During March 2nd to 4th, we went to southern Sicilia (Italia). Part of the Ozone Italia crew was here, driven by Stefano Gigli from Sportfun, the Ozone distributor. We spent four nights at the B&B La Sciara, in Santa Venerina, with the owners Giovani and Robert, right at the bottom of the volcano in the valley not far from the famous harbor Catania. During four days before our arrival, the wind storm was blowing heavy and we’ve been pretty lucky with the weather as we had two perfect days for snowkiting. Blue sky and great snow pack, although it was a little bit hard because of the very strong winds during the days before. No fresh powder snow, but it was all right for cruising everywhere around the volcano.
The crew was fun: Simone Borgi, Giordano Capparella, Marco Moriconi, Antonio Rondine, Wareck Arnaud, Stefano Gigli and me. It was the 3rd time I got there and I can say that every time is really different from the years before. The only thing which doesn’t change is the wind as it’s blowing downhill all the time and everywhere we can try to go snowkiting. It’s only near the summit that we can meet the wind blowing uphill. The rest of the time, you can see the kites completely flying to the bottom of the slopes. So we have to find our own track to get further up with the aim to reach the summit, always with the kite pulling downhill. Once you know that, you don’t mind it, you keep cruising smoothly and try to go anyway to meet “Il Gigante” as the locals are calling the great volcano crater. Actually there are a few craters all along the way to the summit.The highest one is called La Voragine (3.480m), close to the more famous Bocca Nuova (3.458m) which is always bringing great steam and clouds.
On Saturday 3rd, we went snowkiting pretty early, to get the sunrise colors, and so we woke up at 4am. This is an old idea of Stefano who is always dreaming about having an “Alba” session, mainly for the mystical side of the moment. With Pink Floyd music in the MP3 player, Stefano would definitely never miss the Alba session during any Etna journey, so we were happy to go all together and enjoy to see the sunrise coming from behind the sea right next in front of us. We could see the Calabria coast and although the wind was super light (about 2-4 knots) we managed to cruise around floating in an incredible color of the sky and the snow.
At 9 AM we had a little breakfast at the ski resort Etna North, then we went hiking 10min into the backcountry and launched our kites to go discovering the northern Etna volcano wild slopes. With a wind blowing definitely downhill, we managed to climb the northern face and Marco Moriconi was the first of us to reach the summit after 4h snowkiting. Not so easy as we never know if the route we are trying will go to the top. Often, we have to pack and get back as we arrive to a large area only covered with sharp black rocks…we need a bit of luck to cruise safely to the summit. We can’t see the route from the bottom, so we just try to follow our instinct to go further up.
The different routes can also have super strong wind, sometimes more than 30 knots, and some other times we might have to pass a super light wind very large place with less than 2-4 knds. So we need two kites in the back-pack ready to be launched and it’s a real great luck to go as Marco did from the bottom to the top with the same kite without having to waste time when changing kites. Anyway, all the crew managed to reach the summit Bocca Nuova and Voragine, so you can imagine the great emotion we felt all together making photos for memories walking close to the big steaming crater.
Reaching the summit from the northern area was the first time by some snowkiters. Big ups to the crew. A real great moment that we wanted to keep in our mind while kiting really cool and quiet until the sunset and the crazy colors going from the yellow to the deep blue when the sun was gone to the dark side of the earth. Of course the day ended in Catania, one hour driving from our B&B, in a trattoria with typical food, all until midnight.
On Sunday 4th we decided to have a rest and how lucky we were as a real big eruption came at 8am with a terrific ‘end of the world’ sound and an incredible steam cloud going up 8.000ft into the sky. An eruption exactly at the same place we were kiting all together the day before, walking between the rocks for lifestyle photos… You’ll see it in the video.
This event was the Issue #1 of the 2012 MOVIE MAKER (www.ozonemoviemaker.com) and Stefano will set a great show on large screen in Roma on Wednesday 14th, called The Dark Side of the ETNA Volcano, with all movies done from these two days, as well a huge slideshow, all with the music of the Pink Floyd indeed
Well, what a super journey in Sicila we had. Many, many thanks to Stefano Gigli who organized everything, to Giovani and Roberto from La Sciara, to our boss Matt who allowed us to get there, to the crew for the all-time fun atmosphere, and of course to Mother Nature who took care of us all the time on this impressive volcano.
Snowkiting is definitely the ultimate skiing and snowboarding way.
Stay tuned for the next step of the Ozone Movie Maker, we’ll launch about April or May on a very famous spot in the Alps where no kiters have been yet