Monterosa Ski Resort  

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Overview by Eric Pfanner

"Above all, do not fall. If you fall, you will die." With that bit of confidence-building advice, Jean-Marc Crampe, a ponytailed ski guide, leaped off a cornice and into a 60-degree couloir. The night before, in the hotel bar, after one too many rounds of grappa, I had persuaded him that I was up for the nastiest descents he could show me in the Monterosa area of the Italian Alps, a mecca for extreme skiing.

After all, wasn't Italy the country where skiers spent more time parading around in fur coats than skiing? Well, Monterosa—a resort named after the Monte Rosa Range, whose 15,000-foot peaks straddle the Swiss-Italian border—isn't like the rest of Italy.

Sure, there are 110 miles of conventional trails that link the villages of Champoluc, Gressoney, and Alagna. In the hotels, there are tuxedoed waiters who fussily serve weekend visitors from Milan. And the lift attendants still whistle at women in one-piece Bogner suits. But up above, there is terrain that makes Jackson Hole look like a nice place to cross-country ski. That, and the absence of crowds, has turned Monterosa into a cult destination for alpine ski bums. It's the new La Grave.

Peering over the rim of the couloir, I watched Jean-Marc make a few jump turns to avoid crashing into the rock walls that lined the ten-foot-wide sliver of snow. I turned down his offer to let me rappel over a frozen waterfall at the top and side-stepped and slid my way down about 100 yards to meet him. As terror gave way to mild fear, I was able to start skiing again. After 2,500 vertical feet came the reward—the couloir opened up enough that I could let my old-school skis rip through the

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Vertical Drop
7754 feet
Closest Airport

Weather for Monterosa

Current Conditions:
Mostly Cloudy, 63 F
Sun - Cloudy. High: 72 Low: 61
Mon - Partly Cloudy. High: 70 Low: 62
Tue - PM Thunderstorms. High: 70 Low: 61
Wed - Sunny. High: 73 Low: 60
Thu - Mostly Sunny. High: 71 Low: 61

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