Spring Ski Summits

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 some of the skills of mountaineering we are able to combine the triple pleasures of a high mountain journey, big ski descent and, hopefully, a major summit or two!

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 Western Alps with Chamonix as an initial base-camp for the warm up day and then heading further afield, often in to the big & beautiful Swiss Giants of the Valais Alps.

2019 Course Dates & Price

May 06

Spring Ski Summits – May 2019

May 6, 2019 - May 10, 2019

2019 Course Plan & Previous Spring Ski Summits – To Follow Shortly…

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!

In previous years on our spring ski summit programme, in addition to the classic Ski Mont Blanc & Ski Gran Paradiso programmes we also run, we have made ski ascents of Les Domes de Miage (and it’s famous Glacier d’Armancette) Mont Velan, Mont Dolent, Finsteraarhorn, The Dufourspitze (to Silbersattel!), Allalinhorn, Strahlhorn, Alphubel, Pigne d’Arolla etc.

Ski mountaineering traverse of Les Domes de Miage en route to Ski the Glacier d’Armancette, Les Contamines Valley on the West side of the Mont Blanc Range.

Course Aims

  • Ski some classic spring ski mountaineering summits (often including major 4000m peaks) in the Mont Blanc Massif & Swiss / Italian Alps according to conditions.  See 2018 itinerary below…
  • Spend 2-3 nights in mountain huts allowing early starts for long summit days
  • Improve your ski mountaineering skills
  • Meet up with like minded ski mountaineers for a challenging & enjoyable week in the high mountains
High altitude skiing and ski mountaineering training from the Skyway Monte Bianco lift on the Italian side of the Vallée Blanche, with Mont Blanc South Face beyond.

Sample Itinerary – Flexible according to weather, conditions and group aims

  • 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. 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 Brttannia 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!
The final steps along the summit ridge of Mont Dolent, between Switzerland, Italy…and France! On this occasion skis have been left at the classic depot at the base of the final climb to the summit.

Fitness, Ski, Touring & Mountaineering Experience – Pre-requirements

A very high level of mountain fitness is required for this course in order to complete some of the longer summit days in the Alps.  Eg the Dom has the most vertical ascent from road to summit of all the alpine peaks!   Thus an ability to comfortably maintain an ascent rate of 400m/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.  Extensive ski touring experience is also required already 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.

Ski mountaineering with skis on pack and crampons on ski boots. Crossing the steep col on the ascent of Mont Velan with the Grand Combin beyond.

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.

Ski Mountaineering Equipment List

High on the descent from the Domes de Miage to Contamines. The famous Glacier d’Armancette…Just about where it starts to get pretty steep! The Arve Valley nearly 3000m below!

2018 Course Dates & Price

May 06

Spring Ski Summits – May 2019

May 6, 2019 - May 10, 2019

Book Your Place Via The Course Portal Above

5 Days, Thursday – Monday Inclusive. Places Available. Course guaranteed to run on these dates.

Course Fee – £1425

Low Guiding Ratio of 1 Guide to a Maximum of 2 Guests – To reflect the tough technical and physical nature of this years Spring Ski Summits Programme

What’s included in the Price?

  • 5 days ski mountaineering with an International Mountain Guide (IFMGA)
  • Return 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. 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
  • Ski equipment hire. Check the kit list above
  • Any other expenses
Teams high on the North Face of The Dom, from the Festigrat. Lenspitze on left then, in distance, Fletscherhorn, Lagginhorn & The Weissmies.