Do you sometimes wish there was a place where you could do everything in winter except ski down the slopes? Where there is enough – and beautiful – snow even in a winter like this one?

Then why not try the Villnöss Valley in Alto Adige (Italy) with the Zanser Alm. That’s what I did this year in February following the winter hiking and snowshoe week in Tiers. I did two days of hiking tours and a summit ascent with snowshoes just for myself.

And the result was: WOW! On Sunday morning, I arrived early with my van at the start in the parking lot at the Waldschänke. There wasn’t much going on yet: just a couple who had just taken their touring skis out of the car and were on their way. After fighting with the parking machine (remember: the machine likes cash better), I set off in the direction of Brogles Alm.

At the beginning, the trails are groomed and smoothed with a small caterpillar – probably in anticipation of the tobogganers who will come. Tobogganing is really a popular pastime here. Further up, it becomes quieter and I see fewer tracks. The short turn-off to the Adolf-Munkel-Weg is not used, so I continue in the direction of Brogles Alm and then turn left. A wonderful view of the Puez-Geissler peaks, which is best enjoyed with a cup of hot tea!

I follow the Adolf Munkel trail, and about an hour later I come across the first hikers with sledges. This is because there is a long toboggan run downhill from the Gampenalm. Unfortunately, these are not the only people to appear. The “oncoming traffic” is getting denser and denser, it’s a bit like a procession. Most of them have toboggans with them, many, like me, have mini crampons under their feet.

I am relieved when I can turn off and continue straight ahead along the less frequented path. The descent to the Zanser Alm and then back to the parking lot is as wide and comfortable as usual. In the meantime, the sun is already peeking over the mountain ridges, making the snow glisten and sparkle. Wonderful!

The next day, I invest in the parking fees at the top of the Zanser Alm. OK, there is also a regular bus service, but the Dolomiti public transport ticket is not included with my accommodation. If you have it, you’d be well advised to take the bus.

From there, my destination today is the Zandleser Kofel, which is actually an easy ski tour mountain, but can also be found in various snowshoe tour books. It’s an easy ascent again on groomed trails up to the Kaserill Alm. My snowshoes on my rucksack are making themselves felt – I usually travel very light. Unfortunately, my snowshoes are quite a few years old and therefore not up to date in terms of weight… Maybe I should buy new ones?

But never mind, to the left of the Kaserill Alm, the trail goes uphill, and there begins untracked terrain. That takes some getting used to. You can’t get lost, but despite the early hour, the snow isn’t firm enough to carry me with just the crampons. I keep sinking in deep. Now is the time for snowshoes. Instead of ascending in the usual serpentines, I essentially choose the direct line for the ascent. This works brilliantly – but it is exhausting. I’m happy to take a slightly longer but flatter route in the upper section.

It doesn’t take too long before I reach the summit cross. Two ski tourers who have overtaken me on the way make room for me, and after 5 minutes another one joins me. After a summit tea, I head back downhill. Of course, the ski tourer is faster, but the descent doesn’t take too long as I’m walking straight downhill. The way back from the Kaserill Alm is a bit longer :).

The two tours are representative of what the area has to offer. Signposted winter trails on information boards make the tours easier to follow. And they also show where you shouldn’t go – because of potential avalanche danger or to protect the game.

Have fun in the Val di Funes!

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