We will offer an interesting and varied course, although the exact itinerary will be dependent upon a
number of factors: the fitness and skill level of the group, the weather, snow conditions, avalanche
Having met at 1800hrs on the Saturday evening, we plan to sort out what gear we can, prior to dinner.
For the 6 days that we plan to be skiing, we will utilise the variety of ski areas within the valley. We will
have to take each day as it comes, deciding very often, where it is best to go at breakfast time.
What we need is a good level of preparation and a bit of luck with the weather and snow conditions.
On the final day we will aim to finish the course by 17.00hrs. We will then have time for a final evening
meal and of course we cover the cost of your overnight accommodation and breakfast.
We will offer coaching and education chosen from the following areas:
sourcing pre skiing information (weather forecasts, avalanche forecasts, route selection and
practicing evaluating the snow pack (visual observations, digging into the snow pack for more
search techniques (use of transceivers, simple probing)
skiing technique (hard snow, powder snow, crud)
route selection (map work, ground navigation, skinning technique and routes)
Alpine navigation – the use of altimeters and GPS
The rudiments of planning a tour
Saturday: We will aim to meet at 18:00hrs in the hotel before going to the ski room to fit boots and skis and issue all the essential avalanche and group kit. Over dinner we can discuss plans for the week to make the best use of the weather and conditions, what follows is just a sample programme to give you a flavour of the week.
Sunday: We will start the course with a gentle reminder of skiing off piste, and will probably head to the La Tour ski area. Located at the top of the Chamonix valley it has a wide selection of slopes from easy angled to super steep. It is a great place to start on the journey of turning your piste technique into an off piste skillset that will allow you to ski the whole mountain and leave tracks in the pristine cover that will impress and make other skiers jealous. Your Guide will be giving you top tips and helping you with some essential drills to improve your skiing. Towards the end of the day we will attach skins to our skis and head up and away from the lifts before making a long descent all the way to the bottom of the hill.
Monday: Building on the skills we began to develop on the first day we will most likely make use of the lifts to quickly gain some height and then ski away from the marked runs and the groomed snow. The ski areas of La Brevant and La Flegere have acres of easily accessed off piste terrain and are perfect for gaining confidence in a variety of snow conditions. If the weather and conditions allow we can also ski tour between the 2 ski areas, giving us some great skiing on quiet slopes.
Tuesday: After 2 intensive days of off piste skiing, our legs could do with a change so we will take the ski lift to the top of the Aiguille des Grande Montets 3225m. After absorbing the stunning panoramic view from the viewing platform at the very top (selfies obligatory) we will ski down the glacier to the Argentiere basin. Weaving through the crevasses on this descent is both stunning and thought provoking! At the bottom we will skin gently up the wide Glacier de Argentiere surrounded by the steep North faces of the Aiguille de Verte and Les Courtes. Our objective today is the Col du Tour Noir 3574m, a steady climb it is the perfect place to stop for lunch and enjoy the view before we skiing the wide glacier back to the ski area and reward our tired legs with either a descent on the cable car or a blast down the piste to finish.
Wednesday: Fancying a change and touring with slightly lighter rucksacks we head to the ski area of Les Contamines. Only a short drive from the hustle and bustle of the Chamonix valley Les Contamines often has un-skied fresh snow for longer than other ski areas. Our plan today is to make the most of the ski lifts before heading off towards Col de la Cicle a remote Col that is only accessible with touring skis. We wind our way through gentle terrain before committing to a steep traverse that leads us up on the final slopes below the col. Leaving the skis on the col we can strap crampons on to our boots and climb the last 50m to the small summit which offers a fantastic view of Mont Blanc and the Aiguille de Bionnassy. We can linger at the col for a while, this allows the sun to soften the snow or if there is powder we can skip lunch and charge down the acres of skiable terrain below! Eventually the ski fields give way to forest and the narrow Roman road which we follow down to the valley and the car park.
Thursday and Friday: We have the opportunity to undertake a larger ski tour and pend the night in a alpine mountain hut. We will leave the ski area behind and head off into the wilderness, carrying our overnight kit on our backs. A private taxi will whisk us through the Mont Blanc tunnel to a small hamlet above Courmayeur. From here we will, after an Italian coffee skin along the Val Veny till the valley floor steepens up and we climb through ancient pine forests towards the beautiful Rifugio Bonnati. This traditional mountain hut will be our home for the night but not until we have gone on an afternoon ski tour to explore the mountains behind the hut..
The hut is very comfy with thick duvets, showers and excellent food and wine. After a restful night we will leave the hut early and climb up the slopes behind the hut towards Mont Tsichette 3043m, a remote and quiet summit from which we will enjoy a superb ski back to the hut. After a sustaining coffee and early lunch we will ski back down the Val Veny to the newly installed Skyway cable car. This modern lift will whisk us up to the summit of Pointe Helbronner from where we will be able to ski the Italian valley blanche all the way back to Chamonix. After a truly memorable day we will return to the hotel for a final dinner and celebration.
Saturday: Depart after breakfast.
What Will I Need?
Equipment for this course can be hired from Glenmore Lodge at no extra cost.
Please note that we are unable to transport this equipment to Iceland. Individuals wishing to borrow items from Glenmore Lodge will be responsible for costs associated with its transport to and from Iceland. Equipment can be collected from Glenmore Lodge or can be sent be courier to a UK address, at the hirer’s expense.
(* Starred Items are available to borrow from GL Stores – see equipment request form)
- Skis with touring bindings, skins and ski crampons*
- Ski Poles – ideally fixed length*
- Ski Mountaineering Boots – for example Scarpa Maestrale or Maestrale RS*
- Helmet – Optional, please see note below*
- Ice Axe 45cm– for example Petzl Snowracer*
- Light weight Crampons – for example Petzl Vasak (leverlock)*
- Avalanche Transceiver – for example Peips DSP Sport or Pro*
- 3m Probe and Shovel*
- Waterproof Jacket – breathable, Gore Proshell is ideal.
- Waterproof Ski Trousers
- Thermal Bottoms x1
- Thermal Tops x 2 – long sleeves
- Mid Layers – Fleece or synthetic
- Soft Shell or fleece Jacket
- Lightweight Belay Jacket
- Cuddly toy
- Sun hut and Warm Hat
- Sunglasses – CE Cat 4 rating for high altitudes.
- Ski Goggles
- Warm Gloves: Thick and Thin
- Ski Socks
- Compass and whistle – your Guide will have all the necessary maps and guidebooks.
- Pen knife
- Rucksack – 35 litres*
- Waterbottle – 1ltr Nalgene
- Suncream and Lip Salve – SPF 30 minimum
- Personal first aid – some tape, Compeed, plaster for blisters and your own pain relief (aspirin, ibuprofen, paracetamol)
- Ear Plugs – optional
- Camera, Money, Passport.
- Personal Clothing – for wearing in the valley.
Guidance on use of Ski Helmets for Backcountry Snowsports
Glenmore Lodge recognises that the use of ski helmets by its staff and students is fundamentally a personal choice and it does not wish to influence or prejudice an individual’s right to choose whether or not to wear a helmet.
We are committed to educating and informing our students on both the benefits and challenges of using helmets whilst skiing and touring in the backcountry. Through holistic and unbiased education we will empower both our staff and students to make a personal decision based on knowledge and preferences.
We also recognise that at specific times we will be undertaking activities, coaching drills or mountaineering practices were the use of a helmet could be considered to be vital. In these situations the mandatory use of helmets will be at the discretion of the delivering guide, instructor or coach.
Travelling to Argentiere, where our course is based is very straight forward.
Geneva airport is very well served with numerous flights from the UK during the ski season. There are also numerous transfer companies operating directly from the arrivals hall in Geneva. Our personal favourite company is Mountain Drop Offs, which provides a reliable and cost effective service. The transfer company will drop you right at the door of the hotel.
All guiding costs and expenses
Half board accommodation, including hotels and mountain huts
Equipment hire – by prior arrangement
Guiding ratio 1:6 maximum
What’s NOT Included
Travel to and from the start of the course
Lunches – these can be bought at the huts or in local supermarkets.
Up lift – use of cable cars and telephriques.
Drinks in hotel and huts
Alpine rescue insurance – Obligatory
We recommend taking out an insurance policy that covers both rescue and medical, check out http://www.snowcard.co.uk/ or https://www.thebmc.co.uk/modules/insurance/Policies.aspx for further information.
Membership of Alpine Club – Optional
All of Glenmore Lodge’s alpine ski touring courses will be staffed by certified IFMGA Mountain Guides. As qualified members of the International federation of Mountain Guides they hold the World’s highest possible qualification for leading in the mountains and the only UK qualification valid abroad for climbing and skiing off–piste on glacial terrain. For more information on British Guides please check out: www.bmg.org.uk
Occasionally we will use Aspirant Mountain Guides, who will work alongside qualified Guides in order to gain further experience. This is an essential part of their training and will not be used to alter the Guide/Student ratio.
All bookings are subject to our full booking conditions, which are available on our website.
British citizens require a British passport to travel to the international destinations we visit. Passports can take approximately 3-6 weeks to obtain and potentially longer if this is your first passport application. There are currently no visa requirements for our Alpine courses.
In the event of any flight delay or cancellation at your UK or overseas point of departure, the airline is responsible for providing appropriate assistance as legally required by the Denied Boarding Regulations, where applicable.
Delays and cancellations to all travel to and from the course may affect your ability to join the course and in this instance, course participants would not be entitled to a refund or to re-arrange their course and will also be responsible for organising their own alternative travel arrangements.
Our courses may be subject to a minimum number of bookings to operate. This will be identified in the course description. The deadline for deciding if a sufficient number of clients have booked to travel is usually no later than the date by which full payment of the course must be made. In the event that minimum numbers have not been met, we reserve the right to cancel your holiday and refund all monies paid.
Cancellation by Client
Any changes or cancellations will need to be given to us in writing or by email. For courses based in the UK, these will be subject to an administration fee of £35. For cancellations made to overseas courses, the participant is liable for the non-refundable 25% deposit.
For any cancellations made within 6 weeks of the start of the course, participants are liable for the full course fee.