Jan 18, 2004
By DEVLIN BARRETT – Associated Press Writer
COURMAYEUR, Italy — A thumping helicopter hauled us up alongside the menacingly close stone cliff. Suddenly, the rock face dropped away, and the chopper perched lightly on a snowy peak in the Italian Alps.
‘‘Go!” the guide Gianni screamed over the din, and our dazed group of six flopped out the door into white, blinding wind, grabbing our skis from the leg of the helicopter as we went.
Dizzy from the altitude, I thought first of the fireplace-toasty ristorante back at our regular mountain, where they served penne bolognese and an array of red wines to shame most gourmets.
But the adrenaline surged as a day of heli-skiing stretched before us in miles of deep, untouched powder. We stood gawking at the startlingly still and inviting terrain, the engine’s roar fading over a far mountain.
As a lifelong Northeast skier who worked a couple seasons as a ski instructor in high school, I was chomping at the bit to take the plunge.
So I plunged. And plunged. And plunged.
The great thing about a ski vacation in Italy is that no matter how much powder you carve or choke on, there is always a wonderful meal waiting for you, and you need not wait until the end of the day to enjoy it.
In Courmayeur, a small ski town near the French border, the restaurants on the top, middle, and sides of the mountain are very good, very Italian, and very easy on the wallet.
The mountain I’m most familiar with in the states offers hamburgers, fries, and hot chocolate at the base lodge. Courmayeur served up fettuccine and merlot on a hilltop terrace. And charged less for it. …
Continue reading on helenair.com