here are few ski slopes that offer you a true feel of isolation, wilderness and solitude.
The Dolomites Hidden Valley is one.
Like most skiers, I first experienced the Hidden Valley on a day trip. We were based in Selva Gardena, so it was a very early start. Today, I experience this wonderful slope as fresh tracks on our Dolomites Ski Safari. Two very different experiences.
The Dolomites Hidden Valley is a World Class Ski Run. But it is only after a few hundred meters that The Hidden Valley reveals it's full character.
The Drop In
The drop-in from the top of the Lagazuoi mountain at 2,752m, adjacent to the famous Rifugio, is straight forward.
The slope is steeper at the top but is very wide.
After around 120m, make sure that you keep to the left hand side of the slope. It is here that the piste divides. Make sure that you keep left.
After 75m beyond the divide, there is a shelf which forms a natural gathering point. You can pause here to ensure that you have all of your group and that no one has turned right at the junction!
From here, drop in and use the pace from the ledge as you follow the piste around the corner to the left. There is a severe dip just around the corner. Failure to carry the rise on the other side of the dip and just beyond results in some pushing!
Welcome to the Dolomites, Hidden Valley.
It is here that you arrive at the Hidden valley proper.
The gentle rolling undulations and the gradually narrowing piste, allow you the time to throw your gaze east (right) to the towering walls of the valley. You are gazing at the famous Tofana mountain - main photo - the principal ski mountain of Cortina d'Ampezzo.
Silence & Ambience
It is here that, on the Inspired ITALY Dolomites Ski Safari, we encourage our guests to pause and take in the silence and ambience.
There are few places in the world accessible to many, where true silence can be heard. At 9.10am, we’re first tracks and the silence is truly deafening.
Whatever time you ski through here, do take a moment to pause and take in the magic of this wonderful place.
Ski steadily along the narrowing piste as the undulations are quite large. Be sure to look well ahead and gauge your speed. After a few kilometres, the piste turns quiet suddenly and drops to the right.
Face to Face with The Hidden Valley Wall
After a few hundred metres, stop just before the tree in the middle of the slope and you come face to face with the valley wall.
You are confronted with the enormity of your surroundings, cranking your neck back and side to side, gaze at the high Dolomite wall. This is effectively the back of the Tofana mountain in Cortina d’Ampezzo.
Scan the rocky sky line and search for the Head of the Phoenix. A rock seemingly precariously balanced on a point. You will know it when you see it!
Blue Ice Walls
Keep a watch for the ice walls on the right as the slope turns sharp left and then look for the chapel, a little way back from the piste on the right.
Keep a little extra speed here to carry the flat towards Rifugio Scottoni.
The only building in the Hidden Valley is The Scottoni Rifugio and restaurant.
Take a moment here. Stop. Turn back to look at the valley and amaze at the light, the colour and from where you just came.
If you're coming for lunch, we recommend early or late. The Italians tend to head for lunch at 1pm. The Scottoni Rifugio and restaurant is one of the most popular destinations in the Dolomites. At high season, be prepared to wait.
The Hidden Valley Frozen Waterfall
A short distance further along the slope is the famous Hidden Valley frozen waterfall. As you leave Scottoni, I recommend that, for the biggest visual impact, ski to the right hand side of the piste and the tree in the centre of the slope.
In fact, this isn't really a frozen ‘water-fall’. This is water that seeps through the rock to be frozen on its passage to the valley floor. The colours, shapes and scale are mesmerising.
The size and scale of the ice varies from season to season. Some years it is truly a sight of mammoth proportions.
The Final Shush
From here, being careful, carry as much speed as you are comfortable with, as, at the bottom of this last main face, the slope flattens for a few hundred metres, finishing with a slight upward gradient. You will end up pushing for a short distance no matter how fast you ski!
Skiing on a Frozen River Bed
The piste gives way to a frozen river bed — all groomed — along which you glide until such time you spy the horse and sleigh tows, the final highlight of this memorable piste.
The Famous Hidden Valley Horse Tow
The horseman lays out a long rope, with carefully tied, hand-sized loops along its length.
They can tow as many as 50 skiers along the final kilometre or so towards Amentarola and your return to Alta Badia. Last season they charged €2.50 per person.
Dolomites Best Slopes: The Hidden Valley
The Dolomites Hidden Valley is one of the best ski slopes in the Dolomites Ski area. It is a world class ski experience and is featured as part of the Inspired ITALY Classic, Venture and Special Dolomites Ski Safari itineraries.
How to get to the Hidden Valley
From Alta Badia - Head to Armentarola.
As you join the final stages of piste 9, adjacent to the drag lift on your right, look straight ahead and keep to the left at the bottom of the slope, skiing around the trees towards the Hotel Armentarola.
When you reach the road, there is a taxi/bus stop and waiting area, usually marshalled by a two men.
Join the queue if there is one. It can be extra ordinarily busy, so do check the waiting time. The taxi/bus cost is €6 per person. If you are a large group, you may need to split up.
The taxi/bus takes around 15min and will drop you a few metres from the lift station.
It goes without saying .. the earlier you arrive, the quieter it is.
Hidden Valley Piste Map
We have created this simple piste map on Google Maps
Eating in the Hidden Valley
★★★★★ Rifugio Lagazuoi - is adjacent to the top lift station. Take the steps to the impressive deck. There is a good menu and the view from here is truly spectacular. They say that you can see Venice on a good day!
★★★★ Rifugio Scotoni - is famous for its in-door BBQ area. This place can be one of the busiest lunchtime stop overs anywhere in the Dolomites! If you really wish to try the BBQ, and we recommend it, get there early, or late. Scotoni is approx 4k/2.5miles along the piste. Its popularity is its downfall which is why we have awarded 4/5 stars.
★★★ Capanna Alpina - is a nice, ordinary style restaurant cafe at the side of the piste. Look out for the dogs on the roof.
Hidden Valley FACTS …
- Official Run Name - 'Armentarola 101'
- Official Grading - Red
- Length Approx - 8k / 5 miles
- Start Altitude - 2,730m / 8,956ft ASL
- Finish Altitude: 1,630m / 5,347ft ASL
- Vertical: 1,100m / 3,608ft
- Our Grading: Easy/Medium
- Best Time of Day: First Lift 9am
NOTES: the Horse & Sleigh Ski Tow is €2.50 per person and typically, first tow of the day is around 9.30am
Skiing the Hidden Valley at anytime is a magical and unique experience. We strongly recommend an early start. The Valley gets very busy at peak times and you can get caught up queues for the taxi for the cable car.
To experience the Hidden Valley at its best, spend the night in a local rifugio and benefit from fresh tracks the next morning and no queue!
The Dolomites Hidden Valley features as part of the following Inspired ITALY Dolomites Ski Safari adventures ...