For many years snowboarders access to the backcountry has been restricted by resort boundaries and ones inclination to boot back or post hole waist-deep through the snowpack. The frustration that we couldn't take our craft deeper into the mountains has given way to innovation and after years of R&D, splitboarding technology has progressed enormously. Today's equipment is user-friendly, lightweight, and in many cases offers a superior ride quality to most traditional style snowboards.
This course is for keen riders who are looking to expand their skill set and experience riding outside the resort boundary. The course is suitable for confident off-piste snowboarders with aspirations to experience the purist's form of riding. You should be fit and ready for adventure. This course is a great way to meet like-minded people of a similar skill level and mindset, the social atmosphere is perfect for solo travellers and groups of friends alike.
With splitboarding experience spanning four continents Mountain Tracks office and guiding team will be here right from the start to offer you advice on fitness and equipment, plus mountains of inspiration on where this journey can take you.Mountain Tracks' three-day skills courses run throughout the season providing the perfect base from which to launch into the backcountry. The course teaches you to safely navigate the backcountry and develop a smooth and safe skinning technique to ensure you make it to the top with maximum energy left to enjoy the descent. The fully guided course lays the foundations for keen riders to progress to bigger challenges like one of our hut-to-hut tours, and what better place to learn than Chamonix, the home of alpinism.
We aim to pack in as much as possible to this short course to maximise your time with 3 full days on the mountain with your guide leading a range of skills sessions covering the following:
Once you have completed the course you will be prepared to tackle one of our intermediate hut-to-hut challenges, like the Stubai Alps Ski Tour, Dolomites Circuit Ski Tour, The Silvretta Alps Traverse, Tour De Soliel or The Bernese Oberland Traverse.
Arrive in Chamonix and check into the hotel and collect rental equipment from our recommended supplier. In the evening you will meet up with your Mountain Tracks guide for an initial briefing on current weather and snow conditions, discussion of the plan for the coming days, equipment check. This is a great chance for you to meet the group and ask the guide any questions you might have.
3 full days on the mountain with your guide leading a range of skills sessions covering the following:
During the course, you will be riding some of the best conditions on offer in one of the great backcountry destination on earth. Our focus is always on safety while giving you an on-mountain experience like never before.
On the third day we'll be on the mountain as long as possible but return to Chamonix in time for participants to make their way back to the airport for evening departures back home. We typically finish riding around 4 - 4.30pm on the final day. We recommend you book the latest possible flight back on the last day to avoid missing the end of the course, this would usually mean a flight with a departure not time from Geneva after 8pm.
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- Sun 27 Jan
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- Sun 03 Feb
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- Sun 03 Mar
All courses at £495 include all guiding fees and expenses, 3 nights B&B hotel accommodation (twin rooms), in-resort transfers.
All courses at £350 are a course only price for 3 guided days including the 2017 Dates at Christmas.
The price does not include: lift pass, lunches, beverages, equipment hire, personal insurance, travel to/from Chamonix
A room on single occupancy will incur an additional charge. Contact us for details.
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Ski Club Winter Arrangements limited (trading as Mountain Tracks)
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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 Splitboard Touring Skills courses.
On these courses you'll be staying in a comfortable catered chalet or hotel and so when riding you only need to carry a small day pack, which contains your safety equipment and any personal items you may need.
If you are uncertain or need further information, don't hesitate to contact us.
For all splitboarding trips, it is essential that you riding a fully functional splitboard. Snowshoeing is not suitable for multiday hut to hut touring.
Splitboarding is still gaining traction in the rental market. This means that currently many resorts around the alps have little or no splitboard rental options. We are always on the lookout for rental options and are happy to help you find a solution if you are having trouble finding rental equipment.
Splitboards come in many different shapes, sizes, configurations and weights. For hut to hut touring you should always look for a lighter weight setups or easy to use hardware. If you are joining a day touring trip or off-piste adventure advanced course where you will be doing short tours with a focus on powder hounding - surf or fish style boards are sensational, as will be any all mountain or freeride designed split.
There are lots of different brands on the market. Currently, the quality of build, uphill and downhill performance can vary and the price isn't always a direct indicator or performance. With such growth in the industry, we recommend you get in contact with us if you have any questions about purchasing a splitboard. Our team has a huge amount of splitboarding experience and we love to talk kit!
The length of your ride is a pretty personal choice. For backcountry riding, we recommend a board that stands about equal height with your nose with the tail of the board flat against your big toe. Directional flex or a setback stance is beneficial for crushing avalanche debris and generally cruddy snow that you will almost always encounter on long descents.
Width should be a major consideration. although a wider board will float better, they can be an utter nightmare in touring mode. The extra width can make it very difficult to hold the inside edge when traversing uphill on firm snow. This problem is amplified by the flexible nature of soft snowboard boots. a board that is too wide will sap your energy and ruin your day.
There is currently a confusing array of boots on the market. It is important to note that you do not need splitboard specific boots, but they do have some benefits. Any stiff all mountain or freeride snowboarding boot will do the job, If your boots are soft or flexed out from a few seasons use you may want to consider a new pair.
Splitboard specific boots are typically very stiff, they have sole which is suited to scrambling uphill on snow and rock. The sole is often wider and with a square edge to help you gain a mechanical advantage over the waist of your ride while in uphill mode. Finally, they may have a lip on the heel of the boot which is suitable for semi-automatic crampons. If you boot cannot take a semi-automatic crampon you can simply use something like a Grivel G-10 as an alternative.
Hard-booting is becoming more popular each year and is worthy of consideration for any keen hut to hut tourer or aspiring splitboard mountaineer. With rapidly evolving tech and fresh ideas each season its best to email us if you have any questions about hard-booting.
Splitboard bindings have advanced in leaps and bounds in recent years. In this instance, you typically do get what you pay for. Cheap binding conversion kits are okay but not great and we really don't recommend these. Bindings form a critical part of your setup and it is worth investing time into researching the different configurations and considering how they will work for you when you are deep in the backcountry. Every gram of weight matters, the lighter the weight the higher the price is the general trend, the prices can be eye-watering but it if your serious about where your ride will take you, it is worth it.
Poles that collapse into three sections are perfect. Cheap poles can and do fail, freeze, seize and rust. Trust us, if your pole breaks or fails it is a serious problem. When heading uphill the pole needs to hold your body weight and you need to trust it won't collapse or telescope back into a kiddies pole suddenly as this could lead to a series injury, long fall or an uncontrolled slide back down the mountain.
For most trips especially multi-day hut-to-hut tours you will need a 35 - 40-litre rucksack. You might get away with a big 30-litre pack if you are an experienced tourer and know what to pack. Most people will find a 35-40 liter pack is a good size for touring. You should only consider rucksacks which are designed for backcountry and multi day use.
Key features of a good splitboarding pack:
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.
Splitboarding is rapidly growing however, it is still not yet at a level that rental shops can readily own a supply of quality equipment. Many resorts around The Alps currently have zero stock for rental. Chamonix is an exception to this rule, and one of the main reasons many of our entry-level courses are based here.
At Mountain Tracks we are tracking rental options as we discover them, please make contact with us if you require some help finding the equipment you need.
The “Safety Trilogy” - required on all our ski tours and off-piste courses.
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.
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 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.
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.
You should arrange to arrive in Chamonix by late afternoon on the first day.
The most convenient airport is Geneva and from here the transfer time up to Chamonix by road is just 1 hr 15mins. To travel between the airport and Chamonix we recommend you reserve a seat on one of the many commercial shuttle buses. Mountain Tracks can book this for you and the usual prices are from £40 per person one-way. Please supply your full flight details to us so we can make the reservation.
Want to take the train to the resort? No problem – it’s possible to get to Chamonix by train from the UK using the Eurostar from London St. Pancras to Paris, then the TGV to Bellegarde and a regional train to Chamonix. The journey can be done in 1 day. For more information and other useful train travel details look at www.snowcarbon.co.uk
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 from lunchtime onwards to give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport without having to rush!
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.
You will stay in one of our preferred hotels in Chamonix or Argentiere. These are typically the Hotel Couronne 3* in the village of Argentiere or the Hotel Les Lanchers 3* in Chamonix Les Praz. Both offer comfortable rooms and serve a good breakfast and there are other facilities close by.
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.