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Fifty US dollars doesn’t get you much these days, but in the Italian Dolomites it buys 650 miles of downhill trails, and 464 modern ski lifts leading to and from about 40 facilities and through eight charming mountain villages. All this and one of the most spectacular mountain settings in the world. Don’t trust me? Well, UNESCO agrees, and it was named a World Heritage Site in 2009.
Set in Italy’s Southern Tyrol region, where German is heard more often than Italian, the Dolomites’ charm bursts into colorful splendor when the twisting rocky peaks turn soft pink during sunrise and burning red at sunset. The ideal setting during any season, winter time sees some of the best skiing in Europe. After a trip to Venice, we drove up into the Dolomites and made the quaint village of San Cassiano our base to ski the region.

And I do mean ski the region. Purchase the Dolomite Superski pass and you can visit all the ski resorts in the area, all accessible by ski lifts alone. One of the best ways to experience what the region has to offer is by sking the four passes circuit called the Sellaronda, which means literally around the Sella Mountains. The route takes you on 65 kilometers of trails and ski lifts and through a savagely beautiful land of piercing rocky spires, backwoods trails, expanses of snow and endless mountain vistas. Along the way you conqure four mountain passes: Pordoi, Campolongo, Gardena and Sella. You can choose to follow the route clockwise or in the opposite direction.

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Signs lead you the whole way

We started from the town of Corvara at 10 am, an easy and fun ski from San Cassiano

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Right away the Dolomite signature peaks surround you

The crowds are swallowed up into the vastness of the area. Over three days of skiing we never waited to ride a ski lift. Yes, that is  a lot of runs and very sore legs.

Proof we were actually there and having a good time. Just in case you didn’t believe me!

Everything is gigantic in this beautifully desolate country, even the sun!

Three peaks. Can you find the mountain hut?

Moderate level skiers can enjoy the 4 passes, but you need to keep moving or you will run out of time. With the sun racing us to the bottom we were still in the middle of nowhere.

By 4:30 pm we arrived back to where we began. Expect the trip to take five-six hours, including a picturesque lunch along the way.

Tired but excited from our adventure we arrived back at our chalet, Ciasa Roby. With an attentive and knowledge staff, warm clean rooms and a friendly atmosphere I would recommend it anyone visiting the region.

Have you skied in the Dolomites? Do you have other recommendations for skiing in Europe? Post a comment and join the conversation.

If you go

When to go: Winter….

Seriously, you can expect good ski conditions from December-April.

Getting there:
The only way into the area is by car, bus or taxi.

The nearest airports are Treviso, Venice, Verona, and Innsbruck in Austria.
The main international airport is “Marco Polo” in Venice. Low cost flights arrive in Treviso. Search for flights here.

Bus transfers: Terravision from/to all the airports, until 12th April.
Warning: We booked the Terravision bus back to the airport, but it never showed up! The pickup points are larger towns outside of Alta Badia region and we were forced to take a cab back to Venice airport which cost $250!!! Turns out the company wrote an e-mail confirmation to me the day before which I didn’t see BECAUSE I WAS SKIING IN THE COUNTRYSIDE. Check your e-mail and confirm the ride before waiting in the freezing 3 am morning air.

Accommodation: There is a lot to choose from. You can get started by looking here.

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One Response to “Skiing the Four Passes in the Italian Dolomites”

  1. Absolutely love the Dolomites. Scenery is some of the most spectacular anywhere. Skiing is excellent as well.

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