The Monte Rosa massif straddles the Swiss, Italian border above Zermatt and constitutes the end of the Western Alps. There are more than 38 peaks above 4000m, so an impressive sight from any direction. The vertical descent on skis from some of the peaks is huge which makes this area popular with ski tourers. It also has some of the wildest glaciers in the Alps. It is no surprise why the Monte Rosa area is a ski-mountaineering favorite. The resorts nestled below the peaks, Zermatt, Cervinia, Gressoney and Alagna are also a big draw for off piste skiers.
Our ski tour weaves its way along the Swiss/Italian border taking in many 4000m peaks. Most of the terrain covered is above 3500m so good touring conditions can be found in May. High altitude, steep terrain and long ascents make this a demanding advanced level tour where good ski mountaineering skills are essential.
At the end of the trip there is the opportunity to return to Chamonix for a 2-day ski ascent of Mont Blanc.
Arrive in Zermatt. Meet up with your guides for kit-check and briefing. Stay overnight in a hotel in the village.
From Zermatt we catch the cable car up to the Klein Matterhorn (3883m). We soon leave the busy pistes and head up the first 4000m peak of the trip. The Breithorn is a 2.5 hour skin from the lift to the summit. This is perfect acclimatisation and affords views across the whole Monterosa range. A ski descent is made between the east and west Breithorn summits. A short skin deposits us below Pollux and another glaciated descent to the Refugio Ayas (3400m). This hut is run by the local guides bureau, has great food and is well known for its relaxed atmosphere.
An early 'alpine start' is needed for good conditions to skin to the summit of Castor (4228m). Toward the summit ridge we will have to rope up, use crampons and carry our skis. We traverse the very narrow summit ridge of Castor (4223m) and try and take in the views on the summit whilst concentrating on our feet!. The steep descent from the Felikjoch (4087m) to the Refugio Quintino Sella (3585m) is memorable with spectacular remote glaciated scenery.
From the Quintino Sella Refugio, we ascend by ski to Passo del Naso (4100m) on the toe of Liskamm. A steep sideslip or abseil descends to the heavily crevassed Lys Glacier. We then ski down past the Gnifetti Hut (3625m) and on to the recently renovated Refugio Mantova Hut (3498m) for the night. This is a very comfortable hut with a spectacular dining room over looking the Lys Glacier.
Today reaches the highest point of the ski tour with an ascent of Signalkuppe (4554m). On the way we can bag Ludvigshohe (4341m) and Piramid Vicent (4215m) if conditions allow. It is worth stopping at the Magherita Hut(4554m) on the summit of Sinalkuppe. Named after the queen of Italy it is the highest hut in the alps and serves the highest pizza in the alps. From here we descend the spectacularly crevassed Grentz glacier to the new Monte Rosa Hut. This is one of the most spectacular ski descents in the Alps passing under the imposing North face of Liskamm. The new space age Monterosa Hut (2795m) is covered in solar panels making it completely energy efficient. It provides modern comfortable rooms.
An early start is needed to ascend to the Dufoursattel (Silbersattel) (4515m). this spectacular col lies between the gigantic summits of Nordend (4609m) and the Dufourspitz (4634m). Looking west there are incredible views of the Matterhorn and a long ski descent back for a second night in the Monte Rosa hut.
From the Monte Rosa hut we traverse east and scramble across a rocky ridge to the Gorner Glacier. We cross Gorner Glacier and ascend the Stockhorn (3532m) or Cima di Jazzi (3803m) which affords spectacular views of the Zermatt and Macugnaga valley. We descend back to the Gornergrat railway and our final night back in Zermatt.
Departure after breakfast.
We offer an add-on to this trip for a 2-day ski ascent/descent of Mont Blanc.
Transport after breakfast to Chamonix and enjoy a relaxing day. We stay overnight in the town.
From the cable-car station at Plan d'Aiguille we climb up to the Grand Mulet hut (3051m).
A big day. We leave the hut early for the climb to the summit of Mont Blanc (4807m). The descent is on the Bossons Glacier to Plan d'Aiguille. Catch the cable car down to Chamonix and celebrate a successful climb.
Depart after breakfast.
The price includes 6 full days guiding fees & expenses, 2 nights B&B hotel accommodation (twin rooms), 5 nights HB accommodation in high alpine huts.
The price does not include equipment hire, personal insurance, travel to/from Zermatt, uplift costs, local transfers, 2 evening meals, lunches and beverages.
The price for the Mont Blanc Ski Ascent is £745 per person and includes all guide fees and expenses and 3 nights accommodation - 2 nights B&B in Chamonix and 1 night HB in the Grands Mulets hut. Uplift cost and travel to and from Chamonix is not included. Minimum of 2 people required for the MB ascent.
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This is an extensive list of the recommended clothing and equipment you will need if you are coming on one of our Alpine Ski Tours.
During the tour you will be staying most nights in catered high mountain huts and will need to carry all the equipment and clothing you require for the duration of the tour. The huts are comfortable but basic with limited facilities – running cold water, European-style toilets, 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.
Any clothing or other items not required on the tour can be left in a travel bag at your first hotel ready for your return on the final night.
We recommend keeping the weight of your pack as light as possible. If you are new to alpine multi-day ski touring, try taking your pack out on the slopes before the tour to see how it feels. You quickly realise the benefit of ‘skiing light’.
If you are uncertain or need further information, don't hesitate to contact us.
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.
Zermatt is a charming alpine village. It is car-free and reached only by a 15 minute train journey from the valley station of Tasch. As you would expect given its location it is one of Europe's main centres of alpinism and is a bustling town in both winter and summer.
Surely there is no more dramatic sight in the Alps than the distinctive shape of the Matterhorn! At 4,478m it may not be the highest mountain in the Alps, but it is easily the most recognised.
All three of Zermatt's main ski areas soar to at least 3,100m. Good snow conditions are almost guaranteed and there are some superb long runs back down to the village. At 3,883m the Klein Matterhorn lift is one of the highest cable car in the world. The ski down from here is almost 13 kilometres - with 2,200 vertical metres of varied descent. Zermatt has extensive off-piste terrain and thanks to the extremely high altitude and abundance of north facing slopes, powder snow can still be found many days after it falls. In spring especially, huge areas of both powder and spring snow can be found off piste.
Zermatt is the Alps' biggest heliskiing center and its helicopter pad in the village is very busy during the winter months. Many of the runs do not require excellent skiing ability. The scenery, as you'd expect, is truly spectacular.
Our top reasons to visit Zermatt
Resort Height: 1,650m
Highest Lift: 3,883m
Nearest Airport: Zurich or Geneva
Transfer Options: We recommend you take the train from Zurich or Geneva airport to Zermatt. Connections are regular and the its takes approximatly 4hrs from Geneva with 1 change and 3hrs 30 mins with 1 or 2 cahnged from Zurich airport. To look up train timetables use this link Swiss Railway Timetables
More about the Matterhorn
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 airports for Zermatt are Sion (transfer time 2 hours), Bern (3 hours), Zurich (3.5 hours), Geneva (4 hours)
For the rail journey from the airports to Zermatt check the train times by logging on to www.sbb.ch/en
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 Introductory level is suitable for people who can ski red and black pistes in resorts without problems and you can deal with moguls and some ice. You will be new to off-piste skiing or maybe have dabbled a little on the sides of the piste or even attended a previous off-piste specific course. You would like to ski powder snow with confidence and learn to link turns off-piste in a variety of terrain as well as being able to control your speed and adjust your turn radius.
Introductory level ski touring trips are appropriate for people looking for their first touring experience. The pace is relaxed and typically we skin for 2-4hrs per day so ascents are about 500 - 800m vertical. You need to be a reasonable off-piste skier (at our Off-Piste Development level), able to link controlled parallel turns in powder snow and ski through trees in control. You need to be prepared to hike short sections on foot carrying your skis on your rucksack (though you won’t need any specific mountaineering knowledge, so crampons and an ice axe are usually not required).
Off-Piste Coaching and Adventure
For our Intermediate graded off-piste ski courses and trips you will have at least a couple of weeks off-piste skiing experience and /or received some previous instructions on an off-piste specific course. You can link 10-12 turns together in reasonable control, speed and style, following the fall line in most conditions. If you’re looking to improve your technique in deeper snow and steeper slopes then our Off-Piste Coaching Development trips are for you. These are instructor-led courses.
If you want to get some miles under your skis then look at our Off-Piste Adventure Intermediate trips which are led by our team of Mountain Guides. On the Adventure courses you can expect to hike or ski tour short distances to get to better snow and terrain, although no previous ski touring experience is required.
These tours will involve around 3-5hrs of skinning per day, achieving around 800 – 1000m of vertical ascent. We would expect you to be able skin to a pace of 300m of vertical ascent per hour. You need to be able to execute good uphill kick turns on steeper slopes and have some familiarity with use of crampons and ice axe. You need to be a reasonably strong off-piste skier able to deal with a variety of snow conditions (powder, crust, slush) and able to ski on steeper and narrower slopes with the requisite ability and confidence for exposed sections.
For our Advanced Off-Piste Coaching courses you should be an excellent piste skier and have many years experience of skiing off-piste. You should be able to ski off-piste in most conditions linking controlled parallel turns, ski bumpy terrain, trees, narrow gullies and enjoy pushing yourself to achieve new things. Your skiing should be reasonably fluid and autonomous i.e. you can already adapt your turn radius and speed to the terrain and snow conditions off-piste. This course will focus on the technical and tactical skills to ski steep terrain, jump turns and line choice as well as refreshing your avalanche skills and mountain safety. The mission is for your skiing to become more dynamic and reactive!
You are an experienced and confident off-piste skier able to handle most snow types and conditions, you can ski steep slopes (30 degrees+) and make short turns in gullies and ski through trees. These skills have been learned over a number of years of skiing off-piste with mountain guides or experienced groups of friends. You are happy to ski tour to access descents and better snow, so you will have previously used ski touring equipment and can do effective and safe uphill kick turns. You aspire to ski the best snow available and are happy to push yourself to reach the best snow and terrain.
Advanced-level tours are for experienced ski tourers who’ve previously completed another hut-to-hut trip or multiple day tours. A large proportion of the terrain may be steep and exposed; thus confidence in your uphill kick turns on 35+ degree slopes is a must, as is your ability to ski slopes of 40 degrees. You will be a strong, fluid off-piste skier able to handle all conditions. You will be confident of using crampons and an ice axe and happy scrambling/climbing on snow and rock on short climbs to summits, and in gullies to gain a col.
You can ski fluidly and autonomously on all terrain. You often ski couloirs and gullies and seek out steep slopes and you can jump turn in narrow couloirs and have experience of abseiling and sideslipping on steep terrain. You can ski fast with fluid ‘freeride’ style turns and can jump off small rocks and ski trees with no fear or problems. You are happy to ski tour and hike to reach the best snow and terrain and you should have some basic knowledge of using crampons and ice axe. Your aims are to push your skills and challenge yourself further.
Expert level ski tours are pure ski mountaineering journeys in the high mountains. You must be confident skiing steep exposed terrain and ski touring for at least 5 hours per day with long ascents. You will be expected to climb on your feet carrying your skis on your pack to summit mountains above 4000m in altitude. You must be completely confident with your crampon placement and use of an ice axe and you will have some basic rope skills and be happy walking along exposed ridges on mixed terrain to gain the summits of peaks.
You are fit enough to ski all day with only short stops for food and drink. You can ski off-piste all day without being too tired at the end of the day; you can ski in this way for multiple days on your holiday. You can also hike or ski tour for around 2 hours per day. You’re used to doing cardiovascular exercise 3 to 4 times a week (bike, run, gym) to maintain your fitness, and you’re able to push yourself if needed for short periods of time at a higher rate than usual.
You can ski all day comfortably off-piste with only short stops for food and drink, you can do this for multiple days on your holiday. If necessary you can ski tour for around 1-2 hrs up hill plus your happy to do a few short hikes to access good snow with your skis on your shoulder or rucksack. Your stamina and endurance fitness is good and you work hard to maintain a good level of fitness. You will be exercising 3-4 times a week and also at the weekend; thus running a half marathon, doing a 50 mile cycle ride, 3-4 hours on a mountain bike or a full day’s hill walk would all prove possible with this stamina level.
You can ski all day comfortably and will be expected to ascend on skis at around 400m/hr and be able to skin for at least 5hrs with up to 1000m to 1300m of ascent per day. Your stamina and endurance fitness is good and you work hard to maintain a good level of fitness. You will be exercising 3-4 times a week and also at the weekend; thus running a half marathon, doing a 50 mile cycle ride, 3-4 hours on a mountain bike or a full day’s hill walk would all prove possible with this stamina level.
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.