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Chamonix Off-Piste Course

Explore the best off-piste in Chamonix with Chamex mountain guides & ski instructors

Chamonix is the perfect place to make the transition from skiing on-piste to skiing off-piste and experience the full-on  freeride fun. With your Chamex ski guide, you'll improve your backcountry skiing technique and receive an introduction to the skills needed to negotiate all-mountain terrain.

Assessment of your off-piste level

The first day of the off piste ski course is dedicated to the assessment of the overall level and abilities of the group. There is plenty of nice and easy off-piste terrain in Chamonix, such as at Le Tour, Flegere or Brevent, where your guide can see how you get on. This will help your mountain guide to plan the right itinerary for your week ahead. As safety is our main priority at Chamex, you will do a basic avalanche awareness training course on the first day. 

Improving your off-piste technique

The rest of this freeride course is dedicated to improving your off-piste skiing and to pushing your limits. You will have the advantage of being looked after and taught by our UIAGM qualified mountain ski guides and ENSA qualified ski instructors. This will ensure an excellent quality of ski instruction coupled with access to all of the incredible Chamonix off-piste terrain, you'll explore everything that the valley had to offer and ski beautiful couloirs, forests and glaciers. 

Skiing with confidence

During this course we will use video analysis to help you to focus on areas where you need to improve your skiing. Our goal is for you to leave this course with a sense of achievement as well as memories of a great backcountry ski week. We aim for you to confidently ski some of the epic backcountry descents for which Chamonix is famous, such as Petit Envers du Plan on the Vallee Blanche or Pas de Chèvre at Les Grands Montets.

Description

Your ski guide will tailor the programme to suit weather, snow conditions and the overall level of the group. Each day your ski guide will choose an area offering the best off-piste skiing at the moment. The focus of this week is to improve your backcountry ski technique and teach you the basics of avalanche awareness.

We will use video analysis to help you to:
  • Find the weak spots in your ski technique and focus your training there
  • Set goals in what you want to achieve and direct your training there

Off-Piste Progression

Throughout the course you'll be developing various skills that will make you a stronger and more confident off-piste skier, such as how to:

  • parallel turn on steep slopes
  • tackle moguls and uneven terrain
  • control your turns amongst trees
  • keep your balance in deep snow
  • increase your strength and stability on your skis

Once you've completed your introduction to off-piste skiing, you'll have opened up a whole new world of possibilities! Continue to develop your skills and become a stronger off-piste skier on our Off-Piste Performance Course or our Chamonix Steep Skiing Course.

 

Off-Piste Safety

Above all, mountain safety is our highest priority, which is why as well as imparting skiing techniques we also teach you how to ski off-piste safely. Avalanche awareness and transceiver search are essential to your skill set as a confident off-piste skier, especially when skiing the Chamonix backcountry routes that can take you far away from the patrolled ski areas. Our instructors are all qualified UIAGM mountain guides with all the knowledge and experience needed to teach you the basic mountain safety techniques.

 

Level Requirements

You don’t need to have previous off piste skiing experience to join the course, that's what we're here to teach you! However, you will have to be:

  • A competent piste skier
  • Able to ski black runs and moguls without problems
  • Physically fit enough to ski a pisted run without stopping

If you are not sure if this course is for you, view our ‘Are you Ready’ questionnaire in the FURTHER INFO section of this page. You can also contact us on info@chamex.com and we will be happy to help.

 

Off-Piste in Chamonix

Chamonix has incredibly varied terrain, making it the perfect place to learn to ski off-piste. Over the 5 days of this course you will learn how to handle different conditions and types of snow. Much of your training will take place at Les Grands Montets, Chamonix's biggest ski area, where you will find everything from glaciers to powder bowls.

Chamonix's unique location on the border of three countries means that you can experience skiing the best of the French, Swiss and Italian Alps; depending on conditions we may take you over the border for a taste of off-piste skiing in one of our neighbouring resorts such as Verbier or Courmayeur.

By the end of the course you should be confident enough to ski the Vallee Blanche, one of the most famous off-piste itineraries in the world, as well as some of the other classic Chamonix off-piste descents.

Price

695€

Price per person; groups of minimum 4 and maximum 6 skiers per guide / ski instructor

Course Dates

2018
Start Date End Date Spaces
Jan 15 Jan 19 6
Jan 22 Jan 26 6
Jan 29 Feb 02 6
Feb 05 Feb 09 6
Feb 12 Feb 16 6
Feb 19 Feb 23 6
Feb 26 Mar 02 6
Mar 05 Mar 09 6
Mar 12 Mar 16 6
Mar 19 Mar 23 6
Mar 29 Apr 02 6
Apr 02 Apr 06 6
Apr 09 Apr 13 6
Apr 16 Apr 20 6
Apr 23 Apr 27 6

G
  The Course is guaranteed to run


Included

Guiding & Tuition

5 days of mountain guiding and ski tuition by a UIAGM qualified mountain guide.

Avalanche Training

Specific avalanche awareness tuition including assessment of the conditions, correct use of a transceiver and how to carry out a rescue using shovel and probe.

Local Transport

Any local transport that is required during your course.

Safety Equipment

We can provide the essential safety equipment of harness, avalanche transceiver, probe and shovel if you do not have your own. We can also lend you a backpack with straps for carrying your skis/snowboard on request.

Office Support

Our team is based at the foot of the Aiguillle du Midi cable car and will be happy to help you with any questions you may have before, during or after your trip to Chamonix.

Not Included

Accommodation

Accommodation in Chamonix is not included in the price but we would be happy to advise or organise it on request.

Lift Passes

We will advise you on which lift passes you will need prior to your trip. If lift passes are required we can preorder them for you on request.

Travel to Chamonix

The price does not include flights, airport transfers or any other travel to/from Chamonix. However, we can organise airport transfers for you on request, please contact us for details.

Skis / Snowboards

The price does not include skis/snowboards, boots or clothing. If you do not have your own we can help you organise rental, please ask us for details.

Insurance

We strongly recommend that you take our Search and Rescue mountain insurance - we can organise this for you on request.

Food & Drink

The price does not include lunch or snacks. You can bring your own food and we can stop for a picnic, or there may be the option to buy lunch at a mountain hut. Please make sure that you are carrying sufficient water and snacks as we will be in the mountains for a number of hours.

Welcome Meeting in Chamonix

You will meet with your group and Chamex mountain guide at the Chamonix Experience office in Chamonix Sud on Sunday evening to discuss the programme for the week.

Your mountain guide will let you know what to expect from the weather and snow conditions and you will have the chance to ask any last minute questions.

Day 1 - Le Tour & Col de Balme

Le Tour is a good place for your guide/instructor to assess everyone's ski level and run through the basics of mountain saftey and avalanche awaress. The off-piste is easily accessible and the gradient is not too steep. Le Tour also offers brilliant tree skiing and long runs to Switzerland over the Col de Balme. The back bowls of Le Tour are also perfect for studying how wind, terrain and temperatures affect the snow pack and avalanche risk, so here is where you will do your avalanche awareness training to get the week off to a safe start.

Day 2 - Brevent & Flegere

The south facing ski areas of Flégère and Brévent offer fun terrain with many secret bowls which tend to be among snowboarders’ favorite spots in Chamonix.

When Brévent is good, it is possibly the best off-piste in the valley. There is the famous Hotel Face and the ENSA couloirs, to mention only a few of the classic Chamonix off-piste itineraries.

Flegere is where the locals head on a powder day while everyone else is out fighting for fresh tracks at Les Grands Montets! Your mountain guide will show you the best spots that only the locals know about.

Day 3 - Les Grands Montets

Les Grands Montets is the perfect place to learn about glacier travel; Grand Montets’ north facing aspect means that it is the area which holds the snow the best and until latest in the season. It offers excellent long steep pitches where you can practise your off-piste ski technique.

From the top cable car you have access to the Rognon Glacier at over 3000m altitude. Before setting off your mountain guide will brief you on how to safely ski on glaciated terrain, you'll then spend the day skiing glaciers, gullies and couloirs together.

Day 4 - Aiguille du Midi & Vallee Blanche

No ski trip to Chamonix is complete without skiing from the Aiguille du Midi. This is where the famous Vallée Blanche descent starts and where off-piste skiing in a high mountain environment is at its best.

The Vallee Blanche has many different descents of varying difficulty and steepness; your guide will choose the one that is best for your group and the conditions. All routes take you through the most amazing landscape of ice towers and deep crevasses, not to mention the surrounding peaks of the Mont Blanc Massif.

Day 5 - Italy

For our last day we drive through the Mont Blanc tunnel to Italy and La Palud, from where the Helbronner lift will take you in three stages up to Point Helbronner. From here there are various options to descend the Glacier de Toule for a fantastic day of glacial off-piste skiing.

The course ends with debriefing in our office on Friday evening.

Clothing

Warm hat

Warm hat

Thermal underwear

Thermal underwear

Fleece or woollen layers

Fleece or woollen layers

Light puffer jacket

Light puffer jacket

Windproof and waterproof jacket

Windproof and waterproof jacket

Windproof and waterproof trousers

Windproof and waterproof trousers

Warm gloves

Warm gloves

Technical gear

Harness

Harness

Snowboard

Snowboard

Snowboard boots

Snowboard boots

Ski goggles

Ski goggles

Free ride skis

Free ride skis

Ski boots

Ski boots

Ski poles

Ski poles

20 - 30 litres rucksack with attachment loops for skis / snowboard

20 - 30 litres rucksack with attachment loops for skis / snowboard

Safety Equipment

Avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe

Avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe

Ski or snowboard helmet

Ski or snowboard helmet

Extras

Sunglasses

Sunglasses

Water bottle (1 litre minimum)

Water bottle (1 litre minimum)

Sun cream high protection (for lips and face)

Sun cream high protection (for lips and face)

Airport transfers

We can help you to organise your transport to/from Chamonix. We work with well established airport transfer companies which use new and comfortable vehicles and which have the capacity and know-how to handle everything from delayed and cancelled flights, to unexpected traffic jams with professionalism and efficiency.

To book your transfer, we will need the following:
- Your full name
- Mobile phone number
- Email address
- Your destination address
- Your flight details (date, time and flight number)

For Geneva airport - Chamonix / Chamonix - Geneva airport:

SHARED TRANSFERS:
This is the most economic and ecologically friendly way of travel. The driver will meet and greet you at the airport, gather you and the rest of the passenger group together and then head off to your chosen destination. The door-to-door service means that you will be dropped off and picked up right at your hotel /chalet / apartment. From 40€ per person for one way and 80€ per person for a return trip.

PRIVATE TRANSFERS:
Private Transfers are the quickest way to get to and from the airport. Your driver will meet and greet you at the airport and guide you to your vehicle. There is no waiting for other passengers. Private transfers are available for one to eight person bookings and travelling together and you are guaranteed sole occupancy of the vehicle for your transfer. And, of course, it's a door to door service, so you won't be lugging any bags very far. 250€ per car for one way and 500€ per car for a return trip.

Chamonix accommodation

If you need help to find a place to stay in Chamonix, don't hesitate to let us know! We work with a network of excellent chalets, hotels, gites and B&Bs offering Chamonix accommodation to suit all tastes and all budgets.

Mountain rescue insurance

We don’t include mountain rescue insurance in any of our courses but we strongly recommend that you have it. Mountain rescue may be very expensive, particularly if helicopters are involved. Check with your travel insurance provider if you are covered for the specific activity you are going to do with us.

However, we can organise the mountain rescue insurance for you.The cost is 8€ per person per day for EU residents and 12€ per person per day for non-EU residents. Details of the insurance cover are different for EU and non-EU residents, please contact us for more informations.

Lift passes

CHAMONIX LIFT PASSES - FREE BOOKING & COLLECTION SERVICE

You can easily avoid the morning queue for the lift tickets - order your lift passes with us and then just pick them up the day before! We'll collect your lift passes and have them ready for you, free of charge.

If you have booked a course or a private trip with us, your guide will bring your lift passes along for you. There are two types of lift passes in Chamonix - Mont Blanc Unlimited and Chamonix Le Pass - please don't hesitate to contact us to find out which lift pass will be the best for you.

For this course you will need the 5 days Mont Blanc Unlimited lift pass, please contact us for further details.

Food

We suggest you bring plenty of snacks that you can take into the mountains with you each day; things like cereal bars, dried fruit and nuts, chocolate, sugary sweets or your favourite trail snacks are ideal. You can buy all of these things in Chamonix.

Equipment hire

We highly recommend that you book any equipment with us at least 2 weeks in advance as the hire shops can have limited availability in the busy season.

You can collect your equipment the evening before the start of the course and return it in the evening at the end of your course. We work with the following Chamonix ski hire and mountain shops :

• Concept Pro Shop (100 Place de l'Aiguille du Midi, Chamonix) open 7/7 08:00-19:00

Optional equipment

Thermos – not essential due to weight, but it can be comforting to have a hot drink on a cold day.

Water Bottle – should be at least 1.5 litres and durable. 
Camelbak hydration systems are good as long as they are kept clean, but not recommended for winter sports as the tube tends to freeze up.

Extra Gloves - a pair of spare gloves is essential.

Extra Goggles - spare goggles are highly recommended.

Are you ready for the Chamonix Off Piste Course?

1) Are you in good physical condition and regularly participating in physical activity (at least 2 times per week) with cardio / endurance training? Can you ski an entire run (from top of the lift to the bottom) with no more than one stop?                                                                                      

2) Are you able to ski with you skis parallel in all situations and on all types of terrain?  

3) Are you capable of skiing a ‘true’ red piste  (steep with moguls) in all conditions, with a continuous smooth and correct technique ?

4) Can you control your speed at any moment in the following circumstances:


  • Runs with moguls / bumps                               

  • Hard packed or icy runs  

  • Crowded pistes                                                      

  • Steep terrain                                                                    

5) Are you able to adapt your technique relative to changes in the snow surface? e.g, groomed pistes / hard packed or icy snow / moguls

6) Are you able to detect when you are skiing with notions of a bad technique, and make the necessary corrections? e.g, too far forwards or backwards over the skis, poor arm position, poor shoulder alignment etc.

7) Do you know how to use your arms correctly to facilitate a good position on your skis? e.g. keeping your hands forward and visible in the bottom of your peripheral vision, plus planting your poles correctly?

8) Have you mastered the following techniques?


  • Linking your turns with smooth transitions                                                         

  • Controlled side sliding                                                                                        

  • Linked short turns with skis pointing down hill direction, controlling your speed                                                                       

                                                                                                                       

9)  Do you know how to change the length and shape of your turns to adapt to the terrain, while being in constant control of your skis and speed?

10) Have you skied on backcountry skis or ski s with a least a 90mm width under foot?

11) Have you already skied off piste?

 

 

Vallée Blanche Classic

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The classic and most spectacular route down the Vallée Blanche, this itinerary avoids all the steep descents making it the easiest way to ski the Valley Blanche. You will ski amongst several stunning 4000m peaks of the Mont Blanc range: Aiguille Verte, Grandes Jorasses, Mont Blanc du Tacul and Dent du Geant.

You will ski over impressive glaciers that descend all the way from the summit of Mont Blanc down to the Mer de Glace, which is the longest glacier in France. From the Mer de Glace we can either ski back down to Chamonix along a forest trail if the snow conditions are good enough, or we can hike up past the ice caves to the lift station and take the historic Montenvers train back down to Chamonix centre.

The classic Vallee Blanche route is suitable for intermediate skiers who have some experience in off-piste skiing. If you are not sure of your ski level then you can combine this trip with a preparatory session when you will spend the day with one of our UIAGM mountains guides who will assess your skiing and practise all the techniques required to ski safely on glacial off-piste terrain.

Pas de Chevre

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This scenic off-piste itinerary starts from Les Grands Montets in Argentiere. From the top of the highest cable car you ski west towards the Grands Montets Glacier where the terrain starts to steepen, and you'll veer skier's right to enter into a wide couloir. Once you've skied down to 2800m the descent splits into two coombs, we follow the left one.

This wonderful long descent takes you all the way down to the open plains of the moraine and on to the Mer de Glace, the longest glacier in France. It might sound fairly straightforward but the exit itinerary is complicated and requires very good route finding skills and knowledge of the area.

This route is suitable for experienced off-piste skiers and snowboarders; if you are unsure of your level then consider joining one of our Chamonix Off-Piste Courses, where you will learn all the essential techniques for skiing safely on glacial off-piste terrain.

Glacier de Toule

Chamonix-off-piste-ski-04

The Toule Glacier in Italy offers some fantastic off-piste ski descents. High above Courmayeur, the glacier lies on the south side of Point Helbronner. From Aiguille du Midi we can start our trip in France and ski straight down to Italy across fabulous glaciated terrain.

As well as enjoying some excellent off-piste terrain in beautiful surroundings, you'll also get to see Mont Blanc from a different perspective.

The second best thing about this descent is getting to enjoy lunch and coffee in Italy! On a sunny day we can find a restaurant with a nice terrace and plan our afternoon skiing as we look up at the mountains.

Pre du Rocher

Chamonix-off-piste-ski-02

Pre du Rocher is a great option for a powder day and, with good snow cover, you can ski all the way back down to Chamonix.

Starting from the mid-station of the Aiguille du Midi cable car we head to the north side of Plan de l'Aiguille and descend via the left side of the Torrent de Glacier. Take a moment to look up at the impressive view of the Massif des Aiguilles Rouges when you pause for a rest.

Once we're beneath the glacier we find ourselves skiing amongst the trees on a forested track which takes us back down to the Aiguille du Midi car park.

Please note that the avalanche risk can be high here, especially after a snowfall, so please do not venture here without a mountain guide.