To the west of Mont Blanc, and at the far north western end of the Alps, lies the wonderful ‘Evasion’ ski area featuring the brilliant ski resorts of Combloux, St. Gervais, Megeve & Les Contamines. This area is also part of the wider Massif des Aravis and we are delighted to offer quality off piste and ski touring guiding to help our guests enjoy the superb skiing available here.
There is a fantastic variety of back country touring & off piste skiing available from powder tours around the forests to high spring ski mountaineering adventures and couloirs. We offer private guiding for ski touring and off piste skiing in all the Evasion resorts plus around the Aravis. Please check out the inspiring photos and information available below and get in touch to arrange your tailor made programme. We also have open courses available, including a 5 day touring & off piste programme in early Feb, so you can join a team of like minded skiers to enjoy both the brilliant lift accessed and more remote touring options available…
Just wanted to say a big thank you to yourself and Jonny for a great Ski Evasion Aravis week. The course was exactly what I was hoping it would be – some refreshing of knowledge and techniques combined with some wonderful ski tours- all delivered with a highly professional and friendly approach. I would thoroughly recommend the course and the Aravis region to others.
Pete Cavanagh, Ski Evasion Aravis, Feb 2020
Ski Evasion Aravis Week
Our Ski Evasion Aravis week is a mid-winter touring and off piste treat to look forward to whilst the early season snow is falling and building up the powder! This inspiring week of winter powder touring and off piste is based in the Arve Valley town of Sallanches from where we have rapid access to not only the Evasion ski area but to equally inspiring touring options around the Aravis..
This is a great opportunity to sample this inspiring area at a time of year which usually offers fresh tracks in abundance. We aim to spend a highly enjoyable week making the most of the prevailing conditions by combining lift accessed off piste with more remote touring options. Thus whatever the weather and snow conditions throw at us, we will be ready to make the most of it!
For example, whilst you need touring gear for this course – if it’s dumping snow with great powder, we will mainly be skiing fresh tracks off the lifts! If it’s not snowed for a while and the side country is tracked out, we will be skinning to find some fresh tracks and memorable turns.
Ski Evasion Aravis – Course Aims
- Sample a combination of off piste skiing and touring in some of the Ski Evasion Area resorts like Combloux, Les Contamines, St. Gervais and Megeve.
- Complete some great back country journeys using a combination of lift, skinning & booting access making the most of prevailing conditions to enjoy the best snow.
- Ski plenty of fresh tracks!
- Explore a new area and complete some fine short powder tours at low and medium altitudes around the Aravis Massif
- Spend an enjoyable and sociable week in the mountains with a team of like minded skiers
Ski Evasion Aravis – Suggested 5 Day Course Itinerary
This is highly subject to change according to weather and conditions, and hopefully, when the powder days arrive….
- 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.
- There is an informal and optional welcome to the course, guests and guides & evening meet & drink on the Sunday evening in Sallanches.
- Day 1. Introduction to the course and final equipment check. Off-piste skiing, backcountry journeys, fresh tracks and touring warm up shorter or aller retour journeys above the resort of Combloux / Le Plan / La Giettaz.
- Day 2. Off piste skiing, back country & ski touring journeys starting from the lifts of Megeve.
- Day 3. Away day ski touring with the aim of completing a classic day tour away from the lifts in the Aravis Massif.
- Day 4. Head down the Les Contamines Valley to enjoy some long backcountry journeys both from the lifts and with skinning journeys on both the Hauteluce and Contamines side of the resort.
- Day 5. St Gervais / St Nicholas de Veroce area powder skiing with micro touring journeys if required!
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.
For me this course was a perfect balance between improving my technical knowledge and refreshing key safety messages combined with covering some great terrain and stunning scenery at a steady pace and I can recommend this course to anyone looking to progress their skills and cover new terrain.
Mike Booth, Feb 2020
Ski Evasion Aravis – Off Piste Skiing, Touring & Fitness Pre-requirements
Ski touring & off piste skiing are 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 of around 3-4 hours uphill, at an ascent rate of around 250-300m/hour) skiers should be prepared for a physical week with 5 days of skinning, off piste skiing, being in the winter mountains with a bit of falling over, getting up and dusting the snow off!
This is a course for folk who can already ski off piste with linked short radius turns on pisted black runs and who have some experience descending off-piste terrain in a well controlled manner. Skiers need to be confident that they can safely negotiate the off piste equivalent 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! Guests for this Ski Evasion Aravis programme should also have some ski touring experience, a minimum of 2 days touring. Folk looking for a complete intro to ski touring please check out our Chamonix based intro ski touring course.
2020 Course Dates & Cost
£745 – 5 Day Course
Maximum group size 6 guests with 1 Guide
What’s included in the course price?
- 5 full days ski touring & off-piste skiing with a IFMGA Mountain Guide
- Travel to ski venues from a base in Sallanches (Or you can meet us at the chosen venue for the day if you prefer)
What’s not included?
- Accommodation – we can offer B & B accommodation in Sallanches for up to 4 guests
- Flights and transfer / travel to Sallanches (less than 1 hour from Geneva Airport)
- Ski & touring equipment (Note 1* below). Check the kit list below
- Lift passes (Note 2* below)
- Ski Insurance, see our insurance FAQs for more information
- Buses, train fares if required
- Any other expenses
- *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 must 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.
- 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.
- This course will be run and directed by IFMGA Guide Rob Jarvis although a day or 2 during the course may be guided by one of our other excellent IFMGA guides.
Evasion Ski Area
Resort Height: 970m
Maximum Lift Altitude: 1930m
Off Piste Suggestion: Often good powder on the north facing slopes under the Sommet Des Salles leading down to the pistes and Jouty chairlift
Ski Touring Suggestion: Good marked touring trails and the local ‘Petit Croise Baulet (2009m) is an easy touring classic from the Col du Jaillet (1723m).
Piste Suggestion: Brilliant long (and often cold!) blue piste running down from Christomet all the way to Le Plan – La Giettaz near the Col des Aravis. The return journey via the long Tete du Torraz chairlift gives great views of the Aravis and Mont Blanc Massifs, but is high and exposed in poor weather. You can shelter in the Bonjournal, see below!
Café / Restaurante Suggestion: The Auberge Bonjournal has an impressive location on this main watershed ridge and gives great views of the area, if the weather is good!
Resort Height: 1081m
Maximum Lift Altitude: 2350m
Off Piste Suggestion: Some great meadows to explore and get fresh tracks in relatively friendly terrain can be found on the East facing slopes below the téléski des Salles and leading back down (via an easy piste) to Megeve Jaillet base station. See photo below.
Piste Suggestion: Check out the impressive terrain and views from the black ‘Marmotte’ run from Cote 2000m, or for an easier option, the Chamois and link via the blue Pre Rosset to access the ‘longest drag lift in the world’, the Lanchettes. From here you will be ready to warm up with a hot chocolate at the superb cafe / restaurant, see below.
Café / Restaurante Suggestion: In mid winter at least, if you manage to get there, you will be ready to go in! It’s often a long & chilly ascent via the Cote 2000m chairlift and long Lanchettes drag lift, but it’s worth it to reach the superbly located Pré Rosset. As well as being a welcome warm up café / hot chocolate stop they are also a RESTAURANTS d’altitude (Cuisine SAVOYARDE) and even a high altitude winter base camp for skiing and enjoying a night in the mountains.
Ski Safari Journey Suggestion: A great backcountry journey is to link the big ski on the West face of Mont Joly (steep and sustained off piste skiing and only to be attempted in stable snow conditions) with the meadows above Le Planay, a tiny hamlet at 1436m nestled near the end of the Cote 2000m / Altiport valley. From here a short skin up the snow track (pisted in high season) towards Bacré then gives an easy angled ski / push! down to the valley to catch a bus back in to the lift system from the La Livraz ski de fond base camp where there is also a café etc.
Ski St. Gervais
Resort Height: 850m
Maximum Lift Altitude: 2350m
Off Piste Suggestion: Excellent sustained side country, and often good snow, on the NE facing slopes above the Contamines Valley accessed from the Epaule de Joly chairlift. These continue all the way down to the Refuge Porcherey which is another good cosy option for a winter lunch in a more remote location than the suggestion below.
Piste Suggestion: The Red ‘Epaule’ run taking the super N, then NE ridge of Mont Joly from the same lift as above. This also leads down in to the St Nicholas mid station which often has some great powder side country around in mid winter.
Ski Touring Suggestion: There are less obvious classic touring options at St. Gervais than the other resorts in Evasion as many areas are lift accessed however, with a creative approach, some great terrain and fresh tracks can be found. Try the shady powder bowl below the Col du Christ (below the exit traverse skiers left) but be warned – be sure to ski back out rather than try and continue down the heavily wooded valley below, which is full combat!
Café / Restaurante Suggestion: Sous Les Freddy’s, St. Gervais, attractive and cosy old wooden shed below the summit of Mont D’Arbois serving a hearty set meal of charcuterie and potato fritters. Delicious and worth building up an appetite for!
Ski Les Contamines
Resort Height: 1160m
Maximum Lift Altitude: 2440m
Off Piste Suggestion: On a good powder day, take the piste mentioned in the Piste suggestion below and cut the corners on some of the easy angled meadows leading down towards the La Ruelle mid station. A great place to enjoy easy angled sunny powder and warm up your powder skiing technique. Higher & steeper slopes give great side country options, especially on the first clear day after clouds have cleared, from the Aiguille Croche / Tierces chairlift.
Ski Touring Suggestion: The classic Col de la Fenetre is a short ascent after the steep and committing traverse on the West face of the Aiguille de Roselette has been negotiated from near the top of the Büche Croisée chairlift. There is a great long descent from the Col in to the upper Contamines Valley and down the Roman Road. Crampons are required for this last section in anything other than good snowy conditions.
Piste Suggestion: From the top of the Büche Croisée chairlift, take the long and scenic blue pistes leading down to the ‘La Ruelle’ mid-station (1600m) on the Hauteluce side. From here you are crossing from Les Contamines in Haute Savoie (74) to Savoie (73) and it’s a great journey with views out to the fine ski touring peak of the Rochers des Enclaves above the Lac de la Girotte.
Ski Touring In The Aravis
Marked Ski Touring Trails
There are some excellent marked ski touring trails in the area, particularly from Combloux where there are several good sign posted trails which take enjoyable side country routes through the woods and meadows to reach both the Sommet des Salles (1757m) and Croix des Salles (1704m) and thus offering a significant ascents of around 500m from the high parking at Cuchet above Haute Combloux. However both routes have numerous options to re-join the piste along the way so much less ascent is also possible if desired!
There are 2 main routes from Combloux Cuchet. One follows the well marked trails out of Cuchet on to the East facing meadows leading past the Chalet de la Vielle (1363m) and onwards and upwards past Beauegard and in to the woods leading up to the Croix des Salles. Alternatively a slightly longer route heads north out of Cuchets and runs alongside the pistes and Beauregard chairlift for a while, before taking to the wooded trails north of the Pertuis chairlift with various meadows and a more exposed open section at the top leading to the Sommet des Salles. The piste can be joined at almost any point in this last open section.
There are also routes leading this way from Megeve Jaillet, á découvrir….
Latest Ski Evasions Aravis Conditions
If you have skied in any of the Evasion resorts recently or have been ski touring in the Aravis, then please send any relevant comments on snow & ski conditions via contact form at the base of the page. Thanks, bon ski.
February 28th 2020 – A Classic Off Piste & Powder Ski Touring Day In Les Contamines & Storm Powder Day In Combloux
A mixed week in the Evasion Aravis area which started with difficult snow conditions – then the storms arrived – and the week finished with a mint blue sky powder day in Les Contamines. A classic!
February 7th 2020 – Col de la Columbiere, Montagne de Sules, Croise Baulet, Excellent Aravis Ski Touring.
Thanks to the significant dump of fresh snow on Tuesday night, conditions are much improved and our team had a great 3 days touring in the second half of this course. Conditions update on these tours here:
Jan 26th 2020 – Tete de Sallaz, great ski touring area above Cluses in the Arve Valley
Conditions update here:
January 20th 2020 – Beautiful Velvet Powder & Fresh Tracks Ski Touring From Megeve & Les Contamines
A great ski Evasion Aravis touring weekend and conditions update here:
Jan 15th, 2020 – Good Piste Conditions Higher In The Resorts, Off Piste Poor
The snowpack around the Evasion and Aravis resorts has held up well considering it has now not snowed for nearly 3 weeks. The sunny weather has co-incided with dry cool nights in mid winter where the sun has had minimal effect apart from on lower slopes with sunny aspects. The pistes around Mont d’Arbois were good today especially once they had softened up a bit later on. The side country ski conditions are very poor at the moment but hopefully this will improve on Saturday after another snowfall event arrives Friday pm….
Early Jan 2020 – Lots Of Snow – Then Lots Of Sun In The Aravis & Evasion Ski Areas
Skiers visiting the Evasion resorts this Christmas were treated to high snow volume for the time of year and lots of green lights with nearly all pistes and lifts open in most resorts. There was some rough weather in the build up to Christmas day but this gave some fun fresh tracks in the powder higher up before the rain came to most altitudes on Christmas Eve. Happily on the 27th Dec it snowed again to lower levels and ever since it has been wall to wall sunshine meaning lots of teams have been out touring. Thus some popular touring areas like the big Aravis combs above Les Confins, La Clusaz have been pretty much tracked out! The Combe Marion above the Col des Aravis gave a good ski the other day, but there were not many fresh tracks left in the steep narrow combe descent. Overall good conditions….but ready for some more fresh snow now!
12/12/2019 – Combloux Ski Touring – Light & Fluffy & Lots Of It!
A very good start to the season here in the Aravis with lots of teams enjoying touring around the grassy resorts of Megeve, St. Gervais and Comboux for several weeks now, prior to some of the lifts opening this weekend. Today was particularly good with sustained overnight snow falling all the way down the Arve Valley floor level at 550m. From the Cuchet parking above Combloux at c. 1400m it was continuous light & soft powder to the summit of the Croix de Salles…and back down again!
10/02/2019 – Megeve Jaillet – Christomet – Ski Touring
Whilst the snow cover is impressive around the Christomet, Eperon and Col de Jaillet area, there was a light crust even as high as 1850m today. There was still some fun skiing to be had on shady aspects at the very upper end of the resort altitude, but lower or sunnier had a thin but very noticeable crust! The volume is good however and it was dumping at the close of play today with at least another 40cms on the way at 1800m, genial!
23/01/2019 – Petit Croise Baulet – Combloux
The cold temperatures are preserving the good snow, even on sunny aspects above about 1700m. However, popular routes are trashed by ski tracks and this leaves a fairly unpleasant rough chopped up surface to ski. On the descent of the normal route the snow is still pristine, in places where it has not been skied….which are few and far between! The N ridge descent towards Le Plan is in poor condition as lots of bushes are in evidence lower down and the tracks are thus consolidated to a narrow band through the bushes in places! At least 1 team carried on up the Grand Croise Baulet but in general very quiet today and the 10cms due this evening will be welcome. More fresh would help even more, particularly as the temperatures remain cold.
18/01/2019 – Cordon – Avenaz – Jaillet – Croise Baulet – Ski Touring
Nice cold snow this morning, with up to 10cms of fresh, from yesterdays rain in the valley. Whilst the cover is still lean low down, there were plenty of teams skinning from the car parks above Cordon at below 1200m. The cover on the track from the Cornillon road was good and complete from the car to the Col de Jaillet with good cover and nice snow above 1500m. The meadows of l’Avenaz had some great snow and whilst there are not long pitches in the meadow, it was worth the skin up there for the great views and fresh tracks.
One team continued skinning up the steep slopes behind Avenaz towards the Col de l’Avenaz but this is really steep ground with a smooth rocky base and often avalanches and they soon turned around in the poor viz. Many teams were skiing on the Petit & Grand Croise Baulet but with no evidence of teams skiing on the steeper East Faces of either peaks.
On switching sides of the Jorasse woodlands, a steady ascent to the Col de Jaillet was made and then a nice loop completed back to Cornillon via the fresh powder on the closed Jouty red piste and the paths back through the magic Jorasse woodlands!
20/01/2019 – Contamines & Cordon Ski Weekend
16/01/2019 – Combloux Pistes & Side Country
Excellent conditions on the pistes this morning and very quiet around the resort of Combloux / Megeve Jaillet and La Giettaz…Portes du Mont Blanc. This is a great area and worth noting that the lift pass, at €33 is a lot cheaper than the Evasion pass of €47. The pistes were perfectly groomed, grippy corduroy first thing this morning and we particularly enjoyed the full black run ‘Aigle’ from the summit of the Christomet. This has a wildly steep pitch in the middle, which was in good condition, but must be one of the steepest pitches of piste around! There was also plenty of blown in fresh snow near the summit for fresh tracks on the piste. The side country snow was good where higher and shadier in the resort and crusty where lower and sunnier!
013/01/2019 – Evasion Powder Ski Touring Weekend
09/01/2019 – Combloux Ski Touring – Return Of The Pow!
08/01/2019 – Ski Tour Croise Baulet, Combloux
With no fresh snow since Christmas Eve things are getting a bit thin lower down at Combloux, and even higher up on some of the classic tours like the Petit Croise Baulet. Still, we did it today and enjoyed the shallow layer of fresh snow. and very shallow fresh tracks on the normal route descent. The north side of the Petit Croise Baulet was completely blown clear of fresh snow and was a rattly and fairly unpleasant icy crust. The descent of the normal route was not great either with plenty of re-frozen rutted tracks and dense bushes lower down!
The pistes at Combloux are thin lower down and some are closed but equally the big wide and higher pistes were good and enjoyable to ski today with soft grippy snow with a shallow layer of fresh on top.
30/12/2018 – Ski Tour Croise Baulet, Combloux
Despite the re-frozen snow and sunny weather, the spring snow did not come to fruition today due to the stiff breeze and lightly veiled skies. These can be a problem for softening the snow in spring, never mind late December! However with the weather looking set fair for another week, chasing the sunny spring snow may become more interesting than other aspects, at lower altitudes at least.
28/12/2018 – Ski Saint Gervais
The good high mountain weather continues and thus the decent conditions higher up and poor snow cover lower down continue. The blue ‘Raviere’ however, linking Mont d’Arbois with the Communailles ‘Croix’ chairlift is closed, icy, well rutted and worth avoiding apart from for those skiing the steeper slopes and broad couloirs on the N side of the Croix de la Frette and Mont d’Arbois. Thanks to the opening of the Etudiants drag lift, there were also plenty of folk skiing the north facing slopes below that lift leading down towards Le Rosay. Snow conditions on both these steeper descents are firm and with no powder style fresh tracks – but fun grippy skiing and not icy.
27/12/2018 – Ski Saint Gervais
Bigger queues today at St. Gervais and Le Bettex but lifts smooth and no long waits. We skied on the Red, blue & green pistes from Mont d’Arbois. The higher pistes are in better conditions with things getting icier and more patchy lower down towards Le Bettex on the steeper runs although the Green Champeluy home run is still in good condition. Most of the blacks in this area are still shut but well tracked anyway. The side country is generally re-frozen and not great skiing although higher up has a firm base and very shallow layer of velvet fresh on top which is fine to ski where not already tracked!
20/12/2018 – Ski Tour Cabanne du Petit Pâtre, Aravis
Great mini tour from Cordon above Sallanches in the Arve Valley. Good conditions with loads of fresh tracks right back to the car at below 1200m….
14/12/2018 – Ski Tour Les Communailles – Mont Joux
Pleasant short tour up through the closed resort and grassy pistes above both Les Communailles & Cordon, good early season venues…