Val Maira, Italy

Val Maira Day Tours

Val Maira is located in the Italian Alps about 100 miles south west of Turin close to the border with France. It is a long valley, about 45kms end-to-end with lots of secondary valleys going off to left and right. The mountains are not very high down here in the southern Alps - the highest Mt Oronaye is 3,100m - but it has an excellent micro-climate in winter with very reliable snowfall and consequently offers great conditions for ski touring from February until early April. The area is well known to local Italians and Austrian and Swiss tourers, but virtually unknown to the British market.

This is a day touring trip with 5 nights spent in the same small hotel in the village of Marmora-Venetti. The first and last nights will be spent in Cuneo, the principal town of the area. This tour is a beginner / intermediate level ski touring week in late February when there should be a lot of fresh snow and safe skiing down to the valley bottoms.

Day Itinerary

  • Fly to Turin or Milan and travel to Cuneo by train aiming to arrive by late afternoon. Meet up with the guide and rest of the team for a briefing and kit check before dinner. Stay overnight in a hotel in the town.

  • From Cuneo we transfer by road for 90 minutes to Marmora-Venetti.

    After checking into the delightful Pensione Ceaglio (www.ceaglio-vallemaira.it) we head out for our first ski tour, the ascent of Monte Belgard, a 900m skin.

    After skiing we return to the Pensione which is our base for the next 5 days.

    The following day tours are on our to-do list for the week!

    • Bric Boscasso day tour, 1100m ascent.
    • La Piovosa day tour, 1100m ascent
    • Colle Enchiausa day tour, 1100m ascent.
    • Bric Cassin day tour, 1100m ascent
    • Mont Nebin day tour, 1000m ascent

    On the final day we'll return to Cuneo for the last night.
  • Transfer back to Milan / Turin after breakfast

2019

Dates

Price

Sun 03 Feb
- Sun 10 Feb
£1295 Enquire

The price includes 6 full days guiding fees & expenses, 7 nights half-board hotel accommodation (twin-share), all local travel during the week.
The price does not include flights, travel to Cuneo, lunches, beverages and equipment hire.

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This is an extensive list of the recommended clothing and equipment you will need if you are coming to one of our Ski Tours.

During the tour you will be staying most nights in catered high mountain huts and will need to carry all the equipment and clothing you require for the duration of the tour. The huts are comfortable but basic with limited facilities. 

Any clothing or other items not required on the tour can be left in a travel bag at your first hotel ready for your return on the final night.

We recommend keeping the weight of your pack as light as possible. If you are new to alpine multi-day ski touring, try taking your pack out on the slopes before the tour to see how it feels. You quickly realise the benefit of ‘skiing light’.

If you are uncertain or need further information, don't hesitate to contact us.

  • When choosing clothing for ski touring you want to think light, warm and versatile. During the trip weather conditions will change and you’re likely to go from warm afternoons where you’ll be carrying most of your gear in your rucksack, to icy-cold mornings when you’re wearing everything to keep warm! Getting hold of the best and lightest kit available is always worth it and most of the major brands will be able to supply suitable kit.
    • Roll neck rather than a scarf. We use and recommend the ‘Buff¹ ¬ a light, stretchable tube. Excellent despite the name! They do both a fleece/cotton version for warmth or just a cotton one (to keep the sun off).
    • Headwear to include warm hat and sun-cap or wide-brim hat for extra protection from the sun. Mountain Tracks fully supports the wearing of helmets for skiing, although not mandatory for any of our trips we do recommend them.
    • An outer shell jacket made of waterproof and breathable material like Gore-Tex or similar with a built-in hood. The lighter the better and so a shell is recommended rather than a insulated jacket.
    • 1-2 thin fleeces - rather than a thick layer between your skin and the outer shell - an approach which gives better heat retention and good flexibility. These tops are known as ‘mid layers’. The principle of ‘layering’ e.g. allowing you to easily add/remove layers depending on the temperature and the activity is recommended to ensure comfort on the mountain.
    • Insulation layer like a down or Primaloft jacket is a good item to have ready to wear in the event of cold weather, it can live in your rucksack as a spare layer and can come in very handy for sudden changes in the weather.
    • For the lower half it’s essential that you have a pair of thermal base layer pants (long johns).
    • These can then be combined with either:
    • (a) a good pair of ‘technical shell’ pants in a waterproof and breathable fabric like Gore-Tex (b) a pair of mountain or alpine pants in a softshell material together with a pair of lightweight, breathable over trousers with long side zips.
    • Top and bottom underwear made of a synthetic, wicking material. Very popular at the moment are the wool based layers from companies such as Icebreaker and Smartwool. They are comfy, breathable and warm when needed and can be worn for days without your friends catching a whiff!
    • Good quality Gore-Tex gloves or mitts and a thin pair of softshell or fleece gloves for when it is hot and for ski touring in. Silk inner gloves can be useful if the weather is cold and you suffer with cold hands.
    • Technical Socks - Investing in good quality ski socks will improve fit, warmth and feel when skiing for long periods. Bring along a few pairs.
  • For all touring trips it is essential you ski with an all-mountain/freeride type skis, ski touring boots and ski touring bindings. If you have your own skis but they do not have ski touring bindings then you will need to rent skis. The same applies if you have downhill ski boots, you will need to rent ski touring boots.

    Skis
    For alpine ski touring we recommend an all-mountain/freeride touring ski that isn’t too heavy, a really lightweight ski comes at a cost to performance on the descents so are only recommended for really good off-piste skiers with a strong interest in ski touring.
    There are plenty of great skis to choose from and we highly recommend skis from the following manufactures:
    Dynastar Skis: www.dynastar.com 
    Movement Skis: www.movementskis.com  
    Black Crows Skis: www.blackcrows-skis.com  
    Trab Skis: www.skitrab.com/en-us 
    Scott Skis: http://www.scott-sports.com
    Volkl Skis: http://www.voelkl.com

    If you are planning on buying skis for ski touring and general skiing and have any questions do not hesitate to call us to discuss the options available to you.

    Boots
    It is essential that you have ski touring boots for all touring trips as walking up hill is much more comfortable in these types of boots with a walk mode and great flex. A dedicated touring boot or a hybrid freeride boot is best. 

    Scarpa have lead the way in touring boots for many years but they have been joined by other manufactures like Dynafit, Salomon, Scott, Black Diamond, Dalbello and K2; all producing their own versions of a ski touring boot.
    • Scarpa’s Freedom boots are their Hybrid offerings, great ski performance, a walk mode and vibram sole. Their Maestrale (men’s) and Gea (women’s) boots are also highly recommended.
    • The Scott Celeste and Cosmo boots have stood the test of time and are good all round choices.
    • Salomon’s Quest Max series offer boots with a walk mode in various flex’s with good downhill performance.
    • Dynafit offer the Mercury or Vulcan boots plus a range of lightweight options like the TLT6.

    The best of the rest are:
    Fischer - Transalp
    Black Diamond – Quadrant and Factor
    K2 – Pinnacle boot
    Dalbello – Lupo or Sherpa
    Langue – XT series offer a ski boot with a walk mode in various flex options

    Boot Liners
    These days many manufacturers offer ‘thermo-fit¹ liners as standard equipment. You may also want to consider a custom liner as these are heated and molded to your foot and boot for a perfect fit. They can make all the difference especially if you have trouble finding really comfortable ‘off-the-shelf’ boots. Zipfit liners are a great option for anyone seeking total customisation in fit and comfort. They will replace the original liner.

    Custom Footbeds
    Essential kit – to provide additional comfort and ski control. If you want to get footbeds made or a pair of new boots fitted then we suggest you visit somewhere like Profeet for a professional fitting. Don’t forget if you have footbeds in your downhill boots but need to rent touring boots then you can bring the footbeds with you and put them in the hire boots.

    Bindings
    For all ski touring trips ski touring bindings are essential. Fritschi and Marker both make excellent ski touring bindings and you have a few different options to choose from. Many more people are seeing the advantage of the “pin” binding system now offered by a number of manufacturers as these are light and offer ever improving security despite their minimalist looks!

    Ski Poles
    We recommend telescopic poles. They must have wide powder baskets (4-5 inches/100-120mm diameter) otherwise you’ll be up to your armpits on the ascents. Go for an alloy rather than carbon poles which are lighter but have a nasty habit of snapping near the basket due to ski edge nicks.

    Rucksack
    For most ski tours especially multi-day hut-to-hut tours you will need a 35 - 40 litre rucksack. You might get away with a big 30 liter pack if you are an experienced ski tourer and know what to pack. Most people will find a 35-40 liter pack is a good size for touring.

    Key features of a good ski touring pack:
    • a method of attaching your skis in either a A-frame (one either side) or both together on a diagonal ski carriage
    • easy access into the main compartment without having to empty the sack to get something at the bottom
    • separate pocket for avalanche shovel, handle and probe
    • small top pocket for items like wallet, sunglassed/goggles etc; an ice axe loop
    • a built-in rain cover an a secure method of attaching/stowing a ski helmet 
    • good hip/waist belt and adjustable shoulder straps

    Avalanche airbag rucksacks can be used for touring but they are heavy, adding somewhere between 5-8kg just for an empty pack plus canister. So unless you are sure you can carry it and fit all you need in, we do not recommend you use one. 

    Over a long multiday tour every gram of weight is important as you have to carry and move it yourself. Carrying a heavy pack will hinder and tire all but the most experienced and fit ski tourer.

     

  • The “Safety Trilogy” - required on all our ski tours and off-piste courses.

    • Avalanche Transceiver/Beacon
    • Snow shovel
    • Avalanche probe
    Remember it is not enough just to carry this equipment; you have to know how to use it.
    How about joining one of our specialist avalanche courses – check out www.mountaintracks.co.uk/activity/avalanche-training
  • Most resorts have ski shops that hire ski equipment and we try to provide relevant contact details for all our courses and tours.

    Prices do change by resort/country, but here’s an approximate guide to hire costs for 6-days hire:

    Touring Skis plus skins and ski crampons €150-180
    Touring boots €80-90 
    Boot Crampons €45-50
    Ice Axe €30-40
    Harness €20-30
    Helmet €20-30
    Transceiver/shovel/probe €75-80

    Our guides also generally have additional sets of safety equipment (transceiver/shovel/probe) which they hire out to clients for €65 for 6 days hire. Must be booked in advance.

Ski touring kit with skins and harscheisen are required. Ice-axe, boot crampons and harness are not required.
Ski Touring kit can be hired in Cuneo from http://www.ravaschietto.com/

Val-Maira-7.JPG

Val Maira

View map

The Val Maira is a small undeveloped valley in the southern Italian Alps, a remote corner of Piedmont.  It has a similar climate to the French Maritime Alps to the west.  The valley is about 45km long and surrounded by high mountains, there is little development in the area and skiing is mainly accessed by ski touring only.

There are high alpine peaks and the larch and pine forrests make for some excellent tree skiing.  Powder can be found in the valley long after snowfall and the skiing in generally quiet and unspoilt. 

Our top reasons for visiting Val Maira

  • Quiet unspoilt ski touring
  • Great Italian hospitality, freindly people, great food and wine
  • Cosy accommodation in the Pension Ceaglio


Travel information:

The closest airport is Turin and the journey time by rail to Cuneo is about 1 hour 15 minutes.

From Milan Central the journey time by rail to Cuneo is about 3 hours.
  • It is a condition of booking that you are insured for your chosen activity and the cover must include medical expenses, personal accident, personal liability, third party risks and rescue (including helicopter rescue). You are strongly advised also to take out cover against cancellation and curtailment.

    For UK residents Ski Club Travel Insurance may be a suitable option.

    For more details and to purchase a policy online visit http://www.skiclubinsurance.co.uk/
    If you need assistance arranging your personal insurance please let us know.
     

  • The base for this trip is the town of Cuneo.
    The nearest airport is Turin and journey time by rail to Cuneo is about 1 hour 15 minutes.
    From Milan Central the journey time by rail to Cuneo is about 3 hours.
    From Cuneo we have to transfer for about 90 minutes by road into the Val Maira and the charming Pensione Ceaglio in Marmora Venetti.
  • All our ski tours are led by our team of IFMGA Mountain Guides. The team is led by Olly Allen, Matt Dickinson and Nick Parks. 

  • We'll spend the first and last nights in a hotel in Cuneo. The other 5 nights will be spent in a small, family run hotel in Ceaglio, which offers delicious local food, charming Italian ambience and comfortable accommodation.
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