New Route for 2019! We visit France, Italy, and Switzerland and enjoy the best of the skiing and ski touring this amazing area has to offer. The tour has a wild and remote felling for the most part even though we are close to some of the best off-piste resorts in the Alps.
We have updated the tour for 2019, having run our first trip in the winter of 2018, we are aiming to do an anti-clockwise tour of the massif. Starting in Chamonix we will transfer to Les Contamines and aim to reach Bourg St. Maurice. From here we use the lifts and resorts of La Rosiere and La Thuile to cover a good section of the Italian side of the massif. Passing through Courmayeur, the half-way point, we head up the Italian Val Ferret to the Rifugio Bonnati; then on over Grand Col Ferret and into Switzerland. The last part of the tour will be via the Val d'Arpette and the Cabane du Trient before finally rejoining the Chamonix Valley at Le Tour.
Travel to and meet in Chamonix, overnight in a hotel.
Our first day starts with a short transfer by road to Les Contamines, about 30 mins by minibus. From here we start with a skin up the Nant Borrant valley towards Chalet Refuge La Balme. Keeping left-handed we follow the river valley over undulating terrain to the Col du Bonhomme t 2329m and onto the Col de las Croix du Bonhomme at 2433m.
It's a long ascent, 1200m, but worth the effort for the views out into the Italian Alps and southwards to the Ecrin massif. Here we can enjoy a long ski towards Les Chapieux far down in the valley at 1550m. At Les Champieux we aim to follow the road toward the village of Bonneval Les Bains above Bourg St. Maurice. We will be picked up here and taken to our accommodation near Bourg St. Maurice by taxi.
Overnight in a hotel in Bourg St. Maurice or Seez.
In the morning we take another short minibus ride to the ski lifts in La Rosiere, here we make use of the mechanical uplift and head towards the Col du Petit St. Bernard. From the Col we have 2 options depending on the snow conditions. First is to take the touring route option via the Vallon de Chavannes, to the Col de Chavannes. This is a beautiful wide valley with a steady climb from around 1850m to the Col at 2603m. From the Col there are spectacular views down the Val Veny back towards Les Chapieux and to Courmayeur in an easterly direction. We are aiming for the Refuge Elisabetta Soldini in the Vallon de la Lee Blanche, where we spend the night.
The second option is to stay within the ski area and cross into Italy at the Col and continue to ski on the La Thulie side for the rest of the day until we take a transfer to Courmayeur that afternoon. Accommodation would be in a hotel in Courmayeur if this option was taken.
If we have taken option 1 the day before we leave the Refuge Elisabetta Soldini and have a fairly flat ski and push out of the hut along the valley floor until we pick up the summer road and cross-country ski tracks that lead us to the ski lift at Zerotta, Courmayeur. There is an option to do some skiing in Courmayeur if time allows. If we took option 2 the day before we will spend some time skiing in the Courmayeur ski area in the morning before taking the bus to Planpincieux in the Italian Val Ferret and beginning our ski tour to the Rifugio Walter Bonatti.
We spend the night at the Rifugio Walter Bonatti, a wonderful Italian hut with great food and hot showers.
We leave the Rifugio and have a nice downhill ski between the larch trees to the valley bottom. From here we begin our ascent to Grand Col Ferret at 2537m and head into Switzerland. We have a long descent down the other side to the village of La Fouly. We can stop for a drink in one of the local bars before we take a taxi to the village of Champex where we spend the night in a local hotel.
Today is basically an up-hill day! We begin with either taking the small chairlift in Champex to its summit and skiing a little then beginning the skin up the Arpette Valley, or we can begin from the road and skin all the way!
The Val d'Arpette is beautiful and surrounded by big peaks with the Pointe d'Orny at the head of the valley. We are heading for the Col des Ecandies at 2796m and on up to the Cabane du Trient at 3170m. The climb is steady to begin with but steeper as you head toward the Col. On reaching the Col you have the huge expanse of the Plateau du Trient in front of you and views straight ahead to Mont Blanc and the Chamonix Valley. We overnight in the Cabane du Trient.
We start with a downhill shush from the hut out across the glacier. We put on our skins and have a short, steady skin to Col Superior du Tour at 3289m. We clamber between the rocks on the Col and have a wonderfully long ski down the Glacier du Tour to enjoy. Sticking to the right bank of the glacier we pass by the Refuge Albert Premier and then the seracs on the retreating Glacier du Tour, which are quite spectacular. We join the route that comes in from the classic ski tour Col du Passon, towards the bottom of the route before rejoining the ski area at Le Tour, at the head of the Chamonix Valley.
Return to the first hotel for the night.
The price includes 6 guided days and all guides expenses, 7 nights accommodation of which 6 are in hotels (twin room sharing) on a half board basis and 1 night is in a mountain hut with half board and local transfers for the scheduled tour.
The price does not include flights, airport transfers, uplift costs, lunches, drinks, any additional unscheduled local travel, dinners and equipment hire.
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This is an extensive list of the recommended clothing and equipment you will need if you are coming to one of our Ski Tours.
During the tour you will be staying most nights in catered high mountain huts and will need to carry all the equipment and clothing you require for the duration of the tour. The huts are comfortable but basic with limited facilities.
Any clothing or other items not required on the tour can be left in a travel bag at your first hotel ready for your return on the final night.
We recommend keeping the weight of your pack as light as possible. If you are new to alpine multi-day ski touring, try taking your pack out on the slopes before the tour to see how it feels. You quickly realise the benefit of ‘skiing light’.
If you are uncertain or need further information, don't hesitate to contact us.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The “Safety Trilogy” - required on all our ski tours and off-piste courses.
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.
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.
We suggest you aim to arrive in Chamonix by mid-afternoon on the first day. This gives you time to check-in to your accommodation and collect any equipment rental you might need before the welcome meeting and briefing which is usually at 7pm in your hotel.
Our preferred hotel in Chamonix is either the Hotel Les Lanchers in Chamonix Les Praz or the Hotel de la Couronne in Argentiere, both are comfortable 3* hotels. Accommodation is provided on a twin share basis, if you wish to have a single room then please ask but they are subject to availability and usually there is a supplement. Hotel accommodation is on a half board basis where breakfast and dinner is provided each day. There is one mountain hut night where accommodation is in dormitory style rooms and your provided with breakfast and dinner.
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.