Intro & Entry Level Tours

Gain skills and experience in scenic surroundings

Encantats Ski Tour

Trips highlighted in GREEN are confirmed

Trips highlighted in ORANGE need only one or two extras to confirm

Intro Ski 2014Our Introduction to Ski Touring week is aimed at good on-piste skiers (very comfortable on red slopes, can ski black slopes) who have headed off the groomed slopes into the powder from time to time. If you’d love to get away from the lifts and see what it’s really all about then this week is for you. Learn about snow and avalanche safety, learn how to use touring skis, skins, ski crampons and avalanche transceivers.  And the all important kick-turn! A night out in a refuge from February onwards. **This trip runs with only two participants** So find one extra, a date to suit, and start your ski touring career.

December 2016

17 – 24 Dec 2016: Intro Ski Touring/Winter Skills, Price: 1375€, Grade: D1:A1:F1, Meet: Lourdes, Email: Sian.

24 Dec – 31 Dec 2016: Intro Ski Touring/Winter Skills, Price: 1425€, Grade: D1:A1:F1, Meet: Lourdes, Email: Sian.

January 2017

Intro Ski Tour31 Dec 2016 – 7 Jan 2017: Intro Ski Touring/Winter Skills, Price: 1375€, Grade: D1:A1:F1, Meet: Lourdes, Email: Sian.

7 – 14 Jan 2017: Intro Ski Touring/Winter Skills, Price: 1375€, Grade: D1:A1:F1, Meet: Lourdes, Email: Sian.

14 – 17 Jan 2017: Intro Ski Touring Weekend, Price: 615€ (inc. equip), Grade: D1:A1:F1, Meet: Lourdes, Email: Sian.

Intro Ski New Heights21 – 28 Jan 2017: Intro Ski Touring/Winter Skills, Price: 1375€, Grade: D1:A1:F1, Meet: Lourdes, Email: Sian.

28 – 31 Jan 2016: Intro Ski Touring Weekend, Price: 615€ (inc. equip), Grade: D1:A1:F1, Meet: Lourdes, Email: Sian.

February 2017

4 – 11 Feb 2017: Intro Ski Touring/Winter Skills (hotel based in Luz), Price: 1375€, Grade: D1:A1:F1, Meet: Lourdes, Email: Sian.

On top11 – 18 Feb 2017: Néouvielle Nature Reserve – Lakes and Peaks, Price: 1375€, Grade: D1:A1:F1, Meet: Lourdes, Email: Sian. The Néouvielle Nature Reserve was created in 1935, one of the first in France. The Reserve adjoins, and is managed by, the Pyrenees National Park, and protects a high mountain environment filled with granite peaks and lakes. The the area is protected by a high ridge on its northern frontier that results in a warm and dry micro-climate and is the reason many species are found at higher altitudes here than anywhere else. The name ‘Néouville’ means old snow ‘nèu vielha’ in the local Occitan dialect, and refers to the many glaciers that previously clung to the 3000m peaks. This five day tour, with one night in an unguarded refuge, takes us around the area, and leaves time for a long off-piste descent from the famous Pic du Midi de Bigorre.

Intro Ski making tracks11 – 18 Feb 2017 : Intro Ski Touring Weekend, Price: 615€ (inc. equip), Grade: D1:A1:F1, Meet: Lourdes, Email: Sian.

18 – 25 Feb 2017: Intro Ski Touring/Winter Skills (hotel based in Luz), Price: 1375€, Grade: D1:A1:F1, Meet: Lourdes, Email: Sian.

25 Feb – 4 Mar 2017: Encantats – the Pyrenean Lake District, Price: 1325€,Grade: D1:A1:F2, Meet: Lourdes/Toulouse, Email: Sian. The Encantats Nature Reserve is a large protected area just over the Spanish border in the Catalan Pyrenees and is well known for its granite rock faces, twisting rivers and a myriad of frozen lakes. The terrain provides an ideal environment for a hut to hut Encantatsski tour and this week we will ski one or more 3000m peaks. The huts on this tour are all staffed for the holidays mid Feb-mid March, fully catered and very comfortable. So this is a great way to escape from the February ski crowds and is an excellent first-timers ski tour! From Vielha, the capital of the Val d’Aran, we drive up to our departure point and head up to the Restanca, Ventosa, Amitges and the Colomers refuges in a six day circumnavigation of the area. We aim to ski to a summit each day and to ski on untracked snow. We will head for the Montardo (2900m), the Punta Alta (3015m), the Cirque des Colomers and the Ratera (2800m). There are many other peaks to choose from and each day you and your guide will decide which to go for. The best thing of all is that this tour is set among staggeringly beautiful terrain and yet you are not likely to come across more than one or two groups of skiers.

24 Feb – 4 Mar 2017 : Intro Ski Touring Weekend, Price: 615€ (inc. equip), Grade: D1:A1:F1, Meet: Lourdes, Email: Sian.

March 2017

4 – 11 Mar 2017: Intro Ski Touring/Winter Skills (hotel based in Luz), Price: 1375€, Grade: D1:A1:F1, Meet: Lourdes, Email: Sian.

Marcadau4 – 11 Mar 2017: Marcadau to Panticosa, Price: 1300€, Grade: D1:A1:F1, Meet: Lourdes, Email: Sian. The Marcadau Valley is in the Pyrenees National Park and was historically a place of commerce and exchange between the high Aragon and French valleys north and south of it. The word ‘Marcadau’ means market in local dialects. The new (and comparatively luxurious) Bachimana Refuge in Spain at 2200m allows us to discover this region which is particularly suited to ski touring. We will spend the five days between the Wallon and Bachimana refuges with a first day tour somewhere in the Luz valley before setting off.

18 – 25 Mar 2017: Intro Ski Touring/Winter Skills (hotel based in Luz), Price: 1375€, Grade: D1:A1:F1, Meet: Lourdes, Email: Sian

silvretta-jamtal-hut25 Mar – 1 Apr 2017: Silvretta Alps, Price: 1525€, Grade: D1:A1:F2, Meet: Innsbruck, Email: Sian. The Silvretta Alps span the Austrian / Swiss border. The most popular mountain to ascend in the range is the famous Piz Buin (3312m) and this tour includes an ascent to its summit. Our route is planned around a six day traverse linking five huts – some in Austria, others in Switzerland. There is a choice of more or less demanding routes between each hut and your guide will choose a route to best suit you and your group’s abilities and aspirations. For some people this might include climbing to the summits of the GemsSpitzter, Dreilanderspitz (3197m), Hinter Jamspitz (3156m), Silvrettahorn (3244m) or the Piz Buin (3312m) itself; other groups might enjoy seeking out off the beaten track routes over the less well known glaciers to find untracked, pristine snow and solitude. This tour is justifiably one of the most popular and is suitable for skiers looking for moderate glacial terrain with the opportunity to “peak bag” each day. The mountains and glaciers are spectacular and all the mountain huts are very comfortable as is typical of this area of Switzerland and Austria. Ernest Hemingway stayed in the region for a winter in the 1920s (he lived at Schruns in Montafon) and wrote a couple of short stories about his skiing experiences in the Silvretta. These can be found in “A Moveable Feast”. TOUR CONFIRMED.

25 Mar – 1 Apr 2017: Intro Ski Touring/Winter Skills, Price: 1375€, Grade: D1:A1:F1, Meet: Lourdes, Email: Sian

Grade Coding

D = Descent.

D1 – simple skiing on wide slopes with little danger of exposure due to cliff faces, seracs or glaciers. Expect slopes similar to a red piste in gradient terms.
D2 – expect some slopes with object dangers like cliff faces, narrow passages between crevasses or ice falls and the occasional gully or couloir. Slopes may be slightly steeper than in our D1 grade but generally do not exceed 30 degrees.
D3 – expect steeper slopes, narrower gulleys, and skiing in more confined spaces. You must be able to ski completely in control in all snow conditions on slopes up to 35 degrees.

A = Ascent (vertical climb)

A1 – climbs on these ski tours average between 800 and 1000 metres a day at a moderate pace on gentle terrain. Expect to spend fours hours climbing. A1 tours do not generally require the use of an ice axe but you may need boot crampons on one or two passes.
A2 – longer climbs up to 1200 metres a day but with optional peak ascents requiring some mountaineering skills. You will use crampons and may need an ice axe (see individual tour requirements). Expect to cover the 1200 metres in 3.5 hours – so these tours do move at a faster pace than our A1 groups.
A3 – these tours are tougher and require climbs of 1400 metres and occasional longer days up to 1800 metres a day. You need to be completely competent with uphill kick turns (able to perform them in steep tricky situations) and you need an ice axe and crampons. A3 tours are only suitable for people who have completed at least three ski tours before.

F = Fitness

F1 – these tours require basic hill and ski fitness as they are only at moderate altitude and you are climbing and skiing at a moderate rate. We expect you to be able to climb and ski at a steady pace with two or three breaks during the climb.
F2 – as these groups move at a faster pace, and many of these tours are at a higher altitude, you need to be fitter. You should be a regular hill walker or cycle a fair amount and you should be ski fit too – so ideally you will have been skiing on piste (or on an off -piste week) before joining these groups.
F3 – these groups cover ground at a fast pace without stopping very often. You need to be able to climb with a good rhythm at this pace for up to five hours. These tours are only suitable for people who have many years ski touring experience and are well prepared physically.

A note: please bear in mind that although we have given each tour a D.A.F grade the actual grade of a route may well feel different if the conditions are hard – i.e if there is a lot of breakable crust, or stormy weather for example.