Intro to Off Piste: Chamonix

The Mont Blanc Massif above Chamonix and surrounding areas such as Les Aravis and the Aiguilles Rouges have a wealth of ski touring terrain on glaciers, through trees, remote hidden valleys and though summer alpine meadows making it a great place to begin ski touring.  This course will cover the skills necessary to enjoy and travel safely through this huge variety of terrain. The course also includes one night in a mountain hut.

Dates: March, April

Ratio: 1:4 Maximum.

Who’s it for: All competent on piste skiers. It is recommended that all skiers arrive at least one day early for the course and do a warm up ski day.

Instruction/Guiding Insurance (essential)
Harnesses & helmets Equipment other than harnesses & helmets
Personal hut fees Valley accommodation
Guides’ hut fees and uplift Personal Uplift
Guides’ lunches and drinks Personal lunches, drinks and drinks at huts
ClimbNow cap

Sample program

The course will begin the night before in Chamonix allowing us to check through equipment and ensure we can make the first lift the next morning.

Day 1: We meet at the Flegere cable car station (Aiguilles Rouges). After a couple of warm up runs we tour round to the Col des Dards (2790m). This will allow us to look at the use of skins and ski crampons. We then descend towards the lift system. On the way time will be spent looking at the essential skills of transceiver, shovel and probe use.

Day 2: Col D’Entreves (3527m) and the Vallee Blanche. The Aiguille du Midi lift system is used to allow us to gain access to the grand classic off piste run of the Alps, La Vallee Blanche. Before we do the ascent we use skins to allow us to gain the Col D’Entreves and views down into Italy. The day will allow us the opportunity to look at skills for skiing on glaciers and the use of harnesses and crampons.

Day 3: We begin the day by off piste skiing at the Grand Montets ski area. Following an early lunch we descend to the Argentiere Hut (2771m) where we overnight.

Day 4: After an early breakfast we make the ascent of Le Col du Tour Noir (3535m) via the Amethystes Glacier putting into practice all the skills we have learnt over the previous days. We return to the Hut for lunch before skiing back down and into the Grand Montets ski area.

Day 5: On the final day of the course we will aim to leave the valley (the Climbnow team will provide transport). A good example of what we may aim to do lies at Les Contamines. From the top of the Buche Croisse chairlift we will aim to skin over to and then ski either the Col de la Cicle (2377m) or the Col de la Fenetre (2245m).  Both ski excellent terrain to pass Notre Dame de la Gorge and end up at the ski area. The rest of the day will be spent skiing and brushing up on transceiver skills.

Other possible objectives

  • The Crochues-Berard Traverse (2701m) in the Aiguilles Rouges.
  • Le Col de Beaugeant (2807m) in the Aiguilles Rouges for those with some mountaineering experience.
  • The Croisse Baulet (2236m) near Megeve.
  • The Col du Passon (3028m) for those with off piste ski experience.
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