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The man who speaks to the snow
The man who speaks to the snow
The man who speaks to the snow

THE MAN WHO SPEAKS TO THE SNOW

Interview to the freeride man of Livigno

Freeride enthusiast, snow expert and new dad, Fabiano Monti is the reference point of all that is about snowfalls in Livigno. He achieved the PhD at the Davos University developing a simulation systems about the snow stability. Afterwards he founded Alpsolut, a company that elaborates meteorological data and provides avalanche forecasts. Since few years he based in Livigno, where he devoted his professionality to the development of a safer and more conscious off-piste skiing. We asked him some question.

Fabiano Monti - Snow expert

Hi Fabiano, Where starts your passion for snow and tell us about the route that brings you to become a snow expert?

Actually I’ve always been enchanted by snow since I was a child. I think that all the children love snow, but for me it was something really special, and then growing up the story didn’t change.
Now, when big snowfalls comes, the pressure for the safety problems related to avalanches gives some more worries…but in me I’d always like to see one more centimeter coming.
When it was the time to choose whether to go on with my studies, I decided to enroll in a course about management of the environmental risk, and afterwards I went to Davos for a PhD with the goal to optimize new tools for the avalanche danger forecasts.
There it seemed to be in a center for “special kids”: in the institute were working 130 people from all over the world, everyone working on projects related to snow. We were all linked by the same passion: the mornings with fresh snow the center was empty.
Later, when I had to choose where to move, Livigno was my first choice…and here I am.

What exactly a snow expert does?

Actually snow expert means many works. With some friends met in Davos, I opened a company that works exclusively on snow related projects. We make avalanche forecasts, making in safe of streets, villages and ski areas, risk mitigation plans for activities such heli-ski, snow features measurements and simulations starting from meteorological data. All those works related to snow.
And yes…frequent question, unfortunately snow experts work also in summer, we prepare all the plans for the winter emergency management.

Fabiano Monti - Snow expert

Tell us about your relationship with Livigno and about the Livigno Freeride Project, that we are pursuing in these years?

I’ve been knowing Livigno since many years, when I was in the high school I was seeing it as a dream place, now it became my home. When I had to choose whether to come back in Italy I tried to understand if Livigno may need a figure like mine; after two meetings I understood that we would have had a lot to do. I ended up organizing the avalanches forecast office and the Freeride project.
Now 5 years have passed, and the Freeride project is well established, the times of freeride prohibitions are far away.
We created a great group of professionals that work together to reduce the risks related to avalanches, trying in the meanwhile to increase the risk consciousness also within the tourists. Even a foreign Alpine Guide that arrives in Livigno with his clients can find an office where to get information and suggestions: this is not so common in the Alps.

To you, freeride enthusiasts reached a good level of consciousness of the risks or there is a lot to do yet?

In the last twenty years the number of enthusiasts doing ski mountaineering or freeride significantly increased and the number of victims maintained steady. This means that there is a bit more of consciousness and culture, we are on the right way.
Anyway, there’s still a lot to do, many people still don’t know the basic concepts about safety. I’m not talking about the self-rescue tools to carry, but also the basic behaviors to prevent incidents. There are people that rely, probably unknowingly, on fortune; in our group, we call them “immortals”: the only certain we have is that if one of us would dare to do one of those lines, he’ll be buried under meters of snow.

Fabiano Monti - Snow expert

Now you are working on a new and ambitious project called H2020 Prosnow. Can you tell us what is it about?

The Prosnow Project has been financed by European Union with H2020 funds; in the project are involved different companies of all the Alps and its objective is to provide new tools to the ski areas to make the snow production more efficient and effective. Livigno will be one of the places that will test this new tools and it will give suggestions about how to improve their features. The snow making system became essential for alpine skiing, our commitment is to make it more sustainable both at the environmental and economic levels.

Tell us about your lifestyle, how’s living in a house surrounded by backcountry without streets, bringing your child in snowmobile?

I had the fortune to find a house a bit above the village, near the ski slopes. When I saw it I immediately understood it was perfect for me. We are not far from the apres ski, but in the meanwhile I can sit out of the door and admire the valley. Every day I make those 6-7 turns with my skis to get to the office, and they are enough to start my day in the right way, then if there is fresh snow is also better. When I think to the traffic that many people have to bear to come home in the evening, my 15 minutes of ski mountaineering are a dream.
Since one and a half year we also a have a baby with us, but he seems to like living over there. The only ones who were a bit weirded out about it were the grandparents, when they saw us leaving with the skis to go to the daycare.. but they’ll get used to it.

Fabiano Monti - Snow expert

In Livigno, what are your favorite freeride spots?

Actually I don’t have a favorite spot, every moment has its right line: it’s like the food, even if I love carbonara, eating it for breakfast is not that good. Therefore when it’s snowing I like the forests next to home, there are a lot of possibilities. When it’s sunny I like ski mountaineering, last year I enjoyed going in the south of the village, toward Monte Vago, while this year I’d like to explore the zone of the lake, which is really less frequented.

Photo by Daniele Castellani

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