This is the way to really discover the mountains in Winter and get away from the crowds. Ski Touring or Ski de Randonnee allows you to explore peaks and valleys not accessible via lift systems and to make your own mark on untracked snowfields.
What is it?
Ski touring at it’s simplest level is hiking on skis. Using special light weight skis with bindings that release at the heel and allow you to climb with synthetic “Skins” on the bottom of your skis. At the top you remove the skins and lock the bindings into the normal downhill position and enjoy the descent. It’s a fantastic feeling to be the first skiers in an valley full of virgin snow.
Is it for ME?
If your reasonably fit and can hack down modest off piste slopes then you can do it. A lot of ski tourers are not particularly expert alpine skiers and we can combine off piste lessons with an intro to ski touring.
Introduction to Ski Touring Weeks
You can learn how to do it on one of our introduction to ski touring weeks. A complete package including ski & boot hire, safety equipment, mountain guides and an optional overnight stay in a refuge. A great way to get started with 3 half days and 2 full days touring with an overnight stay in the Grammuset refuge and a traditional Fondue.
You have to carry your own cheese and wine though! If you want to give it a try but your friends or family just want to ski, that’s no problem as you will have plenty of time for downhill skiing and every evening in the chalet except the optional refuge night.
We can create a touring package to suit you so call us or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The Aravis is one of the best ski touring regions in France with routes for all levels from beginner to expert. You can go on one day routes or we can arrange multi day routes with overnight stops in mountain refuges.
I’m a Snowboarder!
No problem hire a pair of snow shoes and strap the board to your rucksack. The climbs are a little slower than on skis especially in fresh snow – but you’ll be ahead on the descents!
Equipment and Guides
Although technically not that difficult it’s vital that you take a professional guide to ensure your safety. We can arrange guides along with avalanche safety equipment including ARVA transceivers and training in their use. You can use your own skis and boots with binding converters or you can hire special lightweight touring skis and boots from St Jean Sport or Aravis Challenge.
If you want to try out ski touring or are already an experienced tourer give us a call or click on the Request More Info link at the bottom of this page.
Ski Touring Equipment
Touring boots are generally lighter than their downhill counterparts and have a ski mode and a walk mode. The walk mode releases the cuff and allows the ankle to flex when climbing making the action more natural. Touring boots also have a proper sole which gives better grip if you have to walk without skis and allow you to easily fit crampons.
In the past these boots have been a compromise trading off weight for downhill performance but now with thermoform inners and modern materials downhill performance is much better.
You can still use your downhill boots for touring especially for short tours and offpiste days where climbing performance is less of an issue.
Skis and Bindings
Again touring skis and bindings are designed to be lighter than downhill kit making climbs much easier, but many lack downhill performance. If I have slogged all the way up a mountain I want to enjoy the ski down, so I have opted for a lightweight all mountain ski which makes the climb a little harder but descents through powder, spring snow or even crud are a blast. If you can’t afford two sets of gear a great compromise is the Atomic R9 ski fitted with Diamir Freeride bindings. This is a superb all mountain ski setup with at least as good performance as the Salomon X Scream Pilot but at a fraction of the weight (and price).
Artificial seal skins which stick to the base of your skis and allow them to slide forward but not backwards. They are pre glued similar to a ‘Post It’ note so you simply stick them on to climb and then peel them off at the top and pop them in your rucksack for the ski down.
Avalanche Safety Equipment
The most important piece of safety equipment is between your ears. Think and don’t get caught in an Avalanche. Take local advice and ask the ‘Securite des Pistes’ and if you’re inexperienced hire a guide.
Ok so we’ve decided the avalanche risk is acceptable – but it’s never zero so what can you do to maximise your chances if you do get caught in an avalanche. You should always wear an avalanche transceiver and know how to use it. Train with it on snow if you can but if not in the back garden. You will also need a probe and a shovel. The probe is used to pin point the exact location of the person buried and obviously the shovel is used to dig them out. Make sure everyone in the party is fully equipped, they’re no good to you if you’re buried and they don’t have transceivers or shovels or don’t know how to use them.