Alternative Tours

Not scheduled this year, but possible!

Rila Monastery winter

You may have seen a tour offered in previous years that you’d like to do this year. If you have a group of four or more, talk to us about whether it is possible to schedule it this year. We have a long archive of possible tours (and places we’d happily research and explore with you).

Bulgaria Rila & Pirin Massif, Grade: D2:A2:F2, Meeting Point: Sofia, Email: Sian. What an opportunity – mix your ski touring trip with some cultural discovery…  We discover the Rila massif, which is quite Alpine, and the Pirin massifs which is much more austere and listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Register for its vast forests containing trees more than 1000 years old. We will have one night at the Rila Monastery, founded in the 10th century and also listed on the World Heritage Register. Our entry into Bulgarian culture will be greatly aided by the Bulgarian guide joining the group. What a wonderful introduction to Bulgaria and its mountains.

Larche Briancon Ski TourLarche – Briançon, Grade: D2:A2:F2, Email: Sian. The Larche-Briançon section of the Alps crossing is particularly interesting. We are in the Southern Alps and this tour passes through two magnificent and highly reputed regions, the wild Ubaye, and the Queyras with its remote villages perched high in the mountains. Larche is a small mountain village very near the Italian border and at the entrance of the Mercatour National Park. Briançon is known for its Vauban fortifications, which are listed on the World Heritage register.

medelserhutte-20Haute Route Medel, Grade: D2:A2:F2, Email: Sian. In the heart of the central Alps this is a very original ski tour. We head out for what feels like a long voyage in north eastern Switzerland. From Graubunden we set out on a circular route passing through the Ticino and taking in the narrow valleys of the Rhin. In pure Swiss tradition our accommodation is always in guarded refuges (except one) and the terrain is exceptionally varied. There is a compulsory technical passage, the Rheinwaldhorn (known as Adula in Italy and also Piz Valrhein), which is the high point of the Adula massif. This massif is situated between the sources of the Rhin, the Rhone and the Inn Rivers, and some of the tributaries of the Po River. This position allows the massif to be named the water tower of Europe.

Gran Paradiso, Grade: D2:A2:F2, Email: Sian. Reaching a 4000m IMG_3592summit remains an excellent milestone in the life of a skier, and one that is our target this week. The Gran Paradiso (4061m) is situated in the heard of the National Park of the same name, and is the only 4000m summit entirely in Italy. The national park was initially created to protect the Alpine ibex, which remained only in this area having been hunted from everywhere else. We will begin our week acclimatising, and then start the traverse, staying within our traditional ‘tour’ spirit. This gives us all the best chance of achieving the summit along with a very nice ski journey.

Central Bernese Oberland, Central Bernese Oberland BlattenGrade: D2:A2:F2, Email: Sian. This new tour is an interesting traverse allowing us to link the Jungfrau massive and the Kandersteg region. We first cross the immense glacial region of Jungfrau-Aletsch (a World Heritage site), the well preserved Lotschental Valley, with its wonderful panoramas of 40 summits all over 4000m, before linking in with the Wildstrubel region and a 2000m descent into Lenk.

MeijeLa Meije, Grade: D3:A3:F3, Email: Sian. La Meije is the 3982m mountain forming the dramatic backdrop to the village of La Grave. On the edge of the Ecrins National Park in the French Alps, this is one of the biggest off piste skiing sites in Europe. The region is characterised by rocky peaks, steep sided narrow valleys and huge areas of glacier. There are gaping crevasses, steep descents, long climbs, narrow passages and good snow until the end of May. While La Grave is well known for its off piste skiing few people go beyond the itineraries accessible with the cable car. Our ski tour takes you from here in a circular traverse of the area, spending six nights in the region’s guarded refuges.

Todi Ski Tour, Grade: D3:A3:F3, Email: Sian. The Tödi massive (also known as Piz Russien, 3614m) Todi summit ais the high point of the Glaurus Alps in the Central Swiss Alps, to the east of the Dammastock. It is not very well known, probably because the surrounding mountains are relatively low making access routes to the Tödi itself quite long, with large height differences. The climbs can be hard work, but of course, the descents that follow are all the more fun! The refuges are not all guarded, which adds to the isolation of the area. So if your curiosity if piqued, and your legs are ready, you won’t regret dragging your skis around this corner of Switzerland.

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.