Late in the ski season. The valleys have turned to spring and the winter snow pack is stabilising. This is the time for the ski mountaineer to head high in to the mountains. By using the efficiency of ski touring travel with the skills of the mountaineer we are able to combine the triple pleasures of high mountain journeys, big ski descents and ascents of some major alpine summits….
We are in the realms of true ski mountaineering country where both the efforts involved, and rewards gained, are high! The setting for this course is the Eastern Swiss Valais Alps accessed from Zermatt with Chamonix as an initial base-camp for the warm up day before heading East to explore the big & beautiful Swiss Giants of the Valais Alps…
- Ski some classic spring ski mountaineering journeys & summits (including major 4000m peaks) in the Mont Blanc Massif & Swiss / Italian Alps according to conditions. See 2020 itinerary below…
- Spend 4 nights in high mountain huts allowing early starts for long summit days
- Improve your ski mountaineering skills
- Meet up with like minded ski mountaineers for a challenging yet enjoyable & sociable ski week in the high mountains
- Have the option to benefit from your acclimatisation after this course to Ski Mont Blanc
2020 Spring Ski Summits Programme
Please do note this itinerary is liable to significant or complete change according to prevailing weather & snow conditions. This year there is a particularly committing element with the high altitude border crossing in the Swiss – Italian Monte Rosa Massif and return the next day, all of which requires good weather!
In 2020 we have an ambitious programme attempting to complete a massive ski journey through the Swiss & Italian side of the Monte Rosa Massif with the possibility to ski a 4000m peak every day after the warm up day. Even by the normal tough standards of this course, this year is pretty physical and presents a very sustained yet inspiring week! So if you have good ski, touring & mountaineering experience and excellent mountain fitness, we hope you can join us in May 2020…
Please also note, for those with some energy left over and who are keen to benefit from their hard won acclimatisation, there is also a Ski Mont Blanc summit extension after a 2 day rest period after this course…
2020 Plan A Itinerary
Liable to change according to weather, snow conditions and group dynamics
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. This course starts on a Monday and the Grands Montets ski area should still be open over the weekend giving a good opportunity to ski, skin and start acclimatising. We usually have an informal pre-course evening meeting in Chamonix as an intro to the team and the week ahead.
Day 1. Meet early for final equipment & transceiver check and set off for a day of ski mountaineering and training in the Mont Blanc Range, generally from the Skyway Monte Bianco or Aiguille du Midi. This is an opportunity to refine your equipment and receive some refresher training to prepare you for the ascents ahead. We will also aim to do some good short skiing, touring and mountaineering journeys in the process of warming up & acclimatising. This day should be an enjoyable refresher rather than training new ski or touring skills. It should also be a relatively easy day physically to allow steady acclimatisation and preparation for the challenges to come later in the week.
Day 2. Early transfer to the Eastern Swiss Valais Alps and, having parked in Tasch, take the train to Zermatt head up the lifts to Kleine Matterhorn. From here we make the scenic traverse across to the superb shapely col forming the head of the Schwarztor Glacier which we aim to ski as a brilliant way of accessing the Monte Rosa Hut (2795m). If conditions allow, we also have the option to ski the Breithorn en route and if weather and conditions are not ideal for the Schwarztor, we have also skied the fine Theodul Glacier as another means of accessing the lower Grenz Glacier which we ascend steadily to reach the lovely Base Camp of Monte Rosa Hut.
Day 3. An early start from Monte Rosa Hut sees the head torches bobbling over towards the mighty Grenz Gletscher. This is one of the biggest glaciers in the Alps and our magical scenic journey up it hopes to profit from the usually high snow volume in early May as we wind through the crevasses and up towards the strategic high alpine border crossing where we enter Italy and begin the southerly descent to Rifugio Gnifetti, at 3625m this is the highest night of the week! En route, if conditions allow we also aim to ski Piramid Vincent (4215m) or one of the other big 4000ers in this beautiful high altitude glacier sanctuary of the Monte Rosa Massif.
Day 4. We will need good weather to make this high altitude international aller retour and we will be hoping for great conditions to make the return leg back up Lys Glacier with the aim of skinning all the way to the high point of the trip, and the highest hut in the Alps on the summit or Signalkuppe or Punta Gnifetti at 4554m. The Margherita Hut will be closed but it’s a fine ski summit from which to enjoy the remarkable views of the Swiss & Italian Alps whilst breathing some very thin spring air! Now we hopefully get to enjoy some great turns well earned the previous day during our skinning ascent of the Grenz Glacier and down for another night at the superb new Monte Rosa Hut.
Day 5. Another big day, they keep coming, so we need to keep going! This time heading north out from Monte Rosa Hut on to the massive Gorner Glacier with the aim of crossing the Stockhorn & Adler Passes (3382m & 3785m) to access the Allalin Glacier which now drains down in to the Saas Fee Valley as opposed to Zermatt or Gressoney for all the other glaciers we have skied on so far! From the Adler we also have the option to climb up the famous ski ramp ascent to the summit of the Strahlhorn (4190m) which then gives a 1200m north facing descent down to our last hut night base camp at Brittaniahutte (3027m).
Day 6. From Brittaniahutte we need to start heading West to get back to journeys end at Tasch in the Zermatt Valley so at least there is an easy start to the day on the snow road leading back in to the mainly closed resort of Saas Fee. From here we can work our way through the big & complicated Fee Glacier towards the Alphubeljoch at 3772m with the aim of skiing the Alphubel itself (4206m) before the ski descent to Taschutte & mix of walking / option of a taxi down to Taschalp & Tasch itself where our journey began a long time ago! A superb and very physical week!
Those wanting to benefit further from their excellent acclimatisation won over the last 5 days in the high mountains can have the weekend off before doing our Ski Mont Blanc summit programme starting on the Monday morning!
Fitness, Ski, Touring & Mountaineering Experience – Pre-requirements
A very high level of mountain fitness is required for this course in order to complete multiple long summit ski days in a row. Thus an ability to comfortably maintain an ascent rate of 350m/hr on skins or foot for up to 5 hours with regular transitions, which also require effort and energy!
Very strong and effective off-piste skiing ability is also required with an ability to ski in all types of snow conditions including steep and exposed terrain.
Significant ski touring experience is also required to ensure you have a strong and reliable kick turn and ability to use ski crampons and make efficient transitions.
Some existing mountaineering experience with ice axe and crampons is also required. If you are keen to join this programme and don’t have quite all the skills listed here, please contact us to arrange other courses and private guiding to offer a suitable and inspiring progression or some private guiding prior to this course.
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.
2020 Spring Ski Summits Course Dates & Price
Book Your Place Via The Course Portal Above
6 Days, Monday – Saturday Inclusive. Places Available.
Course guaranteed to run on these dates.
Course Fee – £1395
Guiding Ratio of 1 Guide to a Maximum of 4 Guests
Spring Ski Summits With Mont Blanc
If all goes to plan you will be well acclimatised after this high mountain programme so why not profit from this hard won acclimatisation, after a couple of rest days, to tackle the ski ascent, and descent! of Mont Blanc? Our summit extension offers a 3 day window in which to make the 2 day ascent, usually via the Grands Mulets Hut and ascent of the Dome du Gouter North Ridge to join the classic route from the Gouter Hut before skiing back to the Plan de l’Aiguille. See our Ski Mont Blanc page for more details.
Course Fee – £2245
Guiding Ratio of 1 guide to a max 4 guests for the 6 day programme and max 1 guide to 2 guests for Mont Blanc.
What’s included in the Price?
- 6 days ski mountaineering with an International Mountain Guide (IFMGA). 8 days for the Mont Blanc Extension
- Return car travel from Chamonix to ski venues during course
- Ski programme planning and booking of huts / accommodation during the course
- Loan of crampons, ice axe, harness as required
What’s not included?
- Accommodation, please see our recommended list for places to stay in Chamonix.
- Mountain huts, hotels & lift passes during the course, for you and the guide. Allow about 85 euros per night half board accommodation and about 50 euros for the lift passes, plenty more for lifts in Zermatt! The guides expenses are split between the group members and are discounted in huts and on lifts. Often the best way to deal with these expenses is to make a communal group ‘kitty’.
- Food and drink during the course including bottled water for you and the guides in the huts (this is quite expensive in Swiss Huts particularly and allow around 10-12 CHF per 1.5L bottle, gulp!)
- Ski equipment hire. Check the kit list above
- Any other expenses
Previous Summits Skied On Our Spring Programmes
In 2018 the main focus for this programme will be ski ascents of the Rimpfischorn (4199m) & The mighty Dom (at 4545m the highest mountain entirely in Switzerland). Even by the normal tough standards of this course, this year is a big one! So if you have very good ski & mountaineering experience and excellent mountain fitness, we hope you can join us in May 2018!
- Ski Mont Buet 3096m
- Ski Wildstrubel 3244m
- Ski Mont Dolent 3823m
- Ski Domes de Miage 3673m
- Ski Mont Velan 3727m
- Ski Strahlhorn 4190m
- Ski Allalinhorn 4027m
- Ski Alphubel 4206m
- Ski Breithorn 4164m
- Ski Rimpfischorn 4199m
- Ski Gran Paradiso 4061m
2019 Itineary – including the Dom…
Day 1. Meet early for equipment check, introduction to the week ahead and set off for a day of ski mountaineering and training in the Mont Blanc Range, generally from the Skyway Monte Bianco or Aiguille du Midi. This is an opportunity to refine your equipment and receive some training to prepare you for the ascents ahead. We will also aim to do some good short skiing, touring and mountaineering journeys in the process of warming up & acclimatising. This day should be an enjoyable refresher rather than training new ski or touring skills.
Day 2. Early transfer to the Eastern Swiss Valais Alps and, having parked in Tasch, take the train to Zermatt head up the lifts to Kleine Matterhorn to ski the Breithorn. At 4164m this is a big peak but short journey from the high altitude lift and thus a steady approach can be taken before enjoying the short high mountain descent and return down the lift. Afternoon ascent to the Tasch Hut, 2701m, via a taxi from Tasch if possible, 1-3hr approach accordingly to snow conditions and start point.
Day 3. Ski approach to the big summit of the Alphubel 4206m which has some steep skinning, kick turns and cramponing to reach this major alpine summit with magnificent views of the surrounding giants of the Valais. Ski descent, steep at first, then a long glacier journey back down the Feegletscher to pick up the Ski track from Felskinn to Brittania Hutte 3030m.
Day 4. Long and steady ascent from Brittania Hutte to the Adler Pass and up to the ski ramp summit of the Strahlhorn 4190m. Return to the initially steep descent on the Zermatt side of the Adler Pass before traversing the massive & scenic glacier country of the upper Gornergletscher en route to the superb new Monte Rosa Hut.
Day 5. Early last day start to skin up the huge Grenzgletscher leading right in to the magnificent high altitude inner sanctuary of the Monte Rosa Massif. This is a superb late spring glacier journey under the massive NE face of Liskamm and leads to the 4554m peak of Signalkuppe. Remarkably, this is home to the Margherita Hut, the highest building in Western Europe. The hut is closed at this time of year, but we can take a breather in the winter room before making the superb long descent back down the Grenz and, in good conditions, skiing all the way to the lift at Furi and down to Zermatt. Return to Chamonix for well earned high calorific rewards!
2018 Itineary – including the Dom…
- Day 1. Meet early for equipment check, introduction to the week ahead and set off for a day of ski mountaineering and training in the Mont Blanc Range, generally from the Skyway Monte Bianco or Aiguille du Midi. This is an opportunity to refine your equipment and receive some training to prepare you for the ascents ahead. We will also aim to do some good short skiing, touring and mountaineering journeys in the process of warming up!
- Another option for the 2 day warm up is to visit the Gemmi Pass area and ski some summits like the Wildstrubel etc.
- Day 2. Transfer to the Eastern Swiss Valais Alps and approach a mountain hut in the Saas or Zermatt Valleys, probably the Britannia Hut above Saas Fee as a base camp for an early start the next morning. Shorter (still quite big!) tour also possible this day during the drive over to Switzerland. In 2018 we had an early start and skied Mont Buet, for fit teams only, like the whole week!
- Day 3. Ski approach to the big summit of the Strahlhorn. Ski descent back down the glacier and descent to valley for overnight stay in a basic hotel in Saas.
- Day 4. Short drive to Raanda and ascent to the Dom Hut winter room (2940m). Food will need to be carried with the team as the hut will be closed but a winter room is available for robust ski mountaineers!
- Day 5. Early start to ski The Dom. Ascent either by it’s North Flank or, if conditions allow, a traverse of the mountain via the North West Ridge – the Festigrat. Descent via the big & high north facing glacier. Down to the hut…a long way down to the valley! Return to Chamonix for well earned high calorific rewards!