Chamonix, France

Single Day Avalanche Awareness Course

It is essential for all off-piste skiers and boarders to have an on-going education regarding avalanche awareness. This 1 day course is run by our team of fully qualified IFMGA Mountain Guides who, as well as being experts on backcountry travel and safety, are also passionate skiers and mountaineers.

No previous avalanche training is required.

Please note this is a CUSTOM/TAILOR-MADE course run on request only, please send us an enquiry with your preferred date so we can discuss putting this together for you. For scheduled courses please check out our Foundation and Advanced level training courses.

Nature gives plenty of warning signs ahead of an avalanche and its of critical importance to be able to read these signs. At a bare minimum you should be aware of the '5 red flags' of avalanche danger:

  • RECENT AVALANCHE ACTIVITY
  • TEMPERATURE RISE
  • SIGNIFICANT SNOWFALL IN THE LAST 24 HOURS
  • STRONG WINDS
  • CRACKING, BLOCKING OR WHOOMPING OF THE SNOW PACK

We recommend all skiers should attend an avalanche course. The most important lesson are as follows:

  • Understanding of the formation of wind slab
  • Avalanche activity and the shape of the terrain including the steepness of slopes
  • Effect of temperature on the snow pack
  • How changing seasons effect the avalanche risk
  • How to read and understand the avalanche report
  • Human factors influencing risk
  • How to adopt safe travel techniques
  • Self rescue and the use of equipment

Day Itinerary

  • This is a one-day course held in Chamonix, France which can be booked by individuals or small groups of skier and snowboarders. On request we can also hold this in other locations for private groups. One of our IFMGA Mountain Guides will take the course and will cover the following course components:

    Understanding about snow pack formation and avalanche types and triggers
    Ability to plan journeys in avalanche terrain.
    Ability to organise search and rescue

    A. Snow, Slopes and Triggers

    Snow and formation of snow pack
    Influence of terrain
    Influence of weather
    Avalanche types and triggers
    Snow profile
    Field tests

    B. Information, Observation and Decision Making

    Avalanche bulletins and danger scale
    Weather forecasts
    Route planning
    Making observations
    Decision making and risk reduction
    Group organisation and travel techniques
    Survival strategies

    C. Rescue Organisation, Searching and Emergency Care

    Rescue procedures
    How transceivers work
    Transceiver search exercises
    Probing and digging
    Rescue scenarios
    Emergency care

The single day course will cost from £395 for the day.  Please contact our office for more information on this course and prices for larger groups of 2-6 people or more. 

Specific dates are available on request or tell us when you want to do the course. 

Guide ratio is maximum 1:6 persons. 

On these courses we spend most of the time out on the mountain and you need to have suitable clothing and equipment including a small day pack to carry your safety equipment and any personal items you may need.

Headwear - to include warm hat and sun-cap or wide-brim hat for extra protection from the sun. Although we do recommend helmets for off-piste skiing, for ski touring they are not essential and actually can be a hindrance – they are hot, heavy and you can’t hear very well when wearing it

An outer shell jacket - made of breathable material (Gore-tex or equivalent) with an excellent hood. The lighter the better and so a shell is recommended rather than an insulated jacket and you supplement this with some good quality thermal base and mid layer tops following the principle of layering – i.e. allowing you to easily add/remove layers depending on the temperature and the activity

A good quality pair of ski trousers - characteristics might include bib-style front with braces (to keep the snow out), side-openings (useful for when you get hot), breathable fabric (Gore-Tex or similar), stretch knee pads, integral snow gaiters. NB: Bib-style trousers can be too warm in spring in which case waist-cut trousers would be better

Mid-Layers - 1-2 thin fleeces rather than fewer thick layers between your skin and the outer shell an approach which gives better heat retention and good flexibility

Gloves - good quality goretex gloves or mitts

Skis & Boots - All-mountain skis with downhill ski boots or snowboard are suitable for our avalanche training courses

Avalanche Transceiver, Snow Shovel and Avalanche Probe

Ski Goggles - good quality with a lens for low light is essential in the event of snow and poor visibility

Sunglasses - good quality with 100% UV protection

Rucsack - 20-25 litre with straps for carrying skis

Water bottle - we don’t recommend hydration systems (e.g. camelbak) in winter as they have a tendency to freeze

Suncream and lip salve

Favourite hill snack

Steeps 13.jpg

Chamonix

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The town of Chamonix-Mont-Blanc is situated at 1042m (3,396 ft) above sea level. It sits at the foot of Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Western Europe at 4807m (15,770 ft).

Chamonix is considered by many as Europe's mecca for outdoor sports and draws many enthusiasts from all over the world. Unlike many of the purpose built resorts, Chamonix is a proper working town with a large population of about 12,000 inhabitants. This number can be boosted by as many as 80 - 100,000 during the peak months in summer and winter.

As befits a town of this size there are plenty of shops, hotels, cafes, bars, pubs and nightclubs.

Our top reasons to visit Chamonix

  • Home of the Vallée Blanche, one of the world’s great off-piste descents

  • Great destination for weekends and short breaks

  • Easy access from the UK and just 75 minutes by road from Geneva airport, which has regular flights from many UK airports

  • Thriving, working town full of shops, bars and restaurants = good shopping, good après-ski

  • The Alpine capital of France renowned for big mountain skiing, alpinism and extreme adventure

  • Mont Blanc – the highest peak in Western Europe

  • Very long ski season with skiing possible until well into May

  • Good range of accommodation for all budgets

Chamonix Ski Area

The skiing area of Chamonix is generally considered to have some of the best off-piste skiing in the world. Much of this is accessible from the lift systems and includes descents of over 2,000m. The Chamonix valley extends over 20km and there are several separate lift systems and mountains which provide enormous variety and all are included on the Mont Blanc pass.

Off Piste runs include:

The Vallée Blanche

The longest off-piste ski descent in the world (24kms).

Pas de Chevre

Ascend to the top of Grand Montets and ski down to the Mer de Glace and on into Chamonix.

Glacier du Toule

You can ski the Glacier du Toule down towards Courmayeur and then catch the cable car back up to the top of the mountain and ski the Italian side of the Vallée Blanche.

Le Tour

From the back of the Le Tour lift system there is fantastic off-piste skiing towards Vallorcine and Switzerland.

Some of the very best areas can only be reached with an hour's ski tour from the pistes. The effort expended is more than rewarded with the awesome skiing across untracked terrain.

Chamonix is just as much about the climbing and mountaineering in the summer months, with easy access into the high mountains and many magnificent climbs and routes available plus an extensive network of high alpine huts its also a mecca for climbers.  Mont Blanc draws over 20,000 ascents a year both by ski and foot and any good weather day in the summer months will see numerous people achieve the summit.


Resort Information:

Resort Height: 1,042m

Highest Lift: 3,842m

Nearest Airport: Geneva

Transfer Options: From Geneva the transfer time from the airport is about 75 minutes to Chamonix. 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 Drop Offs or Cham Van who both offer comparativly priced transfers and run an efficient services.

More about Mont Blanc

Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in Western Europe. Its height is 4,807 metres (15,780 feet), but varies from year to year by a few metres, depending on snowfall and climate conditions. The mountain lies at 45°55′N, 6°55′E between the regions of Haute Savoie, France and Aosta Valley, Italy

The first known ascent was made on August 8, 1786 by Jacques Balmat and Michel Paccard.

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