3 Zinnen will continue with its plan to install the Helmjet Sexten 10-seater cable car.

Helmjet Sexten. Drei Zinnen will continue with its plan to install the Helmjet Sexten 10-seater cable car.

3 Zinnen will continue with its plan to install the Helmjet Sexten 10-seater cable car.

3 Zinnen Helmjet Sexten – 3 Zinnen Hotels, where to stay in 3 Zinnen, 3 Zinnen Restaurants,  on-mountain restaurants in 3 Zinnen and where to eat in Sesto and the villages.

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3 Zinnen (Tre Cime) ski resort is going ahead with the plan of replacing its old 40-year-old gondola which connected the village of Sesto/Sexten with the ski mountain of Monte Elmo/Helm, with the new premium 10-seater gondola called Helmjet Sexten.

The new gondola will be a premium upgrade for the 3 Zinnen ski resort in the Dolomites, especially because longer waiting lines in the peak season can now be avoided, due to its capacity to bring around 3.000 people at the top per hour.

Drei Zinnen seen from the Drei Zinnen ski area - photo PXHere.com. Drei Zinnen will continue with its plan to install the Helmjet Sexten 10-seater cable car.
3 Zinnen seen from the Drei Zinnen ski area – photo PXHere.com. Drei Zinnen will continue with its plan to install the Helmjet Sexten 10-seater cable car.

Mark Winkler, CEO of 3 Zinnen Ski Resort Dolomites said:

“Every new lift we build is special to me. But the “HELMJET SEXTEN” is a passion project: we have all been waiting for it for many years. In a way, it is the jewel in the crown of the 3 Zinnen Dolomites sports and mountain destination—the last piece in the jigsaw puzzle of investments we made over the course of the past years. We are giving our main entrance in Sesto a massive upgrade: the state-of-the-art facilities will offer our guests much greater comfort while reducing the rush and waiting times of the old system. Personally, I cannot wait to sit in the new ‘Symphony’ premium gondola for the first time and take in the views of the Sesto Sundial.” 

Completing the puzzle of the resort with Helmjet Sexten.

The Monte Elmo Sesto cable car was first built in February 1981. At the time, it was extremely modern. For nearly forty years, it carried skiers, hikers and families to the top of Monte Elmo daily, until this changed in 2020. This year the dated cable car is replaced by the new detachable premium 10-seater Helmjet Sexten cablecar lift.

Six years ago, the 3 Zinnen Dolomites ski resort (called at the time “Sesto Dolomites”) – consisted only of only 50 km of slopes on two mountains. Today, just over half a decade, the 3 Zinnen AG has turned the area into a little gem of five interconnected mountains and 115 km of slopes, with 31 modern cable cars and chairlifts serving them. On the mountain you find family-run restaurants, ski and bike rental services and the Punka Service Centre, the most advance service facilities in the Alps.

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Comparing the Maps of the Alps.

Comparing the Maps of the Alps.Photo by Alice Donovan Rouse. Unsplash.

Comparing the Maps of the Alps.

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Now that the weather is nicer, maybe it is time to plan your next mountain adventure. You can sit in your garden, enjoying the sunny days we are having (at least in Britain) during this Covid19 epidemic and start taking your time, as a hobby, of thinking where your next road trip will be.

For me, it will always be to a mountain, and it will mostly be by car. Unless I travel to America (both North and South), I prefer, if possible, to take the car as driving to the mountains, is part of the trip.

Comparing the Maps of the Alps. Photo by Daniel Gonzalez. Unsplash.
Comparing the Maps of the Alps. Photo by Daniel Gonzalez. Unsplash.

So, I always like opening some maps and guides and see what I want to do. I just measure with my fingers the driving we’ll do as a family on one day- actually, the driving my husband will do, as for me it is too traumatising to change sides of the road again. I did it once from Argentina to the UK and I still have to think each time I drive, which side of the road I have to get in, and what side of the car I have to mount to! But I am a great co-pilot, and enjoy the planning of the trip, as much as the guiding.

Here is a selection of maps, many of which I have already bought- (you cannot ever have enough maps, right?) I might not spend too much in shoes, but I do like my maps, and some travel guides as well!

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How can we envision ski resorts opening with social distancing for the 2020-21 ski season?

Beaver Mountain. Photo by Indy Pass. How can we envision ski resorts opening with social distancing for the 2020-21 ski season?

How can we envision ski resorts opening with social distancing for the 2020-21 ski season?

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OK, the ski season 19-20 has been cut short, at least we have to count ourselves lucky, as we could ski in December and February as a family, and I even had a cheeky escape in January with some mum friends. We were going to go back in April, but oh well. I feel sorry for those families going only in Easter and having to miss their holiday. But with the crisis and all the people losing loved ones, having to stay at home is not so bad really.

Now, if I start thinking about next season, I don’t have to book lodging, as we have our home in the Valdigne region of the Aosta Valley. But usually by now, I would have booked my Eurotunnel ticket and my hotels on the way up in Chaumont (the Ibis Styles Chaumont Centre Gare), and the Novotel or Holiday Inn in Reims for when we come back….

Visiting the mountains is a good option if you are afraid of too many people on the lifts, there are still lots of activities to do while social distancing.
Visiting the mountains is a good option if you are afraid of too many people on the lifts, there are still lots of activities to do while social distancing. How can we envision ski resorts opening with social distancing for the 2020-21 ski season? Photo by The-Ski-Guru. Monte Grivola seen from Morgex, AO.

So far, I am in no hurry to do anything, we’ll have time. I do have a Eurotunnel reservation for late July and the Ibis Styles in Chaumont also for July, I’ve figured out that the way back could be in a different place needed be; and I don’t know if we in the UK are going to be allowed to be crossing the Channel by then… so it will be wait and see.

How social-distancing would work in ski resorts?

So how would ski resorts open in the winter (and summer, as they are getting ready for that now?) They are talking of a whole lot of new measures to keep their guests and employees safe.

There would be much less overcrowding for sure. And that for me would be a silver lining.

Winter walks are always lovely, and you can have the space to relax in the mountains. How can we envision ski resorts opening with social distancing for the 2020-21 ski season?
Winter walks are always lovely, and you can have the space to relax in the mountains. How can we envision ski resorts opening with social distancing for the 2020-21 ski season?

I am the kind of person that likes skiing with no people around, I think I’ve written this before, and as I have kids in school age, we are stuck to go on holidays when everyone is going on holidays…. I remember growing up in Argentina, we could take some time off for going skiing during August, avoiding the Winter Holidays in July and not being penalised. There you get (at least when I was growing up, many moons ago), 25 days of absenteeism per year. That means, if coming late by one minute in the morning, you got half an absenteeism. If coming late by more than 5 minutes, you missed your day- you could count that everyone was in time – not sure why they don’t set this up in the UK, as I keep on seeing people coming late (including me, even I live across from the school!). Also, if then you take some holidays, that is fine, you count the days off, but, if you get ill and have to be absent and you pass the 25 days, you repeat the year …. No ifs and buts… (a well-known phrase in the UK- that I actually don’t like.)

Mt Baldy in Southern California just reopened the ski season, and they are asking guests to come at different times, and only four people can go up every 10 minutes. They only have chairlifts, so that is easier. The people are asked to go alone, unless they are in a family group.

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UK ski industry operators and agencies have felt a huge impact by Covid-19 but are optimistic than resorts will open next winter.

Les Gets- Images ©Keno_Derleyn_OT_Les_Gets. UK ski industry operators and agencies have felt a huge impact by Covid-19 but are optimistic than resorts will open next winter.

UK ski industry operators and agencies have felt a huge impact by Covid-19 but are optimistic than resorts will open next winter.

A study of UK snowsports industry professionals conducted by Ski Press and Skipedia have revealed the damage that Covid-19 has had on their business and what they believe the future might hold for next year.

Some of the key findings concluded that:

  • 82% of companies suffered reduced sales due to the premature end to the 2019-20 season, with two-thirds experiencing lower than usual sales for winter 2020-21 so far.
  • Almost 1 in 5 have made staff redundant and a quarter are concerned they could go out of business.
  • Although almost all expect ski resorts to open next winter, over 70% expect this to be with social distancing restrictions in place.
Crans-Montana in winter - Photo: @CMTC_luciano_miglionico. UK ski industry operators and agencies have felt a huge impact by Covid-19 but are optimistic than resorts will open next winter.
Crans-Montana in winter – Photo: @CMTC_luciano_miglionico. UK ski industry operators and agencies have felt a huge impact by Covid-19 but are optimistic than resorts will open next winter.

With the 2019-20 season cut short, the pressures on UK ski professionals started during March when all Alpine countries started closing ski resorts following the lockdown in Italy. By the middle of March, Austria, France and Switzerland had closed all of its ski resorts and holidays for the rest of the season were cancelled.

60% of winter sports businesses including tour operators and equipment retailers have now furloughed staff members. 17% of respondents have had to make redundancies too.

Whilst 64% are saying they are experiencing reduced sales for next winter, two-thirds expect that it should be ‘business as usual’ this winter, anticipating that they will be able to offer their normal services.

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The plans for reopening the mountain huts (rifugios) during summer in the Italian Alps in times of COVID19

Club Alpino Italiano- Photo by giorgio Rodano - Rifugio Bonatti with views to the Monte Bianco. The plans for reopening the mountain huts (rifugios) during summer in the Italian Alps in times of COVID19.

The plans for reopening the mountain huts (rifugios) during summer in the Italian Alps in times of COVID19.

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There are plans to start relaxing the lockdown in Italy, starting gradually on different weeks starting on May 4th. Some people are starting to think on how they will vacation on the mountains and the beach. Beach private clubs are thinking on how installing the different tents with social distancing.

Photo by Giorgio Rodano- Rifugio Giogo Lungo- Lekjöchlhütte at 2603 m over the valico Giogo Lungo in the Sudtirol (South Tyrol) province. Club Alpino Italiano. The plans for reopening the mountain huts (rifugios) during summer in the Italian Alps in times of COVID19.
Photo by Giorgio Rodano- Rifugio Giogo Lungo- Lekjöchlhütte at 2603 m over the valico Giogo Lungo in the Sudtirol (South Tyrol) province. Club Alpino Italiano. The plans for reopening the mountain huts (rifugios) during summer in the Italian Alps in times of COVID19.

In the mountains, I’ve read that at first, they were thinking on not opening the rifugios, but today I’ve read on the Corriere della Sera that the Club Alpino Italiano is planning on how to open during COVID19 times.

Summer in the Italian Mountains

The Club Alpino Italiano has 326 facilities in all the country. They are planning in putting Covid kits with oximeters and ozonators to purify the air.

The ozonators are very quick and easy to use and is a product that does not leave odours such as chlorine or alcohol. These are now in phase of production now.

The CAI is thinking of getting everyone to bring their own sleeping bags and light tents, and for big rifugios to allow people to eat in different times, and clean thoroughly between seatings, and clean sanitaries often. They are talking also of providing baskets with dinners to the different tents, so as to avoid people being in cramming conditions indoors.  Shelters with two or four rooms for families could be used for a family group.

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Mt Baldy, first American Ski Resort to open after COVID19, a social experiment?

A skier enjoying the fresh powder at Mt Baldy. Photo by Robson Hatsukami Morgan. Unsplash. Mt Baldy, first American Ski Resort to open after COVID19, a social experiment?

Mt Baldy, first American Ski Resort to open after COVID19, a social experiment?

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I do hope that it works! Mt Baldy has just reopened operations, only for experienced skiers and boarders that have their own equipment. This is not the time to learn how to ski or board, not use the tubing park!

Maximum of four people will be able to check in every 10 minutes and they have to pre-arrange their time to arrival. Only season passes and one day lift tickets will be able to come. Cars need to be parked with three parking slots between them in the parking lot, if not they will be towed. There will not be so many customer relations personnel on ground, but some will be directing the parking. If people arrive prior to their time slot, they’ll need to stay put in their car until their time is due.

A chair lift ride at Mt Baldy. Mt Baldy, first American Ski Resort to open after COVID19, a social experiment?
A chair lift ride at Mt Baldy. Mt Baldy, first American Ski Resort to open after COVID19, a social experiment?

The cafeteria will not be open on the top of the mountain, but some refreshments will be available at the bottom of Lift 3, Thunder Mountain.

The lifts in Mt Baldy are doubles, so they are asking people to ride the chairlifts on their own, and only ride with someone else if is living with you. Toilets will only be available at the base area and on the top of the mountain and being cleaned more than regularly. The resort is asking people to try to do their necessities prior to coming to the mountain. For me not having a toilet would be a problem, but if there are forests around, that would suffice! (at least for number 1!)

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The 2020 International Report on Mountain & Snow Tourism has just been published.

The 2020 International Report on Mountain & Snow Tourism has just been published. Photo by Unsplash.

The 2020 International Report on Mountain & Snow Tourism has just been published.

Overview of key industry figures for ski resorts

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April 2020 –

The 2020 edition of the International Report on Snow and Mountain Tourism has just been unveiled at an online press conference this Wednesday April 22, 2020 by the Swiss expert Laurent Vanat in partnership with the organizers of Mountain Planet, world’s leading trade fair for the mountain development and industry which should have been taken place from April 22 to 24, 2020 in Grenoble / Alpexpo. Based on the winter 2018/19 figures, it presents rejoicing figures in a depressed covid-19 environment.

The 2020 International Report on Mountain & Snow Tourism has just been published. Laurent Vanat.
The 2020 International Report on Mountain & Snow Tourism has just been published. Laurent Vanat.

Highlight – the 2018/19 ski season has been the best ski season of the millennium!

The 2018/19 ski season presented in the 2020 International Report on Snow & Mountain Tourism report is the best of the new millennium as far as global visitation figures are concerned. It is a pleasure to see that despite adverse conditions the ski industry is facing, with climate change, increasing competition and the demographics, it still has the potential to feature globally 3 seasons in a row with growth. In today’s depressed environment further to covid-19 abrupt closure of the 2019/20 season in most of the northern hemispheres’ ski areas, this is heralding of a better tomorrow. It demonstrates the strength of the ski industry notwithstanding the current situation and allows dreaming that the 2020/21 season will enable to return to a high level of attendance at ski resorts all over the world.

Indoor slope in Finland - Photo copyright - Laurent Vanat. The 2020 International Report on Mountain & Snow Tourism has just been published.
Indoor slope in Finland – Photo copyright – Laurent Vanat. The 2020 International Report on Mountain & Snow Tourism has just been published.

During the 2018/19 winter, United States ski areas recovered with excellent snow conditions and performed well above average. The country is back on the top of the podium for the 2018/19 season. Visitation level was the 4th best in the past 41 years. It may also have been boosted by the spread of the mega-passes that the enhanced competition created by the consolidation of the industry is heavily promoting. This trend, together with dynamic pricing, has also now reached Europe. Both are introducing a disruption in the traditional business model of the industry that is still viewed with a touch of scepticism in some places and not yet widely adopted. However, discounted multi-resort seasonal passes seem to have helped for the recovery of attendance at Swiss resorts for instance. Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia are also featuring some interesting examples, which integrate interactive customer relationship management systems.

Continue reading “The 2020 International Report on Mountain & Snow Tourism has just been published.”

The Art of the Mountains

The Art of the Mountains - Chamonix poster with pastels.

With more time at home, I had time to sort my drawings and started thinking on what I will do with them. Some of them  I don’t have anymore, as they were gifts for certain people. I do need to put them in frames, but at certain time I was producing way too many of them- this was when I was going to drawing school once a week, and I have never come to do it, as it was a bit pricey.

Some alpine ibex posing in front of the Matterhorn. pastels.
Some alpine ibex posing in front of the Matterhorn. pastels.

I’ve started drawing ski posters, as I have always loved them, but I found them a bit too expensive as to splash on them. Obviously the ski posters are much prettier than my attempts in doing some drawings copying them. And I start copying them, but as I cannot deal with perspective, with where the things are on the canvas or paper, so I finish adapting the drawing to my advantage….nobody has to see the original next to mine!

Charcoal - skier in St Moritz. Mountain Art.
Charcoal – skier in St Moritz. The Art of the Mountains.

I did a course of different drawing techniques and materials with Simon Willems at the Conservatoire in Blackheath, SE London, UK, and what I’ve realised is that I like the charcoal and pastels the most.

The Art of the Mountains- Pastel of train from Chamonix to Montenvers- Mer de Glace.
The Art of the Mountains- Pastel of train from Chamonix to Montenvers- Mer de Glace.

Even though maybe the oil has the best finishings, I have not done so much with oil, and I find it that it takes too long to wait it to dry and keep on going…. I like to do a drawing possibly in one go and finish it.

St Anton's Valluga. Oil Pastels. The Art of the Mountains.
St Anton’s Valluga. Oil Pastels. The Art of the Mountains.

There are some that took me two or three goes to finish, and that was mostly because I have not liked the outcome and kept on going and adding more colour to see if I could fix them.

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Cortina, an example of resilience in the tourism sector

Cortina d'Ampezzo. Credits: Cortina Marketing. Cortina, an example of resilience in the tourism sector.

Cortina, an example of resilience in the tourism sector

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Cortina’s history as a tourism destination is at least 160 years long. In the 1860s, climbers and explorers like Viennese Paul Grohmann started making the Dolomites, and in particular Cortina d’Ampezzo, famous throughout Europe. The British, Austrian and German nobility and high bourgeoisie began flocking to Cortina for their summer holidays, attracted by the beauty of the landscape, the numerous adventure options and the positive effects of fresh air and a pristine environment on their health.

This first golden age of tourism was not to last forever: when the First World War broke out, Cortina d’Ampezzo found itself on the frontline, and when the peace was signed it was passed from Austria to Italy. Europe was not the same as before, the Belle Époque had gone for good and the tough war years had reshaped the interests and values of a poorer population. Nevertheless, the taste for beauty and adventure did not fade. Tourists gradually returned to Cortina, the Italian high society replacing fallen royal families. The 1930s saw the boom of winter tourism, Cortina’s success was unrivalled, with 52 hotels hosting over 600,000 overnight stays in 1937, and the town was appointed to host the Winter Olympic Games in 1944.

Foto Storiche Video Archivio Storico Giuseppe Ghedina 1898-1986_Manaz Productions. Cortina, an example of resilience in the tourism sector.
Foto Storiche Video Archivio Storico Giuseppe Ghedina 1898-1986_Manaz Productions. Cortina, an example of resilience in the tourism sector.

A few years later, the flourishing tourism economy of Cortina was once again disrupted by war. The town was still able to host the World Ski Championships in 1941, but the 1944 Olympics were cancelled. When the war stopped, the social and economic situation in Europe was catastrophic, and yet tourism in Cortina slowly recovered. In the 1950s, the Italian economic miracle marked the growth of a wealthy middle class, and tourism stopped being an activity only for the ultra-rich. Cortina was fast in reacting, as only two years after the war the destination bid for the 1956 Winter Olympic. This enhanced the phase of renaissance already taking place and gave residents the necessary motivation to keep working and renovating the town. The Games marked Cortina’s definite comeback on the international scene and gave it a special place in the hearts and minds of Italians as a dream mountain destination.

Foto Storiche Video Archivio Storico Giuseppe Ghedina 1898-1986_Manaz Productions. Cortina, an example of resilience in the tourism sector.
Foto Storiche Video Archivio Storico Giuseppe Ghedina 1898-1986_Manaz Productions. Cortina, an example of resilience in the tourism sector.

Ever since, Cortina’s image and tourism sector have reshaped a number of times: from the party town of the 1980s to the place of Italy’s jet-set in the early 2000, to a shift back to sports, nature and wellbeing after the crisis of 2009.

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Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile.

Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile. The boys happy after a great ski day.

Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile.

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This past February, as it is usual now, for our eight year in the row, we left home very early, this time with our pooch, and drove to the Eurotunnel, one hour- and a bit now due to the diversion in the M2/M20, and us trying to find an open petrol station to fill up our car.

Driving off Calais to the mountains. Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile.
Driving off Calais to the mountains. Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile.

We arrived with time to only go to the toilet and we boarded on our way to France. Thirty-five minutes later, we were rolling down the A16 and then A 26, all the way to Reims, and then around Reims and down to Troyes, and changed to A5 towards Chaumont. Just on exit 24 you get off the motorway and, after paying the hefty toll fee, and get into the route nationale 10 to get through a lovely wooded and windy road to Chaumont.

Following our road in the map. Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile.
Following our road in the map. Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile.

We made it in fantastic time to Chaumont, we got in our room at the Ibis Styles Chaumont Centre Gare and after trying to have a nap – an impossible task with the boys wired and running in the room, I went out with my eldest into town…

Arriving into Chaumont through the Route Nationale 10. Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile.
Arriving into Chaumont through the Route Nationale 10. Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile.

Just a nice walk around town, we’ve visited an old chocolate store with long showcase cabinets, which is a pleasure in itself. We got some chocolates, then we went to a fashion shop. My eldest is into fashion now…. getting to be a tweeny! He wanted a brand t-shirt. I don’t know why kids are so much into brands now. I negotiated with him that I was giving the money in exchange of one Amazon voucher he was given as a gift in Christmas and he could buy it.

Around Chaumont with my eldest and Ozzy. Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile.
Around Chaumont with my eldest and Ozzy. Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile.

After going to the local supermarket to have some little something in the room as it was still early, we came back to the hotel room.

At the chocolate shop in Chaumont. Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile.
At the chocolate shop in Chaumont. Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile.

Continue reading “Our half term ski-safari holiday based in the Valdigne of Aosta Valley- Courmayeur, Pila and La Thuile.”