Analysing terrain data
The exposure grade does not take into account objective hazards (stone fall, seracs…) but only the consequences of the skier falling.
Low Exposure (E1): Exposure is limited to that of the slope itself. Getting hurt is still likely if the slope is steep and/or the snow is hard.
Medium Exposure (E2): As well as the slope itself, there are some obstacles (such as rock outcrops) which could aggravate injury.
High Exposure (E3): In case of a fall, death is highly likely.
Extreme Exposure (E4): In case of a fall, the skier faces certain death.
Unfortunately, the ‘Forcella Staunies’ chairlift shut down in the summer of 2016, so a great deal more effort is now required to enjoy the popular steep lines of the Cristallo mountain range and this discourages lots of skiers.
This descent really makes the hike worthwhile, but is only recommended for expert skiers that have alpine experience.
The approach follows for a short section of the ‘via ferrata’, so a rope harness and crampons are highly recommended as some sections of the cable could be buried under snow. Take the Son Forca chairlift, then follow the slope to where the old ‘Forcella Staunies’ chairlift was.
From here, skin up the old ski slope to the middle station, then continue further up to the steep wide couloir at the top of Forcella Staunies (allow 1 hour 45 minutes to get here).
After a short break, it's time to gear up and put the skis on your backpack.
You will reach the ‘Lorenzi Hut’ a few minutes away from the Forcella Staunies and then you will need to go further following the signs towards Via Ferrata Marino Bianchi.
This via ferrata follows the ridge of Cristallo di Mezzo; there's a cable for most of the route, but it could be buried under snow.
Follow the first section of via ferrata until you reach a small notch (you may need to abseil a little to get on the notch), where the descent starts on the north side.
The first 100 meters is the hardest part as it is steep, there's a short section where you must weave between large rock bulges that need a good snow cover (slings and pitons for a short abseil may be needed).
At the exit of the couloir keep skiing down on the left (there are usually lots of ski mountaineering tracks, as the itinerary to Passo del Cristallo is very popular) looking out for the entrance to a short steep canyon which will lead you down towards Val Fonda (sometimes you will need to put skis on your backpack).
Ski down the valley keeping to the skier's right (there are usually lots of tracks from ski mountaineers), when it gets narrow you may have to cross the creek once or twice, this depends on the snow coverage.
When the valley evens out, go across a sort of canyon and then follow the cross country ski slope until you reach the Ploner hotel in Carbonin - here you can get a bus ride back to Cortina. Equipment needed: a harness, slings and carabiners, 40m rope, crampons and skins.