The mountains and cross-country skiing gave me another memorable day! For some time, I had set myself the goal of going and exploring the area dedicated to cross-country skiing in Saint Barthelemy, in the Aosta Valley. On January 6, 2024 I took the test, and I was enchanted.
Cross Country skiing: Saint Barthelemy, Aosta Valley, 6 January 2024
Only last week, on my return from Val Fex, in the Engadine, I wrote that I had done the most beautiful and hardest Nordic ski slope that I had ever tried. Well, on January 6th, skiing in Saint Barthelemy, I had serious doubts..... The Saint Barthelemy area really impressed me with the quality and variety of the slopes, with tracks for all levels, and with the tranquility and beauty of uncontaminated landscapes. This time too, it was a satisfying riot of emotions.
I chose the day by looking at the weather forecast. On January 6, almost all of Northern Italy was under rain or snow, with strong winds on the ridges and border alpine locations. The valley of Nus (the main capital), however, promised sunny spells, due to the effect of the Foehn winds, turbulent at altitude, but not in the snow-covered pastures of the valley. Furthermore, the snowfall the day before would have given even more fairy-tale views.
Getting to Nus is not difficult. Take the A5 motorway and exit at the exit of the same name. Then, follow the signs for Saint Bathélemy. Unfortunately, there are no signs indicating the Nordic ski center, until you get there..... And this is strange, and frankly not very understandable. However, refer to my map below, or set your application for car navigation, in order to get to the Osteria del Passet, near which you have the cross-country skiing center, and the start of the slopes. You can park near the center, or in a car park along the road, a few hundred meters below (Passet picnic area, on Google Maps, but then, you have to cover the missing stretch on foot). If the car park above, at the tracks start, gets full, a shuttle is available, during the morning hours, to pick up skiers from the car park below.
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The snow, due to the recent snowfall, was excellent, never frozen; and so it was also the preparation of the tracks Clearly, the fresh snow tended to accumulate in the center of the track, on the descents along the route, requiring considerable effort to make the snowplough tecnique effective when doing curves. Some steep hairpin bends were really tough, but added adrenaline and fun to the day. The fresh snow, obviously, wasn't particularly fast; or rather, it would have required adequate waxing, which my skating skis didn't have. Lesson learned for future occasions.
Along the routes I met several other fellow skiers, but in relatively small numbers, and in many sections I skied alone, immersed in the silence of nature (I skied in the afternoon from 1pm to 4.30pm).
The valley is also suitable for wonderful snowshoe excursions, on dedicated paths (if beaten, boots and crampons may also be sufficient).
I would say that, from now on, Saint Barthélemy will become a fixed destination in my winter cross-country skiing season. I have appreciated the place so much, that, on 13 january 2024 I have come back here, to explore tracks that reach Alp Pierrey and Praz Crou (read article).
Have fun. Fabio
Here is the video about Saint Barthelemy