Backcountry Skiing in Agordino, the heart of the Dolomites
Fresh snow, untouched slopes and pure adrenaline!
Freeride skiing (also known as ‘backcountry skiing’ or ‘off-piste skiing’) is a fascinating winter discipline that for some years now has become increasingly popular in ski areas around the world; the Dolomites UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site, already a leader in the field of alpine skiing thanks to the interregional super consortium Dolomiti Superski, do not escape this trend, offering for some time now a myriad of services and comprehensive tourist offers dedicated specifically to freeride.
Freeride skiing is a winter sport that consists of downhill skiing in off-piste and on fresh snow; the name “free-ride” itself, therefore roughly translated as “outward or outward free ride, in freedom”, expresses the key concept of freeride, i.e. the search for freedom and independence in skiing overcoming the constraints imposed, for example in alpine skiing, by the limited surface area of the beaten track.
The ascent of the slopes in freeride usually takes place using the ski facilities, using snowshoes or seal skins (as in ski mountaineering); also, freeride skiing can be the preparatory step for the practice of heli-skiing, or the transfer by helicopter in a high mountain environment followed by the freeride descent, usually very demanding. Given the particular nature of the snow and the slope on which the freerider skis, it is also required for the practice of freeriding a specific type of equipment different from that of alpine skiing. In Italy, backcountry skiing is a sport allowed and regulated by a specific law (363/2003); each ski area has the right to decide independently if and how to allow the practice of this sport in its territory (it is always good to inquire in advance if interested by contacting the information offices of the various consortia); there are ski areas where backcountry skiing is prohibited (where there is, for example, a constant danger of avalanches), others that reserve a part of the area specifically for freeride (this is the case, for example, of the Col Margherita Freeride Park in the Falcade-San Pellegrino area).
Being an extreme sport by its very nature, freeriding obviously requires good skiing skills, knowledge of the mountains (and especially of the specific snow conditions) and a good command of skis in extreme conditions; often it is the Ski Instructor or the Alpine Guide who takes care of verifying whether the customer has the necessary skills to face a freeride run before starting.
In the UNESCO Dolomites, as mentioned above, there is a wide range of offers reserved for guests, including beginners, who wish to approach the world of backcountry skiing; however, given the nature of this adrenaline-filled mountain sport and the factors mentioned above, it is a natural consequence that these offers are aimed at a target of customers who have a good level of skiing (at least medium-high), and are therefore not immediately accessible to everyone. Often the freeride outings even in the places that appear more accessible are transformed in fact in real ski enterprises that only a good skier with so much experience can deal with; it is good to never forget that the mountain is a wonderful scenery for the sport, but that it can also be very, very dangerous.
And for those who want to start from scratch with freeride?
Among the myriad of freeride offers in the Dolomites, we have selected for the winter season 2016-2017 Martino Bedont (see details), a young and well-trained freelance ski instructor specialized not only in alpine skiing, but also in teaching freeride and heli-skiing; Martino, Agordino by birth, now has more than a decade of experience in teaching these winter disciplines in the prestigious ski resort Lagazuoi 5 Torri in the nearby Cortina d’Ampezzo, and has reserved the special offer “Freeride for All” for the Agordo side of the ski area.