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Ski Mountaineering in Chamonix

Ski mountaineering in Chamonix Mont Blanc, the ultimate alpine experience

Ski mountaineering is, unsurprisingly, a combination of skiing and mountaineering. Taking you away from the crowds and into the mountains, our ski mountaineering course is the ultimate winter alpine adventure – get your skis, crampons and ice axes ready!

Our Chamonix ski mountaineering course will take you into the backcountry of the Mont Blanc Massif to tackle iconic off-piste routes such as the Pas de Chevre, the Rectiligne Couloir and the Vallee Blanche. Much of the course will take place at Les Grands Montets, on the Argentiere glacier and on the vast amount of off-piste terrain accessed from the Aiguille du Midi.

Ski mountaineers can travel over mixed terrain, such as snow, rock and ice, by using a variety of skills including ski touring, off-piste skiing and alpinism. You'll learn how to scale steep couloirs using crampons and ice axes, traverse mixed terrain over rock and ice, abseil over cliffs and ski safely over glaciers and other unpatrolled environments whilst strengthening your off-piste skiing technique and gaining confidence in your mountaineering skills.

This is an excellent preparation course for our ski mountaineering trips such as the Haute Route from Chamonix to ZermattSki Mont Blanc or the Monte Rosa Ski Tour

This ski mountaineering course builds on from our Ski Touring Introduction Course, which is ideal preparation if you're not quite ready for the ski mountaineering course just yet.

Description

On our 5 day ski mountaineering course in Chamonix you will ski tour across glaciers, climb a summit with your skis on your pack, spend a night in a mountain hut, learn a new set of skills to keep yourself safe in the mountains and gain more confidence off-piste with our introduction to steep skiing.

Level Requirements

Our Chamonix ski mountaineering course is physically demanding and so it is essential that you prepare yourself. Regular practice of any kind of endurance sport such as ski touring, hiking, running, biking or swimming is the best kind of training. We also recommend core strength exercises – Pilates and yoga are perfect. This course is for expert off-piste skiers only and you will need to be:

  • Confident and quick skiing off-piste on snow of varied quality
  • Experienced in using ice axes and crampons
  • Prepared to climb up steep couloirs and abseil with your skis attached to your rucksack
  • Physically fit with good strength and stamina

The best preparation for this course is to complete our Ski Touring Introduction Course first, it will lay the foundations and give you the strength and skills necessary to get the most out of your time.

If you're not sure which course is best for you, or if you simply want to ask us some questions, please contact us on info@chamex.com and we will be happy to help you.

Off-Piste Safety

Above all, mountain safety is our highest priority, which is why as well as ski mountaineering 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 ski mountaineer, especially when skiing the Chamonix backcountry routes that can take you far away from the patrolled ski areas. You'll also learn more advanced safety techniques such as:

  • Ropework and rapelling
  • Using your skis as an anchor
  • Skiing safely on steep and/or narrow slopes
  • Avalanche search and rescue methods
  • Glacier safety and crevasse rescue

Our instructors are all qualified UIAGM mountain guides with all the knowledge and experience needed to teach you the essential mountain safety techniques.

 

Chamonix Backcountry

Chamonix has incredibly varied terrain, making it the perfect place to introduce yourself to the world of ski mountaineering. It has a world-wide reputation for extreme off-piste skiing, challenging backcountry ski tours and towering peaks. Over the 5 days of this course you will learn how to handle different conditions and types of snow whilst using ski touring and alpine climbing techniques to access steep couloirs, deep powder bowls, dense forests and rugged glaciers.

Les Grands Montets and Aiguille du Midi give access to fantastic off-piste options that will both challenge and exhilirate you. You can ski the Vallee Blanche down one of the many less frequented and more formidable routes such as Grand Envers, or get the adrenaline pumping in the notorious couloirs of the Argentiere basin. Ropes, ice axes and crampons will become an essential part of your kit as you become more adept at travelling across high mountain terrain.

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.

Off-Piste Progression

We offer a full programme of off-piste, ski touring and alpine climbing courses in Chamonix, with this ski mountaineering course combining aspects of each of them. In order to build up to this level we recommend that you start with either our Off-Piste Skiing or Ski Touring Introduction courses. Once you have mastered the required skills and are confident on all types of terrain, you'll be ready to explore the limitless options of Chamonix and the Mont Blanc valley.

 

Price

1290€

Price per person; groups of minimum 2 and maximum 4 participants

Course Dates

2017
Start Date End Date Spaces
Apr 24 Apr 28 4
2018
Start Date End Date Spaces
Jan 08 Jan 12 4
Jan 22 Jan 26 4
Feb 05 Feb 09 4
Feb 19 Feb 23 4
Mar 05 Mar 09 4
Mar 19 Mar 23 4
Mar 30 Apr 03 4
Apr 09 Apr 13 4
Apr 23 Apr 27 4

G
  The Course is guaranteed to run


Included

Guiding & Tuition

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

Accommodation (half-board)

1 night in a mountain hut with breakfast and dinner included.

Local Transport

Any local transport that is required during your course.

Group Equipment

Ropes, safety equipment, etc will be provided when needed by your guide.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Welcome meeting at Chamex Office

You will meet your guide and the rest of the group at the Chamonix Experience office the previous evening to discuss the plan for the upcoming week.

Day 1: Warm-Up Ski Tour and Avalanche Awareness

We will take you for a warm-up ski tour, which is an opportunity for your guide to check everyone’s skiing and ski touring ability. You will polish your ski touring skills and learn some useful tips. You will also practice a simulated search for an avalanche victim using your transceiver, shovel and probe.

Day 2. Steep Skiing and Rope work practice

This will be a day of skiing steep couloirs such as the Pas de Chèvre, the Couloir des Poubelles or the Rectiligne couloir, and we will decide where to go depending on the snow conditions. You will practice steep skiing and jump turns, and we will teach you how to set up belays, how to abseil, how to secure your partner using a short rope and various other useful techniques.

Day 3. Brèche Puiseux and Crevasse Rescue

We will take a lift up to the top of Aiguille du Midi and ski down Chamonix’s famous glacier run, the Vallée Blanche, to the Mer de Glace. Here we start the climb up to the magnificent Brèche Puiseux. You will skin and climb up a steep couloir using crampons and an ice axe. There is a short technical section and an abseil on the other side of the couloir. The descent is fun and it will bring you back to the Mer de Glace, an ideal venue for crevasse rescue practice.

Day 4. Refuge d’Argentière (2771 m)

You should be feeling confident skiing in any mountain terrain by now, so it’s time to go for a 2 day ski tour adventure! You will start by skiing from the Grands Montets top station down to the Glacier d’Argentière. After traversing the glacier, we skin up to the Refuge d’Argentiere, where we can enjoy the beautiful sunset and spend the night.

Day 5. Summit of Aiguille d’Argentière and ski the Glacier du Milieu

Today we have an early start. Using your newly acquired skills, you will skin and climb to the summit of the Aiguille d’Argentière. This is a long hike which should take about 3 – 4 hours, but all your hard work will be rewarded by a long descent of 2670 metres. The day and the course will finish in one of Chamonix's bars with a well-deserved drink!

Course ends with a debriefing in the Chamonix Experience 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

Thin gloves

Thin gloves

Gaiters

Gaiters

Sun hat

Sun hat

Technical gear

Ice Axe

Ice Axe

Harness

Harness

Telescopic poles

Telescopic poles

Ski goggles

Ski goggles

Screwgate carabiner

Screwgate carabiner

60 - 120 cm tape sling

60 - 120 cm tape sling

Belay device

Belay device

Climbing helmet

Climbing helmet

35 - 45 litres rucksack

35 - 45 litres rucksack

Pair of technical ice axes

Pair of technical ice axes

Ski / splitboard skins

Ski / splitboard skins

Free ride skis

Free ride skis

Crampons

Crampons

Ski touring skis

Ski touring skis

Ski touring boots

Ski touring boots

Safety Equipment

Avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe

Avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe

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)

Headlamp with fresh batteries

Headlamp with fresh batteries

Sleeping bag liner

Sleeping bag liner

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.

Accommodation in Chamonix

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.

Equipment rental

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 shop :

• Concept Pro Shop which is conveniently located directly next door from our office. Open 7/7 08:00-19:00

Search & Recsue 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.

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 or climbing Mont Blanc as the tube tends to freeze up.

Extra Gloves - a pair of spare gloves is essential.

Extra Goggles - spare goggles are highly recommended.

Aiguille de Bérard, Brèche de Bérard

P1010645

This is another Chamonix classic itinerary which finishes in the picturesque Bérard Valley. 

Staring by the Col du Crochue, which is easily accessible from the Index lift station, ski the traverse to the Combe de l’Envers de Berard and continue still further 200m until you reach a wide South facing couloir. Skin up the couloir to reach SW ridge of the Aiguille Bérard. Follow the ridge which opens great vies of the wild back country of the Aiguilles Rouges massif. The ridge will lead you to the Brèche - a narrow slot between two rocky cliffs. Climb up the passage to reach the opening to the Bérard valley. The descent is truly rewarding, skiing over rolling terrain to the Buet village. 

Elevation gain 635m // elevation loss 1770m // length 10km // duration 1 day

La Breche Puiseux

Chamonix-ski-touring-05

This classic high mountain ski touring route passes some stunning scenery with a descent in front of the Grandes Jorasses. Access is via the Aiguille du Midi cable car to the top station, stepping out onto the famous arete and descending halfway down the Vallee Blanche normal route. You'll ski down as far as the Refuge du Requin and the magnificent seracs of the Salle a Manger. From here the route starts to ascend over the Periades glacier, climbing past impressive ice falls towards the access couloir that heads up to the cliff col and the summit at Breche Puiseux.

The descent from Breche Puiseux begins with a rappel/abseil of about 40-50 metres down to the Mont Mallet glacier. A long glacial descent brings us to the Leschaux glacier on steep slopes that usually retain good snow even long after a snow fall. From here you'll ski past spectacular views of the Talefre Basin and Aiguille Verte, before rejoining the Vallee Blanche route for the flat ski out towards the Mer de Glace, the longest glacier in France.

Depending on time and snow conditions we can either ski from the Mer de Glace to Chamonix along an old forest track, or we can hike up past the ice caves and take the historic Montenvers train back down to Chamonix centre.

The Breche-Puiseux ski tour is a superb itinerary for experienced ski tourers; offering varied terrain and spectacular views of peaks such as the Dent du Geant and Mont Blanc du Tacul. It is a long day out with a lot of climbing, so a good level of fitness is required.