There are few skiers whose pulse does not quicken slightly when they hear the word, Chamonix! The high resorts with massive vertical descents, often glaciated, are renowned throughout the ski world as off-piste classics. Less well known are the easily accessible ski areas in the Aravis, Valle d’Aoste and Swiss Rhone Valley if the ‘extreme environment’ of Chamonix gets too much. We aim to give you an excellent insight in to both aspects of the Chamonix ski scene, enjoy some great skiing and improve your off-piste ski and mountain skills in the process
Our Off-Piste courses are run by IFMGA Mountain Guides which means there are no limits as to where you can ski if conditions and ability allow. Much time is spent by the Guides, every evening, gathering information and deciding on the best venue to ski next day according to the current snow, weather and aims of the ski team. Whilst most of the skiing on this course is lift accessed, we may also do some short walks to access alternative terrain & more fresh tracks!
Chamonix Off Piste Ski Course Aims
- Find good snow whilst exploring the off-piste mecca of Chamonix and it’s surrounding valleys
- Improve both your off-piste skiing technique and your mountain safety skills
- Meet other like minded skiers who you may share future trips with
- Get some great fresh tracks and have a great time with lots of skiing on the slopes of Cham!
Sample Itinerary (5 Day Course)
Snow and weather conditions are so variable that we only make decisions about where to ski the evening before. Here is a suggested itinerary designed to give you a good progression and variety of venues and styles throughout the week:
- 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. Into the ‘Back Bowls’….An ideal warm up day is to visit the classic off-piste resort of Le Tour at the head of the Chamonix Valley. Here there are big open slopes, trees, the famous back bowls and couloirs of varying angles. As well as enjoying the great skiing, time will be spent training with avalanche transceivers and a short journey made on foot to access slightly more remote terrain.
- Day 2.Powder Hound! Today’s aim is to ski lots of powder and, in the absence of that just lots of good terrain. This is an opportunity to explore the excellent linked ski areas just down the Arve Valley from Chamonix like Contamine, St. Gervais, Megeve, Combloux and Cordon. We can use the lifts & short ascents on foot to make a journey and get well away from the pistes.
- Day 3.The World Famous ‘Grands Montets’ ski area is a beast of an off-piste resort! Get your ski legs ready because the vertical intervals are huge and the opportunities to explore interesting challenging terrain are massive. We will aim to ski from the top station (3300m) and take some runs on to the Argentiere Glacier, Italian and Canadian Bowls and, if conditions allow, ski the famous ‘Pas de Chevre’ down to the Mer de Glace skiing all the way back to the bar in Chamonix.
- Day 4.The Cream of Italy. After the obligatory cappuchino (at half the price and twice the quality of Chamonix!) we hit the slopes of one of the brilliant resorts of the Valle d’Aoste like Courmayeur or La Thuile. Here there is excellent tree skiing (great if it is dumping with snow!) as well as impressive high alpine terrain. With good weather and conditions we could ski the famous Glacier de Toule from the high Punta Hellbroner lift (3462m).
- Day 5. Into the Vallee Blanche. There are many variations on the most famous off-piste run in the world. A roped skinning journey through a crevassed glacier, accessing a high col on the French / Italian border or tackling one of the numerous steeper variations like the Grand Envers or Combe de la Vierge. Whichever one is taken the 22km of glacier skiing through an incredible and beautiful maze of crevasses with views of the classic big North Faces of the Alps provides a fitting climax to our week of off-piste skiing.
Sample itinerary (2 Day Course)
These are run on Thursdays and Fridays to enable you to get your ski legs during the week!
- Days 1-2. Choose the best options from above according to the snow conditions and weather
This Course is Suitable For….
Skiers who already have some off-piste skiing experience and want to explore the Chamonix area. You should be able to ski pisted black runs in control and get by in most kinds of variable off-piste snow from powder to hard pack. You should be fit enough to enjoy long days on the slopes, mainly lift accessed but with up to half an hour of walking uphill.
Course Notes & Equipment List
- Please note that these courses are run by a Mountain Guide, not a ski instructor. The course will include training in both mountain safety skills and personal ski technique, however if your main aim is to receive coaching on your personal ski technique check out our Off-Piste & Mountain Skills Course
- Please note that the detailed kit list, given via the link below must be followed and all hire kit including boots, skis, skins, ski crampons, poles, transceiver, shovel, probe must be hired in advance or arranged beforehand with us.
Take a read of our useful article on What’s in your Rucksack for Skiing Off-Piste & Day Touring? This also has some packing advice and other top tips!
2019 Chamonix Off Piste Courses & Guided Days
What’s included in the Price?
- 5 full days ski touring training & off-piste skiing with a Mountain Guide
- Loan of avalanche transceiver, shovel & probe
What’s not included?
- Accommodation. We recommend that you stay at the pleasant & very central Hotel Pt Isabella in Chamonix. If this is full or you would like an alternative style of accommodation please see our recommended list for Chamonix Accommodation Notes. The course meets in the centre of Chamonix near the train station.
- Lift passes. As we will use the best place for the day depending on the weather and snow we ask you to leave buying your pass until the first morning of the course. Cost of a day pass in Chamonix is C.60 Euros and any other venues we use will be cheaper than this.
- Flights and transfer from the airport to Chamonix.
- Food and drink during the course
- Ski equipment. Check the kit list below
Off Piste Skiing Conditions In Chamonix
8th December 2022, Piste Warm Up At Courmayeur
We had neglected to notice it was some kind of bank holiday in Italy today – so Courmayeur was much busier than we’d anticipated – but it was still great to get the skis out and warm the legs up for the season. The pistes were in reasonable conditions for early December and some of the off piste features looked ok too considering the time of year. A few teams had skied the fine big couloir below the Youla station, see photo below: