Skiing in Val Gardena
Passo Gardena and Passo Sella above Selva are Val Gardena’s gateways into the larger Sella Ronda circuit. But there is plenty of skiing in Val Gardena itself: about 175km of ski slopes split into more than 170 different runs, accessed by about 80 lifts. And what the area excels in is perfectly groomed red runs curling through woods and lined with snow cannons to guarantee sufficient snow.
Val Gardena / Selva Ski Area Overview
Selva, Santa Cristina and Ortisei
Val Gardena’s three ski resorts – Selva, Santa Cristina and Ortisei – each have separate sectors, and some of the sectors are shared between more than one resort.
At the foot of Dantercepies (Selva) are lots of drag lifts and blue runs, which are used as nursery slopes by beginners. Higher up, the Dantercepies slopes are more typical of Val Gardena: steepish red runs twisting through trees. Two of the runs – La Ria and Cir are graded black – but they are only a little steeper than the surrounding reds. Cir is one of Val Gardena’s ‘Legendary 8’ slopes, as it has wonderful views and ends near the steep cliffs that guard the entrance to the Vallunga valley where the cross-country ski circuit is. These and all the runs heading back to Selva are west facing so at their best in the afternoon. On the far side of the Dantercepies ridge are an east-facing red and blue run: both have quite a steep start but become much gentler as they leave Val Gardena heading over the Passo Gardena into Alta Badias on the Sella Ronda clockwise orange route to Colfosco.
With mostly south-east facing runs for all standards, the Plan de Gralba, Piz Seteur and Piz Sella (Selva) is often used merely as a conduit to get to Mont de Seura (see below) or the Sella Ronda clockwise green circuit, and is one of the most novice-friendly areas, with a rare concentration of blue runs around the Gran Paradiso and Comici 1 chair lifts. But you don’t have to stray too far from this mini ‘sector within a sector’ to find testing red runs and even blacks like Paprika and Sella. The red slope Falk is another of the Legendary 8, because it was the first piste that opened in Val Gardena, and its south-facing orientation and tree-lined sides makes it a great run to ski in poor light.
In Ciampinoi (Selva and S. Cristina) there are no blue runs on north-facing Ciampinoi, just reds and blacks, so this is no area for novices or less confident skiers. Both of its black runs are Legendary 8 slopes. Saslong heads down to Santa Cristina and is perhaps the most famous run in the valley because it is the course for the annual Val Gardena World Cup downhill race each year. By black run standards it’s actually quite mild if you take it at normal speed but there are a few tricky patches. Ciampinoi No 3 shares the same start as Saslong then veers off through the trees heading straight down to Selva.
At an altitude of 1667m, Monte Pana is home to San Cristina’s nursery slopes and its Nordic ski area, both of which are excellent. It also serves as a gateway to Mont de Seura and a departure point for a bus that goes to Seiser Alm/Alp di Siusi.
A small, north-facing, ski sector squeezed between Monte Pana and Sassolungo’s towering cliffs, Mont de Seura (S. Cristina) only has 3 runs – Alpha (black), Bravo (red) and Charly (red). What it lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality. Bravo is another Legendary 8 slope because of its lovely views and dramatic setting. Alpha is slightly steeper, and Charly is the longest of the three, and provides the vital connection to the bottom of the Saslong slope above Santa Cristina.
Col Raiser and Seceda are on the north side of S Cristina and Ortisei so are south-facing and often sunny. The base lift station in Santa Cristina is at Plan da Tieja and is connected by an underground funicular railway to the Saslong gondola so there is no need to walk through the village if coming from Ciampinoi. In Ortisei, you have to walk across the town – a 15 minute trudge in ski boots. Seceda (2518m) and its minor summit at Col Raiser (2105m) do not have many pistes but they tend to be long and beautiful. Longia, the red run down to Ortisei, is the most famous as it’s 10km long and includes a stretch through a narrow canyon in the woods. Gardenissima, the descent down to Santa Cristina (partly red, partly blue) is ‘only’ 6km long. Both are quite rightly members of Val Gardena’s Legendary 8 slopes. And both have very good mountain restaurants lining the runs.
From the south side of Ortisei a big gondola takes skiers into the Alpe di Siusi (Seiser Alm), a group of high meadows arranged in a huge bowl. It’s perfect for easy family skiing (there are several ski-in, ski-out hotels set high on the slopes) and frequently deserted. The pleasure lies in the stunning views and happy cruising. There are lifts to all points of the compass, and the area is criss-crossed with red and blue runs, though in truth there’s very little an early intermediate would be troubled by, except La Pilat, a relatively new red slope created in 2022, which is the long, twisty and sometimes narrow descent down from the bowl to Ortisei which has steep sections, so less confident skiers should come down in the gondola. The area can also be accessed by by ski bus from Santa Cristina via Monte Pana.
La Sella Ronda
This intermediate circuit encircling the Sella massif, connects Val Gardena with Val di Fassa, Alta Badia and Arabba.
It can be followed in a clockwise (orange signs) or anti-clockwise (green signs) direction. Clockwise is normally quicker and has more interesting terrain for good skiers, although most of the runs are short blue pistes or easy-cruising reds. The green clockwise route is easier but you still have to be able to ski a red run, so beginners and nervous novices should not attempt the circuit in either direction.
A determined, experienced skier can get around the circuit in under three and a half hours if they rush around it and don’t experience any lift queues. But there is not much fun in doing that and there are likely to be some lift queues (the slopes on the circuit are noticeably more crowded than the slopes off it) so it’s best to allow a full day, which also allows time for lunch, and there are a lot of good mountain restaurants on or near the circuit, as well as those in the resorts it passes through.
If something goes wrong, you can probably get a taxi home from one of the other ski areas as there’s a road that also goes around the massif, but there is no bus service. And if lifts suddenly have to close because of a fierce blizzard, the road may also be unsafe, so keep an eye on the noticeboards at the major lift stations which warn of potential problems.
Opinions divide on whether going around the full circuit, let alone doing it twice so you can experience both the clockwise and anticlockwise routes, is worthwhile. Critics point out that most of your time is actually spent on lifts and many of the pistes are not particularly exciting and sometimes crowded. Supporters say they like the ever-changing but always beautiful mountain scenery as you circle the Sella massif, and the sense of achievement from going so far on skis in a single day.
Regardless of your views on skiing the actual circuit, the Sella Ronda undeniably opens up a lot of skiing and provides some contrasting experiences to Val Gardena. Blue run enthusiasts, who are not particularly well served in Val Gardena, will welcome the chance to ski into Alta Badia which is blue run heaven. Black run fans, if they leave early and ski fast, can reach Arabba with enough time to explore the black runs on Porta Vescovo or the long red run that tumbles down the 3200m Marmolada glacier which has a vertical drop of more than 1500m.
Beginner Skiing in Val Gardena / Selva
Selva, Santa Cristina and Ortisei all have good nursery slopes, but there are not many blue runs for novices to move onto except at Alpe di Siusi above Ortisei at the bottom of the valley, and between Piz Seteur and Piz Sella above Plan de Gralba at the very top of the valley.
Extensive nursery slopes in Selva (Wolkenstein) are centered around the Nives lift on the north-eastern edge of town, near the bottom of Dantercepies. Once beginners are ready to move on, the best place to go to are the blue runs between Piz Seteur and Piz Sella above Plan de Gralba. After this, if they want a change of scene they should go by bus to Alpe de Siusi above Ortisei – see below.
Santa Cristina (St Christina) has one nursery slope near the top of the resort close to Plan da Tieja. The main nursery slopes however are at Monte Pana on the other side of the valley. This is an excellent nursery area with several slopes of different length and gradient, but you do need to get to it, either by bus or by riding the chairlift at the south-western edge of the resort, and there is no easy run back to the resort, so beginners have to return by bus. Once beginners have graduated from the nursery slopes, there are very few blue runs near Santa Cristina so they should go by bus to Alpe di Siusi above Ortisei which is much more beginner-friendly.
Ortisei (St Ulrich) has the best skiing for beginners in Val Gardena. In good snow conditions the nursery slopes on the southern edge of town are excellent, but in warm conditions these will get slushy as they are very low (1236m) and might even be closed. However there are plenty of gentle blue runs on Alpe de Siusi (Seiser Alm). This whole area has very few steep slopes so is a perfect area for novices to improve, tackling first the blue slopes then the reds which are only slightly harder. And once they have done 3 or 4 red runs on Alpe di Siusi they will be ready for La Longia, the beautiful 10km long red slope that comes down from Seceda on the other side of Ortisei. Allow plenty of time because it is a very long run and make full use of the mountain restaurants along its side to take breaks in.
Ski Schools & Ski Lessons in Val Gardena
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Intermediate Skiing in Val Gardena / Selva
Val Gardena has excellent red runs which twist and turn through woods, so they are fun to ski even in poor visibility. And the Sella Ronda is one of the world’s largest ski areas with 500km of piste, and almost all of it is intermediate-friendly blue and red runs.
It’s the bigger skiing picture – great mountain huts with excellent food and on-mountain après-ski, stunning views, and charming villages at the end of the day – as well as extensive and well groomed slopes with great snow-making that make Val Gardena and the wider Sella Ronda area special. And it’s not short of mileage either. In fact there’s really nothing that the region lacks for intermediate skiers: it’s all good, with few no-go areas. None of the major routes are broken by tricky sections requiring advanced skiing skills and in a place where you’ll want to explore far and wide it’s comforting to know that all corners of the region will be within your capability.
La Sella Ronda
The 26km Sella Ronda circuit is great for intermediates with very few tough slopes as you circumnavigate the large collection of mountains known as the Sella Group. It’s not the kind of adventure you should lose sleep over: there are signposts at every junction, colour-coded according to your direction (orange for clockwise and green for anti clockwise). The whole circuit is within reach of most intermediates, but if in doubt of your ability (you must be able to ski red runs) then choose the green anti-clockwise circuit as it’s slightly easier. The main challenge is the sheer distance. Once you approach Arabba, you’re only half way around and there are no shortcuts, so start early and keep the inevitable pit-stops brief to ensure you make the last lift home.
Selva is surrounded by red runs that are accurately graded because they will occasionally test intermediates but seldom scare them. Its pistes are usually lined by trees which makes them easier to ski in poor visibility, and they are immaculately groomed every night, so big moguls are virtually unknown. There are plenty of snow cannons which guarantee good snow cover unless the weather has been unseasonably warm or you come here in late Spring. Most of the runs are north-facing too which helps the snow, although Dantercepies is west-facing so is best skied in the afternoon, whilst the runs around Plan de Gralba, such as Falk (one of the ‘Legendary 8’ highlights) are south-east facing and are best skied in the morning, or when its so overcast that any glimmer of light is appreciated. Confident intermediates should also try some of the black runs like Cir and Paprika which are steeper but not by much.
Ciampinoi and Mont de Seura
Ciampinoi and Mont de Seura’s star attraction and Val Gardena’s most famous ski slope is Saslong, where the World Cup Downhill race is held every year, and graded black. but if taken at normal speed, with care taken over its trickier sections, it’s within reach of most confident intermediates. Before trying Saslong however, intermediates should tackle Bravo on Mont Seura, which is a red run and a fellow member of the ‘Legendary 8’. If you can ski not only Bravo but also Charly (red) and Alpha (black – but not a very steep one) which are all close together, you are ready for Saslong.
Though the base stations to north and south of Santa Cristina are now linked by underground train, the Col Raiser and Seceda area still feels miles apart from the rest of the valley, with distant views to the Gruppo Sella and across to Sassolungo. The skiing is wide open up top, with a wonderful rolling meandering descent before you meet the woods. You can ski all the way back to Santa Cristina on Gardenissima – a red run that is one of the Legendary 8. Then head back up to Seceda to ski La Longia, the 10km long red run that takes you to Ortisei, and another one of the Legendary 8. There are no bail-out options as it twists and turns through forests and canyons, but it’s not very steep, and the views are amazing. There are also lots of good mountain restaurants along its path.
As good for intermediates as for beginners, there’s a lot of skiing in Ortisei and Alpe di Siusi (Seiser Alm) and a fabulous sense of moving through the landscape. Though the vertical is limited to around 500m unless you include Pilat (see below), it feels like much more, with several sustained runs taking in a mix of open, wide piste and broad swathes through forested hillsides.
Pilat, the twisty red slope that comes down from Alpe di Siusi back into Otisei, is another Legendary 8 slope and a fantastic run for confident intermediates. Large parts of it could be graded blue but there are steep narrow sections too, so treat it with respect, and try to concentrate on the run rather than the wonderful views (not easy).
Advanced & Expert Skiing in Val Gardena / Selva
There’s no disguising the intermediate nature of Val Gardena’s and Sella Ronda’s piste skiing. There are a few challenges on piste, so advanced skiers have to search for them. Similarly there are even fewer off-piste descents and you will need a guide to locate them and get you down them safely..
The Ciampinoi/Saslong area between Selva and Santa Cristina has the toughest on piste skiing, including the men’s downhill run ‘Saslong’ with its famous camel humps which gives 800 vertical metres of descent down to Santa Cristina. Even as it snakes down through the woods, Saslong is quite wide, and the inside track is usually the steepest, so there are certainly challenges if you look for them.
Ciampinoi No 3 shares the same mild start as Saslong, but then veers off towards Selva, and is just as steep if not steeper than the world cup downhill course. Like Saslong it’s also north-facing so snow quality is usually excellent. Cir and La Ria on Dantercepies are mostly west-facing so the snow quality is rarely so good. They are less steep but still good fun. Paprika and Sella above Plan de Gralba have interesting patches, as does Alpha on Mont de Seura which is used by teams training for Grand Slalom races.
Conventional wisdom says don’t bother going anywhere near the Alpe di Siusi, except to rendezvous with a group of beginner friends for lunch. But it’s a special place with a sense of skiing the way it used to be, and from the top of the Punta d’Oro (Goldknopf) lift there’s an excellent auto-timed speed-ski track on which to test yourself: anything under 90kph and you need to wax your skis better, eat a bigger breakfast and try a bit harder.
Though the main Sella Ronda route is easy, you really must ski it if you come to the area, and several tougher diversions are worthwhile: the black and red runs at Porta Vescovo above Arabba are the main highlight and there is good ‘between the piste’ skiing here; visit the Refugio Vallon above Corvara, set in a natural amphitheatre of rock, with a black run to return to the circuit; the main lift above Colfosco, and on to Forcelles; Piz la Ila, beneath the gondola down to La Villa – this one takes you off the circuit by several lifts but gives a long, consistently steep. north-facing descent through the trees.
Off-Piste Skiing & Freeriding in Val Gardena / Selva
There is very little accessible off-piste without a guide and several classic itineraries that you can do with one; some of these require climbing.
Val Mezdi (Passo Pordoi) is the most famous. Basically you ski across the Gruppo del Sella, strating at Saas Pordoi above Canazei and ending up in Colfosco. Requires quite a lot of climbing. Val Lasties (Passo Pordoi) again from Saas Pordoi but this time you end up at Lupo Bianco. Forcella Pordoi (Passo Pordoi) is another and goes via the Forcella refuge.
Val Mezdi (Passo Pordoi) is the most famous. Basically you ski across the Gruppo del Sella, strating at Saas Pordoi above Canazei and ending up in Colfosco. Requires quite a lot of climbing. Val Lasties again starting from Saas Pordoi but this time you end up at Lupo Bianco. Forcella Pordoi (Passo Pordoi) is another and goes via the Forcella refuge.
The famous Val Mezdi off-piste itinerary cuts through the centre of the Gruppo Sella, beginning from the airy Sass Pordoi cable car station (2950m) in Val di Fassa, which is about an hour away from Selva and easy to reach using the Sella Ronda green anti-clockwise route. From the cable car station you head north, first skating, then climbing on foot and traversing to reach the (closed in winter) Boe hut (2873m) and the entrance to the Val Mezdi (‘midday valley’, so-called because that’s the only time the sun reaches into it).
The lack of sun combined with the Val Mezdi’s steep north facing aspect mean that snow conditions are usually good in this huge, vertical-sided rocky canyon. Once you’re through the narrow entry point, it’s wide enough for there to be multiple routes down and a chance to find fresh snow long after the last fall. The classic Val Mezdi finishes in Alta Badia near Colfosco. Other more serious descents are also possible from the same starting point, with the great advantage of solitude and a sense of the wildness of this massif, high above the neatly organised villages that lie in the valleys below.
There is off-piste too on Marmolada Glacier near Arabba, but only if you have a guide because there are plenty of crevasses. The only problem is that it’s reached via Arabba,which is a long way from Selva. Only feasible for good skiers with a very early start and minimal pit-stops along the way.
Boarding & Freestyle in Val Gardena / Selva
There’s good provision in Val Gardena for boarders and freestylers wanting park action rather than piste mileage.
Boarders will find the flatter linking sections on the Sella Ronda are slow going, and though there are enough boarder-friendly lifts to allow you to avoid the drag lifts, you should head for the park if that’s your thing. There’s Boarder Cross at Passo Sella (off Grohmann-Cavazes chairlift) and at Comici/Piz Sella; a natural Half Pipe from the Sotsaslong skilift; a Half Pipe on Alpe di Siusi (Laurin chairlift); and a Fun Park for children on Alpe di Siusi (Euro chairlift).
Mountain Restaurants in Val Gardena / Selva
The abundance of mountain restaurants and huts in Val Gardena is matched by the universally high quality of the food and drink including specialities of the region and fine Italian wines.
Despite extensive sun decks for use in good weather, many of the restaurants get very busy at lunchtime, so book or at least turn up either side of the main lunchtime period to be sure of getting a table. This is particularly true for strategically positioned places on the Sella Ronda circuit. Elsewhere, particularly in low season, there should be no problem.
Many of the mountain restaurants on the long list below are charming family-run places that are hard to leave, whether after a coffee, long lunch or après-ski drink. Fortunately some of them also provide cosy rooms so you don’t have to go at the end of the day; they’re ideal for groups making tours of the area without a fixed base.
Best Mountain Restaurants in Val Gardena / Selva
Here’s our pick of five of the best mountain restaurants in Val Gardena:
Located near the top of La Longia on Seceda above Santa Cristina and Ortisei. Very small with only three tables inside, and a few more on the terrace outside. Italian, Tyrolian and Ladin specialities. Thought to have the best homemade Lasagna in the Alps. Medium price. See: https://www.curona.it/
Rif. Emilio Comici
Located near the top of Piz Sella above Plan de Gralba. High class Italian cooking at its best and famous for its fish dishes. High price. See: https://www.rifugiocomici.com/
Baita Sofie / Sophie’s Hut
Located near the top of Gardenissima on Seceda, above Santa Cristina. Excellent Wine-Cellar and the owner makes makes his own prize winning gin. High Price. See: http://www.seceda.com/
Located in between Ciampinoi No 3 and Saslong (but also accessible from the nearby red run) on Ciampinoi above Selva and Santa Cristina. Famous for its Tyrolean and Ladin specialities. Medium price. see: https://www.saslonch.com/
Located just off Ciampinoi No 6, the red run coming down from Ciampinoi to Plan de Gralba . Authentic South Tyrolean cooking in an atmospheric hut that dates back to 1857 with great views. See: http://www.ciadinat.it/#mountainhut
More good mountain restaurants include:
Selva and Santa Cristina South Side
Vallongia Hut – Tel: +39 0471 794071 / Email: [email protected]
Maria al Sass Pordoi Hut – Tel: +39 0462 601178
Restaurant Piz Sella – Tel: +39 0471 794115 / Email: [email protected]
Restaurant – Hut Dantercëpies – Tel: +39 0471 795222
Federico Augusto Hut – Tel: +39 0462 764919
Baita Gran Paradiso – Tel: +39 0471 795248
Self Service Restaurant Ciampinoi – Tel: +39 0471 792104
F.Cavazza Pisciadu Hut – Tel: +39 0471 836292
Refuge – Hut Panorama – Tel: +39 0471 795372
Salei Hut – Tel: +39 0462 602300 / Email: [email protected]
Piz Setëur Hut – Tel: +39 335 6139112 / Email: [email protected]
Restaurant – Refuge Passo Sella – Tel: 0471 795136 / Email: [email protected]
Rasciesa/Seceda (Santa Cristina North Side and Orisei North Side)
Restaurant – Refuge Col Raiser – Tel: +39 0471 796302 / Email: [email protected]
Nëidia Hut – Tel: +39 0471 793346
Restaurant – Pizzeria Seceda (top station) – Tel: +39 335 1255501
Sangon Hut – Tel: +39 339 5737568
Restaurant – Hut Rasciesa – Tel: +39 0471 796174 / Email: [email protected]
Odles Hut – Tel: +39 338 2005571 / Email: [email protected]
Sofie Hut – Tel: +39 335 5271240 / Email: [email protected]
Refuge – Hut Trojer – Tel: +39 339 8212373
Daniel Hut – Tel: +39 335 6482660 / Email: [email protected]
Mastle Hut – Tel: +39 339 8313483 / Email: [email protected]
Cuca Hut – Tel: +39 335 8060345 / Email: [email protected]
Alpe di Siusi / Seiser Alm (Ortisei south side)
Zallinger Hut – Tel: +39 0471 727947
Restaurant – Baita Mont Seuc (top station) – Tel: +39 0471 727881 / Email: [email protected]
Sanon Hut – Tel: +39 0471 727002 / Email: [email protected]
Arnika Hut – Tel: +39 0471 727812
Saltria Hut – Tel: +39 0471 727966
Williams Hut – Tel: +39 0471 727899
Schgaguler Hut – Tel: +39 0471 727005
Tirler Hut – Tel: +39 0471 727927
Contriner Hut – Tel: +39 339 5223054
Molignon Hut – Tel: +39 0471 727912