Ortler Ski Traverse 2019

A fantastic week of ski touring in the high Italian Alps. We keep returning to the Valfurva Region because of the great combination of ski touring terrain, comfortable huts and Italian hospitality. The Branca and Pizzini huts are famous and the ski touring in this area just south of the Austrian Border is some of the best we have ever experienced.

April 15, 2019 - April 20, 2019

Difficulty rating and Skill requirements

Difficulty Rating System Explained

Overall Difficulty Level: Difficult

Skills Required: Advanced skiing ability and prior ski touring experience 

Fitness Level: Strenuous

  • Category: Ski
  • Type: Guided
  • Ratio: 4:1,7:2

The guides of Pro Guiding Service (including Mike Hattrup and Martin Volken) have been guiding the Ortler ski tour (which is actually more like a cirquit) since 1994 for a total of well over 20 guided weeks. We keep returning to this corner of the Italian Alps because of the great combination of ski touring terrain, comfortable huts and Italian hospitality. The Italian huts are famous and the ski touring in this area just south of the Austrian Border is some of the best we have ever experienced. Even though the peaks are on average 1,000 feet lower in elevation than in the Swiss or French Alps, the character of the tour is equally high alpine, since the area is heavily glaciated. Most of the touring happens between 10,000 and 13,000 feet. The descents are long and carrying your skis is virtually non-existent. Our destination, called the Cevedale Ortles Group, was the site of a territorial struggle in the First World War, and the signs of the conflict remain in the high alpine areas to this day. We go in an out of the Santa Catarina region, because it makes the travel logistics a lot easier from the Milan Airport. All these factors add interesting twists to your main reason for visiting the Ortler Range: to experience some of the best ski touring in the Alps.

Suggested itinerary:
Day one: We leave the Forni hut (2178m ) and stroll up to the Branca Hut ( 2487m ). In the afternoon, we will go on a 3 hour tour up towards Monte Pasquale. This is a leisurely day, but in light of potential jet lag, usually quite welcome.
Day two: From the Branca hut we climb up the Forni glacier to the Punta San Matteo (3678m). From here we have ample possibilities for more touring (Punta Tresero, Punta Cadini) we can ski back to the Branca hut from San Matteo.
Day three: We will summit the Palon de la Mare at 3685 meters and return to the Branca hut for another night.
Day four:  From the Branca hut we tour up the Rosole glacier to Monte Pasquale (3553m). If conditions are favorable, we should be able to summit Monte Cevedale (3769 m) as well, before descending down to the Pizzini hut (2700 m). 
Day five: From the Pizzini hut we tour up to the Koenigsjoch. From here we climb on foot up the 35 to 40 degree east slope to the Gran Zebru (3851m ). Upon return to the Koenigsjoch we will ski down to the already familiar Pizzini hut (2700m ).
Day six: This is a great day that can offer fantastic corn snow skiing for about 4000 feet of vertical. From the Pizzini hut we summit the Monte Confinale (3370m ) via the passo del Zebru or we can also do a shorter tour to the top of one of the Cime del Forno. From Monte Confinale we ski down the mentioned south facing slope to the Forni hut (2178m ) and have lunch before we part ways.
 Sign up for a course or a trip and receive a 10% discount on purchases and a 20% discount on gear rental. 
Pro Ski and Mountain Service is our retail specialty store. It has been located in North Bend, WA since 1999. The past trips and courses have had a large influence on what we sell. Many of our Pro Guiding customers come on trips and courses with gear they purchased from our store. Not only do we want our clients to have the right gear for the job; we also receive direct feedback from them while they are using it in the field. Trust us - if the gear does not work - we won't sell it.
If you are in need of any of these items, please visit our online retail shop, Pro Ski and Mountain Service
BASE LAYER: Men's, Women's
• 1 Bottom - Midweight or Lightweight
• Non-Cotton Underwear
• 1-2 Tops - Midweight or Lightweight
• 2-3 Pair Sock Liners
• 2 Pair Ski Socks
• Soft Shell, Windshirt, Fleece - only one of these is necessary
• Soft Shell  Pants
OUTERWEAR: Men'sWomen's
• Lightweight, Waterproof/Breathable Jacket
• Waterproof/Breathable Ski Pants
• Warm Hat
• Sun Hat (baseball or visor)
• Ski Gloves
• Lightweight Gloves
• Down or Synthetic Jacket
• Day Pack (25-40L)
• Headlamp (Lightweight LED recommended)
• Water Bottles (1-2 L, wide mouth)
• Sunglasses (adequate for snow travel)
• Goggles
• Sunscreen (SPF>25, Waterproof)
• Lip Balm (SPF 15+)
• Personal Toiletries
• Small Personal 1st Aid Kit: Blister Repair (Compeed™), Aspirin, Ibuprofen, etc.)
• Waterless hand cleaner- there is no running water in the huts
• Earplugs - essential for sleeping
• Skis with touring binding: Alpine Touring or Telemark 
• Ski Boots (Alpine Touring or Telemark - No Downhill Boots)
• Ski Poles (recommend telescopic poles, but not required)
• Climbing Skins
• Ski Crampons - REQUIRED
• Ski Brakes
• Transceiver (single frequency,  457 kHz only, new batteries at start of trip)
• Shovel (compact, lightweight, metal blade preferred) 
• Probe (dedivated probe only, ski poles do not suffice)
 Ice Axe - 55-70 cm length, lightweight
• Boot Crampons - STEEL ONLY; NO ALUMINUM!, check fit prior to departure
• Anti-Balling Plates - fit to crampons
• Climbing Harness - lightweight, BD Alpine Bod style.
• 2 Locking Carabiners- (1) large HMS style and (1) regular locker
• 2 Non-locking Carabiners - any style, we recommend wire gates
• 1 Single Length Runner
• 1 Double Length Runner
• 1 Cordelette - 6 mm diameter, 6 meter length
 OPTIONAL ITEMS *We highly recommend these items, but do not require them*
• Camera
• Skin Wax
• Note Pad and Pencil - Rite-in-the-Rain brand waterproof notebook works
• Altimeter - Suunto watch works well
• Sleep Sack - lightweight silk or cotton
• Warm Socks - to sleep in
• Thermos - vacuum type
• Compass
• Altimeter (Suunto watch works well)
• Foot Powder
• Cash - see note below
• Groups 1st Aid Kit
• Ropes
• Technical Group Gear and VHF radio

  ➢We recommend bringing cash for use in the huts to purchase snacks, lunches, and drinks.  Water must be purchased and costs approximately $7 per liter.   Most Pro Guiding Service customers have found bringing $200 to $250 in the local currency allows for a good hot meal in the afternoon and plenty of drinks (including beer) for a six-day hut trip. 


HAVE YOU GUIDED IN THIS REGION BEFORE?Yes, between Rinaldo, Martin, Mike, Ben and Marge we have spent over 25 guiding weeks in the  Ortler area and we are happy to return every time.

I DO NOT SPEAK ITALIAN. WILL IT BE DIFFICULT TO COMMUNICATE? Several of our guides speak fluent Italian, Ferman and/or French - as do the hut keepers. 

WHAT IS THE BEST AIRPORT TO FLY INTO?You can fly into the big Airport of Milano Malpensa or Milano Linate. The connections from the US to Malpensa might be more direct, but Linate is located on the eastern edge of Milano. This makes the transfer towards the Ortler region a bit less complicated, especially if you are renting a car.

I AM TAKING PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION, DO I HAVE TO GO TO DOWNTOWN MILAN FIRST?If you are using public transportation, go to Milano Centrale first (the main train station in downtown Milan). Please refer to the website listed below. The indicated bus connections are very easy to use and run on a regular basis.


AND THEN? Then you take the train to LECCO – TIRANO. Travel time is about 2.5 hours from  Milano Centrale. No reservations are necessary. From Tirano you can take the bus that leaves regulary towards Bormio and on to Santa Catarina from right across the square of the train station. You might have to change buses again in Bormio. The bus driver will let you know. Travel time is about 2 hours from Tirano. From Santa Catarina you can take a Taxi to the Forni hut. You can call a taxi in one of the many restaurants in the little center of Santa catarina. 

We are thinking of getting there a couple of days early. Can we make reservations at the hut? Yes, you can do this by contacting the hut owners directly. 


"Albergo Ghiacciaio dei Forni"
Località Forni
23030 Santa Caterina Valfurva
Tel. and fax: (country code 0039)0342/93.53.65
(home number: 0342/90.19.16)





HOW DOES THIS TRIP DIFFER FROM LET'S SAY THE HAUTE ROUTE?Well,  the huts are very luxurious and you are not moving point to point so to speak. you will spend three days in the Branca Hut and ski tour with a superlight pack, then you transfer to the Pizzini Hut and stay there for a couple of days.  So if you did not feel that great, you could actually sit out for a day.In contrast to the Haute Route you summit a peak just about every day. Most of the peaks are “skinnable”. We climb an average of about 4000 feet of vertical a day.

SHOULD I TIP MY GUIDE? AND HOW MUCH SHOULD I TIP THEM? Although tipping is not a requirement it is considered standard practice in the guiding industry and is appreciated by our guides. We generally recommend roughly 10%-15% of your course or trip cost or flat price tip that you are comfortable with.