the Langental, but – like us – decided today for the easier option. We nevertheless keep this tour tip in mind and will be back in a few days to tackle the Val Chedul.
Another tip as regards basic equipment for snowshoe excursions: hiking poles are advisable in addition to the snowshoes themselves. They help you keep your balance and are of assistance when ascending. You should in any case ensure you take appropriate clothing and enough to drink. A tour in Alpine terrain will also mean taking an avalanche transceiver, a shovel and a probe in your rucksack.
Savour the special experience of peacefulness and nature in the snow!