Intro Ski Touring Weekends
This is a dynamic weekend designed to give you a fun and informative insight into the magical world of ski touring. It packs the essential elements of our 5 day course into 2 action packed days, featuring satisfying ascents on skins, remote off piste skiing, technical training and generally enjoying the atmosphere of the mountains.
We run three separate weekends in January, February and March and whilst each course is an intro, with no prior touring experience required, doing all three would give a great opportunity to learn, practice, consolidate and develop your ski touring skills in 3 superb different locations.
Our January course makes the most of the deep winter snow pack and is based in Chamonix to take advantage of the lifts, trees and hopefully ski some great powder. The February courses heads to the scenic south side of the Mont Blanc range and tours in the lovely Italian Val Feret with the comfortable Rifugio Bonatti as Base Camp. In March the spring touring season is underway and the weekend is based at the remarkable Grand St. Bernard Monastery run by the hospitable monks. This gives a great opportunity to explore this classic ski touring area on the Swiss - Italian Alpine border.
- Enjoy 2 days ski touring in the Alps
- Do some fun off piste skiing & hopefully find great snow
- Complete practical introductory training in the essential skills for ski touring
- Spend a sociable weekend in the mountains and meet other like minded skiers
Each of our intro touring weekends blend a great mix of satisfying ascents on skins, fun & remote off piste skiing and completing some fine journeys whilst undertaking some important training along the way...
Intro Weekend - Essential Ski Touring Skills Training
- Understanding your ski touring bindings and becoming efficient using them & making transitions
- Skinning - The crucible of ski touring! How the skins work, putting them on and taking them off, easy angled & steeper turns (kick turns)
- Avalanche awareness, route planning, safe travel techniques - choosing terrain
- Becoming skilled in the use of your essential avalanche emergency equipment, shovel, probe and transceiver
- Effective skiing techniques for different types of off-piste terrain (this course is run by a Mountain Guide, not a Ski Instructor, but you will still receive some valuable guidance about off piste technique. Check our 'Off Piste & Mountain Skills' course if you think you need more off piste coaching.
- Use of maps, guide books, GPS and the latest 'Apps' for route planning and navigation
- Emergency Procedures in the Alps
A lot of new skills need to be learned by the newcomer to ski touring so we focus on the practical essentials and leave more subtle / advanced techniques and glacier skiing for another trip! Training takes place during the journey and with specific sessions both on the snow & in the great indoors!
Intro Ski Touring - 2 Day Course - Sample Itineraries
Our three inspiring itineraries have been created to offer you a good mixture of ski touring, training and visiting a great area. Each weekend venue has been chosen to make the most out of the 'normal' conditions at that time of year and offer interesting opportunities to tour even if the weather and snow conditions are not ideal. As with all mountain itineraries, they sometimes need to be changed at short notice according to these factors.
Even though this is only a short course we recommend you prepare as much as possible in advance with relevant ‘ski fit’ preparation and then, ideally arrive a day or two early to both warm up your ski legs & sort ski equipment. This is especially important if you will be renting boots or skis & bindings. Please also make sure that your bindings are correctly adjusted & skis are well serviced.
January Course - Based in Chamonix
Day 1. Introduction to the weekend and ski equipment checks. An opportunity to use the lifts of Chamonix to kick start the ascent and then complete several short skinning journeys making fresh tracks away from the pistes. This is an excellent & essential intro touring day with plenty of time for some skiing & training the elements described above. A good venue for this day is Le Tour at the eastern end of the Chamonix Valley, a resort where you can tour on either side of the French - Swiss alpine border! Return to Chamonix for the evening.
Day 2. An opportunity to consolidate on yesterday's training with some longer touring journeys. The Aravis, just down the Arve Valley from Chamonix gives a great opportunity again to use the lifts to gain height, then skin up some hills and get away from the pistes. The Croise Baulet at Combloux is a great example of an attractive & logical ski peak. Achievable by folk just starting touring, this is an enjoyable ascent with superb views of the Mont Blanc Massif. Return to Chamonix late afternoon. Possible to return to Geneva this evening or enjoy some more skiing the following week.
February Course - Starting in Chamonix - Based in The Italian Val Feret
Day 1. Introduction to the weekend and ski equipment checks before transferring to the Italian side of the Mont Blanc Massif and enjoying a steady skin up the beautiful Val Feret. The Bonatti Hut provides a fantastic base camp for this weekend and even the approach to the hut through Larch forests gives an enjoyable ascent with good opportunities for skinning training. After lunch at the hut, the afternoon is spent training and enjoying some short skinning journeys to hopefully ski some great snow. Dinner at the hut is usually excellent and a sociable & comfortable night is spent at the hut.
Day 2. After a classic café fuelled Italian breakfast we start skinning immediately above the hut and can explore the interesting north facing valleys and cols on these lower hills to the south of the main Mont Blanc range. Fantastic views of Monte Bianco and the Val d'Aosta are revealed as height is gained. The emphasis for the day is to enjoy some ski touring, good skiing and training before descending back down the Val Feret for a late afternoon return to Chamonix.
Another option for the Sunday is to ski back in to the Val Feret after breakfast and ascend the high (3400m) nearby Punta Hellbroner lift. A spectacularly scenic day of glacier ski touring can then be enjoyed high on the Italian side of Monte Bianco. The Combe Vierge, Col d'Entreves and Dent du Geant Glacier approach / Col Rochefort all provide fine venues for ski touring.
March Course - Starting in Chamonix - Based at The Grand St. Bernard Monastery
Day 1. Introduction to the weekend and ski equipment checks before transferring to Bourg St Bernard, high in the Swiss Valais Alps. Here we start the skinning approach up the famous high level route towards the Monastery. En route, we can take in the 2636m Col de Barosson which provides a fun and scenic start to the weekend and your ski touring career! After arriving for the traditional tea and bowl of soup at the Monastery we complete some further technical touring training on the snowy slopes immediately around the buildings. Often in the evening as well as dinner provided by the monks there is a welcome talk, video and opportunity to appreciate the history of the place, building and even attend a service with the monks.
Day 2. After a hearty Swiss alpine breakfast we leave the Monastery at 2469m and we are skinning straight away into interesting touring terrain. One of the classic tours of the area ascends Mont Fourchon (2900m) and this provides us with a great objective to ski whilst doing more touring training along the way. The return ski is usually right back to the car from where we drive back to finish the weekend back in Chamonix late afternoon.
Fitness Level and Off Piste Ski Experience Required
These weekends are lively but are not aimed at being major endurance events. However you do need to be fit and able to climb steadily uphill (250-300m per hour) on skins for up to around 4 hours maximum.
This is a course for folk who can already ski with confident linked short radius turns on pisted black runs and who have some reasonable experience successfully descending off-piste terrain and variable snow conditions in a controlled manner.
- Please note that the detailed kit list, given via the link below should be followed and all hire kit including boots, skis, skins, ski crampons, poles, transceiver, shovel, probe should be collected in advance of Day 1, so that a swift start to the course can be made. You can arrange with us in advance to hire shovel, probe & transceiver for a considerably cheaper rate than in the shops.
- Lift passes. As we will ski at the most appropriate venue for the course depending on the weather and snow we ask you to leave buying your ski pass until the first morning of the course. We have found that the discounts for buying multiple days are small but the losses if you do not use them are significant so we prefer to retain flexibility to ski outside the area covered by certain passes. Cost of an unlimited day pass in Chamonix is C.50 Euros and any other venues we use will be cheaper than this, down to around 20 euros for a 'forfait rando' or free if we are skinning from the car!
In addition to the equipment items described on the kit list below - for the February & March weekends which are hut based, you will also need a head torch, cash to pay for the mountain hut and your passport for the border crossing to Italy / Switzerland.
14 - 15 January
2 day, Saturday - Sunday, 6 / 6 Places Still Available (Enquiries: 0)
25 - 26 February
2 days, Saturday - Sunday Inclusive, 6 / 6 Places Still Available (Enquiries: 2)
1 - 2 April
2 days, Saturday - Sunday Inclusive, 6 / 6 Places Still Available (Enquiries: 1)
£295 - 2 Day
Maximum Group Size 6
What’s Included In The Price?
- 2 full days ski touring training, guiding & off-piste skiing with a Mountain Guide
- Car travel to ski venues when skiing outside the Chamonix Valley
What’s Not Included In The Price?
- Accommodation in Chamonix. Please see our Chamonix Accommodation Notes
- Dinner, Bed & Breakfast at the Mountain Hut (for the Feb & April courses) plus your part share in the Guides discounted hut fees. Allow C.€75
- Flights and transfer / travel to Chamonix, Please check our recommended Chamonix transfer companies
- Skis, boots & touring equipment (Note 1* above)
- Lift passes (Note 2* above)
- Ski Insurance, see our booking details for more information
- Buses, train fares if required
- Any other expenses
More 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.
Other Relevant Courses
Folk wanting an introduction to ski touring with some quality off-piste ski coaching along the way should look at our 'Chamonix Off-Piste & Mountain Skills' course. We also do various group Chamonix Guided Ski Days & Ski Vallee Blanche Descents throughout the winter season which you may like to join. Folk with some existing touring experience wanting to sample longer tours and more technical terrain should look at our Chamonix Ski Mountaineering week. We also have lots of exciting multi-day and ski mountaineering options for later in the season...
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