The first day of a ski vacation can be daunting - even for experienced skiers at a new mountain. Conquering skiing in a foreign country might be intimidating for those who haven't tried it yet, but the experience is usually filled with wonderful surprises. That was certainly the case for us and all the other people in our "High Life" New Jersey Ski Club group at Vigo di Fassa in the Dolomite Mountains of Italy. When we arrived, we were initially disappointed to see that there was no snow in the village. The hotel provides two tour guides to accompany its guests each day to different ski areas and they spoke to us each night after dinner giving a preview of the next day's ski activities. On that first evening, Mario and Max reassured us that they would find snow for all levels of skiers, so taking a leap of faith we bought a six-day pass called the Dolomiti Superski that includes 1,200 kilometers of slopes and 12 separate ski areas - many of which were connected via ski lifts. In addition, they are part of the world-famous "Sella Ronda," an all-day circle tour through the Dolomites.
The village of Vigo di Fassa without snow
The majestic Dolomites
Max, our expert ski guide
We soon learned that the guides were right! The trick is to go higher and higher in search of snow. Our first day of skiing started just 200 meters from the hotel at the local ski mountain. The hotel provides a mini-van to travel the short distance. Our first surprise was the 5 levels of escalators leading to the gondola that would take us up the mountain.
Escalators to the the gondola
Once we exited the gondola, we were happy to be surrounded by more than enough snow. In addition to the natural snow, the ski area was well-equipped for snow making and the temperatures are always low enough in winter to make plenty of snow. The advantage of end-of-the-season or spring skiing is that the ski breaks are sunny and you are never cold. We even saw locals relaxing shirtless as if they were on a beach vacation. Instead of hot cocoas, we craved water and cold drinks at break time.
Vigo di Fassa's local ski slope
Sunny break time at Bellamonte
A random topless sunbather