France, Europe

Tarentaise Day Tours

For years Sainte Foy remained a relatively unknown ski-touring area - except to a hand full of in-the–know locals who came to get away from its more renowned (and busier) neighbours of Tignes, Val d'Isère, Les Arcs and La Plagne. More recently its reputation as one of the best areas has grown and we love coming here and enjoying some of the best day tours in the French Alps. 

The trips includes a climb to the summit of the Foglietta, with a full descent of the north face – one of the most iconic and rewarding ski descents in the world. Glorious scenery with views of the Archeboc and Ormelune summits and the hanging glacier of Les Balmes. We'll also travel to the Col du Lac Noir - the Italian/French border with stunning views across to the Grand Paradiso in Italy.

Après-ski is a grand affair: The Auberge sur la Montagne has a hot tub, sauna, atmospheric bar and facilities for video analysis and presentations. Usually our course members are the only guests. Our courses also usually take in some après-ski wherever they have been skiing that day.

The Tarentaise hosts some of the best off-piste skiing and touring in the world. There is a wealth of opportunity to ski powder and enjoy magnificent scenery. Within 20-25 minutes from our accommodation we can be in Tignes, Val d'Isere, La Rosiere and Les Arcs.  

The ski station of Sainte Foy itself is a small but wonderful ski area with extensive untracked off-piste. Its fantastic rolling terrain, steep upper slopes and lower forests gives a fantastic environment to explore on skis.

 

Day Itinerary

  • Travel to Sainte Foy, meet with the rest of the group; your chalet hosts will welcome you to the Auberge on your arrival. Dinner will be served in that chalet around 8pm.  The following evening you will meet your guides and they will take a course briefing and kit check before dinner.

    The Auberge has touring equipment for rental and a ski workshop with trained technicians. Avalanche safety equipment is available to hire for those that need it.

  • The week starts with a warm-up day with no guiding. The chalet mini buses will be available to take you to the Sainte Foy ski area.

    You will meet your guide(s) this evening who will take a course breifing and kit check before dinner.  This is an oportunity to ask any questions you have related to the week.  

  • We’ll start off with a day in Sainte Foy. We’ll use the Marquise chair to access Col Granier and the fabulous north face of the Fogliettaz, taking us down into the Mercurel valley and round to Le Crôt for a mini bus pick up at the snow line to take us back to the lift system. We’ll then go to the top of the Aiguille chair and put on skins. The climb to the summit of the Fogliettaz takes around an hour and gives us the full descent of the north face – one of the most iconic and rewarding ski descents in the world. The minibuses will meet us at the snowline again and take us back to the Auberge. A really memorable ski day to start the week off. The beers in the hot tub at the Auberge will have been well earned.

  • We’ll use 4 x 4’s to get as close to the snowline above Le Chenal as we can. We’ll skin up through the deserted summer farming villages. Glorious scenery as we’ll be in sight of the Archeboc and Ormelune summits and with the hanging glacier of Les Balmes just beside us. We’ll then climb steadily via the cheese farm of Les Balmes, up to the wonderfully silent Lac Noir and continue up to the Col du Lac Noir - the Italian/French border with stunning views across to the Grand Paradiso in Italy. As picnic spots go, this is hard to beat! We’ll then descend back to the Vallon du Clou and carry on down for our pick up and transport back to the Auberge. That evening we’ll look at some video footage the guides have taken during the day.

  • Off to Val d’Isère! A 20 minute ride in the minibuses gets us to Le Fornet, where we use the lift system to the Pissalis glacier. From the high point we ski down through the Pays Désert to the Pont de la Neige where we put on skins. From here it’s a steady climb with sensational views across into the Maurienne up to the Col des Fours, for a picnic at the top. The descent is on west and north westfacing slopes past the Fond des Fours refuge and joining into the bottom of Cugnai. We’ll finish the day making the most of our lift pass in Val d’Isère and ending with some quality après ski before returning to the Auberge.

  • Today we’ll take an overnight back pack and take the minibuses to the snow line above Le Crôt. We’ll put on skins and climb around Pierre Giret taking the very gently ascending track round to the Mercurel valley and Chapelle St Roch and continuing on to the Archeboc refuge. Here we can leave our overnight kit, have a refuelling brew and then head on up on 30 degree slopes towards the Italian border and the Col du Mont. The views here are stunning; both down the Valgrisenche and looking back into France. We’ll ski down on west and north nest facing slopes back to the refuge for our overnight stop.

    Breakfast in the refuge. Skins on straight away and an interesting and varied climb on south facing slopes to the Montseti ridge and the Col de Montseti – probably continuing at the ridge up to the summit. The Col opens up spectacular possibilities for descents on the north facing slopes down to the Ruitor refuge where we’ll stop for a picnic lunch. We are now on the plateau below the Ruitor glacier with spectacular glacial scenery all around. The undulating descent out (IE some requires skinning up!) takes in the Chapelle St Pierre and back around to Le Crôt for a minibus pick up. The massage jets in the hot tub will be particularly welcome as will the celebratory return dinner in the Auberge.

     

  •  Depart after breakfast

The price includes 5 guided days, 7 nights half-board accommodation, group airport transfers from Geneva or Chambery Airport and daily ski transfers.
The price does not include: lunches, personal insurance, equipment hire, international travel, uplift costs.
Single room occupancy in the Auberge is limited and will incur an additional charge of 50% (around £230 - £260). Contact the office for further details.

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This is an extensive list of the equipment you will need if you are coming on one of our Day Ski Touring trips

During the trip you will be staying most nights in comfortable chalet or hotel accommodation on a half board or B&B basis. You will just need to carry a day pack with your avalanche safety equipment and a few personal items.

On some of our trips you will stay 1 night out in a mountain hut. Huts in the Alps are comfortable but very basic with limited facilities – running cold water, European-style toilets and 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.   You will need to have a sleeping bag liner for any hut nights; huts provide a duvet or blankets plus a pillow for sleeping so its not necessary to carry a sleeping bag. 

  • When choosing clothing for ski touring you want to think light, warm and versatile. During the trip weather conditions will change and you’re likely to go from warm afternoons where you’ll be carrying most of your gear in your rucksack, to icy-cold mornings when you’re wearing everything to keep warm! Getting hold of the best and lightest kit available is always worth it and most of the major brands will be able to supply suitable kit.
    • 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.
    • An outer shell jacket made of waterproof and breathable material like Gore-Tex or similar with a built-in hood. The lighter the better and so a shell is recommended rather than a insulated jacket.
    • 1-2 thin fleeces - rather than a thick layer between your skin and the outer shell - an approach which gives better heat retention and good flexibility. These tops are known as ‘mid layers’. The principle of ‘layering’ e.g. allowing you to easily add/remove layers depending on the temperature and the activity is recommended to ensure comfort on the mountain.
    • 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.
    • For the lower half it’s essential that you have a pair of thermal base layer pants (long johns).
    • These can then be combined with either:
    • (a) a good pair of ‘technical shell’ pants in a waterproof and breathable fabric like Gore-Tex (b) a pair of mountain or alpine pants in a softshell material together with a pair of lightweight, breathable over trousers with long side zips.
    • Top and bottom underwear made of a synthetic, wicking material. Very popular at the moment are the wool based layers from companies such as Icebreaker and Smartwool. They are comfy, breathable and warm when needed and can be worn for days without your friends catching a whiff!
    • Good quality Gore-Tex gloves or mitts and a thin pair of softshell or fleece gloves for when it is hot and for ski touring in. 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.
  • 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.

    Skis
    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.

    Boots
    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. 

    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 Cosmo 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-fit¹ liners as standard equipment. You may also want to consider a custom liner as these are heated and molded 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-shelf’ 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
    For all ski touring trips ski touring bindings are essential. Fritschi and Marker both make excellent ski touring bindings and you have a few different options to choose from. Many more people are seeing the advantage of the “pin” binding system now offered by a number of manufacturers as these are light and offer ever improving security despite their minimalist looks!

    Ski Poles
    We recommend telescopic poles. They must have wide powder baskets (4-5 inches/100-120mm diameter) otherwise you’ll be up to your armpits on the ascents. Go for an alloy rather than carbon poles which are lighter but have a nasty habit of snapping near the basket due to ski edge nicks.

    Rucksack
    For most ski tours especially multi-day hut-to-hut tours you will need a 35 - 40 litre rucksack. You might get away with a big 30 liter pack if you are an experienced ski tourer and know what to pack. Most people will find a 35-40 liter pack is a good size for touring.

    Key features of a good ski touring pack:
    • 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, sunglassed/goggles etc; an ice axe loop
    • a built-in rain cover an a secure method of attaching/stowing a ski helmet 
    • good hip/waist belt and adjustable shoulder straps

    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.

     

    • 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 skis and touring bindings you must provide your own ski crampons. 
    • Ice Axe - general lightweight mountaineering / alpine pick. Ideally this needs to be short enough to fit in your pack.
    • Boot Crampons - ideally lightweight aluminum ones although steel crampons are required for more demanding tours
    • Climbing Harness - a simple lightweight harness. The key feature is that it should have fully adjustable leg loops for putting on over ski boots, crampons, etc.

    On some tours in non-glaciated terrain an ice-axe, boot crampons and climbing harness may not always be required. However as conditions and itineraries can change we do generally recommend that you bring these items with you. If you do not own these items they can be rented to you by our guides or via one of the local sports shops.
  • The “Safety Trilogy” - required on all our ski tours and off-piste courses.

    • Avalanche Transceiver/Beacon
    • Snow shovel
    • Avalanche probe
    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 www.mountaintracks.co.uk/activity/avalanche-training
    • Good pair of ski goggles with a lens for low light is essential in the event of snow and poor visibility
    • Good quality sunglasses with 100% UV protection
    • 35 – 40 liter rucksack
    • 1 – 1.5 Liter water bottle – we don’t recommend hydration systems (e.g. camelbak) in winter as they can freeze.
    • Food – bring some of your favorite hill nibbles (chocolate, energy bars)*
    • Suncream and lip salve
    • Camera with a large capacity memory card!
    • Money – most hotels, shops and restaurants accept credit cards, but not all the alpine huts do. You should allow about 30-40 Swiss Francs or 20-30 Euros per day for lunch and drinks (amount approximate and depends on consumption)
    Please note that your guide will have a few “spares” and other safety items that he or she will ask the group to carry between them; so leave a small space in your sack for an item e.g. spare skin, spare ski pole, emergency shelter.

    For a hut night:
    • Lightweight sleeping bag liner – now compulsory in most huts.
    • Wash kit with small personal first aid items – should include:
    • Toothbrush and paste - a mini one is ideal
    • Soap
    • Anti-bacterial hand cleaner
    • Wet wipes – essential to try to maintain hygiene
    • Tissues and toilet roll
    • Plasters – of various sizes and possibly some adhesive wound dressings.
    • Pain Killers – aspirin or Paracetamol/Nurofen
    • Antiseptic cream or wipes
    • Blister kit – compeed and elastic tape to hold it in place (essential)!
    • (Note: Guides will have comprehensive first aid kits and are qualified in mountain first aid)
    • Small light quick dry towel e.g. a Lifeventure Soft fiber towel
    • Most huts have limited washing facilities
    • Earplugs – it can get quite noisy!
    • Headtorch - lightweight and carry spare batteries.
    • Book, pack of cards and or Ipod/MP3 player – It’s nice to have something to read or listen to when you are in the huts or to challenge your fellow travelers to a game of card. These items are not essential but if you have space you might appreciate them.
    What to wear in the hut
    We are often asked by people what they should wear in the hut. It's a good question as you don't want to carry many or any extra clothes with you if they are not required. In the winter you will probably end up wearing your base layer thermals (top & bottom) or you can carry a lightweight pair of loose trousers to wear around the hut in the afternoons/evenings. Your base layer top is what you will probably wear on your top half or you can carry a t-shirt to wear in the hut that can double to sleep in. 

    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.

  • Most resorts have ski shops that hire ski equipment and we try to provide relevant contact details for all our courses and tours.

    Prices do change by resort/country, but here’s an approximate guide to hire costs for 6-days hire:

    Touring Skis plus skins and ski crampons €150-180
    Touring boots €80-90 
    Boot Crampons €45-50
    Ice Axe €30-40
    Harness €20-30
    Helmet €20-30
    Transceiver/shovel/probe €75-80

    Our guides also generally have additional sets of safety equipment (transceiver/shovel/probe) which they hire out to clients for €65 for 6 days hire. Must be booked in advance.
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France

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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 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.
     

  • Sainte Foy is accessible by road, rail and air.

    The nearest airport is Chambery with a 90 minute transfer time. Geneva and Lyon are both about 2½ hours away.

    The course fee includes a group transfer to/from Geneva airport.  We meet at 2pm at Geneva airport on the arrival day so you should arrive on a flight no later than 1.15pm; on the departure day, we ask you to book a flight that leaves Geneva airport no earlier than 2pm so there is time to travel to the airport. 

    It is also possible to travel by train to Bourg Saint Maurice (with a Eurostar direct day service from London St. Pancras to Bourg Saint Maurice on Saturdays throughout the ski season. Timetables and bookings are available at Eurostar. Bourg St Maurice is only 10km from the chalet and the train offers a viable alternative to a flight and transfer. The chalet hosts provide a twice-daily pick-up and drop-off service at the station.

    Check with our office for detailed travel arrangements.

  • 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. 

  • 6 nights chalet-board accommodation (twin rooms) in the Auberge Sur La Montagne just outside Ste Foy. One night during the week will be spent in a high mountain hut for that authentic ski touring experience!
    We have been running courses in the Auberge sur la Montagne for ten years and we and our Mountain Tracks clients love it. The best endorsement here is the number of repeat clients we have for the Auberge.
    It’s ideally placed – 4 minutes from Sainte Foy; 8 minutes from access into the Tignes/Val d'Isère lift system; 10 minutes from access into the Les Arcs/ La Plagne lift system, and 25 minutes from accessing La Rosière/La Thuile. The Auberge mini buses pick us up at airports on the weekends and take us to and from where ever we choose to ski.

    At the Auberge there’s a real attention to detail. Everything is on hand and in-house.

    There’s a ski tech room along with 160 sets of rental equipment – and over 15 sets of skis equipped with Diamir Fritschi touring bindings along with skins and ski crampons. During our weeks at the Auberge we’ll have an informal seminar with the Auberge Ski Tech on ski tuning and servicing techniques.

    There’s a state of the art outdoor hot tub with bar service (with a vast whisky selection!). There’s also a sauna.
    The Auberge has a TV room, which is used by the guides for video analysis of clients' ski technique.
    The best feature of the Auberge though is the quality of the food. Rarely in our travels have we come across such a high standard of cuisine. Simply superlative!
    Check it all out on the Auberge website: http://auberge-montagne.com/auberge.html .

    For our 2016/17 courses in Sainte Foy you will either be accommodated in the Auberge Sur La Montagne or the Great Escape Chalet in Sainte Foy resort. The weeks commencing January 2nd, 18th February, 11th & 18th March will be accommodated in the Great Escape Chalet. You still receive the same great service and food plus transport to the resorts close by. The other weeks will be based from the Auberge.

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