Every skier should have one

A descent of 'Hidden Valley'
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The Independent Travel

Favourite runs: we all have them. My own include the Vallée Blanche above Chamonix for the sheer scale of the scenery and the sense of skiing along the top of the Alps; the beautifully conceived Wozzley's Way at Telluride in Colorado, for the variety of terrain it packs in; and the gentle, winding Jouvenceaux run at Sauze d'Oulx in Italy, for the way it dips in and out of the trees and visits tiny hamlets on what is a sort of skiers' ramble. But the "must do" descent is the 5km of the Armentarola valley in the Lagazuoi ski area of Cortina d'Ampezzo, also in Italy.

Favourite runs: we all have them. My own include the Vallée Blanche above Chamonix for the sheer scale of the scenery and the sense of skiing along the top of the Alps; the beautifully conceived Wozzley's Way at Telluride in Colorado, for the variety of terrain it packs in; and the gentle, winding Jouvenceaux run at Sauze d'Oulx in Italy, for the way it dips in and out of the trees and visits tiny hamlets on what is a sort of skiers' ramble. But the "must do" descent is the 5km of the Armentarola valley in the Lagazuoi ski area of Cortina d'Ampezzo, also in Italy.

Cortina is a beautiful resort, thanks to the deeply riven faces of its mountains: the snow that settles in the wrinkles catches the light, giving an extraordinary depth to the rocks. The so-called "Hidden Valley" drops down from the top of the Lagazuoi cable-car into a narrow cleft with characteristic, two-tone brown Dolomite faces crowding in on either side. The Fanes range, stacked up on the right, does a passable imitation of Monument Valley, familiar from movie westerns; to the left the mountains are not so high but are decorated with the blue-white filigree of frozen waterfalls. The piste twists and turns for much of its length; and throughout it is enclosed by the valley walls, creating a mysterious, secret ambience. Oddly - perhaps because returning to the main part of the ski area takes a little time - the hidden valley is not heavily skied, despite its beauty and renown: I have travelled right through it and seen only four skiers along the way.

Why does it take so long to get back? Partly because it is a long journey, partly because the drag-lift to the nearest chair is quite slow. It is a one-horsepower device: the horse trots up the gradual incline, dragging two lines of skiers and boarders hanging on to ropes.

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