According to the Ski Club of Great Britain, ski touring is the biggest niche market worldwide in skiing at present!
“Ski de Randonnée” as the French call it, is simply hiking uphill on skis and then skiing back down. So why bother when you can take the lifts?
Part of the reward of ski touring is the workout involved, but it’s especially about making fresh tracks in pristine mountain environments away from the crowds. “Ski touring offers such feelings of wellbeing, exhilaration and relaxation it just makes you want to start all over again”.
The leap in the design of ski touring equipment has also made the sport more accessible. The equipment used for ski touring also works perfectly well on the slopes so no need for two sets of gear. Most ski hire rental shops supply ski touring equipment.
The Chamonix valley, flanked on one side by the Mont Blanc Massif and on the other side by the Aiguilles Rouges, offers excellent terrain for ski touring. The lifts provide easy access to a mountain wilderness that make this region so special.
Ski touring might be a niche, but it should not be exclusive and for that reason the Chamonix valley has created three ski touring routes of varied levels of difficulty for initiation and training: Les Houches/Prarion (elevation 841m); Argentière/Lognan via la Trapette (elevation 730m); Le Tour/Les Autannes (elevation 701m).
Ski tour up one of the designated itineraries and ski back down on the piste!
Once the uphill technique is in the bag, it’s time to sample backcountry ski tours. You will now be venturing off-piste, probably into unknown terrain, so be sure to take a guide who knows the lay of the land intimately and who can ensure you have a memorable adventure for all the right reasons.
Begin at the Grands Montets and take advantage of the Bochard lift which reaches an altitude of 2766m. From there a short ski tour up, with less than 300m elevation, will bring you to the Col des Rachasses 3030m. On the other side of the shoulder, a magnificent 1000m off-piste descent on the Rognons and Argentière glaciers awaits you.
Other famous itineraries departing from the Grands Montets include the Col du Passon, the Col du Chardonnet and of course the famous “Haute Route” which links Chamonix with Zermatt. For more glacier itineraries, the Aiguille du Midi at 3842m is a fantastic starting point and many tours finish with a magnificent descent of the “Vallée Blanche”.
Equally the Aiguilles Rouge range offers great ski touring terrain, with the incredible backdrop of the Mont Blanc range. Classic tours include the Crochues-Bérard traverse, Col des Dards, Col du Beugeant, Mont Buet…
The Argentière ski school offers a very popular evening outing “SKI TOURING UNDER THE STARS”. For groups of 2 to 5 persons (suitable for novice tourers) it involves a forest hike to the Croix de Logan, followed by a magical moonlight descent of 800m vertical drop on the renowned Pierre à Ric ski run.
Chamonix is located just one hour from Geneva airport. Door to door shuttle services operate between the airport and the Chamonix Valley
The ski season begins early December through until early May.