Alps Ski Touring Programs - Spring 2015

Booking info

See also:
Ski programs overview
Queyras, France
Albula, Switzerland
Ortler, Italy
Haute Route Verbier
Haute Route Plateau
Zermatt to Saas Fee
Silvretta
Berner Oberland
Vanoise Haute Route
Stubai
Chamonix off-piste
Private programs
Alps skiing advice


15% rental discount

Vignettes hut
Every year we take full advantage of the spring touring season in the Alps. From hut-to-hut multi-day adventures, to day tours and peak ascents, the terrain and access are incomparable. The fame and epic reputation of ski tours in the Alps, are well deserved.

Our schedule for ski touring in 2015 is not yet fixed, but we hope to include:

  • Chamonix off-piste
  • 7-day Albula Traverse, St Moritz to Davos;
  • 6-day Silvretta tour;
  • 5 day Vanoise Haute Route;
  • 7-day Ortler tour;
  • and a 6-day tour in the Berner Oberland.

We also have space on or calendar in late February for additional private programs. Contact us if you have a group.

Within each of these trips are innumerable variations, side trips, and much great skiing. In addition, there are wonderful day trips to enjoy, from the well known Vallée Blanche, a 9000 foot descent in the heart of the Mont Blanc Massif to tours around Zermatt and other alpine centers.

Check out our Recent Trips Gallery page for links to photos of our previous trips to these areas.

Please read our "Choosing the right tour" section lower on this page.

A large amount of information is available in the pages on our site. But we still invite you to contact us with your questions. We have found that the more we dive into the depths of a subject the more there is to learn about it. Give us a call, or send an email.

 

2015 Alps Skiing Programs
Chamonix Off-Piste
With a base of your hotel in Chamonix, you can enjoy an amazing variety of off-piste skiing at nearly any level of difficulty. Many route are possible on downhill "alpine" ski gear, while others need randonnée skis with skins.

Early-January to
Mid-March

   

Google Earth
Queyras, France
This mid-winter tour is for those that like powder. We spend 6 big days touring, staying in either hotels, gîtes or huts, all equipped with showers!

no dates set for 2015

 

Queyras Equipment list


Google Earth
St. Moritz to Davos
Albula Traverse
Seven days of great touring near St-Moritz. This range is known for its good powder snow. The terrain (read north-facing descents) quality of snow are what make this tour special.
March, 2015
Albula Equipment list

Google Earth
Silvretta Tour, Austria
This is a great introduction to hut-to-hut touring in the Alps. The Silvretta Group offers great huts, big terrain, and a very wide range of objectives from which to choose.
March, 2015
Silvretta Equipment list

Google Earth
Vanoise Haute Route
A 5-day traverse of the Parc National de la Vanoise. The highlights of this Haute Route are the great north-facing descents.

March, 2015

Vanoise Equipment list

Google Earth
Ortler Tour, Italy
A fantastic trip in Italy's Tyrol. This hut-to hut tour takes in several fine ski summits in a less visited part of the Alps. Wonderful huts, and big descents on some of the best ski peaks in the Alps.

March, 2015

Ortler Equipment list

Google Earth
Chamonix to Zermatt
Haute Route via Verbier

The famous Chamonix to Zermatt Haute Route. This version is the most commonly done, starting in Argentière in the Chamonix Valley, going through Verbier, and on to Zermatt.

April 2015

Day by day description and photos
Haute Route Equipment list

Google Earth
Chamonix to Zermatt
Haute Route via Plateau du Couloir with Mont Vélan

This is the hardest tour we offer. An 8-day itinerary, this is the "original" Haute Route and includes a traverse of the Plateau du Couloir on the Grand Combin. To spice it up we include an ascent of Mont Vélan. It is suitable for expert skiers in excellent condition.

no dates set for 2015

Day by day description and photos
Haute Route Equipment list

Google Earth
Berner Oberland Ski Tour
The Berner Oberland is known for its giant valley glaciers winding among a multitude of very high summits. The peaks and passes between these glaciers, and the numerous huts offer incredible options for ski touring and peak ascents (and descents!). On this page we describe a 6-day program featuring some of the area's best.
April-May, 2014
Day by day description and photos
Berner Oberland Equipment list

Google Earth
Private Ski Programs
If you have a group of friends and would like to do a private program, see this page. It explains our pricing and scheduling options.
Private arrangement
 
DO NOT use the Google Earth files for navigation! They are not drawn accurately enough for this type of use!

Advice for skiing in the Alps. Information and tips for having the best trip possible. (Links to another page.)

 

Choosing the best tour

Few skiers have not heard of the Chamonix to Zermatt Haute Route. But the many other great tours in the Vanoise, Val Maira, Queyras, Albula, Ortler, Silvretta, Berner Oberland and countless other gems in the Alps, are relatively unknown among "non-European" skiers. They deserve more attention!

While all of the ski trips we present here are fantastic, there are important differences of which you should be aware when you choose among them. They vary in several ways:

  • quality of the downhill skiing
  • strenuousness
  • difficulty of the skiing, steepness, and hazards
  • comfort and amenities in the huts
  • emphasis on ski peak ascents and great descents verses an emphasis on the "journey" from point A to B

Here, we have created a table to help compare various attributes of the programs we offer. This is all rather subjective, and such things as "quality of the downhill" relates as much to the snow-of-the-moment as to the hill. But, hopefully it will help you compare one tour to the other. Don't assume that higher numbers are better. Some like it hard, others like showers at the end of the day....

 

 
tour attributes

our ski tours

quality of
downhill
strenuousness
skiing difficulty
hut comfort
ascents/descents
verses "journey"
Val Maira
2
1
2
3+
3
Vanoise Haute Route
3
2
2
2
2
Queyras
3
1
2
3
3
Silvretta
2
1
1
3
2
Albula Traverse
3
2
2
2
2
Stubai
2
2
1
2
2
Ortler
3
2
2
3
3
Haute Route - Verbier
1
2
2
1
1
Haute Route - Plateau
2
3
3
1
1
Berner Oberland
3
2
2
2
2

Key to the table

Quality of the downhill - Some tours seem to consistently offer better downhill skiing. While all of the tours mentioned here can have long, fantastic runs, some have more potential or options than others. In our opinion the Vanoise, Queyras, Albula, Ortler and the Berner have the best downhill skiing possibilities. Score 3 for "outrageous downhill", and 1 for only "very good downhill" options.

Strenuousness - Some tours have longer days than others, with more uphill climbing. 3 is hard, 1 is less hard.

Skiing difficulty - This is a tricky one as difficult snow conditions can make skiing hard at almost any angle. Breakable crust, mashed potatoes and all sorts of other nasties inherent to off-piste skiing are possible on any tour. However, some tours have more steep skiing or more technical sections through crevassed glacier terrain, for example. On all but the Silvretta and possibly the Stubai, there are unavoidable pitches where, should the snow be firm, a fall could result in an unstoppable slide and likely injury or worse. Score 1 for easier skiing and 3 for harder skiing.

Hut comfort and amenities- While we love all the huts and peak of the Western Alps, it is the huts of Italy and Austria that have the corner on comfort. In the Silvretta and Ortler for example, expect most huts to have hot showers, a full bar, espresso machine and sometimes individual bunks. Val Maira, has, by far, the most comfortable lodgings. Here you'll enjoy 7-course meals every night! Of course, we can't entirely blame the "less-comfortable" huts for their more spartan nature. Showers are only possible when there is a good and reliable supply of running water nearby. With the exception of the Queyras huts, the refuges in the higher Western Alps and Berner Oberland simply don't have this luxury. Score 3 for showers and espresso machines, and 1 for a more limited, but still adequate wine selection and beer on tap (or in an absolute worst-case-scenario, in cans).

Ascents/Descents verses the "Journey" - The Chamonix to Zermatt Haute Route is the quintessential journey. This undeniable appeal comes at a price. If weather or avalanche conditions preclude following the intended route to the next hut, then one may have to duck out and descend to the valley to find an alternate route. Also, being a prescribed route, there is little option as to which slopes you ski. In contrast, with tours that emphasize the downhill, we have more options to choose our objective according to aspect, angle or other attributes. We can often choose north facing slopes if the snow is better there or south for corn. And in poor weather we may be able to adjust our objective to match the conditions. Score 3 for tours with more emphasis on the quality of the downhill skiing, and 1 for the "journey".

 

Skiing on the Argentière Glacier on the beginning of the Haute Route.
photo info

Kathy Cosley & Mark Houston
UIAGM Internationally Licensed Mountain Guides

AMGA Certified • SNGM members
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