Alf Alderson, Author at The Whiteroom
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Alf Alderson

CORTINA’S HIDDEN CHARMS

No one would call this your average ski experience – three skiers peeking out of a porthole-like opening in the massive rockface of 2,800m Mount Lagazuoi above Cortina, with a view across some of the most spectacular mountains in Europe. We looked down upon a sprinkling of skiers enjoying the wide, open run beneath us, realising that they could never have guessed they were being observed – which was exactly the point. For the spot where myself, David and Fiona were crouched was an observation post that had been excavated out of the solid limestone peak during the First World War when Italian and German troops fought a two-year battle for control of Passo Falzarego beneath. You can…

YUGE PARADISKI SKI APP REVIEW

YUGE PARADISKI SKI APP Free www.paradiski.com Yuge is a free app offered by the Paradiski area which helps you make the most of everything from skiing to après-ski whilst in resort. We’re featuring it as an example simply because our reviewer spends his winters in the area so has plenty of direct personal experience of the app; you can expect apps offered by other resorts to be very similar, although that said Yuge apparently scores highest of all resort apps in user reviews. It’s possible to personalise Yuge so it provides information that’s specific to your skiing ability and where you’re staying in resort, and a potentially really useful feature is real time information on lift queues (or lack of),…

ULLR MOBILE AVALANCHE SAFETY GUIDE APP REVIEW

ULLR MOBILE AVALANCHE SAFETY GUIDE APP $9.99 available on Apple Store This is a brilliant app for anyone interested in avalanche safety – which should be anyone heading off-piste. Ullr works with iPhones to provide up-to-date, detailed avalanche forecasts from the regional centre closest to where you’re skiing. But more than that, it also enables you to record field observations whilst you ski, including location, aspect and slopes angle. Using features of your iPhone such as the camera, GPS, inclinometer, compass and data communication it allows you to provide real-time info on avalanche conditions which can be transmitted to the nearest regional avalanche centre to enhance their avy reports and share the data with other users. No mobile or wi-fi…

SATMAP ACTIVE 20 SOLO GPS UNIT REVIEW

SATMAP ACTIVE 20 SOLO GPS UNIT £395 www.satmap.com Although not designed specifically for skiing and boarding, the Active 20 Solo is a large screen sports mapping GPS which displays highly detailed topographic mapping that can be extremely useful if heading off-piste. Operating the Active 20 is pretty easy to get the hang of initially, and as you get to know your way around it better you can easily move on to more advanced features. It will connect to GPS, Glonass and Galileo, ensuring coverage pretty much anywhere on the planet, and it has wireless connectivity through both wi-fi and Bluetooth Smart. The unit comes with a 3.5” hi-res touchscreen plus the option of touch button operation should you prefer it,…

SKADI FIS SKI APP REVIEW

SKADI FIS SKI APP €14.99 annual subscription www.skadi.guide/ To use Skadi you input your level of ability and skiing/boarding preferences and it acts as a kind of personalised guide to your resort, providing both visual and audio guidance around the resort. It’s also big on gaming, combining resort-wide ‘crystal hunting’ and ‘marmot catching’ which you can exchange for privileges, bonuses and gifts from Skadi partners. The app has been designed in partnership with the FIS (International Ski Federation), and because it is hands-free – you just plug-in your headphones and follow intelligible audio prompts – it saves fiddling around with piste maps. If you like to cruise around the resort and explore without constant stops to check where you are…

FATMAP APP REVIEW

FATMAP APP £2.99 (two weeks); £25.99 (year) www.fatmap.com Fatmap started off as a tool for freeriders to discover the backcountry terrain at their resort of choice but has since expanded to provide info for summer visitors too (hiking, mountain biking etc.). However, it’s the skiing and boarding we’re interested in… The app covers most of the world’s major ski areas and is expanding all the time, so the chances are you’ll find your favourite resort featured. It offers info such as clear 3-D maps, details on slope gradient, aspect, altitude and other crucial pieces of terrain information, location sharing so you and your group can stay in touch, route maps of the best off-piste lines and the facility to record…

SEARCHING FOR YOUR INNER JAMES BOND IN VERBIER

Verbier brings out the James Bond in all of us reckons Alf Alderson To get some measure of how good the skiing is in Verbier you simply have to meet Aussie mountain guide John Falkiner. Falkiner has skied all over the world; when I shared a ski lift with him in Verbier he was just back from British Columbia and about to leave for Kashmir, and he regaled me with fascinating accounts of his travels with the Australian and K2 freestyle ski teams, not to mention employment as a stunt skier in a James Bond spectacular or two. And he chooses to live in Verbier. John has been there for close on forty years in fact, simply “because…

AOSTA VALLEY ROAD TRIP

AOSTA VALLEY ROAD TRIP Alf Alderson Around 90-minutes’ drive north of Turin’s humming autostrada you can find some of the best skiing in the Alps. The Aosta Valley has a range of ski resorts that face different directions and are high enough to ensure that you’ll always find good snow conditions somewhere. You’ll also get spectacular views – the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc (known hereabouts as Monte Cervino and Monte Bianco) are just two of the better known mountains that you may have in your sights. And if you like variety the Aosta Valley is ideal, since not only can you experience Italian ski culture you can also head into Switzerland and France on your skis. All you…

ORTOVOX ALU 240 PFA AVALANCHE PROBE REVIEW

ORTOVOX ALU 240 PFA PROBE £55 www.ortovox.com Ortovox market this as a ‘rookie’s probe’ as it’s reduced to the essentials for quick and easy assembly and use, although that’s surely all you need in a probe whether a rookie or a professional? Anyway, what this means is that you get a 200g aluminium probe which can be assembled and collapsed in seconds, with the tension set by simply turning the optimized adjusting screw. The large probe tip, which has a significantly larger diameter compared to the probe elements above it, ensures improved penetration even in hard packed snow. The probe also has easy-to-read depth markers, a clear one-meter marker and there’s a plastic outer sleeve at the top for a…

MAMMUT ALUGATOR TWIST SNOW SHOVEL REVIEW

MAMMUT ALUGATOR TWIST SNOW SHOVEL £50 www.mammut.ch There’s a useful twist to the ‘Twist’ – it’s so named because you can twist the shaft within the blade of the shovel to give the option of having either a shovelling mode or cutting mode, which is especially useful when digging through heavy, compacted snow. And it also means that in cutting mode you have a useful tool for digging snow pits, snow blocks and even constructing an igloo or snow wall. The sturdy blade is made from durable anodized aluminium and features stabilization ribs for added rigidity and cutting power, whilst the telescopic shaft extends to 80cm to make shoveling easier on your back, collapsing to 60cm for storage, and the…