Aosta, Italy

As the Aostans Do: Colliding Sensibilities on the Italian Side of Mont Blanc

The snow falls in a dense curtain, the kind that obliterates any view. Outside the cable car, mute tree forms alternately loom then pass like moon shadows, their details lost to dense snowfall and fogged plexiglass.

It’s our first run of our first day at a ski area none of us has ever heard of, and so conditions like these offer a potentially exciting welcome. Those same conditions, however, can be onerous when you have no idea where you’re going and visibility is zero—skiing’s equivalent of walking through the back alleys of an unfamiliar city after dark. Naturally, being skiers, exciting wins out.

Back at Hotel Eden, Stefano had advised us to head into the trees when we exited the lift. We follow his advice, we think, slicing over an open dome that tips steeply into a pine and larch forest. Snow breaks around our waists, the slope opens into a glade, then the forest closes back in. Several more times the slope parts then narrows like an hourglass, each pinch bringing momentary relief from relentless face shots and a chance to plot the next few turns. Eventually we’re funnelled back to a road that wraps around the bottom of the mountain to deposit us, now panting, back at the base. 

Pleased to make your acquaintance, La Thuile…

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