Words and photos by Riky Felderer
If there’s one thing Paolo Marazzi and I are known in Italy, it’s for playing around in the mountains, out of our “comfort zone”. We simply love to be out there: comfortable or not.
Last winter, we spent weeks and weeks of waiting, struggling with the poor conditions that offered almost no snow all over the alps. We hoped for a good day down the road: a good day should be arriving, sooner or later!
In mid February, the forecast was almost reliable when it said that a good amount of snow was going to fall on the western Alps.
So now what? Where should we go?
We chose an almost unknown destination in Aosta Valley, called Val Pelline. For us, it had the flavour of little exploration: nothing epic, nothing special. Another friend of ours, Lele Tizzoni, decided to jump in the van, aware of the fact that the skiing would have been a marginal part of the story. We had a crew of three, a van and a destination.
Once everything was packed in the car on the first day, we realized the battery was dead when we went to pull away. Unbelievable…so we took Lele’s one. His ended up with a flat tyre after one hour of driving down the highway. Lucky for us, the bad luck left us alone after this morning, and we could start to focus on our fun times ahead, which were to go to Val Pelline, see where to ski, camp and ski again!
The first disappointing moment was that the road was closed 10 Km before where we thought it was. No problem, except that all the maps we had with us were useless from the point we were at. We eventually found a local to ask for advice and he directed us to a possible campground, which we located after an hour of hiking. We left our heavy backpacks there and finally started skiing. Due to the strong winds that blew all the snow over the treeline, we were forced to stay low, which still meant a lot of fun! The game was to have lots of short runs in good pow, crazy couloirs, and here and there some freestyle-ish features! None of us is a freestyler, but who cares? It was 4 days of fun, some cold and bad weather, and some moments of warm and pleasant sun.
The bivvy part was simply the best! It was uncomfortable, cold and humid, but for some reason, it’s the best way to end up a nice day. No change of clothes, no shower. Just go straight to the snow hole, melt some water and chat about whatever passes through the mind. Girls, cars, lines, gossip, sex, projects, old girfriends, safety… We spent incredible nights and hours into a little bivy trying to warm up. Outside it went to something like -15C. Not extreme, but for sure pretty cold! Beyond this, I don’t have a simple memory of cold feet and hands, or of pretending the really bad food combinations that Paolo was trying to serve us were actually delicious. I have only the memory of the lines, the little jumps, the landscape and of sunsets.
The mornings were brilliant as well. Our bivy spot was exactly southeast facing, and the sun arrived pretty early. It was about tea, biscuits, a little warm up with the first sun and… skiing!
Nobody was around: just eagles and deers looking at us as if we were part of the system…What else is there?
More about Riki.