skiing without the crowds in monterosa
Last Updated : GMT 05:21:58
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Last Updated : GMT 05:21:58
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Italy's off-piste secret

Skiing without the crowds in Monterosa

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Arab Today, arab today Skiing without the crowds in Monterosa

Climbers on Peak Polluce in Monterosa
London - Arabstoday

Climbers on Peak Polluce in Monterosa   It may boast a new cable-car system worth 17 million euros (Dh83 million) and offer some of the most exciting skiing in Europe but the Monterosa region of Italy remains blissfully uncrowded, even at peak periods. Comprising the charming alpine villages of Champoluc, Gressoney and Alagna, Monterosa provides nearly 130 kilometres of groomed runs and some fantastic off-piste challenges for those above intermediate level. And when you take into account the cheaper lift passes and the great quality of the food served around these unspoilt villages, a ski holiday here really can be a better-value, less-hectic alternative to many of Europe's bigger resorts. It's a mystery why so few people head to Monterosa, given that it also enjoys one of the most spectacular backdrops in the world — the Monte Rosa Massif includes several peaks nearly 4,000 metres.
Quite apart from the stunning scenery, the area boasts a number of helicopter landing points, from where experts can fully indulge their passion for heliskiing. One group that has discovered this beautiful region is the Ski Club of Great Britain, which offers holidays here through its tour operator arm, Freshtracks. I met up with a group of over-fifties — all of them intermediate skiers — in the bar at the Hotel Dufour in Gressoney (www.hoteldufour.it) — and they were certainly having a ball.
Architect Richard Bird, from Monmouthshire, said with a glint in his eye: "I'm a Freshtracks regular and have been a Ski Club member for donkey's years. I see nothing wrong with enjoying myself with like-minded skiers and spending the kids' inheritance."
In contrast, widow Sarah Fawssett, from Bath, was making her first Ski Club trip and admitted to feeling nervous beforehand, but was hugely impressed by the whole experience. I joined some of the group for a memorable heliskiing excursion. We took a helicopter up to the 3,383-metre Piccolo Il Cavallo for a splendid mile-and-a-quarter vertical descent, making our neat turns in the perfect powder. Even our pilot was excited, buzzing our group with true Italian flair as we skied over a knoll.
While the Ski Club was quick to spot the potential of Monterosa, improvements to the area's infrastructure will surely make this much more enticing for Britons in the future. The most recent work came last winter, with the opening of the new cable-car system connecting Champoluc, Gressoney and Alagna. Champoluc and Gressoney are located in the autonomous Italian region of Aosta and are less than an hour's drive from some of the country's best-known resorts, such as Courmayeur and La Thuile.
Alagna, located in the neighbouring Piedmont region, is noted for its examples of Walser architecture — named after the area's German-speaking settlers. In Alagna, we stayed at the elegant Tre Alberi Liberi guesthouse (www.trealberi liberi.it). During our stay, after a fabulous mile-long off-piste descent from Punta Indren, we enjoyed some tasty Italian pizza straight from an authentic wood-fired oven at Alagna's Caffe della Guides. Another highlight was a great dinner and an overnight stay in the rustic Rifugio Guglielmina (www.rifugio guglielmina.com), located between Alagna and Gressoney. Waking up at 5.45am, I peeked outside my window to watch the sunrise — stunning pink hues streaked across the mountaintop. Bliss.

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