Italy, Europe

Off-Piste Adventure Advanced Gressoney

Gressoney is our base for this advanced level off-piste week. The resort sits in the heart of the Monterosa ski area which includes the resorts of Alagna and Champoluc.

The region has a reputation as one of the "BIG" off-piste resorts of the European Alps, it offers superb backcountry skiing on extensive off-piste terrain including some excellent tree skiing. The scenery is impressive with views that include Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn, the Gran Paradiso and many of the Monterosa's 17 summits . The Monterosa ski area is also one of the best heliski destinations in the Alps. The highest lifts give you 2,000m of vertical descent.

Snow cover is more often than not good enough to make it possible to ski back to the resort. Despite the many attractions of the Monterosa region, it is still relatively undiscovered and the slopes remain blissfully quiet with rarely a lift queue during the week.

This excellent week aims to provide first class guiding from professional, friendly Mountain Guides to improve off-piste skiing technique You will also recieve practical mountain awareness training on the hazards and risks associated with skiing off-piste particularly for avalanches - all while skiing the best off-piste in the Monterosa ski region. 

Day Itinerary

  • Travel out day. You should aim to arrive in Gressoney by late afternoon.

    There will be a welcome meeting, briefing and kit check with our guides at 7pm in the hotel.

  • The first day is a 'freeskiing' day when no guiding is provided, followed by 5 guided days.

    There is no set itinerary and your guide will decide on where to ski each day based on the prevailing snow and weather conditions, his recommendations and your own preferences.

    The week is intended to be fun with lots of thrilling skiing but always directed with maximum attention to your safety and the safety of others.

    The Monterosa Ski area is large, with exceptional off-piste skiing. This is a week in one of the Alps hidden gems.

  • Depart after breakfast

The price includes: all guide fees and expenses, 7 nights half-board hotel accommodation (twin rooms) The price does not include: lift pass, lunches, beverages, personal insurance, equipment hire, travel to/from Gressoney Single room occupancy may incur additional charges.

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Ski Club Winter Arrangements limited (trading as Mountain Tracks)
Registered in England No. 2099115. VAT No. GB 461 5692 34

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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 Off-Piste Adventure trips.  On all our weeks you’ll be staying in comfortable catered chalets or hotels. When skiing you need to carry just a day pack, which contains your safety equipment and any personal items or extra clothing layers you may need.

    • A good quality pair of ski trousers. They must be made from a waterproof and breathable fabric like Gore-Tex or similar. It’s useful to have some venting zips on the legs either inside or outside thigh or full length side-zips. Integral snow gaiters and some pockets for handy items are good features.
    • An outer shell jacket made of waterproof and breathable material like Gore-Tex or similar with a built-in hood. We advocate the ‘layering principle’ and so a shell is recommended rather than an insulated jacket.
    • Comfortable underwear with good wicking properties. Very popular at the moment are the wool based layers from companies such as Icebreaker and Smartwool. They are comfy, breathable, warm when needed and can be worn for days without your friends catching a whiff!
    • Several thin (rather than fewer thick) layers between your skin and the outer shell - an approach that gives better heat retention and good flexibility. These tops are known as ‘mid layers’.
    • Insulation layer like a down or Primaloft jacket is a good item to have ready to wear in the event of cold weather, it can live in your rucksack as a spare layer and can come in very handy for sudden changes in the weather.
    • Roll neck rather than a scarf. We use and recommend the ‘Buff¹ ¬ a light, stretchable tube. Excellent despite the name! They do both a fleece/cotton version for warmth or just a cotton one (to keep the sun off).
    • Headwear to include warm hat and sun-cap or wide-brim hat for extra protection from the sun. Mountain Tracks fully supports the wearing of helmets for skiing, although not mandatory for any of our trips we do recommend them.
    • Good quality, ski gloves or mitts if you suffer from cold hands and 1 thinner pair of gloves made from a soft shell or fleece material if the weather is warm. These are particularly useful if you do any ski touring or hiking on the trip as thick gloves quickly become too hot.
    • Silk inner gloves can be useful if the weather is cold and you suffer with cold hands.
    • Technical Socks - Investing in good quality ski socks will improve fit, warmth and feel when skiing for long periods. Bring along a few pairs.
  • We continue to see big changes in ski, boot and binding design and technology, which make off-piste skiing and ski touring much more accessible. For our Adventure courses we prefer you to ski with” freeride” skis, ski touring boots and ski touring bindings. If you have your own skis but they do not have ski touring bindings but are suitable for off piste then you are welcome to bring them with you. Downhill boots are also acceptable but please bear in mind that you will do some touring on ALL our Off-Piste Adventure courses so you made need to hire suitable skis and boots in resort.

    Skis
    There are many ‘all-mountain/freeride’ skis to choose from and we highly recommend skis from Dynastar, Movement, Black Crows, Trab Skis, Scott and Volkl. Look for a ski that is the right size for you height, typically the tip of the ski should be somewhere around your nose height. As for the width of the ski or “side cut” a mid-fat ski – 90-110mm under the foot is a good place to start; this offers plenty of flotation off piste, while remaining suitable for day tours and they should also handle reasonably well on piste and mixed terrain.
    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

    Boots
    For our Off-Piste Adventure courses its best to have a pair of ski touring boots – they have great skiing performance and with the vibram soles they are much safer for scrambling around on rocky or icy ground. However standard downhill ski boots are also acceptable. We do not recommend you come on a trip with brand new boots.

    If you are going to be getting into off-piste and ski touring, then rather than having a pair of downhill boots and a pair of ski touring boots, we strongly suggest that you opt for a good pair of ski touring boots. With advances made in plastics, moldings and materials in recent years you can now get a ‘hybrid’ touring boot that offers as much downhill performance and stiffness but they come with a walk mode and good flexibility for the uphill too. Many boots fall into the category "hike & ride" so a 3 or 4 buckle boot, walk mode, vibram/grippy sole and possible Pin binding compatible.
    It just makes more sense - not only are they much more comfortable to walk in compared to ordinary ski boots, they are great to ski in too.

    Scarpa have lead the way in touring boots for many years but they have been joined by other manufactures like Dynafit, Salomon, Scott, Black Diamond, Dalbello and K2; all producing their own versions of a ski touring boot.
    • Scarpa’s Freedom boots are their Hybrid offerings, great ski performance, a walk mode and vibram sole. Their Maestrale (men’s) and Gea (women’s) boots are also highly recommended.
    • The Scott Celeste and Cosmos boots have stood the test of time and are good all round choices.
    • Salomon’s Quest Max series offer boots with a walk mode in various flex’s with good downhill performance.
    • Dynafit offer the Mercury or Vulcan boots plus a range of lightweight options like the TLT6.
    The best of the rest are:
    Fischer - Transalp
    Black Diamond – Quadrant and Factor
    K2 – Pinnacle boot
    Dalbello – Lupo or Sherpa
    Langue – XT series offer a ski boot with a walk mode in various flex options

    Boot Liners
    These days many manufacturers offer ‘thermo-fit’ liners as standard equipment. You may also want to consider a custom liner. Heated and moulded to your foot and boot for a perfect fit, they can make all the difference especially if you have trouble finding really comfortable
    ‘off-the-shelf¹ boots. Zipfit liners are a great option for anyone seeking total customisation in fit and comfort. They will replace the original liner.

    Custom Footbeds
    Essential kit – to provide additional comfort and ski control. If you want to get footbeds made or a pair of new boots fitted then we suggest you visit somewhere like Profeet for a professional fitting. Don’t forget if you have footbeds in your downhill boots but need to rent touring boots then you can bring the footbeds with you and put them in the hire boots.

    Bindings
    We prefer you to have ski touring bindings on your skis for our adventure courses but if you have downhill bindings mounted on your skis then this is perfectly acceptable. The new touring bindings are every bit as safe for downhill as alpine bindings, yet you have the additional advantage of being able to walk uphill with them to access the real off-piste. Fritschi Diamir and Marker both have great bindings which can be used with ski touring boots and downhill boots. Many more people are seeing the advantage of the “pin” binding system now offered by a number of manufactures; they are light and offer ever improving security despite their minimalist looks!
  • Although our Off-Piste Adventure courses rely heavily on the lift systems in resorts, access to and egress from runs sometimes involve climbing and walking a short way and you may undertake 1 or 2 day ski tours, for this reason its best to have skis with ski touring bindings, skins and ski touring boots.

    • Ski Skins – these are skins which, now made of artificial fabric, stick to the bottom of your skis and allow you to walk up hill. They must be cut to fit your skis exactly, so if you are bringing your own skis you must provide your own skins.
    • Ski Crampons (aka Couteaux) - most ski touring bindings have ski crampons specifically designed for the binding. We always carry these just in case. Again if you are bringing your own skis and touring bindings you must provide your own ski crampons.
    • When skiing on glaciated terrain you will need a harness and occasionally boot crampons and possibly an ice axe. Your can guide can supply you with these items if you do not have your own.
  • The “Safety Trilogy” - applicable for all our off-piste courses and ski tours.

    Avalanche Transceiver/Beacon 
    Snow shovel
    Avalanche probe

    Avalanche airbags/rucksacks – if you wish to ski with one of these on our courses you are welcome to do so, they are not mandatory but we always support the use of available safety items.
    You can hire avalanche rucksacks in a lot of resorts, makes are usually Snowpulse/Mammut, ABS or BCA Float sacks. Prices vary from shop to shop and resort to resort but a guide line price would be from €20-30 per day or around €100-120 for 6/7 days.

    Remember it is not enough just to carry this equipment; you have to know how to use it.
    How about joining one of our specialist avalanche courses – check out http://mountaintracks.co.uk/discipline/winter-mountaincraft

  • Good pair of goggles – essential. Useful to have 2 pairs on powder days in case of head plants! A pair with a lens for low light is essential in the event of snow and poor visibility
    Good quality sunglasses – UV factor category 4 recommended
    20-30 liter rucksack is usually suitable for most off piste skiing. Key features are a method of attaching your skis in either a A-frame (one either side) or both together on a diagonal ski carriage; easy access into the main compartment without having to empty the sack to get something at the bottom; separate pocket for avalanche shovel, handle and probe; small top pocket for items like wallet, sunglasses/goggles etc; an ice axe loop and possibly a built in rain cover and a secure method of attaching/stowing a ski helmet (if you use one). It’s essential that the pack has a good hip/waist belt and adjustable shoulder straps.
    Avalanche airbag rucksacks can be used but please remember that they are heavy, adding somewhere between 5-8kg just for an empty pack with cylinder in; so unless you are sure you can carry it and fit all you need in, we do not recommend you use one.
    1-1.5 Liter water bottle – we don’t recommend hydration-systems (e.g. Camelbaks) as these often freeze in winter
    Suncream and lip salve (factor 30 or higher recommended.)

Italy in Western Europe had a long Mediterranean cost.  Bordering France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia.   

It's capital city is Rome, home to the Vatican and many other famous landmarks and ancient ruins.  The country has influenced Western culture and cuisine greatly in its history.

With a population of around 59 million people (2103).  Its famous cities of Rome, Florence and Venice plus landmarks like the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Italian Lakes attracted many millions of tourists each year.

Sharing Mont Blanc with France as its highest peak on the Italian/French boarder.  The Gran Paradiso is the highest peak solely in Italy at 4,060m.

  • 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 UK residents Ski Club Travel Insurance may be a suitable option.

    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.
     

  • You want to arrange to arrive in Gressoney by late afternoon on the first day. 

    At the end of the week the course finishes after breakfast on the last day and we recommend that you arrange your return/onward flight for mid morning onwards to give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport without having to rush!

    The most convenient airport is Turin a 1.5hrs by road or you have a choice of Milan Malpensa (2hrs by road) or Milan Linate airports. There are train connections from all the airports to the town of Pont Saint Martin, which is in the main Aosta valley at the point where the road towards Gressoney turns off the motorway.  Journey time to Pont Saint Martin from Turin is approximately 1hr 20mins by train. For train connections visit www.trenitalia.it 

    At Point Saint Martin you can catch the bus to Gressoney. There are several services during the day and the line is run by VITA www.vitagroup.it/datapage.asp?id=3&l=1. A copy of the timetable can be found from this page.

    Savda also operate buses from Turin and Milan airports www.savda.it/ 

    Private road transfers can be booked with “Tour Shuttle” who offer one way and return transfers to Gressoney from 210€ for 1 – 4 persons.   www.tourshuttle.com/EN/italy/transfer_turin-airport_gressoney.html 

    Or with “Airport Transfers” who do private transfers to Gressoney from 220€ for a group of 4 or more, details are on their website: www.airporttransfers.it/index_eng.php 

     

  • Our Off-Piste Adventure courses are run by our team of IFMGA Mountain Guides led by Olly Allen, Matt Dickinson and Nick Parks.

    The guide to skier ratio is 1:6 and we can run with a maximum of 2 groups on the same week.

  • You will stay in one of the hotels in Gressoney La Trinite. Our preferred hotels are the Hotel Dufour and the Hotel de Gletscher.
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