Once Scandinavian populations used to ascend mountains with rudimentary wooden skis strengthen at the base with sealskin, to generate more grip on snow. After centuries, the only technique that allowed people to move during the snowy periods became now the ski mountaineering.
On the Alps the ski mountaineering started to become popular since the XX century, with the inventions of the first ski lifts: this sports activity has been used also during the World War I by Alpine troops.
Now, even if this sport remained the same, all materials have changed (is often used the carbon fiber and the sealskin has been replaced with synthetic materials), and equipment are now sophisticated tools.
Today, the ski mountaineering is suitable to all. Indeed, there are several snow enthusiasts who prefer to spend their time on unbeaten paths, looking for an ‘extreme’ feeling of freedom.
However, before to undertake this wonderful sport, some recommendation is appropriate. First of all, the training: it is good to learn about it from alpine guides, ski instructors or follow the specific courses of CAI, the Italian Alpine Club (see here a great manual www.cai.it/index.php?id=1375).
To be able to deal with every rub of the mountain, it is important to be fit and trained before to start this sport.
The next step is the choice of the equipment. If you want to start practice ski mountaineering are necessary: appropriate skis with special bindings, to have the ‘free heel’ during the ascent and being able to block it during the descent; boots for ski mountaineering with rubber-sole; the ‘sealskins’, today made with polyester, that have to be attached under the sole of the skis during the ascent; ski poles.
In addition to the basic equipment, every tool that guarantee the complete safety is suggested. Indeed, in some cases, it is not hard to be face to face with an avalanche, for that reason it is possible to buy avalanche probes and appropriate air bags.
All around Italy there are many areas in which to practice ski mountaineering; from the Alps to the Apennines. An important place on the Alps is Alpago, in Veneto: it is a beautiful hollow surrounded by Alpine foothills of Belluno. From the district of Puos d’Alpago start different paths, the most panoramic one goes through Casone Crosetta (1156 m) and brings on Crep Nudo (2207 m.).
Between Alto Adige and Eastern Tirolo there is Val Pusteria, that offers unique itineraries. For example the path that starts from the small town of Moso, bringing until the center of Sexten Dolomites, until arriving to Sasso Sesto (2538 m). It’s a very popular tour and it is perfect to all ski mountaineers.
In Friuli Venezia Giulia, instead, starting from Val Saisera, it is possible to reach the peak of Jof di Somdogna (1889 m) and then continue on the Monte Carnizza’s slopes.
The ski mountaineering can be pleasantly practiced on almost the whole Apennine arch, for example in Calabria, on the Pollino Massif and the Plateau of Sila.
The last advice is to always consult the weather bulletin before starting the trip.