This course is a fantastic opportunity for a small group of expert level skiers (maximum 3 with 1 guide) to spend a thrilling and challenging week in Europe's steep skiing capital, Chamonix.
The clinics are run by Miles Smart. Miles is an American IFMGA Mountain Guide who has led steep skiing clinics for several years. The clinics consist of five days: two days working on individual skiing technical skills, climbing skills and developing the correct psychological outlook, then three days applying what you've learnt with descents of the best terrain in and around the Chamonix valley: the Cosmiques or Glacier Rond, Col des Christaux, Couloir du Vent, Marbree Couloir, Couloirs on Petit Combin.
This course will suit extremely strong and fit skiers who can ski on all terrain. You want to learn and understand the techniques and psychology required to ski very steep terrain. You enjoy the adrenaline that comes from challenging yourself but this is not your main motivation.
Below is a sample itinerary only, The course is 5 days with 2 days of technical skills/preparation followed by 3 days of steep skiing - the itineraries and routes will be set by our guide depending on the snow and weather conditions.
Miles Smart is an American IFMGA-qualified mountain guide. He spent his first winter in Chamonix in 1999 and has been based in the Alps each year ever since. He is the 2004 recipient of the AMGA Guide of the Year award and is an instructor and examiner for the American guide scheme. Miles worked along side Doug Coombs running the Steep Skiing Camps in La Grave, France, and has since taken over these steep skiing camps.
Miles works equally within the disciplines of skiing, climbing and mountaineering. His guiding highlights include a guided ski descent of the Grand Teton in Wyoming and a guided ascent of the Bonatti Route on the Grand Capucin above Chamonix. Miles has climbed El Capitan in Yosemite more than twenty times and has made many speed climbing records on this wall, and has also skied many steep lines such as the Gervasutti Couloir on Mont Blanc du Tacul. Miles lives in Chamonix with his wife Liz.
There are 4 couloirs that get progressively steeper – starting at 30 degrees and going to above 40 degrees. They are all accessed from the liftsystem but may require some side-stepping and traversing. These are excellent training runs for the techniques of steep skiing and the introduction to some exposure and long consistent runs. Depending on snow conditions a short abseil may be necessary to enter the top of one of the couloirs
These runs are steeper (40 degrees +) and longer than day 1. As on day 1 they are mostly accessed from the lift but some traversing and poling will be required to get back to the lower lift stations
Our destination - the Glacier du Toule and the Marbre Couloir. The Toule Glacier is not especially steep but there are some interesting and exciting steep entry points on the main slopes. The Marbre couloir is a steep face (40-45 degrees) under the Dent du Geant. It offers some fairly hefty exposure and you need to ski safely and slowly with strong jump turns to descend it. In total it is an approximately 1,000m vertical descent (with a walk/skin of around 30minutes to access it)
These are day long ski tours with around a 2½ hr skin to the entry points. A long boot pack up a steep face is also required for the Glacier du Mort. The slopes after the Col du Belvédère are accessed by an 80m rappel followed by a steep face to ski into the Berard valley. The Glacier du Mort has a number of alternative routes down – many very steep and narrow. You can also continue beyond the Col de Belvédère along the east ridge of the Aiguille du Belvédère for about 30 minutes to access some steep and exposed slopes on the north face (45-50 degrees)
Ascend the Aiguille du Midi cable car and ski the Vallée Blanche to the flat Salle à Manger section. From here it’s a 3 hour skin with a boot pack/climb at the end to access the shoulder of the Tacul. From here you ski open but steep slopes back towards the Vallée Blanche. The run ends with a short abseil over a cliff to rejoin the glacier
The price includes 6 nights B&B twin share accommodation, 5 full days guiding, and in resort transfers.
The price does not include: lift pass, lunches, personal insurance, equipment hire, travel to/from Chamonix.
Please make sure you are booking a correct trip type in order to avoid any confusion.
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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.
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.
The “Safety Trilogy” - applicable for all our off-piste courses and ski tours.
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
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.
Our Steep Skiing Clinics are led by Miles Smart. Miles is a very experienced American IFMGA Mountain Guide who has lived and worked in the Alps for many years.
The clinics are guided on a 1:3 ratio. We can run the course with up to 6 participants and Miles would be joined by another IFMGA Mountain Guide specialising in steep skiing.
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.