For the experienced off-piste skier, Chamonix needs little introduction. The area hosts some of the greatest skiing in Europe. The use of touring equipment enables us to go the extra mile from the lift stations to gain the longest routes on the best snow. The main focus of the course is to ski the classic routes however we also offer instruction in the essential techniques of ski-touring coupled with avalanche awareness.
During this week you will ski some of the most famous tours including the Col du Passon, Col du Tour Noir and Col du Belvedere. The focus is always to get away from the crowds. We will also use the Aiguille du Midi cable car to cross over to Pointe Helbronner in Italy before skiing the Vallee Blanche back down to Chamonix.
Previous touring experience is not necessary but you must be a fit and competent off-piste skier (slopes of 35 degrees) and be willing to undertake ascents of 2-3 hours.
The itinerary is based on our many years of experience of skiing in the Chamonix valley. However, this is just a selection of the many day tours available and your week will likely differ from what is listed below depending on weather and snow conditions and the recommendations of your guide.
This week will appeal to all intermediate level ski tourers looking for an exciting week in one of the Alps' best-known resorts.
Arrive in Chamonix and settle into your accommodation. We'll have a welcome meeting and briefing at 7pm to discuss the plans for the week ahead and ensure you have all the kit.
Col des Dard – Our first day is a good warm up ski tour, a steady ascent over undulating terrain leads us to the Col des Dards.
This col is situated between the Aiguille du Belvedere and the Aiguille Crochues at 2780m. With a superb 270 degree panorama across to the Aravis mountains, Mont Blanc and the Dents du Midi in Switzerland. The tour involves a 700m ascent from the top of the Index and Floria ski lifts typically taking 2-3hrs. A picnic lunch can be taken perched on the ridge line enjoying the views.
The descent route is similar to the ascent and we enjoy the long 1,330m of downhill down over the undulating terrain.
Depending on the conditions powder is often found on this route as the descent faces north and east. Later in the season you can expect some of the best spring snow available.
Col Des Autannes – Our second ski day takes us to the Le Tour ski area at the head of the Chamonix Valley. Using the lift system we have easy access to the start of the route. The tour takes us to the Col des Autannes which is a 560m skin with a short boot pack to reach the summit ridge line. Usually this will take between 2 - 2 1/2 hrs.
Once on the ridge the views across to Switzerland are spectacular. We have a number of choices for the descent. Straight down from the ridge leads us onto the small Glacier du Bron and our goal of the Trient valley. We can also traverse a short distance further and cross the ridge line to reach the Glacier des Grands and making a long arcing ski descent towards the Trient Valley. Both descents offer fantastic skiing with a 1,400m descent finishing in Trient in Switzerland. From Trient we usually catch the bus or a taxi back to Vallorcine where the lifts will link us back into the Le Tour ski area.
Le Col du Tour Noir – The day is spent ski touring in the spectacular Argentiere Glacier basin. This vast glacier carves its way down between some of the most famous peaks of the region from its head at Mont Dolent on the border with Italy and Switzerland. We begin at the Grand Montets ski area and take the 2 stage cable car to its summit at 3,300m. We ski down onto the Argentiere Glacier where we put on our skins and tour in the direction of the Argentiere Refuge. Passing the refuge we turn left and skin towards the col above the Glacier des Amethystes. The climb is around 760m of vertical and typically takes around 3hrs to complete. At the col you can see far into Switzerland to the east and behind are the famous North Faces of the Les Courtes, Les Droites and the Aiguille Vert.
The descent route follows a similar line but we can pick our way to the left of the glacier in search of the best snow. We have a long schuss down the main glacier to return to the ski area before skiing the piste to the base of the mountain.
Brèche de Bérard or 'Keyhole' – is a super day tour, lesser known than the other popular tours starting from the same place. We access the tour from the Flegere lifts and the first of our 2 climbs takes us to the Col de Crochues. a skin and boot pack of about 250m. Once at the col we have a short ski down on the other side and traverse towards the Combe d’Envers de Bérard. From here we ski tour towards the higher part of the ridge separating the combe from the Bérard Valley. A further 400m height gain takes you to the 'Key Hole' or 'Brèche de Bérard', a narrow gap in the ridge which we climb through to access the ski descent on the other side. The ascent usually takes a total of 3hrs.
Our descent route in the Bérard Valley is a classic ski with 1,500m of descent. We usually find great snow on the way down and the rolling terrain hides some stashes of powder snow. The bottom of the valley is reasonably flat and we have to negotiate the narrower terrain next to the river by skiing and traversing on a path, often involving side-stepping up short hills and tackling some moguls and avoiding the trees. We finish in the hamlet of Le Buet right next to a hotel and bar where we can enjoy some refreshment before taking the train back to Chamonix.
Punte Croce, Aosta valley. Today we head through the Mont Blanc Tunnel into Italy. The Italian side of the massif is very spectacular with stunning views of the huge Peutery Ridge of Mont Blanc, the longest ridge in the Alps and the huge South face of the Grand Jorasses. Punta Croce is an attractive independent peak, separate from the main ski domains of the upper Aosta valley. This tour takes us into a remote and unspoiled landscape seldom visited by other skiers. Firstly we drive up to valley leading to the ski resort of La Thuile and park in the pretty hamlet of Arpy at 1700m. From Arpya an 800m (2h30) ascent leads up a beautiful valley into a high cirque with a frozen lake at its head. From here the climb continues up the eastern slopes to the summit at 2500m. From the summit fantastic north facing slopes take us back down towards Arpy. This circular tour is an unforgettable voyage through an untouched winter landscape, and is a welcome tonic from busy ski domains.
Col du Passon – for our last ski day we return to the Grands Montets ski area to access our last tour of the week. Taking the lift to the summit of the Grands Montets again we ski one of the off piste routes to reach the Argentiere Glacier. This time we cross the glacier lower down and head towards its right bank under the slopes of the Aiguille du Chardonnet and the Bec Rouge.
Here we put on our skins and ascend the 750 metres to the Col du Passon. Parts of the skin will be a little steeper and the last 150m vertical is done on foot carrying our skis on our rucksacks. We scramble up a short climb to the ridgeline usually wearing our crampons and using our hands to pull ourselves up. Once the ridge is gained you can rest and eat your lunch on the wide plateau of the Glacier du Tour. The ascent usually takes between 2.45 – 3hrs. Our descent route is via the vast Glacier du Tour a whopping 2,500m down to finish in the village of Le Tour. We can either ski the left side or the centre of the glacier for the best route. The terrain is smooth and rolling with some short, steeper sections (35 degress). Towards the bottom we approach the trees and bushes behind the village and traverse out crossing the river by bridge before ending our day at the bottom of the Le Tour ski area. We take the bus back to Chamonix.
Depart after breakfast.
NO SINGLE ROOM SUPPLEMENT FOR DEPARTURE DATE 02 MARCH, SAVING £275
The price includes 6 guided days, 7 nights accommodation on typical chalet board (breakfast and afternoon tea each day and a 3-course evening meal on 6 nights of the week) and daily ski transfers.
The price does not include flights, airport transfers, uplift costs, lunches, drinks, 1 evening meal and equipment hire.
£795 OPTION IS COURSE ONLY - NO ACCOMMODATION IS INCLUDED IN THIS OPTION - IDEAL FOR CHAMONIX LOCALS!
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This is an extensive list of the equipment you will need if you are coming on one of our Day Ski Touring trips
During the trip you will be staying most nights in comfortable chalet or hotel accommodation on a half board or B&B basis. You will just need to carry a day pack with your avalanche safety equipment and a few personal items.
On some of our trips you will stay 1 night out in a mountain hut. Huts in the Alps are comfortable but very basic with limited facilities – running cold water, European-style toilets and dormitory-style accommodation. All the huts provide ‘hut slippers’ – these days they are usually Crocs - and so you will not need to carry additional footwear. You will need to have a sleeping bag liner for any hut nights; huts provide a duvet or blankets plus a pillow for sleeping so its not necessary to carry a sleeping bag.
For all touring trips it is essential you ski with an all-mountain/freeride type skis, ski touring boots and ski touring bindings. If you have your own skis but they do not have ski touring bindings then you will need to rent skis. The same applies if you have downhill ski boots, you will need to rent ski touring boots.
For alpine ski touring we recommend an all-mountain/freeride touring ski that isn’t too heavy, a really lightweight ski comes at a cost to performance on the descents so are only recommended for really good off-piste skiers with a strong interest in ski touring.
There are plenty of great skis to choose from and we highly recommend skis from the following manufactures:
Dynastar Skis: www.dynastar.com
Movement Skis: www.movementskis.com
Black Crows Skis: www.blackcrows-skis.com
Trab Skis: www.skitrab.com/en-us
Scott Skis: http://www.scott-sports.com
Volkl Skis: http://www.voelkl.com
If you are planning on buying skis for ski touring and general skiing and have any questions do not hesitate to call us to discuss the options available to you.
It is essential that you have ski touring boots for all touring trips as walking up hill is much more comfortable in these types of boots with a walk mode and great flex. A dedicated touring boot or a hybrid freeride boot is best.
Avalanche airbag rucksacks can be used for touring but they are heavy, adding somewhere between 5-8kg just for an empty pack plus canister. So unless you are sure you can carry it and fit all you need in, we do not recommend you use one.
Over a long multiday tour every gram of weight is important as you have to carry and move it yourself. Carrying a heavy pack will hinder and tire all but the most experienced and fit ski tourer.
The “Safety Trilogy” - required on all our ski tours and off-piste courses.
Food and Water
We suggest you bring with you or buy in resort snack food that you can take out on the hill with you each day. Things like cereal bars, dried fruit and nuts, chocolate, sugary sweets or your favorite hill snacks. When you’re staying overnight in huts its best to take supplies for the days you are away. Huts do sell food but it’s expensive and sometimes stocks run low.
If you have any food allergies or dietary requirements especially if you are a Coeliac (Gluten free) or have a dairy allergy we strongly recommend you bring some food with you that you can supplement your dinners with. The huts are fairly good at providing for vegetarians but less so for other dietary needs.
You have to buy bottled water in the huts as usually any running water is non-potable. Bottled water is expensive in French and Swiss huts; you can be paying upto 12-16CHF per 1.5L bottle of water. So please ensure you budget for this cost.
France a Western European country with Paris as its capital city. The country is diverse with countryside, mountainous areas and many beautiful beaches. The country is renowned for its food and wine as well as well know places like the Eiffel Tower, Louvre and the Palace of Versailles.
Its population is around 66 million people (2013). The highest mountain is Mont Blanc at 4,810m which is visited by many every year to climb.
It is a condition of booking that you are insured for your chosen activity and the cover must include medical expenses, personal accident, personal liability, third party risks and rescue (including helicopter rescue). You are strongly advised also to take out cover against cancellation and curtailment.
For more details and to purchase a policy online visit http://www.skiclubinsurance.co.uk/
If you need assistance arranging your personal insurance please let us know.
The most convenient airport is Geneva which is served by many UK and International airports.
The transfer time from the airport is about 75 minutes to Chamonix and to get to the resort we recommend that you book a seat with one of the many transfer companies who offer shared minibus transfers to and from the airport. Mountain Tracks recommends Mountain Dropoffs or Cham Van who both offer comparatively priced transfers and run a regular and efficient service.
All our ski tours are led by our team of IFMGA Mountain Guides. The team is led by Olly Allen, Matt Dickinson and Nick Parks.
Our preferred chalet in Les Houches is Chalet Shiraz operated by our friends at the Ski Club of Great Britain. The comfortable and convenient base is the perfect platform from which to explore the Chamonix Valley, find out more about the chalet here.
Subject to availability we may also stay in one of the many hotels or chalets in the town.
IFMGA / UIAGM / IVBV
The IFMGA / UIAGM / IVBV symbol is the logo of the International Federation of Mountain Guides Association.
Nick, Olly and Matt are all fully-qualified UIAGM Mountain Guides and members of the British Mountain Guides Association.
The International Ski Instructors Association is the world body for professional ski instructors.
The ISIA was formed in 1971 and there are currently 39 member nations representing the very best in ski instruction around the world.