Backcountry skiing in the Dolomites to Mount Pelmo

With an elevation of 3168, Mount Pelmo is a symbol of the Dolomites.

It is an enormous and isolated Dolomitic massif with imposing vertical faces to the North, while the opposite face to the South has the curious shape of a chair called “God's Chair”.

The first ascent dates back to September 1857, by Irishman John Bell with Giovanni Battista Giacin, a hunter and great expert of the region. It is also important to remember the other significant climbing expedition in 1924, when the Swiss roped party Simon-Rossi opened the first sixth degree route in the Alps.

The Pelmo is an uncompromising mountain: we regretfully remember the loss of Alberto Bonafede-Magico and Aldo Giustina, two rescuers from San Vito di Cadore during a rescue attempt to retrieve two Austrian climbers along the North Face in August 2011. A huge landslide landed on the rescuers who were swept away and lost their hold on the face.

Information on backcountry skiing in the Dolomites to Mount Pelmo

There are two possible ways to reach the Venezia Shelter, starting point for the backcountry skiing in the Dolomites to Mount Pelmo.

The first is by climbing on the side of the Boite Valley, from Vodo di Cadore to the Ciauta Shelter. Following trail #475, you reach the Venezia Shelter in one hour and 20 minutes.

The second is by driving to the town of Zoppé in the Zoldo valley, then following trail #471 to the Venezia Shelter in one hour and 15 minutes.

The backcountry skiing excursion is feasible in two days, sleeping at the Venezia Shelter winter bivouac offering eight beds appropriately equipped with blankets and mattresses.

From the Venezia Shelter at an elevation of 1946 meters, you climb the slope above on the right, to the start of the Ball Ledge.

The ledge is walkable with boots and ski in the backpack but should not be underestimated: we recommend to proceed roped together, relying on the bolts found frequently along the trail.

Once the rocky leg is over, the backcountry skiing leg begins, along often steep slopes, finally leading to the pass. Then we go on following the south-west ridge and reaching the summit of the Mount Pelmo.

The descent follows along the same trail we climbed.

Technical data for the backcountry skiing in the Dolomites to Mount Pelmo

  • Start and finish at the Venezia Shelter
  • Reference mountain: Mount Pelmo
  • 1222 m climb from the Venezia Shelter
  • Climb and descent average six to eight hours
  • Exposure south, south-east for ascending and descending
  • Average incline: 30 – 35 degrees
  • Steepest incline: 42 degrees
  • OSA ski mountaineering difficulty: excellent ski mountaineer

Support and relief stops along the trail and its proximity:

  • Venezia Shelter
  • Ciauta Shelter


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