Monesi, freeride!

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The weekend. We get a little group together for a day of skiing. An attentive look at the weather forecast: heavy snow is forecast for Sunday and Monday and Tuesday there’s a window of good weather. Where are we going? Somebody suggests Monesi di Triora.

“What, wait, Liguria?”

I would never have thought that in Liguria I could find a place that doesn’t offer anything to be desired compared to other Alpine slopes.

I’ve loved skiing for I don’t know how long, I’ve tried on piste, off piste, I’ve done alpine skiing throughout the Alps on both Italian and foreign slopes… I would never have thought that in Liguria I could find a place that doesn’t offer anything to be desired compared to other Alpine slopes.

monesi freeride scii montagna paesaggio liguriaSaid and done. The word spreads fast… we’re 8: 4 freeriders and 4 ski mountaineers; we also manage to contact Ale for some video footage. That way we can use it for tourist promotion: I feel less guilty for my day outdoors…and out of the office. Alessandro is awfully good at filming, he’s requested by lots of national television stations, has a strong sense for getting the best out of the territory and a technique for great-quality takes: a champion, number one!

And so, at 8.30, we find ourselves in Monesi di Triora’s square in the heart of the valley… at the border with Piedmont, here where Liguria has an alpine look which you definitely don’t expect and you find surprising.

Liguria, for many, is “just sea”, but not for us. We love to practice our sporting passions outdoors, at home, and always try to discover new places.

Thanks to the availability of Terenzo, the owner of the land and the system which takes you to the summit, we manage to agree to an ascent in snowcat. There’s a lot of snow at the top, almost 60cm, so going up by snowmobile… no way! Gianni, the driver of the Monesi3000 is ready straight away and loads our stuff, we lazy freeriders prefer the joys of the breathtaking descent. The ski mountaineers leave, however, with climbing skins under their skis to enjoy the ascent in immaculate snow until the peak of the Sibillini mountains, alone in the silence.

monesi freeride scii montagna paesaggio liguriaWe are comfortable and struggle to remain ‘attached’ to the back of the cat which, in the steep ascent, will take us to the summit. The snow really is abundant and the cat finds it difficult, but the ability of Gianni takes us safely to 50 metres from the top. Now there really is too much snow… “I can’t go any further ahead”. “Get down” he says from the drivers cabin. We drop the skis to the ground with us following behind… we go in up to our waists: woah!!!

We make the last metres of ascent with our skis on our shoulders… “How heavy are the freeride skis?” I ask myself whilst I sink relentlessly with every step.” I’ll enjoy myself on the way down, with perfect curves”, I think to console myself. We arrive at the summit of the mountain where there is the statue of Christ the Redeemer.

I can’t believe my eyes: to the left is the blue sea which glitters in the light, to the right Monviso which stands out in the chain of the white Alps. But where am I? In Liguria or heaven? In front is the top of Monte Saccarello, 2,200m, the highest peak of Liguria.

monesi freeride scii montagna paesaggio liguriaA piece of chocolate, some ‘ecstatic’ photos and then, we’re off! An intense look with Elena from Finalborgo and we clip on our skis, point them in the direction of the valley and let them slide down the first slope to taste the snow, marking out the first curves. The snow is no sugary winter powder, a light crust has formed overnight, after all in a few days it will be spring. The air is tepid and has moved slightly over the snowy mantle. It’s not easy snow all in all, but we’re enthusiasts, and at the end of the first section we look at each other surprised: not bad at all! Today should be a great day!

The group of ski mountaineers reaches us with Ezio, the Alpine guide who is accompanying us. He’s just come straight from Valle d’Aosta to take advantage of this spectacular ski with sea views! Yes they benefitted from the ascent, but now we’ll take on the descent together.

monesi freeride scii montagna paesaggio liguriaThe desire to set off is sky high; I can sense it just looking at the other skiers with me today. Some friends, others only known for a few hours. We are all one because we share the same passion for skiing and the outdoors. Elena and I leave first, impatient to make our marks on the untouched snow, virgin slopes and immaculate fresh snow, just for us; today there is no-one else. The mountain is ours! Right and left, wherever I look, I see immaculate white spaces which are waiting to be traced by us. Our descent is a quick succession, sometimes orderly and sometimes chaotic, alone, in groups, we decorate the slopes with winding tracks, embellish our curves, we cross, jump and… at times fall together, headfirst, in the fresh snow. We laugh. We’ve become children again.

And every time I stop, I like to see, in the looks of the others, the same emotions as I feel, like in a mirror. An ecstatic smile, eyes which light up. Words aren’t necessary, I can understand very well what my adventure companions are feeling. The day passes by quickly, like the snow under our flying skis.

monesi freeride scii montagna paesaggio liguriaWe return to the mountain ski-lift station where we find the group of trekkers: Chiara, Yael, Speme and Valentina. They chose the slow approach to the mountain. They rented snowshoes at the foot of the mountain and came up by chair lift.

They like to wander around in the quiet, shadowy woods or on sunny slopes to leave their own footprints in the deep snow. There’s no doubt that there’s joy on their faces, satisfaction for having experienced nature, like an unexpected present, and for this it is much more appreciated. We are all still incredulous at having had such an exciting experience in our Liguria, we are already looking forward to telling our friends so that they too can discover a hidden treasure.

The sun’s rays recline, we’ve lost all sense of time immersed in this unlimited whiteness drawing our tracks. Now it’s time for the last descent into the valley. Then, like an unwritten rite of which all know the rules, we go to the bar to enjoy a well-deserved end-of-day beer. We’re all here: the freeriders, the ski mountaineers, the trekkers, the guys from Mountain Rescue and the Monesi3000 team. We raise our glasses to our joy and emotion shared with strangers who, thanks to the magic of skiing and the snow, are no longer that. A bond links us now, I see it in everyone’s eyes and on the sun-kissed faces of this unexpected day. We make a silent promise that we will have more days like this together.

 

Today… in Monesi from Alessandro Beltrame on Vimeo.

I spend the majority of my weekends strolling around Liguria looking for the best cliffs to climb, it’s…

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