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Intro ski touring & backcountry 2024
Chamonix based | 5 days of IFMGA guiding | 3 day mini ski tour & huts
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 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 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. The last three days are spent ski touring to a hut for a three day mini tour, with two nights half board in mountain huts included, with the days between spent touring to reach an Alpine summit or high pass beyond, before returning to Chamonix on the third day.

Travel to Chamonix, and check in to the course accommodation. If you require ski touring kit hire, ensure that you arrive in town before 18:00, to allow time for boot and ski fitting. We use an excellent ski touring specialist shop, which offers preferential rates for our clients. Key personal safety kit (alpine harness and transceiver), can be supplied by the guide in the morning, if reserved upon booking. If you have your own safety kit, you should take it, as it is always better for familiarity. Night in Chamonix.

At 08:30 you meet your Guide at the course accommodation, and have an introductory safety briefing, and they check your kit and supply any extra safety items required (e.g. transceiver, shovel, probe, harness). You are then driven the short distance to start your ski tour. The destination varies, as a suitable location is dependent on weather and snow conditions. Some ski tours can start from the valley floor such as to Refuge de Loriaz, whereas others require an uplift such as the Col du Tour Noir from Grands Montets. During the day you are taught ski touring techniques, and where time allows, the use of the avalanche safety / crevasse rescue kit. Today the focus is much more on the ski touring techniques, to allow you time to adapt to the kit, practice kick turns, fitting and removing skins and ski crampons. There is usually the chance to take in a col or a summit during the day, before you ski back down to the valley at the end of the afternoon. Guiding ratio 1:6 (max). Night in Chamonix.

The guide will pick you up again from the accommodation, and you will tackle another day ski tour above Chamonix. Examples include the Crochues-Berard from Index to Le Buet, Traverse of Vallee Blanche to Helbronner and ski descent of the Black Bowl variant of the Vallee Blanche, Col du Tour Noir on the Argentiere Glacier, or Aiguillette des Houches from Brevent and the ski down to La Flatiere. The choice is on putting the skills learnt yesterday into practice, and giving you a challenging but realistic objective for the day. There is also the opportunity for some further skills training, such as an avalanche beacon search or some crevasse rescue practice. By late afternoon you descend to Chamonix. Guiding ratio 1:6 (max). Night in Chamonix.

Monday - Wednesday
Start a three day ski tour, with the next two nights spent half board in mountain huts. When packing for the nights, there's very little extra to carry, only a sleeping bag liner, head torch, and toiletries (tootbrush, paste, wet wipes). The evening meals are at least 3 courses and cooked, and you get continental breakfast in the mornings. Bedding (duvet, pillow and sheet) is provided. Using the huts enables you to escape into the moutains, which is the essence of ski touring. There are plenty of choices of where to go, from the Argentiere and Albert Premier huts at the head of the Chamonix valley, to options in the northern Aosta valley such as Bezzi / Benevolo / Bonatti, or even some of the Swiss options including the Grand Saint Bernard monastery. On the first day you travel and ascend to the hut that has been selected by the guide with the group, and you'll find there's places to store and dry equipment including your boots and skins. The evening meal is typically served around 19:00, and the breakfast at whatever time the guide and itinerary options dictate in the morning. The second day is either a tour above the hut, to return to the same one, or to traverse to a different hut for the second night. The third day is a final ski tour, and descent
to the valley, with the return drive to Chamonix. Typically this final day is a little shorter, finishing in the mid afternoon, to allow you time to return any rental ski touring equipment to the hire shops. Return transfers to Geneva airport should be scheduled for 17:00 or after. This allows you enough time to fly home on the Wednesday, to make it into work on the Thursday, minimising the days you need to book off. You'll have a silly grin on your face, and your work output will be pathetic, but as you click on e-mails and spreadsheets, just think that the previous day you'd completed your first mountain hut ski tour!

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 Satuday-Wednesday
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) Pre-course online course open evening one month before trip
10) Accommodation 3 nights (Fri, Sat, Sun) in Chamonix on room only basis
11) Accommodation 2 nights (Mon & Tue) in mountain hut on a half board basis
12) Transport to / from Chamonix to the area for the 3 day hut to hut ski tour
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 not specified above, 6) Sunday pre-dinner drinks & Friday celebratory meal & drinks, 7) Activities insurance, excess baggage charges.
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: £999 Book online

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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