Ulten Valley: Hidden gem in South Tyrol
The Ulten Valley (or Val d’Ultimo) is a 40 km long valley in Southern Tyrol and the Ortler Alps, not far from Meran and is maybe one of the most unspoiled valleys in this part of the Alps. When we were invited to spend one weekend skiing and skitouring here in March 2017, we didn’t say no – and what we found here were a lot of love and passion for their valley in the people, calm but not boring slopes and high mountains. 🙂
The Ulten Valley is not the destination you think about when it comes to prime skiing resorts in Southern Tyrol. Nevertheless, it has a beautiful ski area which goes up to almost 2700 meters and many options for skitouring in winter and for hiking in summer. With its mere 5000 inhabitants, the valley is cozy, familiar and perfect to “get away from all the trouble”.
Starting point for our weekend was the newly renovated mountain lodge Hotel Rainer in Santa Valburga right in the middle of the valley. With a rooftop sauna and a cosy atmosphere and stylish ambiente, this is the perfect origin for all activities in the valley.
Skitour to Schöngrubspitze
On our first day we undertake a skitour to the 2459 meter high Schöngrubspitze. As part of the Ilmenkamm, this mountain is in general not really steep, but not really flat as well 😉 – and as it was almost five weeks ago since we stood on skis for the last time (and in total just began to ski about three months ago…), it was another challenge for us.
The weather conditions are good on that day, almost no wind and comfortable temperatures, but the snow was already some days old and icy and hard in the morning. Thankfully we are accompanied by two very experienced indigenious mountaineers from Ulten Valley, the high-altitude mountaineer and K2-conqueror Klaus Gruber and his partner from the mountain rescue team Konrad Gruber. For the first hour we make our way through more flat terrain approaching the mountain right in our sight. As the face gets steeper, we put crampons on our skis for the first time and Klaus and Konrad teach us how to walk with them properly and optimize our kick turns. 🙂
The last part of the ascent is along a more or less narrow ridge, before we reach the summit weather cross on top of the mountain.
The view from the summit of Schöngrub, or “Belamonte” as it called in Ulten, is amazing and goes all over the Ortler Alps and Dolomites!
As the wind picks up, we only have a short break before skiing back down to the valley. The downhill is very exposed and not easy in the first part, but further down the snow gets softer and the face wider – allover the perfect skitouring mountain. 🙂
Piste skiing in Schwemmalm ski resort
The second day we have a looong sleep. Obviously quite tired from the skitour yesterday, we spend a day in the ski area in Ulten Valley: Schwemmalm. The Schwemmalm region is a small but rather lovely skiing resort with 25 piste kilometers and a laid-back atmosphere. It’s really warm on that day and there is almost no more real snow, but the slopes are in perfect conditions. We spend hours cruising around the Mutegg, the mountain that houses the resort, and try to improve our skiing skills. 🙂
We have a great lunch at the so-called “Schwemmalm”, the name of the hut in the area and enjoy the view over the surrounding mountains. Although itis way to warm for March and we ski in sweater and vest, we really enjoy good snow under our feet again. 🙂
The Ulten Valley had much more to show than we expected in the beginning: A great scenery with a lovely hospitality and may outdoor options. Thank you Ulten, it was nice to meet you and maybe we’ll be back one day! 🙂