Tales from the Back Country. A Better Bettolina Bassa!

9th Feb 3
Nick’s grin – wider than usual when we saw the weather window granted by the gods for Bettolina!

Gressoney Backcountry Ski Course with Snoworks – Day 4

We were so lucky today and got a perfect weather window for a second descent of the remote Bettolina Bassa. Our bus ride to the meeting point at Gressoney la Trinité had been in dense fog but as we rose from St Anna to the top of the Bettaforca lift, everything was sparkling in the sun.

We had soft powder glistening and flakes of blown snow hanging in the air like motes of dust, twinkling golden in a shaft of sunlight.

Today we were Team Nick – Snoworks’ chief instructor, whose enthusiasm and smile are always infectious. His grin was wider than ever when he saw the conditions at the top of the run!

9th Feb 17 Mark Monoski!
Mark had to ski one-footed on the exit from Bettolina

Mark’s right ski today took the record for the longest solo descent! On the exit from Bettolina, we had to negotiate a 39 degree slope covered in bushes. A bush pulled off Mark’s ski, so he had to ski down one footed as Nick collected the other ski, which had raced even the nippy Nick down to the bottom!

9th Feb 18 Recovery of longest solo ski
Nick recovers Mark’s ski after it took the record for the longest solo descent!
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The red arrow to the right shows the bush-covered slope that Mark’s ski soloed!

Nick found us a slightly less daunting exit route on a lower path through the trees. There was more snow, so it was less icy than when we passed this way with Richard on Tuesday. It was enchanting; sliding through the snow-blanketed forest.

Nick was laughing with joy as he knocked snow off the branches with his ski poles. It fell onto the path like showers of sparks in the sunlight. It was magical. The cloud followed us down from the top. If we had been half an hour later, we could not have skied the route. That made it feel all the more special!

9th Feb B.jpg
The cloud closes in as we exit Bettolina. Team Euan (in orange) are just behind us. Half an hour later and we could not have skied the route!

We headed over to Base Camp, the Tibetan hut at the top of the Mandria lift, for lunch. We went off piste to the left in what was now a complete pea souper from the top of Bettaforca. I did my BEST EVER face plant! I failed to see a dip in the terrible visibility and did a perfect starfish, straight out of the front of my skis.

Despite the powder skirt in my jacket, I have had snow up my jumper most days. Today I had it down my neck and in my goggles as well! Sadly, Nick didn’t witness my airbourne antics and no-one caught it on camera. However, the panel of those who beheld the grace and beauty of me launching like an eagle then landing face-first with limbs akimbo awarded me unanimously a perfect 10!

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Base Camp. The Tibetan Hut at the top of the Mandria lift.

On the way home, we did some jump-turn drills. Jump turns are great for turning in a ski’s length in tight spaces, on steeps it helps to avoid picking up too much speed or it releases the edges of your skis to allow you to turn in deep or heavy snow. We have learnt so much – and I suspect that we shall be perfecting many of these skills and drills in the weeks to come!

9th Feb 24 Frozen Hair
In Puccini’s ‘La Bohème, Rodolfo sings “Your tiny hand is frozen.” My tiny hands were fine – but I did have hoary hair!

As we skied down in the murk, Mark pointed out that my teensy tresses had frozen!

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Après Ski the way we like it!

Join us tomorrow for the Indren Inversion, during which we ski down a waterfall. Our guide’s advice: “Don’t even THINK you will get an edge in THAT! You’ll be straight down…” 

Follow my blog by clicking the ‘Follow’ button or entering your email address on the right hand side of the page and tomorrow’s route Diretta Indren will come Diretta In – to your inbox!

For further fun both on and off piste, visit Pups on Piste and follow the links to our wintry adventures, advice and reviews.

One thought on “Tales from the Back Country. A Better Bettolina Bassa!

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