We start our Valpelline adventure from the quaint farming hamlet of Bionaz at the Northern end of the Aosta region in Italy. This ski touring area on the Italian side of the Col du Grand St. Bernard is famous for its remote rocky peaks and hanging valleys but still remains something of a well-kept secret. If you like peace tranquility and adventure this is the place to ski tour. The Prarayer hut (2005m) is where we base ourselves. It has a very welcoming family atmosphere with open fires, comfy rooms and amazing Italian cuisine. There are showers available depending on water! This is a challenging advanced level tour with most days having between 1000m - 1500m of uphill. The terrain is steep in places and you need to be confident on slopes up to 35 degrees.
Meet in Bionaz at the Hotel Valentino where we brief the group for the weeks itinerary. We take dinner at a local restaurant a 2 minutes walk down the road. Bionaz is famous for its cross country ski tracks and Biathalon course.
We take a 15 minute taxi ride up the road to Chamin (1724m) or if the road is clear we can get all the way to Places de Moulin below the Lago de Moulin. The skinning track contours above the Place de Moulin reservoir. After a couple of easy hours getting our legs warmed up we arrive at the Refuge Prarayer 2005m where we base ourselves for 4 nights. Post Italian lunch we will head up for a short warm up tour towards the Dere la Vieille 2254m and then on towards Tsa Tsan 2615m or Bellatsa (2474m).
From the Prarayer hut our day ski tour heads south up the Comba di Valconera and Chardonney (2364m). A further gentle skin ascends to the Col Chavacour (2957m) where we can make the decision of whether to ascend further to the Dome de Cian (3348m). We then get a spectacular ski back down the line of ascent ending at the hut in time for tea.
Retracing our tracks from day 1 to Dere la Vieille we ascend further up the hillside to the small deserted hamlet of Bellatsa (2474m). The path now forks and we can choose whether we do Chateau des Dames (3489m) or the Petite Tete de Bellatsa (2974m). Chateau des Dames is the main objective but can only be undertaken if conditions are favourable. Both itineraries afford grand views of the Aosta valley and the Grand Paradiso and Vanoise National Parks. A descent down the very narrow Gorge du Gordze is a spectacular end to the day.
Post Prarayer breakfast coffee todays itinerary forges its way up the opposite side of the valley to Garda (2216m). This gives excellent views of the previous days itineraries. After a few steep kick turns below the Nacamuli Reufge (2828m) we stop for a brief coffee and snack. Col Collon (3080m) is an hour above the refuge. From here we can choose whether to do Punta Marcel Kurz 3498m or Becca Vannetta 3363m. We can descend back down the line of ascent but if conditions allow its better to make it a circular tour by descending down the Ghiacciaio del Mont Braoule and La Braule (2355m) back to the hut.
We retrace our steps contouring above the reservoir Places Moulin back to the dam where we started. A short taxi ride from the dam drops us off above Bionaz (Ruz)1700m . We then ski tour via the refuge Crete Seche (2389m) and on to our objective the Col de Crete Seche (2897m). The descent takes us back to the Hotel Valentino where we spend the night.
A taxi is taken up to Ruz (1700m). The skinning track zig zags its way up the South side of the valley past the Torrente de Moulin to Berrier (2192m). From here we turn west and ascend the Ghiacci de la Tsa to the Col de la Tsa (3002m). A further easy 100m ascent summits the Tour de la Tsa. There are two descent options, both returning to the Hotel Valentino in Bionaz and our final night.
Departure after breakfast.
The price includes: all guiding fees & expenses, 3 nights B&B hotel accommodation, 4 nights half-board accommodation in mountain huts.
The price does not include: local transfers and uplift costs, equipment hire, personal insurance, travel to/from Bionaz, 3 evening meals, lunches and beverages.
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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 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.
Italy in Western Europe had a long Mediterranean cost. Bordering France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia.
It's capital city is Rome, home to the Vatican and many other famous landmarks and ancient ruins. The country has influenced Western culture and cuisine greatly in its history.
With a population of around 59 million people (2103). Its famous cities of Rome, Florence and Venice plus landmarks like the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Italian Lakes attracted many millions of tourists each year.
Sharing Mont Blanc with France as its highest peak on the Italian/French boarder. The Gran Paradiso is the highest peak solely in Italy at 4,060m.
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.
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.
We meet up in Bionaz and stay the first night in the Hotel Valentino. You can leave any kit you don’t want on the mountain here. Thereafter we spend 4 nights in the Rifugio Prarayer before returning for 2 further nights in the Hotel Valentino. The Rifugio Prarayer is one of the friendliest on the circuit – very welcoming and friendly; an ideal place to relax after long days on the hill. The food is excellent and plentiful.
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.