There was another dump on the charts and this was another one I could not miss! Rainfall like there is no tomorrow in The Netherlands and some of my powder buddy's being in Japan like Guy and Vinnie, I reckoned that I was entitled to some fresh pow of my own! Hey Winny, it is on in the South, leave on Friday, back on Monday, are you game? Hey brother, off course I am, check! With a couples of days to go I did a gear check and watched for further news on websites and especially wePowder. One thing was certain: we would not be the only people going ‘Down South'…. I had some contact with fellow wePowder freerider Evan who was going with his friends Rutger and Elise. We made an agreement that we would ride together when we would end up in the same resort.
Where to go
It was not a tough choice this time: the ‘eye' of the dump appeared to be in the Italian Madesimo – Livigno area. At first we had the idea of doing a road trip through this area but it turned out differently…. Friday 9.15 I heard the sound of a big V8 rumbling on my driveway, this could only be one person…. We tossed all my gear into the trunk (no traveling light this time) and our adventure started. After a prosperous drive with lots of rain and no snow we reached the car train at Klosters in Switzerland. Our truck just barely fitted on the train so we had to stay extra focused driving on- and off. Traveling in Switzerland still gives a special feeling: the car trains, the tunnels and the beautiful mountain roads alongside snowy summits. Thanks to the recent exchange rates it is not fun to: buy gasoline, food, sleep, drink or buy skipasses in Swiss anymore…. but the ‘pictures' are really fantastic! After the car train it started snowing and we started to reach the winterwonderland. After the one-way-tunnel you reach Italy and drive into Livigno, the tax-free freeride paradise! We reached our hotel Duc de Rohan at 19.30 where we were welcomed by the owner who just came back from her own holiday. We had a great steak-dinner in the village and lights out at 22.30.
Saturday, day 1: In our faces!
Evan and his posse also came to Livigno just as Arno and Dirk, we decided to meet each other at 9.00 at the ‘yellow gondola in the centre'. After a fantastic and ‘sweet' breakfast we had to clear the truck from almost 40 cm. of fresh snow. As we drove to the gondola it still kept on snowing, this was promising! After some runs in the trees and the first ‘in our face-shots' we bumped into a lot of other Dutch wePowder visitors: it seemed that there was a spontaneous convention of the Dutch Grasshoppers Alliance in Livigno! It turned out that wePowder Arjen & MeteoMorris were also present to shoot some footage for the Safety Academy and they brought Rogier for the pictures and Rene for the film.
Bivio for President!
The terrain was fantastic and even in the forest there was enough base & freshies to ride. We mainly stayed between the trees because of the avalanche danger (especially above the tree line) and the cracks and slabs we saw coming down everywhere: this was not a day for the big lines… After an epic day with great runs in the forest and somewhat more open terrain ‘on the other side' we walked towards hotel Bivio where the ‘wePowder drinks party' was to be held. What a joy- and tasteful joint this is, we immediately felt at home. More and more known- and unknown wePowder-people started coming in and at the end there were about 25-30 Dutch wePowder freeriders in Livigno! After a drink (or two) we left for a restaurant where we, in usual Italian manner, had a great dinner. We left for our hotel at 22.30, it had been a fantastic but also sociable day!
Sunday, day 2: Bushmen
Sunday morning 8.00, another extensive and sweet Italian style breakfast and one hour later we were in the gondola again. We decided to ride with the same group again as it worked out fine the day before, although the group was rather large. Keeping our distances and ‘teaming up' in the forest worked really well. The avalanche danger had increased overnight (especially above the tree line) and therefore we decided to stay in the forest on the North-side, ‘our' magical forest! During the whole day we totally shredded the forest apart (with some help from the other wePowder freeriders) but the pow was so good that even tracked parts were a joy to ski. We had a lot more visibility than the day before, so skiing on ‘top' would be possible as well but we mainly stayed in the forest because we had the best pow there! We had a great lunch at the restaurant Calcheira which is at the end of the trail that you reach after the descend on the North-side. At the end of the day we went to the hotel Bivio again for ‘compulsory' drinks with the wePowder-gang. After this we had Carpaccio and a Pizza and at 22.00 Winny and I were back in our hotel. We had a small pow-wow session and decided not to move on to another area but stay in Livigno and do a short tour: after all Winny has a brand new splitboard that had to be initiated!
Monday, day 3: Earn our turns
We planned to drive off for The Netherlands around 2.00 and because almost the whole mountain was shredded we thought that it would be great to tour a little. We would make it a relaxed day, enjoy our copious breakfast and go out there. We made a deal with the owner of the hotel that we could use the room until 2.00 so we could leave our stuff and have a quick shower when we returned from skinning. We drove to the spot skiers right from the Mottolino lift where we wanted to start our tour , found a parking place and mounted the skins. Winny still had to get used to breaking apart his splitboard but at the end it went pretty ok. With -16 degrees it was cold, but a nice bluebird!
New ‘King of Split'?
We started to skin our way up and this went ok, there was a crust on some parts but in the shadow of the trees the snow was still fluffy and powdery. We lost the feeling of being cold really quick, we unzipped our jackets after half an hour, together with our gloves and hats. Winny had to search for the right ‘form' and adjustments of his high tech bindings but started to move better and better. We have been skinning for about two hours and did some practice on the ‘Spitzenkehre' and it was soon obvious that Winny would not win a contest as a ballet dancer….. ha-ha, we had some great laughs this morning! We enjoyed the silence and the great weather on the mountain, had a drink and some food, and down we went. It was a great closure of a fantastic weekend! We went back to the hotel, had a quick shower, gear in the truck and we were on our way around 13.30. On the way we enjoyed the tunnel, the beautiful scenery, lots of snow on the trees and the blue and sunny sky. At 22.50 we reached my house after a very favorable journey.
This trip turned out to be different from what we expected: the road tripping part did not fly…. This had to do with the great snow and circumstances, our fantastic hotel but most of all with all the other wePowder freeriders in hospitable Livigno. It was a mega relaxed trip with lots of fun, great food and even better pow! This has its price, so many freeriders in a resort means that it is shredded pretty fast. Luckily still nowhere near resorts like St. Anton and Andermatt but Livigno has some great freeride territory with great possibilities during and after the dump. The atmosphere is really relaxed and mellow and thanks to the tax-free part, prices are more than reasonable. Definitely a resort worth coming back for, certainly during a dump!
Has anyone of you guys been to Livigno and if so, what do you think about it?