Monday, 21 March 2011
Dolomites, Skis, Snow & Polartec Neoshell
Three evenings, two days and most of a morning in the Passo San Pellegrino ski resort in the Dolomites were sandwiched between days spent on trains, coaches and planes, which made for a somewhat hectic and slightly unreal experience with too little sleep and a surfeit of good conversation, rich food and snow. In the midst of this came the launch of Polartec's first waterproof fabric, Neoshell, garments made from which I and others tried out on the ski slopes and, in my case, for a steep wander up untracked snow in the forest on snowshoes. A full report on Neoshell - what it is, what it's supposed to do, what I think - will appear in the June issue of TGO. Suffice to say for now that after trying two jackets and a pair of trousers in different weights of Neoshell I am tentatively quite impressed.
This part of the Dolomites - an area I had never visited before - is a vast web of interlinked ski resorts boasting 1200 kilometres of pistes. Above the tangle of lifts and runs rise the big limestone rock peaks, dramatic mountains inviting closer involvement though there was no time on this trip for more than standing and staring. A day's piste skiing was enough for me. After that I felt a great desire to escape the confines of lifts, snow fences, manicured snow and equipment that would only let me go in one direction - down. Borrowing some snow shoes (FTX - an Italian make that someone should import into the UK as they were excellent) I escaped for a few hours and broke my own trail through deep, heavy snow in quiet conifer forest to the base of some little crags covered with thick curls of snow. The climbing was sweaty and arduous and going back down not much easier. Movement was slow and I didn't make much distance. Yet it was still far more satisfying than sliding fast down a piste. (And a better test for the breathable qualities of Neoshell).