Skiing through Abruzzo: German Norwegians in »Piccolo Tibet«

Photo: Stefan Rosenboom
What’s going on when German schoolmates dress like Birkebeiner and drink Scotch Whisky while crossing Abruzzo in Italy? A multicultural tour?
Hardangervidda? No, it is a high plateau in Italy called Campo Imperatore. | Photo: Stefan Rosenboom

A few years ago, on skis they pulled their luggage on sledges across the snow-covered Hardangervidda. Last autumn, Stefan promised a Scandinavian treat in southern Europe to the mates he knows from his good-old school days: he wanted to cross the high plateaux in Abruzzo on skis. The Campo Imperatore is 1,600 metres high and on the same latitude as Rome. »Will there be snow?«, was the worry on the one side. »Won‘t there be too many people?«, was the suspicion on the other.

»There was enough snow alright«, says Stefan. »And during the first eight days we didn’t meet a soul.« The Gran Sasso Nationalpark is one of the last wilderness areas in southern Europe. The highest peak Corno Grande stands 2,912 metres above the Mediterranean Sea. Stefan, who lives near Murnau in Upper Bavaria, discovered the area a few years ago when he went on a hiking holiday. »The nativeness in the middle of populated and cultivated Italy fascinated me«, says the photographer. The Italians call the 80 square kilometre high plateau »Il piccolo Tibet«. It is still hidden from winter tourism.


Bildergalerie: Auf Ski durch die Abruzzen: Hessische Norweger in »Piccolo Tibet«

Stefan, Rainer, Wolli, Volker, Tom and Jonas, all around the age of 40, look as if they were on tour in Scandinavia wearing nostalgic outdoor clothes by Norwegian outfitter Bergans. The outfitter’s trademark: Birkebeiner, medieval warriors on skis. »When we turned up at the remote mountain village of Castel del Monte in our plus fours and fur collars on our jackets, the locals were just celebrating carnival in the sports hall. We won the first prize in the fancy dress competition!«
Mens round in group tent.| Photo: Stefan Rosenboom
The group of friends moved across the rather flat area partly on touring skis carrying backpacks, partly on backcountry skis hauling Pulka sledges. It wasn’t a sports competition, it was more about being outside and together. In the evening, they ate expedition food from a bag and drank Johnnie Walker from a bottle. When they went into their Lavvo, a communal tent in Sami style, the Hessian Birkebeiner blew into their kazoos for hours. »It’s amazing what sound they make«, laughs Stefan. »Perfect to keep the wolves away.«They repeatedly saw traces of the Roman heraldic animal. A single wolf plodded through the snow only a few metres away from the group.
The February sun is so strong at this latitude that Stefan and friends sometimes only wore t-shirts. However, a snow storm stopped their expedition for two days and they escaped into a redundant ski lift station to pitch their tent. Nearby are the ruins of a hotel which now seems to be not much more than a shelter for sheep. »The Mafia probably backed the wrong horse«, says Stefan, happy about the almost untouched nature.
4-Seasons Info

Presentation at Globetrotter

You can find a film by Stefan Rosenboom about the Abruzzo project on On 14 November (8 pm), he will hold a presentation at Globetrotter Munich about hiking in the Bavarian alps: »Wanderungen für alle Jahreszeiten in den bayerischen Alpen« and about another one of his photo projects of a farmer’s life in the Bavarian Forest: »Anni und Alois – ein Bauernleben im Bayerischen Wald«.


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