Homeland Montespluga Madesimo
A project by ASSO Orobica ASD & Spiagames Outdoor Agency
ASSO Orobica ASD — Via Borgo Palazzo, 272, 24126 Bergamo (BG) Italy — P.IVA 02740310160

"The Pill" magazine writes about Homeland!

Sleeping in a base camp like in Pakistan and leaving with your skins in the morning, tourism is wild in Montespluga in Valchiavenna

"The Pill" magazine writes about Homeland!
There are no ski lifts and no noisy aprés-ski, there are no groomed slopes, no cannons for artificial snow or signs with directions, other than those of the paths that are followed in summer. If you look closely, there aren't even any trees, although the altitude is not that extreme, given that the Spluga pass does not reach 2000 metres. There is also only one road, which in the middle of winter is no longer cleaned with the diligence of summer, often leaving the pass isolated: in short, we are on the border between Italy and Switzerland, just over two hours from Milan, but the feeling is that of being in a remote place and out of touch with the world. Montespluga is totally uninhabited in winter: the hotels and restaurants that are there are all closed and, after a heavy snowfall, the view that opens onto the dam that separates it from Madesimo recalls scenarios reminiscent of Fargo, the film by the Coen brothers. Italian valleys are usually narrow, with sharp peaks and endless woods: here the dam that freezes leaves a totally white open space, which is unusual for our landscapes, perhaps this is why with a little imagination you feel in Minnesota, or Alaska. There is nothing but snow for a while, or at least so it seems: in reality life starts again immediately after the dam and the Anfossi plateau, but you can't see it from here. This is why Tomaso Luzzana, the founder of the communications and outdoor events company SpiaGames, decided to build the headquarters of Homeland here which, in all respects, is the first ski area without facilities in Italy.

Tomaso is indeed a man of the mountains, but also of business, and therefore capable of capturing market movements in advance, before they are evident. Ski mountaineering is carving out an increasingly larger space for itself in the hearts of mountain enthusiasts who, also thanks to the restrictions during the years of the pandemic, have begun to frequent more and more a discipline that until a few years ago was perhaps considered too extreme, the prerogative exclusive to mountaineers and freeriders. The numbers relating to the winter of two years ago, however, say that, if alpine skiing has increased, ski mountaineering has tripled: of course, this is because there were fewer people practicing it before, but ski alp enthusiasts are starting to no longer be a niche . The world of the mountains and the ski areas itself is changing: the ever-increasing costs of ski passes and the problems linked to drought and artificial snow are bringing out an increasingly clear need, that of enjoying the mountains in a freer and purer way. And if mountain resorts still live mainly from tourism linked to skiing and snowboarding on the slopes, the need to find alternative models of enjoyment of the mountains to just frequenting the ski resorts is increasingly gaining ground. Lack of snow and economic difficulties are two crucial factors to explain the growing success of ski mountaineering, but many have done the dress rehearsals in past winters, when the lifts were closed, but the slopes were groomed: those who could have equipped themselves with equipment to go back up and then go down to the track. Today, with the lifts reopened, in Italy this is only allowed in those areas that have slopes specifically for skiing: realities that are increasing, but which are not so widespread.

So what is the idea behind Homeland? That of creating a reality, which is first of all a physical place, in which to find equipment, but also guides with whom to tackle routes approaching the skialp, or decidedly wild experiences if you already have basic skills, in a location where there are no ski lifts, so where there isn't already tourism linked to alpine skiing. As you approach the Spluga pass you will notice that on one side there is a large glass container: well, that is the headquarters of Homeland: if in fact on the site it is possible to consult the program for the entire season, which includes different experiences every weekend, in the physical structure it is possible to rent equipment, skis and boots for ski mountaineering and splitboard, but also the safety kit consisting of artva, shovel and probe, and request the assistance of a guide. The main problem for those approaching ski mountaineering is in fact that of becoming independent, both in the ascent and in the descent. When you are not dealing with an area, therefore with slopes where the level of experience required to tackle them is clearly indicated, but with a mountain where it is up to us to establish the route, it is crucial to learn how to move safely. The main mission of Homeland is therefore to give the tools to learn to enjoy the mountains in absolute freedom and safety: the alpine guides, who are the connective tissue of this place, are all very expert and above all they were born and raised in these valleys , they know them inside out and can use them as a classroom to explain to customers how to tackle a trip with skins. “Avalanches don't exist,” someone says superstitiously before leaving, “You don't say that word.” It is not said, but it is well known: a fundamental piece of the Homeland training offer is the safety camp: that is, the course through which one learns to analyze the mountains and the weather and snow conditions and to use and handle artva, shovel and probe and practical workshops on research and unearthing overwhelmed are held. Learning to master these tools is very important, but it is even more important to prevent an unpleasant situation by equipping yourself with solid basic knowledge: the fundamental part of the course concerns the explanation of the conditions in which snow is safe: learning to Recognizing where an avalanche could trigger is the first step to avoiding it.

Among the many changes that the pandemic and long periods of global confinement have brought to people, there is also a powerful rediscovery of the relationship with nature. Spending time outdoors is a priority today more than ever, especially for those who love the outdoors madly, but are blocked by work in the city. All-round contact with nature is the fundamental concept of Homeland's offer which, alongside ski mountaineering and splitboarding, offers night-time outings in tents, complete with the construction of a base camp. In the pages of The Pill you often read about incredible adventures of mountaineers, explorers and athletes, and you will have often seen images of the base camps from which expeditions depart: whether it is Nepal, Pakistan or Alaska, the vibes are those: a circle of pitched tents in the snow and surrounded by white or total darkness. The need to sleep in a tent at high altitude is usually dictated by the fact that, to take advantage of the good weather window, you have to start from the place closest to your destination. Lombardy is not Pakistan, we agree, but Val Loga is a magical place all the same and above all suitable for approaching a night in a tent in the snow for the first time. Digging out a comfortable spot for yourself, pitching the tent in the right direction and staking out with sticks or a shovel are all skills that could come in handy if you decide to go on a multi-day outing that involves a very long approach route. Not only that, even though Val Loga is a stone's throw from Madesimo and not in Pakistan, the feeling you get when sleeping between snow and sky is crazy. The fact that there are no ski lifts has preserved the purity of this place, which today is opening up to a different, responsible and nature-friendly tourism.
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