Chamonix Ski Touring

Ski touring provides a fantastic way of exploring the backcountry and enjoying some creative ski journeys and adventures away from the resorts. For those with some off piste ski experience and reasonable fitness this action packed 5 day course includes a night in a mountain hut and provides the inspiration & information to add a whole new dimension to enjoying your ski trips.

The ski tourer is able to mix the fun of off-piste skiing whilst making a journey through the magical & remote environment of the winter mountains. On this practical 5 day introductory course we aim to train you in the essential skills required for smoothly completing some classic ski tours and becoming a good trained member of a back-country ski team in the process.

2019 Dates & Prices

Chamonix Intro Ski Touring Week

Chamonix Progression Ski Touring Week

Ski Touring Weekends

Course Aims

  • Provide high quality training so that you develop the skills for ski touring safely and efficiently.
  • Complete some enjoyable, short & medium length ski tours in the Mont Blanc Massif
  • Also explore the superb variety of venues accessible from a base in the Chamonix Valley, including the potential to visit the nearby French ‘Aravis’, Italian Val d’Aosta or Swiss Valais Alps, which often offer different weather and conditions.
  • Spend a night in a mountain hut / refuge to allow a 2 day tour to be completed and give a good insight in longer ‘hut to hut’ ski touring.
  • Prepare you for further off-piste and ski touring adventures either with a Guide or independently (e.g Skiing The Haute Route)
  • Have a fun & sociable week & meet up with other like minded ski touring folk who you may be able to ski with in the future.

From our base in the Chamonix valley we can use the extensive range of nearby lifts and high mountain roads to access a variety of styles of ski touring terrain. The start of the week will focus on training and becoming efficient with the fundamental basics like using your skins & bindings, how to skin efficiently and enjoyably and understanding the context and use of your avalanche safety equipment.

Essential Ski Touring Skills

  • Understanding your ski touring bindings and becoming efficient in their use
  • Skinning – How the skins work, putting them on and taking them off, breaking trail and choosing a line, 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
  • Managing ‘transitions’ (e.g. being efficient transferring from skinning to skiing modes)
  • 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.
  • Storing skis on your rucksack if you need to travel on foot
  • Familiarising with your mountaineering equipment – ice axe, crampons, harness.
  • Introduction to ski glacier travel and the use of the rope
  • Use of maps, guide books, GPS and the latest ‘Apps’ for route planning and navigation
  • Using mountain huts
  • Emergency Procedures in the Alps

There is a lot to take in for the newcomer to ski touring so we try and distill things to the essentials and drip feed information throughout the week. We aim to enjoy a mixture of styles of touring including lift accessed skinning where several enjoyable short tours can be completed right through to a longer single day tour well away from the ski resorts.

Scenic mid winter skinning ascent up the beautiful Italian Val Feret past Rifugio Bonatti. Great views of Monte Bianco South Face.

Intro Ski Touring 5 Day Sample Itinerary

  • 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 that your own bindings are correctly adjusted & skis are well serviced.
  • Day 1. Introduction to the course and equipment check. Off-piste skiing and touring skills training. Venue, e.g. Le Tour at the head of the Chamonix Valley.
  • Day 2. A day combining further training in an off-piste environment with lift accessed ski touring e.g from Les Contamines or Combloux just down the valley from Chamonix. Several short tours can be completed giving a few hours of skinning uphill and lots of practice managing ski ‘transitions’ without a big time pressure on the day.
  • Day 3. An opportunity to combine a great journey up the beautiful Val Feret on the Italian side of Mont Blanc, with spending a night at a mountain hut, the superb Rifugio Bonatti.  There is great north facing mellow terrain around the hut, often powder in mid winter and opportunities for skiing & training above & below the tree line.  Not to mention enjoying the great Italian hospitality at the Bonatti Base Camp!
  • Day 4. After a hut breakfast there is the option to tour above the hut or ski down & take the Skyway Monte Bianco lift to high altitude on the Italian side of the Vallee Blanche for an introduction to the important principles of ski mountaineering on glaciers. This is a fantastic and extremely scenic aspect of ski touring and we will spend some valuable time discussing and practising the skills and strategies for skiing safely on glaciers.
  • Day 5. We aim to finish a great week of skiing putting all the recently learnt skills together to complete a longer classic Chamonix ski tour (e.g. Col du Tour Noir and Ski the Argentiere Glacier). This day also provides a good opportunity to ask any final questions and make plans for future tours with advice from the Guide.

There are a huge amount of excellent alternatives which can be considered at the time according to the weather, snow conditions and aspirations of the group.

Intro Ski Touring Group On Away Day To Les Contamines At Western End Of The Mont Blanc Range

Ski touring is like many other activities in that, the more you do, the more efficient you become, and the less energy you use. Therefore whilst we will be aiming to complete short & medium tours (maximum 4-5 hours uphill) skiers should be prepared for a physical week with 5 days of skinning, off piste skiing, generally being high in the mountains with a bit of falling over, getting up and dusting the snow off!

Jen Kingwill, Chamonix Intro Ski Touring Course Feb 2018

On the way to the airport now after a great week! I had a wonderful week – the itinerary choice for each day was great, with Kenny finding good snow for us most days. Kenny was excellent  – lots of little tips along the way and sharing his mountain /snow knowledge throughout the week. Bon weekend!

Folk with a ski background can soon be instructed in basic touring techniques but the same can not be said for mountaineers wishing to start off piste skiing. This is a course for folk who can already ski with linked short radius turns on pisted black runs and who have some experience descending off-piste terrain in a controlled manner. Skiers need to be confident that they can safely negotiate the equivalent angle of black runs in all snow conditions. This does not need to be fast or stylish but it does need to be effective and safe!

Well deserved café break at the 2000m Refuge Lognan after a very enjoyable ski descent of the Glacier d’Argentiere on our Intro Touring Course

The course was EXCELLENT. Paul was a great guide and we had some great ascents and descents, and learnt a lot! We will share photos shortly, but the problem is there are too many!

James, Intro Ski Touring Feb 2016

2019 Intro Ski Touring 2 & 5 Day Course Dates – TBC SOON

Jan 12

Chamonix Intro Ski Touring Weekend – January 2019

January 12, 2019 - January 13, 2019

5 days, Monday – Friday Inclusive, 4 / 6 Places Still Available (People enquiring: 3)

To book your place – please visit the specific course page above for your chosen dates

2019 Course Cost

£745 – 5 Day Course

Maximum group size 6 guests with 1 Guide

What’s included in the Price?

  • 5 full days ski touring training, guiding & off-piste skiing with a Mountain Guide
  • Travel to ski venues when skiing outside the Chamonix Valley

What’s not included?

  • Accommodation. Please see our Chamonix Accommodation Notes
  • Flights and transfer / travel to Chamonix
  • Ski & touring equipment (Note 1* below). Check the kit list below
  • Lift passes (Note 2* below)
  • Ski Insurance, see our FAQ’s for more information
  • Buses, train fares if required
  • Any other expenses

Course Equipment List

Course Notes

  1. *Please note that the detailed kit list, given via the link above should be followed and all hire kit including boots, skis, skins, ski crampons, poles, transceiver, shovel, probe should ideally 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.
  2. Lift passes. As we will ski at the most appropriate venue for the day 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 flexibillity to ski outside the area covered by certain passes.
  3. Cost of an unlimited day pass in Chamonix is c.€60 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!
Heading off into the Backcountry….a great adventure but lots of skills required including good off piste skiing, touring skills, route choice / terrain selection which goes hand in hand with avalanche awareness. All things covered on our intro touring course!

Gabriela Fedullo, Chamonix Intro Ski Touring Week Course, Feb 2018

I just wanted to thank you all for the AMAZING week I had. It really motivated me to keep learning and training. Kenny’s tips and suggestions have really helped me realise what I have to work on from now onwards, and have also helped for this week to be so nice!

Chamonix 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.

Heading down towards St. Nicholas de Veroce village from the ‘mid-station’

Course Aims

  • 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 essence 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!

Knowledge of avalanche emergency procedures are important and will be covered, but not as important as route planning and choosing terrain and this will be covered in more detail.

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.

Inspiring mid-winter intro ski touring on the Petite Croise Baulet above Combloux & Megève. Chamonix Intro Touring Weekend.

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.

Thanks Rob for a great day out. Just the right amount of challenge and encouragement – highly recommended.

Mike Sweeney, Intro Touring Weekend, Les Houches, Chamonix Jan 2016

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 then spent in the Rifugio…

Mid winter ski touring in the beautiful Italian Val Feret above the great base camp of the Rifugio Bonatti.

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.

Gareth Kaminski-Cook, Intro Ski Touring Weekend – Rifugio Bonatti, February 2018

This was my first ski trekking adventure and I could not be happier with the experience.  Just brilliant. Kathy our guide was so helpful, kind, great fun and passionately informative.  The agenda was also adapted based on the weather so that we filled the two days just perfectly to optimise time skiing back country, trekking, learning skills.  If you are thinking of doing this – just do it.  Thanks Rob and Kathy.

March Course – Starting in Chamonix – Based at The Grand St. Bernard Monastery

*March 2018 Note – This Weekend will be based at the lovely Illhorn Hut near the small Swiss ski resorts of Chandolin & St. Luc where there is excellent lift accessed ski touring terrain and options for most types of weather!

The hut has a nice atmosphere with good food and even hot showers, not to mention lovely views North across the Rhone Valley to the fine hills of the West Oberland etc.

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.

The Northern approach to the Grand St. Bernard Monastery from Switzerland is more common than the steeper Italian route to the South. Either way the col itself is a fascinating place from a Geographic and historical point of view. There is also some super ski touring terrain on the doorstep!

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.

Course Equipment List

Course Notes

  1. Please note that the detailed kit list, given via the link above 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.
  2. 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.€60 and any other venues we use will be cheaper than this, down to around c.€20 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.

Italian ski touring, powder, larch forests, great views of Monte Bianco South Face, great coffee etc!

Tanya Viscovich, Italian Intro Ski Touring Weekend, Feb 2015

Beautiful 2 day touring trip with Neil, setting off up picturesque Val Feret, skinning up to VERY comfortable Bonatti Hut for excellent veg/bean soup lunch before heading out for more uphill into white yonder. Lovely all home made supper provided by charming hut hostess and very comfortable beds (they have variety of twins>dorm options) and hot water.

Day 2 skinned up and climbed top ridge to summit of la Tete entre deux Sexes. Stunning scenery – Mont Blanc and the Aiguilles in the background on one side – no-one else up there. Perfect ski back down but take snacks for the last 30/45mins ‘skating’ along valley bottom back to car park!
Really good trip for new tourers.

Neil was a great guide with gentle nudges and advice on snow, being in the mountains etc, and more important, very safety conscious, particularly with this seasons conditions. I will def return to val Feret and would highly recommend this trip.

2018 Intro Ski Touring Weekends, Dates & Prices

Jan 12

Chamonix Intro Ski Touring Weekend – January 2019

January 12, 2019 - January 13, 2019

To book your place – please visit the specific course page above for your chosen dates

Course Cost

£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
Powder touring day on the north facing slopes above Vallorcine / Trient at the Eastern end of the Chamonix Valley. Superb!

Such a shame to be writing this from my office back in London rather than still out enjoying the sun and great snow conditions that we had over the last 2 days…..Just a quick note to say thanks very much for a really well planned and enjoyable two days introduction to the world of ski touring. I feel somewhat prepared for Svalbad now, except perhaps how to fight off the Polar Bears!

My legs are certainly feeling a little tired today but am really looking forward to the next time I can get out again. No doubt I will be emailing you in the not too distant future to book another excursion in Cham.  Enjoy the rest of the season & thanks again, Calum

Calum Williams, Intro Ski Touring Weekend, Feb 2016

Powder Ski Touring In The Meadows Above Megeve, Ski Aravis