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Intro ski touring & backcountry 2023
Chamonix based | 5 days of IFMGA guiding | optional accommodation
Intro Ski Touring & Backcountry group ski touring across to Pointe Helbronner
Course overview
If you have spent most of your time on skis on piste or on popular off piste runs, and want to escape the crowds, this course will give you the skills to access the mountains throughout the winter season by learning ski touring and more advanced backcountry skills.
This course is also ideal as an introduction or preparation for famous ski tours such as the Haute Route (Chamonix to Zermatt) later in the season. The itinerary is flexible to take account of the previous skills, experience, and aspirations, but typically includes a 50:50 split of ski touring and off piste backcountry skiing.
For this level you have skied a minimum of two weeks off piste before, such as a one week off piste course, and another week of off piste experience. Your key ambition is to improve and get some good instruction. If you are looking for an early season alternative to this course, see our Aosta ski touring week.
Previous touring experience is not required, as this course aims to teach key skills starting with the basics. Sometimes people have done a day or two of touring before, but not received any formal tuition, so use this course as a springboard to future tours.
Any mountaineering skills or knowledge of ropes are an advantage, but not essential as all necessary techniques are taught. During the week you are based in Chamonix Mont Blanc, but often have the the opportunity to ski tour in Italy or Switzerland too.
Key skills taught during this course include...
  using skins and touring skis
avalanche transceiver use
glacier travel techniques
kick turns for ascent on skis
use of couteaux / harscheisen
using crampons and ice axes
choice of kit for ski touring
crevasse rescue for skiers
recognising avalanche traps
Dates: these are listed in the column on the right, and they show the live availability from our secure online booking system. When you book online, you receive immediate confirmation, your Alpine Information Booklet, course specific kit list and invoice.
Avalanche safety airbags
We have teamed up with Black Diamond, who we also stock in our Windermere mountain store, to rent their avalanche airbags. We selected the Halo 28 JetForce airbag for our hire equipment, as the pack size is well suited to our off piste and intro ski tour courses. The key features are the PIEPS automatic self diagnosis performs full system check on every startup, the travel-friendly fully rechargeable lithium-ion battery which supports 4+ deployments per charge, a Cordura airbag made from puncture-resistant automotive material is easy to repack for practice and multiple deployments, and the unique Jet fan which inflates the 200 L airbag in 4 seconds, and automatically deflates after 3 minutes to create a potential air pocket. Click on image on the left, for hire details.

Brief Course Itinerary
The itineraries are for guidance, but should give an idea of what you can achieve during the week. Each week this course runs slightly differently to cater for your preferences, the conditions, and where the best weather and snow is to be found. This flexibility allows you to have the course tailored to your needs. There is even the option of using two of the days to ski up to stay in a mountain hut (half board lodging not included, but c.50€pp) to then ski to reach an Alpine summit or high pass beyond the hut the next day, before returning to Chamonix.
Travel to Chamonix to arrive for your accommodation check in. For those who opted for the room only Icicle accommodation, this is available from 16:00 on the Sunday afternoon. In the early evening there is a course safety and itinerary briefing. There is time for kit checks or rental of equipment, including the hire of any off piste equipment. Briefings and sorting equipment is over by 19:00 and then you are free to go out for dinner / drinks. Night in Chamonix.
After meeting your guide in the morning, you are driven to one of the ski areas, such as le Tour or Flegere.
Day of introductory level ski touring, practising how to use the equipment and kick turns, as well as off piste skiing to refresh your techniques. At Flegere, groups often skin up to Lac Blanc and even to Col des Dards, before the long off piste run down. Evening theory session on the key safety knots, and skiers crevasse rescue. Night in Chamonix.
Typically today involves glacier off piste and perhaps a slightly longer ski tour, such as skiing onto the Argentiere glacier and ascending to the Col du Tour Noir, or even across the Col de Passon to ski down to le Tour village. Both these itineraries provide stunning views of the glacier basins, which normally hold the snow conditions well
. Evening session on Alpine weather prediction and the effects of mountains on the weather. Night in Chamonix.
A classic day tour that is well worth doing is the famous Crochues-Berard. You take the ski lift from Flegere to Index, and then skin up for just over an hour to Col du Crochues, before skiing down and around to cross the Col du Berard, before the sweeping descent into the Berard valley, past the hut that is usually buried under the snows, to finish at Le Buet
Evening session on avalanche prediction and tranceiver search patterns. Night in Chamonix.
By now your skiing and touring level should have developed well, and you could consider a more challenging off piste descent such as touring across the Vallee Blanche to Helbronner point to ski the Toule glacier, before descending the Italian bowl of the Vallee Blanche. Another option is a two day tour with a night in a hut.
Note the price of the optional hut night is not included, but if you opt to stay in Chamonix, the course accommodation is included.
On the final day of skiing, most groups go for a big day of touring, though if the legs are feeling tired then perhaps a day of great off piste would appeal such as skiing the Pas de Chevre from the Grands Montets to Montenvers. If touring, a popular objective is a ski tour summit such as Aiguilette des Houches and Brevent, before skiing a different route to the valley. Evening social drinks then a celebratory meal, with the f
inal night spent in Chamonix.
Breakfast then the accommodation check out is by 10:00. Most arrange their airport transfers to leave around this time, to catch a flight from Geneva about midday. Depart for home.

ITINERARY NOTES: Where possible we follow itineraries. Mountain adventures are weather and conditions dependant, so occasionaly we are forced to alter the plans. If this is the case, suitable alternatives are offered. Please use this outline itinerary as a guide to the types of route / activity that you will attempt.

Course Prices
Standard course
5 full days IFMGA guiding, 1:6 max ratio
Guided days are Monday-Friday
Live availability
Click on the planner logo to the right to
see the real time live course availability
Latest Availability
Secure online booking system
Standard Course Inclusions
1) Hand picked IFMGA Mountain & Ski Guide for five days (1:6 ratio max)
2) Chamonix concierge service for logistics, advice and support
3) Road or rail transport in Chamonix valley to and from the slopes each day
4) Pre course information dossier, with training plans and kit lists
5) Briefing the first evening, with latest updates and weather reports
6) Equipment discount voucher for our Windermere shop / online
7) Preferential rates on ski touring kit and equipment hire in Chamonix
8) Free 36 page technical Course Instruction Booklet
9) Optional evening instruction sessions as per detailed itinerary
10) Pre-course online course open evening one month before trip
Exclusions: 1) Travel to and from Chamonix, 2) Cable cars (c.50€/day, click for current prices, with Unlimited Pass including lifts in Chamonix and Courmayeur) as required*, 3) Equipment hire, 4) Personal laundry, telephone calls, lunches, & any purchases in mountain huts / hotels / restaurants, 5) Transport outside the Chamonix valley e.g. Courmayeur, 6) Sunday pre-dinner drinks & Friday celebratory meal & drinks, 7) Activities insurance, excess baggage charges, 8) Chamonix accommodation, but we offer an upgrade of £200pp for twin room only accommodation In Chamonix, subject to availability.
Group sizes: 3 - 6 people per IFMGA mountain guide. For group sizes of over 6 people, there are multiple guides, and the teams travel independently of each other.
Ski passes*: There is great flexibility on the course to use cable cars or to leave them far behind. Day passes cost c.50€ (click for current prices), but you can save by not using cable cars on some of the days.
Current course availability

Course Dates
Intro tour & backcountry
  • No Dates Available
NOTE: This trip has scheduled
dates, but if there are four who
are booking together, it can be
operated on any date you wish

Price: £799 Book online
The price above is for the package without accommodation. To add 6 nights in twin room-only Icicle accommodation, is only £200pp extra for 6 nights, subject to availability

Preparatory trips
Chamonix Off Piste

Avalanche Training

Aosta Ski Tour
Silvretta Ski Tour

Next trips
Haute Route to Zermatt
Monte Rosa ski tour
Client feedback

Our ski ascent over the Col du Passon and down the La Tour glacier was a great finale. The instruction we received from the guides was superlative

Mick C , Intro Ski Touring

This week really opened my eyes to the possibilities of accessing the real back-country, and gave me the skills to escape all the busy areas in the future, even if I visit a popular ski resort

Joe B , Intro Ski Touring

I hadn't realised how remote some of the areas I would visit could be, and was stunned by the landscapes we skied

Darren V , Intro Ski Touring

Press & media
Films & videos
Photo gallery
Location data for this trip
The trips all start in Chamonix valley in the French Alps, at the foot of Mont Blanc. It is easily accessed via a 90 minute transfer from Geneva airport.
Time Difference
GMT +1hr
Local Currency
€ Euros
Travel from UK
1hr flight
Skis & equipment advice
Because we know it is so important to you to have the most suitable equipment and clothing for off piste skiing and touring, we have devoted a page especially to it, which you can access by clicking on the image, or by clicking here. This page outlines the key equipment you should bring, and gives examples of skis that are suitable for the course. If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.
Suggested reading and kit
View full course equipment list, with examples of kit, click here
So why choose us?
We are true specialists in ski touring. See our blog, by clicking on the logo (on the right).
Icicle Blog
Itinerary flexibility to allow you to take full advantage of the weather and conditions each day, so that you maximise the amount of time spent skiiing each day.
Our prices are fixed in £ pounds sterling, to protect you from euro currency fluctuations, so that you can budget accurately.
We have a team of over 30 IFMGA guides, and a resort support team, who all want you to have the best skiing possible! For more details on the guiding team and qualifications, please click here.
Any further questions?
A key part of choosing a company is being able to come and talk about your plans with an experienced course advisor face to face. In an increasingly virtual world, we know our clients value speaking to real people, getting open and honest advice. The vast majority of our clients are British, and our office and outdoor store is based in Windermere in the English Lake District.

Get in contact to arrange a meeting, and come in for a coffee to discuss your course in person with a trip advisor. Many people opt for this service, and it is an integral part of what we offer, as we are keen to ensure that you are prepared as possible, and that you select a course that is suitable for you. It makes it easier and more enjoyable for you and us, if you are on the right trip.

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