The Hidden Valley


The cable car doors opened and a throng of skiers marched confidently off into the thick grey cloud, disappearing from sight in seconds. Instant panic set in, thoughts swirling, drumming an increasingly loud rhythm in my head, crescendoing rapidly to a deafening thud.

I tentatively followed the disappearing line of skiers sure that I had over faced myself. Deep breath and I was off, instantly panicking, falling over and sliding down the hillside. Great. Maybe I could slide down on my derriere all the way. Telling myself not to be stupid I stood up and set off again ready to enjoy it for the adventure it was.

We were skiing the Hidden Valley in the Dolomites. Sold as one of the best ski runs in the world, at the top of the highest unsupported cable car in Europe, with the added advantage of only being accessible with transport at each end and a narrow windy mountain road to get there means that it is not accessed by huge numbers of people.

Feeling more confident I began to enjoy skiing despite still only being able to see five metres in front, when suddenly the run doubled back on itself and I nearly went over a rocky outcrop into the mist below.

Five more long minutes of intense concentration, then slowly the cloud began to thin, first revealing a wide ski run, then the valley ahead. Looking down a winding gorge, a step sided white vista, the only sound the skiís cutting through the snow. Behind us, the top of the valley still wearing its shroud of black.

A few more turns revealed a frozen waterfall, high and wide with turquoise blue ribbons running through its glistening icy stalactites. Suddenly a shaft of sunlight, breaking through, hitting the mountain tops and highlighting the rose quartzite jagged summits.

The run went steeply down from the waterfall allowing a moment of pure blissful speed and a triumphant glide down a gentle drag to an unusual finish to the peaceful run. Two horses harnessed to a length of rope awaited, for skiers to hold on to and be pulled along the flat finish to the village.

It was a wobbly ending with an abrupt stop, colliding and knocking over the group of skiers. Lying on the floor in a pile of bodies looking up at the mountain vista, and the pure white snow, droplets falling from the trees, sudden infectious laughter struck.

I had skied this magnificent secret valley and it was a fabulous feeling.

S Nolan

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