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.

Zermatt – Saas Fee 4000, Grade: D3:A3:F3, Meeting Point: Zermatt, Email: Sian. This route criss crosses the frontier between Italy and Switzerland as we explore the highest peaks around the Monta Rosa area (this tour gives you the chance to do a 4000m peak every day). The tour will provide a real challenge to fit and experienced ski tourers as it is at high altitude (as high as 4633m) and covers some steep and technical ground in one of the most glacier filled areas of the Alps. During the week we will ski the Breithorn, Castor and the Zumsteinspitze on the Monta Rosa.

Imperial Haute Route, Grade: D3:A3:F3, Meeting Point: Geneva, Email: Sian. The Val d’Anniviers where this tour starts is also known as the Royal Crown, and is reputed to be Switzerlands most beautiful valley! The massive peaks surrounding this cirque give you a huge impression of space. Set as it is on the linguistic boundary of German and French Switzerland these peaks seem to juggle both languages – La Dent Blanche, the Obergabelhorn, Le Grand Comier, the Zinalrothorn, Le Mont Durand and the Bishorn! Most of these are 4000 metre and their sharp arêtes are breathtaking.

Cerces Southern Alps, Grade: D1:A2:F2, Meeting Point: Turin, Email: Sian. This trip consists of a circuit around Mont Thabor and en route we both climb this famous peak and visit some of the most beautiful skiing country of the Southern Alps including Nevache and the Valley of La Clarée (both are very well preserved). The refuges are comfortable and, all in all, this trip is an ideal experience for those new to ski touring. (Height gain/loss is about 1,000m to 1,200m a day).

Simplon – Gothard, Grade: D2:A2:F2, Meeting Point: Geneva, Email: Sian. This tour crosses two of the most famous passes in Switzerland. In the middle of the Alpine arc the Leopontine Alps rise in the South West of the Valais region at the Simplon Pass and end not far from the Saint Gothard Pass. These mountains grow on the Swiss side up from the high Rhone valley and on the Italian side from the valley of Ossola. The higher reaches of the Ossola Valley are known as the ‘Val Formazza’ and this route is known in Italy as the ‘Haute Route d’Ossola’. Surprisingly little known, this is a big route linking two great alpine cols, but it is of only average difficulty. However you’ll find an interesting mix of terrains and so tourers need to be experienced.

Haute Maurienne Ski Tour, Grade: D2:A3:F2, Meeting Point: Geneva, Email: Sian. This is an excellent tour in the back country behind Val d’Isere and Tignes. The Haute Maurienne hangs between the Southern and the Northern Alps. It is a particularly snowy place and holds a numbers of records for the depth of snowfall. Although many seasoned French tourers love this area, relatively few foreigners have explored its savage beauty, perhaps because, unlike its neighbours, it cannot boast a 4,000 metre peak. But this is to ignore the multitude of summits over 3,500 metres which help turn this trip into classic example of a ski tour. It’s a circular route, leaving from the the well known piste skiing base of Val d’Isere. It’s ironic that this resort area is so well visited and yet on the doorstep lies the Haute Maurienne with its empty cols, impressive summits and wild, open spaces. This fine scenery and the high quality of the accommodation combine to make this trip something really special.

Gran Paradiso, Grade: D2:A2:F2, Meeting Point: 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.

MeijeLa Meije, Grade: D3:A3:F3, Meeting Point: Geneva, 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.