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Sulle tracce di Holzer

Tommaso Cardelli on the footprint of the steep skier Heini Holzer

The idea of the Alpine Guides Tommaso Cardelli and Cristian Dallapozza is to face the most important downhills in the history of steep skiing moving from one place to another by bike. The famous skier Heini Holzer inspired this adventure; in fact, the chimney sweep from Meran is the author of many first downhills in the Alps (such as the Piz Palű’s North Face in 1972, the “Sperone of the Brenva” on the Mont Blanc in 1973, the North of Aletschorn and the Gran Paradiso). They wanted to follow the footprint of the great skier, moving with only clean means, like bicycle. The project started on 14th of April from Val di Fassa and ended on 5th of May.

We asked Tommaso Cardelli some questions to know something more about this adventure.

Tommy, how was it?
It was a wonderful adventure and a great experience! We had a lot of fun, both riding the bicycle and skiing. We decided to move slowly, with the rhythm of the mountain bike in order to enjoy the view and I appreciated it a lot. Today we are always in a rush: work, hectic days, velocity records…often we are pursuing an aim, and forget all that we have around us. This was something important we were interesting in this travel: the surround.

The first part of the tour was perfect, always good weather and good conditions of the downhills. In the second part everything changed and it was very difficult, in particular with the skis. We had to stop and go back several times and we had to modify our programs. We wanted to end the travel in Chamonix after crossing Alto Adige and Switzerland and we managed to do it so I’m really satisfied.

How was the project born?
#sulletraccediHolzer was born from our passion, since Cristian and me on steep skiing, and also from our curiosity to discover what the pioneers of Freeride did in the 70’s.Who love freeriding on the Dolomites must have heard about “Holzer” for his downhill lines on Pordoi and much more, too. Heini Holzer is known because of the famous line in the Sella group, but many don’t know that in the Dolomites he made a dozen of first descents and a hundreds in the Alps. Reading the biography, this short chimney sweep from Meran made my curiosity arose, his lines were always beautiful and elegant, and really in the advance for that times. We decided to cross the Alps doing some of them and it was great!

Kilometers, tracks, downhills, difference in elevation gain, number of days?
We left for a fortnight holiday and we covered a distance of 700km with a total gain of 21000m, riding and skiing.

What is more difficult, riding or skiing?
The most demanding part was riding the bike and at the beginning it was really hard for us! We were not much trained (or not at all) and the first stage in Val Senales seemed endless. 140 km and a 2000m We rode an electric bike, but with a 25 kg wagon to carry with us we had to cycle a lot, or we risk to burn out the battery before starting the digestion of the breakfast! As day passed everything went better and we started loving riding. It’s a pity that it was over so quickly!

Which was the best downhill?
It was the NE of Gran Zebrù! It wasn’t so extreme, but always very steep, from the peak to the end and the mountain is wonderful. We left early that morning because it was snowing and we just wanted to go and see in order to downhill the following day; but while we were going up we realized that the snow conditions were perfect and we keep on. Once we went out from the canal a problems arose: it was so foggy that we couldn’t understand where the top was and what we had above our heads. We stopped and we wait for an improvement of the weather conditions, then after reaching the peak, we start the downhill and it was amazing: 15 cm of freshly powder snow, nobody over there except of us and the sun shining when we went out of the line

What are the main problems you had to face in such an adventure?
The biggest unknown factors were the weather conditions and the downhills. Usually, for the steep downhills you have to wait the perfect moment, but we had not enough time and sometimes we had to go back because it was too dangerous, or we had to go down with not good snow. It was a great challenge and we challenge ourselves as we wanted.

Which downhill would you repeat of those on the project?
Except for the Marmolada’s North Face and the Holzer’s canal in Pordoi, they were all downhills we had never tried before! In the past we already skied some Holzer’s lines in the Alps, but we wanted to do some new lines, since it is more attractive. I will do it all again because the whole adventure was amazing, but there are still so many mountains in the Alps where I haven’t skied yet so I think I won’t have the time to repeat the adventure a second time!



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