January 2022 saw my return to International travel
I was lucky enough to be invited along on a group trip to Livigno Italy, this would be my first foreign travel since Japan in 2020 due to the pandemic and subsequent global lockdown.
Thankfully the organisation was out of my hands and I was along for the ride, including the arrangement of all tests and paperwork needed for the trip.
Travel would be via Innsbruck, Austria, through Switzerland and then into Italy itself.
In the lead up to the trip, I’d made a point of not thinking about it. If it happened, it happened…
Things were improving across Europe, then Omicron hit and various countries went into tougher lockdowns. This included Austria. As it happened though, the trip was on and after an appointment in the East End of Glasgow for a ‘Fit to Fly’ PCR test, we set off on the drive to Bristol where we would join the rest of our group.
The journey went incredibly smoothly, and despite the long transfer from the airport to Livigno, we arrived in good spirits at the Montivas Lodge Hotel. It was a modern hotel with direct access to the slopes behind.
Having given the weather the side-eye during the lead-up to the holiday, I was aware there had been no fresh snow in weeks. However, low temperatures and careful snow management meant we were not left for wanting. All pistes were covered and we were excited to get going.
Due to Covid regulations, every morning during breakfast we would have to confirm our vaccination status with the resort app in order to activate our lift passes for that day.
This provided us with some amusement every day as it refused to acknowledge the Scottish Vaccine certificate. Thankfully it would work when we used it at the lift.
The layout of the resort is simple, running the length of a valley from North to South. Our hotel sat at the foot of San Rocco Chairlift which led us straight to the Carosello 3000 gondola. This opens up the whole of the east facing side of the valley which got the earliest rays of sunshine. The West facing rage on the other side is reached by a short bus journey and was perfect for catching the afternoon sunshine.
The San Rocco chairlift is directly behind the Montivas Lodge, giving rapid access to the Carosello 300 gondola, which in turn gives direct access to that side of the resort.
The angles of the majority of pistes are perfectly angled reds, ideal for cruising runs, with a few twisty turny bits towards the foot of the mountains where they run out into blue beginner slopes.
With only a couple of flat runs at the top, most of it is ideal for snowboarders.
The lack of fresh snow meant we were restricted to the groomed runs, but the potential for free-ride and off-piste opportunities was all too apparent, the terrain between the pistes was begging to be shredded on a future visit whenever it gets covered in fresh powder.
I did manage a couple of slashes in some wind-blown snow at the sides after a windy spell, but for the majority of my stay it would be carved turns on piste.
Some care had to be taken late in the afternoon when the sun had left and the convex runs were left polished, especially where snow canon had laid down their slick covering. I swapped out boards half way through the week and had to file a few edges back to full sharpness.
From my snowboard hoard, I had brought my Gnu HyperKyarve in case there was powder, but it turned out just as capable for hard-pack, with its pronounced magna-traction. The cambered areas under each foot gave enough response and the reverse camber in the centre which I didn’t think would work as well, allowed for great turns.
Our hotel, located toward the south of the resort was a bus ride away from the main drag and shopping streets, but it wasn’t short of some great eating opportunities. I had some of the best pasta I’ve ever eaten in the more traditional restaurants like La Piöda and really tasty food in more contemporary eateries like Marco’s Cafe Pub. During the day was no different and we were never short of good food at lunch time either. A favourite was the Baita Berghutte, which caught the sun at the northern end of the resort, not far from some gladed tree runs. So much for an active holiday reducing the waistline!
Ironically, our return trip would be hampered by the first heavy snowfall in weeks. After airport security, we were informed our plane couldn’t land at Innsbruck and instead we’d have to fly from Memmingen Airport near Munich instead! Needless to say after spending so much time in the Petri dish of travellers for so long, we inevitably got ‘pinged’ by the track and trace on our return. Luckily we tested negative, as shown by the PCR tests we had to do on our return.
It was good to get back to the Alps and despite some restrictions, it seems to be getting back to normal.
Thanks also must go to friends that make the holiday happen and make for great company on trips like this.