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Ortler Circuit Ski Tour

Ski Touring in the South Tyrol

Ortler Circuit Ski Traverse

SJMG is going to Europe in the Spring of 2016! Join us for perhaps the finest ski tour in Europe – the well known Ortler Circuit, and check out the most luxurious huts in the Alps. We’ll spend 7 days exploring the glaciers and peaks of the Ortler Region in Northern Italy.

The Ortler itself is a major Italian peak straddling the Autstrian-Italian border. But the ski tour is more in the mountain group east of the Ortler. Accessed via Solda, Santa Caterina, or the Val Martello, the Ortler is another dynamic tour without a strict itinerary. Our flexible and time-friendly program allow us to ski where the conditions are most favorable, moving around the area to descend classic lines and peaks throughout the range. Classics include the Cevedale, the Punta San Matteo and the magnificent Gran Zebru.

There are numerous touring options on the sub 4000m peaks throughout the range. The itinerary calls for a couple of days at each hut we stay at to take advantage of optimal conditions and descent options. Comfortable huts and excellent food round out this iconic ski trip.

Your Guide for the Traverse

Patrick Ormond

American Mountain Guide Patrick Ormond will be leading our ski programs on the Ortler Circuit in 2015. Pat grew up climbing and skiing from a young age in the Pacific Northwest. After school, he moved to Utah to explore the West, and began to guide and teach avalanche courses. Now, as a fully certified AMGA/IFMGA Mountain Guide, he get’s to work and play (they usually go hand in hand) around the world. Pat lives in Ouray and the San Juan mountains, but you can also find him in the Tetons, Alaska, Canada, and Europe.

Personal trips include The Cassin Ridge on Denali, first ascents of ice climbs in Iceland, and sunny sport climbing around the Mediterranean. Pat’s wife and fellow SJMG Guide, Dawn Glanc, live full time in Ouray, CO with their two dogs, Cassie and Lucy. Pat was also a National Champion rower at the University of Washington.

Incredible, amazing mountain views! Wow!! Beautiful!!! The food at the huts was awesome, and definitely a highlight of the trip. What a great tour and Patrick is a fabulous guide! - Lisa A.


Ortler Circuit Itinerary

Ortler Ski Circuit

Day 1

Fly to Milan, Italy from the US.  Because of the time change you will arrive to Milan on Day 2 of the itinerary.

Day 2

Rest and recover from jet lag in Milan, Italy. Site see in Milan on your own. Stay in a hotel in Milan.

Day 3

Travel to Santa Caterina. Public transport is fairly easy, and we can give you details for that. Alternately, the group can decide to split the cost of a rental vehicle. We will have an evening meeting before dinner at the Forni Hut.

Ortler Ski Circuit

Day 4

Short ski (2hours) to the Pizzini Hut. We’ll check in and drop some gear before heading out on a warm up tour near the hut for the afternoon. We can climb up the Cedec Glacier to the Cevedale-Pasquale Col and then ski back down the 2400’ of 30-35 degree glacier.

Day 5

Various options exist around the Pizzini, including the Gran Zebru, and the Col de Pale Rossa. Usually we do a morning tour, come back to the hut for food and caffeine, and then head back out for the afternoon.

Day 6

Tour from the Pizzini to the Marteller Hut, via a climb to the Casati Hut for lunch. We’ll stop at the Tre Cannoni and check out these amazing WWI canons at 12,000’ and then ski the long descent to the Marteller. Peter, who runs the Marteller, has some great Weissbier on tap.

Day 7

Ortler Ski Circuit

Touring from the Marteller, with many peaks to choose from for summiting.

Day 8

We have a long day skiing from the Marteller Hut to the Branca Hut. We’ll summit a some peaks along the way, including the Zufulspitze and Cevedale, with options another summit as well. Some steeper sunny aspects bring us down to the Branca Hut and its sunny stone deck. Time for some Apfelstrudel and a beer!

Day 9

Options from the Branca include Punta San Mateo and Pizzo Tresero, both up the Forni Glacier.

Day 10

We’ll ski wherever the snow is best before heading down to the Forni Hut for the last night and some celebrating.

Ortler Ski Circuit

Day 11

Return to Milan and part ways after a great week!

Ortler Circuit Skiing Equipment List

Skiing & Climbing Equipment

  • Climbing/Skiing Day-Tour Pack: 30-40 liters.
  • Touring Skis & Bindings w/Brakes: Skis with alpine-touring or telemark bindings (or splitboard). Skis should be no wider than 85-95mm underfoot dimensions.
  • Climbing Skins
  • Touring Ski Boots: Alpine touring boots compatible with your skis.
  • Ski Poles: Adjustable skiing poles.
  • Ski Crampons: Compatible with your ski set up.
  • Boot Crampons: Aluminum step in style crampons.
  • Avalanche Transceiver: with fresh batteries.
  • Avlanche Probe
  • Avy Shovel: metal blade is a must.
  • Ice Axe: Ski mountaineering Ice Axe, 50 – 55 cm.
  • Climbing Harness: Very lightweight with an integrated belay loop.
  • 2 Locking Carabiners: Screw lock is preferable.
  • 2 – 3 Non-Locking Carabiners: Wiregate carabiners are best.
  • One 48″ Nylon or Dyneema Sling:
  • Goggles
  • Helmet


  • Hut Clothes, Slippers: For the huts
  • Socks: 2 pairs of wool or synthetic ski socks, one for the hut one for skiing
  • Base Layer t-shirt: Synthetic top.
  • Mid-Weight Top: To layer over your base t-shirt.
  • Soft Shell Jacket: with a hood
  • Insulating Layer: Lightweight down jacket is best. With a hood.
  • Shell Jacket: A lightweight, packable shell jacket, Gore-Tex recommended.
  • Base Layer Bottoms: Synthetic or wool base layer
  • Shell pants: Hard shell or soft shell. A pair with side vents are best.
  • Gloves: A pair of heavy gloves and a pair of medium to thin weight gloves.
  • Hats: One with brim, one for warmth
  • Balaclava or BUFF: Great for sun protection and additional warmth
  • Sunglasses: Wrap around sunglasses with dark Category 4 lenses

Other Gear

  • Food: Breakfasts and Dinners are provided at the huts, and bag lunches can be purchased at the huts, but we recommend that you bring additional snacks to supplement.
  • Small Ski Repair Kit: Small roll of duct tape on your poles is fine
  • Water bottles: 2 liters
  • Sunscreen and Lip Balm: Water/sweat-proof
  • Headlamp: With at least 1 set of additional batteries
  • Toiletries
  • Personal First Aid Kit: for your personal meds/needs; guide will have a large one as well
  • Stuff Sacks: for convenient packing
  • Camera: Small digital camera
  • Roller Travel Duffel or Additional Backpack: if your hut necessities will not fit in your touring backpack
  • Ski Bag: For transporting your skis on the airlines
  • Passport & Money: Figure on about 250-300 Euros is typically sufficient for buying drinks and lunches
  • Street Clothes: For traveling and in Milan
  • Silk Sleeping Bag Liner


Ortler Ski Circuit

Participants need to be solid intermediate to advanced skiers who are comfortable in variable snow conditions in a variety of terrain including glaciated avalanche terrain. There are some steep sections on this tour that we often boot up and side step or get lowered down on a rope. With that said there isn’t much real steep skiing as most of it consists of moderate angled glacier skiing. It is important to have the skills to manage speed and have control in variable surface conditions (powder, hard pack, breakable crust, corn and pack powder) while in glaciated terrain to avoid crevasse hazards. There are a number of hard days interspersed with easier days on this tour. At a minimum standard of fitness, skiers need to be able to ski on a tour up to 6 -8 hours with a 25lb pack covering up to 1500 m (5000′) skinning/boot and up to 1500 m of skiing. Having these following skills will make our tour more enjoyable as well as less stressful:

Backcountry ski/snowboard touring experience including skinning on an AT or Tele set up in avalanche terrain while using a transceiver, shovel and probe and have basic understanding of this equipment.

Ability to make kick turns in hard pack and soft snow conditions in steep terrain. We will work on these skills day one on a tour but working experience prior will help not only proficiency but also safety.

Side stepping in 45-degree hard pack or soft snow conditions

Falling leaf (side slipping to and fro) in 45-degree terrain on hard pack or soft snow conditions

Link turns for speed control in exposed 40-degree hard pack conditions

Link turns in soft snow conditions while skiing fall line.

1 Before Your Trip

Ortler Ski Circuit

In order to successfully complete the Ortler Circuit Ski Trip, endurance is key. Cardiovascular activities such as running, swimming, and cycling are great to build heart and lung endurance. Taking day hikes with your loaded backpack at a local park will help train your legs for the mileage you will do in the mountains. Plan on getting plenty of laps at your local ski resort, and consider venturing into the backcountry as much as possible during the winter prior to the trip.

2 Follow Up Programs

I enjoyed being in the company of our guides. It was an educational experience just watching them in their element. They rocked. Also, it was great to be hands-on in the field for 7 days; learning experimentally is the kicker for this and all skiing trips. Getting ski beta and seeing terrain that I can go ski in the future was a great plus. This program seemed to also focus on the application for avy knowledge for the backcountry skier………Yes! - Taylor H.

Santa Caterina, Italy: Getting There

The Ortler Ski Circuit begins in the small mountain town of Santa Caterina, Italy. Participants will want to arrange their international flights to fly in and out of Milan, Italy. From Milan, the group will hire a private bus to make the trip to Santa Caterina. If we cannot organize everyone to meet at approximately the same time in Milan, it is also very easy to take public transport. Please contact our office for help with travel arrangements.

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rexerFlights: Participants on the Ortler Circuit Ski Program should arrange their international flights to arrive and depart from Milan, Italy. Keep in mind when travelling from the US to Italy there is an about a 12 hour time difference (depending on where you originate). Jet lag can be a factor on the first few days of the trip.

rexerDriving: It is possible to rent a car in Milan if you would like to have your own transport to Santa Caterina or plan to stay beyond. Alternatively, you may contact our office an indicate that you would like to join the group shuttle as part of this program.

rexerHotels: Need information about places to stay in Milan, Italy?? Give our office a call and we can suggest a few excellent places to stay!


Additional Information

  • Cost Includes:

Ortler Ski Circuit

  • IFMGA Certified Mountain Guide(s)
  • Mountain hut fees on the itinerary
  • Breakfasts and dinners at the huts
  • Transportation to the huts (if previously arranged with the group)

  • Not Included:

  • International airfare
  • Hotel costs in Milan, Italy
  • Lunch food, town food, and drinks on the trip
  • Trip cancellation and rescue insurance
  • Personal climbing, skiing, or camping equipment
  • Guide gratuity

  • Registration and Cancellation:

  • Advance Registration is required for this program. You have the option to either call our office and register via phone, fill out our pdf Registration Form and send it in via fax or email, or utilize our secure Online Reservation System. All participants must read and sign an Assumption of Risks/Liability Waiver and agree to our Reservations and Cancellations Policies.