The Bernese Oberland is a magical part of the Alps. It's vast glaciers feel more arctic than alpine in scale and provide the ski mountaineer with some truly impressive terrain to tour through. The areas peaks lend themselves perfectly to either logical ski ascents or ski mountaineering summits where you travel to a fine ridge on skis and tackle the final climb in crampons (and a number of the areas famous 4000m peaks can be tackled in this way). Your efforts will be well rewarded by this areas huts which are rightly famous for their comfort, hospitality and good food. Enjoying a cold beer on the sunny terrace of the Konkordia Hut, with a majestic view & after a great days skiing, will make you think you have struck the perfect holiday balance of effort and relaxation!
Ski Bernese Oberland Course Aims
- Enjoy 6 days ski mountaineering in the high mountains on varied terrain featuring long glacier journeys, peaks & cols
- Complete some good ski mountaineering training & acclimatisation during the first 'shakedown day' with further training throughout the week
- Spend 4 nights in superb Swiss Mountain Refuges, enjoying the ambiance & cuisine of high mountain hut life
- Meet up with like other like minded ski mountaineers for a memorable & sociable spring ski journey
The Ski visitor to the Oberland has a wealth of appealing options to plan their trip around. Our creative programme makes great use of the excellent Swiss Alpine Club huts & means you can traverse various peaks & cols going from hut to hut with a reasonable sized touring pack, not much bigger than you would need for a glacial day tour. The huts are very good & you can travel safe in the knowledge that a warm welcome, good meal & comfortable bed all await you at the next Base Camp!
We have had a fantastic trip and you were right, Neil is a terrific chap to spend a week touring with , I have really enjoyed his company and his knowledge and guiding skills keeping us safe - we all finished intact and with big grins :0).
Thanks again and I will be in touch before next winter.
Please note: This itinerary is flexible and may change according to weather, conditions & team fitness & aspirations.
- Pre Course. As with all our ski courses, we recommend you prepare as much as possible in advance with relevant ‘ski fit’ preparation and then arrive at least a day or two early to both warm up your ski legs & check equipment. This is especially important if you will be renting boots or skis & bindings. Please also make sure your skis are well serviced & bindings correctly adjusted.
- Day 1 - Course Intro & equipment checks followed by a ski mountaineering 'shakedown day'. Location will be one of the high lifts of the Mt Blanc Massif eg. the high 'Punta Helbronner' lift with a day spent around 3300m skiing, refresher training, acclimatising and enjoying the truly spectacular views of the Italian side of 'Monte Bianco'. Return to Chamonix in the afternoon & an opportunity to do any last minute shopping before going 'on tour!'
- Day 2 - An early start is made for the journey to Grindlewald. Often we use this day as an opportunity to drop a car at the Goppenstein train station and complete the onward journey to Grindlewald by train. This then allows a fantastic final descent down the mighty Lotschental and out of the mountains after the Oberland traverse. In Grindlewald we ascend the spectacular Jungfraujoch railway & enjoy the remarkably swift access to the the high Oberland. Ski down huge Jungfraufirn Glacier to the superb Konkordia Hutte. Enjoy a drink on the high sunny terrace at Konkordia....Welcome to the heart of the Bernese Oberland!
- Day 3 - Our Oberland journey now heads East to explore and skin up the Grunegfirn Glacier over the shapely Grunhornlucke (3280m). After carefully descending the often crevassed easterly slopes of the pass we ascend the classic ski peak of the Weisnollen (3590m) & descend to the impressively smart & modern Finsteraarhorn Hutte. Spring ski touring often gives quite early arrival times at the hut and plenty of time for a hearty Swiss Rösti, quality technical training & even the odd afternoon nap!
- Day 4 - An early start & enjoyable Swiss Alpine Hut breakfast leads to an initial ski descent of the grand upper Fieschergletscher. Our route leaves this at around 2900m for the 1000m climb up the glacial east flank of the Gross Wanenhorn (3905m). A brilliant ski peak and, in good conditions, superb descent. To safely manoeuvre our way around the Oberland, the
best route now takes us back over the Grunhornlucke for another night at Konkordia.
- Day 5 - The ski ascent of the Kranzberg (3666m) is an Oberland classic and gives an interesting series of south facing pitches in descent. If conditions and our timing are right, this will hopefully be on perfect spring snow. After this 1000m ski journey we commence the steady ascent of the huge Grosser Aletscherfirn with magnificent views of the impressive Aletshchorn North Face. The Hollandia Hut (3240m) provides our Base Camp for the night in a commanding position between the upper Glaciers of the high Oberland and the awesome valley descending to the West...
- Day 6 - An early start from Hollandia leads directly in to the steady skinning ascent all the way up the shapely Abeni Fluh (3962m). An excellent south facing ski descent takes us back to the hut for a café & to pick up equipment before the famous long westerly ski descent of the Lotschental. A suitably grand exit from an amazing week of touring in the high Oberland.
- The onward journey is then taken via bus / train & car either back to Chamonix or directly to Geneva via the train.
A great week with Neil. We did just what we wanted, no more, no less. In other words, Neil's quiet guidance made us make good decisions...
He'll give you the details, no doubt, but it was a super trip with an interesting group
Course Pre-Requirements Ski Mountaineering Experience & Fitness
This is a good tour for people with some existing ski mountaineering experience (if you don't have any check out our introduction to ski touring weeks and weekends). A good level of general fitness is required, as whilst none of the individual days are huge, they are all sustained, at high altitude and contain around 1000m+ of ascent. An ability to comfortably maintain an ascent rate of 300m/hr on skins for up to 5 hours is required.
Very effective and controlled off-piste skiing is also required and this means the ability to make linked short radius turns in a wide variety of off-piste snow conditions and on steep slopes up to 35-40 degrees.
Whilst none of the objectives described in the itinerary include technical mountaineering ascents, ice axe & crampons will be carried and some prior experience in their use is required. Good efficient skinning technique, competent kick turns & effective use of ski crampons are all also essential skills to have prior to joining this high and remote ski tour.
There are many other excellent Ski Mountaineering objectives in the Bernese Oberland including more technical ascents on the 4000m peaks relevant to lower ratio (1:2) privately guided groups, eg.
- Traverse of the Fiescherhorn (4049m), PD
- Jungfrau (4158m), PD+
- Gross Grunhorn (4044m), PD+
- Finsteraarhorn (at 4274m the highest peak of the Oberland and visible from much of the W. Alps), An excellent alpine PD
- Aletschhorn (4193m), PD from the Bivvi Hut but a long and remote outing.
Thanks for a great 3 days and in particular for your tremendous navigation yesterday. Spot on and have a great summer, David.
Course Notes & Equipment List
- Please note that the detailed kit list, given via the link below must be followed and all ski kit including boots, skis, skins, ski crampons, poles, transeiver, shovel, probe must be hired in advance or arranged in advance with us.
16 - 21 April
6 Days, Sunday - Friday Inclusive. 4 / 4 Places Still Available (Enquiries: 1)
Opportunity to do either our Chamonix Off Piste & Ski Mountain Skills week before this course.
Opportunity to Ski Monte Rosa after this course.
2016 Course Fee
Guiding Ratio of 1 Guide to a Maximum of 4 Guests
What’s included in the Price?
- 6 full days ski mountaineering guiding & training with an International Mountain Guide (IFMGA)
- Return car travel from Chamonix to Switzerland
- Management of the trip / itinerary and booking of all mountain huts
- Discounted equipment hire prices
What’s not included?
- Accommodation. We recommend that you stay at the Hotel Les Aiglons in Chamonix. If this is full or you would like an alternative style of accommodation please see our recommended list for places to stay in Chamonix.
- Mountain huts, allow about 80 Swiss Francs CHF per night for half half board accommodation plus your share in the Guides 50% discounted rate.
- Ski lift passes & train fares, including the expensive, but superb, Jungfrajoch railway.
- The guides hut, lift & public transport expenses are split between the group members and are heavily discounted in huts and on lifts. The best way to deal with these expenses is to make a communal group 'kitty' to which you contribute fixed amounts of cash for equal group expenditure.
- Food and drink during the course
- Ski equipment. Check the kit list below
- Appropriate ski mountaineering insurance
- Any other expenses
Further Details & Booking
For more details on our terms & conditions, to fill in a booking form and make a payment, please visit our booking page via the link below.
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If you have ski toured in the Bernese recently, please add any relevant comments on snow & ski conditions via the 'New comment' button at the base of the page.