Val Setus - A Classic Dolomites Couloir

Alta Badia

Dolomites

Trentino-Alto Adige

Canazei-Belvedere

A Stunning Journey Across the Sella Massif Followed By An Aesthetic Steep Descent

Also in Trento, Italy

Ski Touring Severe

Distance
7.7 km
Ascent
425 m
Descent
1.4 km
Duration
2-3 hrs
Low Point
2 km
High Point
3 km
Gradient
49˚
VIEW ON MAP
Val Setus - A Classic Dolomites Couloir Map

Description

A traverse of the iconic Sella Massif followed by a jaw dropping Dolomites couloir - the Val Setus is a truly unforgettable itinerary, widely considered to be among the most beautiful in the region.

Ideally suited to experienced backcountry skiers and snowboarders capable of skiing 40 degree gradients in a variety of snow conditions, the Val Setus offers serious bang-for-your-buck if you're into minimal ascent and max vert descent.

The itinerary begins with a cable car ride to the top of the Sass Pordoi at 2,950m. If you have time grab a coffee and soak up the view before skirting around the hillside in an easterly direction. Leave the ascent to the 3,152m Piz Boé on your right and continue in the direction of the Rifuigio Boe located at the Col Turond at 2,873m. The hugely popular and more accessible off-piste itinerary - the Val Mezdi aka the Vallée Blanche of the Dolomites - begins here so after this point you can wave goodbye to the crowds and immerse yourself in this incredible landscape.

Put your skins on and climb gently as you make your way around the edge of the Sella group. You will head in a northerly direction first before the natural curve of the plateau takes you round to the west.

At 2,900m you will see the entrance into the Val Pisciadu. The first turns are steep but after that the angle eases and the valley widens to offer fantastic north east facing skiing in between the Cima Pisciadu on your right (2,985m) and the Sas da Lech on your left (2,936m).

After around 500m of vertical descent heading in the direction of the rifugio, you will ski over the Lake Pisciadu where the angle obviously flattens. At this point it's time to put on the skins again for a short ascent skirting round the mountain in a westerly direction to the top of the Val Setus couloir itself.

NB - Finding the correct route into the couloir is key and demands careful navigation and route finding.

The Val Setus couloir is challenging, steep and narrow in places so snow conditions will be absolutely key. With around 700m of vertigo inducing vertical drop straight down into the ski resort, you don't want to be skiing this in hard icy conditions.

If you're lucky enough to be first in to the couloir or skiing it in soft snow then get ready for a truly memorable descent. As you make your way through this iconic cathedral of rock, the walls of the couloir are right next to you so you really do feel part of the landscape.

Be sure to take the time to appreciate it all as before you know it you'll be at the bottom of the couloir and ducking under the ropes to join the masses on the pistes. Prepare for some admiring glances from tourists and make sure you take a look back up at what you've skied.

From here, use the ski lifts or public transport to return to your original starting point and a well earned beer.

Difficulty

Severe

Steep skiing at 38-45 degrees. This requires very good technique and the risk of falling has serious consequences.

Medium Exposure (E2)

2 out of 4

As well as the slope itself, there are some obstacles (such as rock outcrops) which could aggravate injury.

Remoteness

2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

January, February, March

Features

  • Couloir
  • Single Descent

Equipment required

  • Skins

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area