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 ascents of 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 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.
- Ski some classic spring ski mountaineering summits (including major 4000m peaks) in the Mont Blanc Massif & Swiss / Italian Alps according to conditions. See 2019 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 & ski journey in the high mountains
2019 Spring Ski Summits Programme
Please note this itinerary is liable to significant or complete change according to prevailing weather & snow conditions.
In 2019 we have an ambitious programme attempting to ski 4 x 4000m peaks in 4 days, after a Chamonix based warm up touring & acclimatisation day. Even by the normal tough standards of this course, this year is pretty physical and presents a 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 2019!
2019 Plan A 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 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 & 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!
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 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 basic 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.
2019 Course Dates & Price
Book Your Place Via The Course Portal Above
5 Days, Monday – Friday Inclusive. Places Available. Course guaranteed to run on these dates.
Course Fee – £1095
Guiding Ratio of 1 Guide to a Maximum of 4 Guests
Our 2019 programme is less technical than 2018 but equally physical – with the opportunity to ski 4 x 4000m peaks in 4 days (after a warm up day)
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
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!
- Mont Buet 3096m
- Wildstrubel 3244m
- Mont Dolent 3823m
- Domes de Miage 3673m
- Mont Velan 3727m
- Strahlhorn 4190m
- Allalinhorn 4027m
- Alphubel 4206m
- Breithorn 4164m
- Rimpfischorn 4199m
- Gran Paradiso 4061m
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 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!