Skiing in Madonna di Campiglio

Radiating from each side of a deep valley, Madonna di Campiglio’s slopes aren’t the best linked in the world, but they are extensive. Including nearby and fully lift-linked Folgarida, Marilleva and Pinzolo, it’s a big enough area for most skiers for a week.

Madonna di Campiglio Ski Area Overview

The village of Madonna di Campiglio, the ski area main base, is at 1520m; the slopes rise to 2,504m and the lowest point on the system is near Pinzola at 800m, though maximum uninterrupted vertical drop is 1300m, from Doss di Sabion (2,100m) to the valley near Pinzolo, although you will need good snow cover to make it all the way down. 

Several sectors make up the skiing: to the west of Madonna, Cinque Laghi and Pradalago which is the gateway to Monte Vigo above Marilleva and Monte Spolverino above Folgarida; to the east, Passo Groste and Monte Spinale.; and to the south Doss del Sabion with runs down to Pinzolo.There are aslo nursery runs at Campo Carlo Magno, a small staellite resort of Madonna’s which also has a lift up to Spinale.

The western sectors are lower and more sheltered, with most of the slopes cut through trees – perfect in a storm or limited visibility – but also very charming on a blue-sky day, with impeccably groomed pistes, great views and a relaxed ambience. The link to Folgarida and Marilleva is on this side, from Monte Vigo accessed from Pradalago.

Rising nearly 500m higher to the wilder and more open Passo Groste, broad gentle slopes (the reds here are barely that) put you between rugged Dolomite cliffs and peaks, with much of the skiing above tree-line. Monte Spinale is an engaging sideshow with a steep descent direct back to town; for anyone staying on this side of town it is also the logical starting point each day to avoid the need to bus to one of the more distant base stations.

Beginner Skiing in Madonna di Campiglio

There are good reasons for beginners and early intermediates to consider Madonna di Campiglio.

With the general proviso that in Italy ‘ski school is for kids’, there’s a well established minority English-speaking clientele (historically very much in the beginner bracket), so the ski schools should be ready for you though language can sometimes be an issue.

As importantly, the terrain is ideal – a separate nursery area, free of speeding experts, followed by a vast network of gentle runs across all the areas. Only Monte Spinale will be irrelevant, though even that has a blue option leading gently back towards the lower Groste slopes.

An easy route right from the highest point on Groste is a bonus, ensuring that beginners in need of inspiration get their fair share of alpine views and of the scale of the mountains. Likewise, though the words ‘trees’ and ‘skiing’ seldom inspire as much enthusiasm in beginners as they do in expert skiers, the gladed runs of Pradalago and Cinque Laghi will surely show first timers what a visit to the mountains in winter is all about.

Ski Schools & Ski Lessons in Madonna di Campiglio

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Intermediate Skiing in Madonna di Campiglio

Both the ambience and the extent of the ski area, without any no-go areas, means Madonna di Campiglio prime territory for most holiday skiers.

Over a third of the area is made up of red runs, though they’re generally not severe by normal standards. There isn’t the super-high intermediate mileage available in the big French domains but there is good variety, with lots of charming forested slopes opening onto great views – running Cortina d’Ampezzo and Val Gardena a close second in this department. Without being very high, there’s also good snow-reliability.

Classic red runs are the Genziana Bassa in Pradalago; the Vagliana for endless south-facing laps; and Cinque Laghi’s FIS course, the 3Tre. A good day out is to start with the ride up to Cinque Laghi, and work round the resort in a clockwise direction, to end on Monte Spinale. Diversions to Marilleva and Folgarida are easily possible within the day for reasonable skiers, and there’s little prospect of being marooned far from home when lifts close, even if there are slow members of your group, or if you get waylaid by lunch.

The amount of blue runs shown on the piste map shouldn’t put anybody off – many of them follow beautiful routes, particularly on the forested slopes, and with their excellent snowmaking and grooming, they are a good chance to let rip. There’s also an enjoyable sense of scale about the longest routes – it’s 7km back to the valley from Passo Groste.

Advanced & Expert Skiing in Madonna di Campiglio

In true Dolomite style, the steep bits of these mountains are the sheer cliff faces above the meadows that make up the skiable slopes, but there are a handful of black runs and good tree skiing for advanced skiers.

There are a handful of direct descents below the tree-line that qualify for black status, making up 11% of Madonna di Campiglio’s ski area. The rest of the challenges lie off-piste and though it’s not a renowned freeride area, there’s enough for a few days at least, with the added advantage of minimal competition for the goods.

The Spinale Direttissima is the steepest run in resort – a direct route down to the village from Monte Spinale; the Canalone Miramonti on the other side of the valley is short and sharp and often used for racing; Amazzonia is the only black piste on Pradalago.

Above Marilleva the black run on Dos de la Pesa deserves its grading. 

The rund above Pinzolo tend to be steeper than those at Madonna, so pose more challenges for experts. The blacks at the top are good fun. The red that goes all the way into the valley needs good snow conditions.

Off-Piste Skiing & Freeriding in Madonna di Campiglio

Madonna di Camiglio has some great off-piste itineraries, but it helps if you are prepared to work for them. From the top of Passo Groste a mountain guide can take you through the Val di Tovel – good spring conditions required – finishing with a 2-3km walkout.

From the same starting point, but heading back to Madonna is a ski tour, marked on the piste map, that’s perfect for a novice off piste adventure in springtime; it winds gently across the upper slopes and behind Monte Spinale to drop right into town. Variants of this stay higher under the cliffs of the Brenta, leading into the Vallesinella ending at a refuge before skating out into the main valley below Madonna.

Lower down from Passo Groste, the Val Vagliana, off the back of Dosson di Vagliana, starts down the face of a fairly open north facing ridge and into a deserted wooded valley to emerge at the cross country circuit above town.

Over on Cinque Laghi, a half hour skin takes you to a ridge and into the empty valley that separates this area from Pradalago. There are several couloirs to choose from, staying high enough up the ridge to avoid the thick woods that cover the slopes towards town. Exit along the valley bottom to join the Amazzonia run back down to Madonna. Finally, towards Marilleva, you can tour up to the pass of the Val Gelada, skiing back down into Marilleva.

Boarding & Freestyle in Madonna di Campiglio

Madonna di Campiglio’s Ursus snowpark on the Groste pass hosts the Freestyle World Cup – it has a half pipe, quarter pipe, and boarder cross, with terrain for every level from beginners to experts.

Other than this excellent park, the terrain is not totally boarder-friendly, with too many flats and gentle slopes for competent riders. But it’s an unthreatening place to work on your skills, and the lift system has only three drag lifts to contend with.

Mountain Restaurants in Madonna di Campiglio

Madonna di Campiglio’s mountain restaurants may not be Italy’s greatest, but they’re pretty good, so that’s full marks as compared to the rest of the skiing world.

It’s doubly important to have a great place to stop for lunch when you’re surrounded by mountains like the Dolomites and the clarity with which all the huts and mountain restaurants are marked on the ski map gives a clear idea of the priorities around here.Best restaurant views are from the Ristorante Stoppani (Passo Groste) and Ristorante Laghi (Cinque Laghi); there’s a mixture of table- and self-service, and no monster factory-eateries.


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