Skiing from Hut to Hut, with storybook scenery and grappa included.

EVERY mountain is unique, sure. But the rhythm of most ski resorts is predictable. So when I heard about a ''ski safari'' in the Italian Alps that involved crisscrossing the scenic towns and valleys of places like Cortina d'Ampezzo, Civetta, Val Gardena and Arabba, then sleeping at a different alpine Inn each night, I was intrigued.

On top of appealing to my daredevil nature, there was another selling point: I am solid intermediate skier. In the United States, hut-to-hut skiing is a backcountry endeavour designed for experts.

Not so in the Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the northeastern Italy. This territory of jagged limestone peaks, dipping plateaus and terrifyingly steep World Cup descents, I discovered-

Actually has manageable terrain; 86 percent of the runs are red [intermediate] and blue [the easiest]    ideal for nonelite athletes like me whose slope preferences are wide and easy groomers instead of couloirs - the narrow, hard-core gullies for advanced skiers.

Even better, the traditional Italian mountain huts called rifugios bore no resemblance to the bare-bones huts of North America. They were cozy, family run establishments celebrated for splendid views and cuisine that integrated the heartness of South Tyrol with the refined flavors of northern Italy.

Hopscotching through the Dolomiti Superski - which, with a single pass, allows skiers access to 12 valleys with 800 miles of terrain serviced with 450 lifts - is complicated.

A skier must organize transfers by bus or car to individual resorts, which are tucked into narrow mountain passes. Tour operators began designing ski safaris, multiresort ski days combined with rifugio stays, so tourists could experience maximum terrain without the organizational hassle.

Though ski safaris may sound like a marketing gimmick, these packages are increasingly popular in countries like France, Switzerland and Canada.

I signed on for five-night safari with Dolomite Mountains, a company that offered professional guides and the ingenious perk of luggage transfers with its small group safaris.

[The company has multiple iterations of the ski safari from December through mid-April starting from 2,660 euros or about $ 2,935, per person for five nights, six days].

My suitcase - not including the bulky ski garb that I would be wearing all day, every day - was left in town. A duffel bag was provided to pack essentials [pajamas, toiletries, jeans and a sweater for dinner] for the nights spend at high altitude rifugios. This bag appeared, snow-dusted in my room.

The honor and serving of the latest research on great tourism adventures, continues. The World Students Society thanks author Amy Tara Koch.


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