Having instant access to universal knowledge at the tips of our 10 fingers, by dialing the 3 letters of the www prefix, has for sure spoiled a few hidden powder holes, by throwing them in the share-and-like vortex. Everything seems to have been seen, done and now subject to rarity. But luckily there will be always adventure to be start right at our doorstep, by staring at the right direction, willing to get it and if incidentally having a pair of skis strapped on the rooftop.
The first half of the winter, the Alps have been cursed with both rollercoaster temperatures and persistent winds that have scattered the snow away. If ski-bumming life taught me one thing, it would be that there’s always an income to be made out of adversity, like discovering new places and people. You can get blinded by the lights of shiny big snow field resorts, or take a closer look at the maps to find left over gems. In this vast playground blanketed with lifts system and huts that fill the gaps in between, that are called Alps, for sure there always will be a place to find deeper snow.
Sella Nevea is a pocket- size Italian ski center only a couple km away from Austria, located in the Julian’s Alps, featuring 3 lifts, 1 pizzeria and a handful of dully grey buildings. From the almost empty car park, at a modest 1050m elevation, the bright orange cabins of a gondola took us upon a wide forest 1000m further up, where a cable-car carried us on the final step, a 2400m high ridge, right on the Slovenian boarder. Once the ridiculously easily accessible and hundreds meters long mini-golf line has been milked out, with the concourse of rare locals, the best is still to come, with the help of our climbing skins and a little sweat. Anything around this 360° snow circus is reachable within a range of 30mn to 2h hike, offering great rides, from couloirs to big open faces. And if you can’t get enough, there’s still twice more to explore by exploring the back drops.
Sella Nevae’s terrain will not let our body unmoved, but will leave us tired legs and a wide smile across the face. And if possibly our mood got gloomy after a total white out day, we just had to let our skis glide down towards the refuge Gilberti, in the center of the system. The refuge keepers, Irene and her boyfriend Paolo, fell in love for this ancient stone housing, 7 years ago. They’re the best hosts we could imagine and both lovely humans, whom will warm up our spirit with their cheerful presence and fill up bellies with awesome local dishes. After having checked some of the brightest night sky that the Milky Way has to offer and before heading under the rooftop dormitory to get some rest, at the bar Irene never missed a chance to offer us a “zuccherino”: a sugar that has dipped in a jar with a blend of alpine herbs and 95° alcohol! She watches amused our funny faces, grimed by the powerful treat, before eventually joining the degustation. As she would says :“One for each eye”.