Chamonix Backcountry Skiing
Chamonix Backcountry Skiing weeks are exciting guided ski trips with the focus on skiing the best terrain and best snow away from the pistes. Every day we will be exploring a new area to find the best snow and best descents. Some descents will be lift served off-piste, and some we will be accessed by ski touring.
As the week progresses you will pick up the essentials of Chamonix backcountry skiing. These skills include avalanche awareness, skinning, boot packing, glacier skiing and decision making. If conditions permit we will also cover crampon/ice axe skills and crevasse rescue.
Clicking on the ‘Book Now’ button opposite, will open a new tab/window in your browser and direct you to our online tour booking system. Here you can check the course dates and availability
- Guides expenses
- Guiding fees
- In resort transport
- Chamonix accommodation on B&B basis
What's not included
- Transport to/from Chamonix
- Equipment rental
- Travel insurance
- Lunch and evening meals
- Uplifts according to itinerary
Who is this for?
We split the group into beginner, intermediate and advanced courses, so you will be backcountry skiing with people with similar ambitions and ability. You should be an Intermediate or Advanced on-piste skier to get the most from this course. We take both splitboarders and skiers, trying to match speed and ability so that everyone gets the most out of their week.
You can expect to be skiing from first lift each day. Most days you can expect to do some uphill work to get to the descents. If this all sounds like hard work, don’t worry! It’s your holiday and the pace is up to you – but a sniff of fresh powder and it’s often “maybe just one more run…”! There is also the option of a day’s heliskiing to open up more terrain (at additional cost)
Accommodation and huts
You will be based in our central Chalet Pele. The chalet has a fun atmosphere, there are often other like minded people staying in the chalets who are on various other courses. Chamonix town is a short 2 minutes walk away with plenty of restaurants, bars and cafes.
Arrive in Chamonix and settle in to the chalet. Meet with your Guide to discuss plans for the week.
Warm up day to get your skiing legs in shape. This is also an opportunity for the guide to get to know your level and prepare for the week ahead.
Explore the epic back bowls of le Tour with a descent to Trient and avalanche transciever training.
Ski touring in the Aiguilles Rouges. Introduction to uphill skinning, route choice and avalanche awareness followed by a stunning descent to le Buet. A short train ride takes us back to Chamonix.
Off piste skiing at the Grand Montets with crevasse rescue training. An afternoon descent of the classic Pas de Chevre powder run to the Mer de Glace. No uphill today!
Ski touring the Col du Passon route down to le Tour village. A classic tour with 2500m of descent for about 2.5 hours uphill skinning. Introduction to glacier skiing and further avalanche awareness
A day skiing from the Aiguille du Midi. We skin for about 2 hours to make the most of the great skiing in this region, finishing with a descent of the Vallee Blanche.
We may have to change this itinerary according to the prevailing weather and conditions (and we like to take into account your ambitions too)
Good fitness will make it more fun and you’ll get more out of your week! Although we will tailor the course to your ability, we definitely recommend getting as fit as possible before you start. The process of training for your goal will help you focus on your goal – and having a goal will help you focus on your training. So all in all training is good!
Backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering is all about being able to exercise at a moderate intensity for several hours, and your training should reflect this. Probably the best training is cycling as this targets similar muscle groups and prepares the mind (exercising for long periods in poor weather requires mental strength!). However not everyone has the opportunity to do this and so alternatives such as jogging and gym workouts are also good.
The focus should be on training Cardiovascular Endurance as well as Strength for long days in the mountains – for cardio cycling/running/rowing machines are much better than weight training. Try and exercise for up to a couple of hours at a time at least twice a week. Try yoga, swimming, pilates etc too to help with core stability and balance. Squats and cycling are a good way to strengthen your legs. Remember to build up your workouts over time. If you are not used to exercising much, your muscles and joints need time to build up to avoid injury.
Try and choose an activity that you enjoy and keep a note of what you do and your times – this really helps with keeping the motivation up. If you are not used to training then your local gym will be able to advise you on a plan and schedule to help you achieve your goals. Training does not work overnight! The fittest athletes train as part of their lifestyles and have been doing it for years. Consider training for a good couple of months before coming out to the Alps.
Pre-Book with Adventure Base:
Black Diamond Saber-tooth crampon rental 6 days €45.00
Black Diamond Raven Ice Axe rental 6 days €35.00
Black Diamond climbing harness rental 6 days €30.00
Black Diamond Half Dome helmet rental 6 days €25.00
Select which extras you would like to pre-book at check-out. Please note we have limited stock so pre-booking is advised.
1. Skis with ski touring bindings. Your skis should be a minimum of 90mm underfoot and should be off-piste specific.
2. Ski poles
3. Skins and ski crampons
4. Ski boots and boot crampons – these must fit and be comfortable as we will spend time ascending throughout the week.
5. Ski Helmet
6. Rucksack – 30-40l. with ski straps
7. Avalanche Kit. Transceiver, probe, shovel, harness with 1 screw gate karabiner(can be rented in Chamonix)
8. Sun Protection. Sunglasses, goggles, sunhat, sunscreen, lip salve/block
9. Clothing. 3 sets socks and light coloured thermal tops
10. Clothing cont. Lightweight Gore-Tex top/bottoms, warm hat, thick gloves, thin gloves
11. Insulating layers.
12. Personal first aid – blister kit, ibuprofen.
13. Cash for additional hot drinks / snacks on the mountain
14. Water bottle (minimum 1l)
Remember: Kit should be lightweight but functional.
To find out more about our course, availability, or to ask any questions, please get in touch through the website or by phone on +33 (0)845 527 58 12.
We take a 20% deposit to secure your place on one of our courses, and we ask for the balance to be paid 6 weeks before the course start date.
We strongly recommend getting specialist travel insurance that covers cancellation, medical and mountain rescue.
Make sure that it covers glaciated mountaineering and climbing/ skiing. We recommend the Dogtag (www.dogtag.co.uk) – they have comprehensive policies and a good reputation.
Getting to Chamonix
Easyjet offer good value flights to Geneva from all over the UK. Swiss Air and British Airways also offer convenient flights from London to Geneva.
Booking a place on a minibus airport transfer service is by far the best way to get from Geneva airport to Chamonix (it takes about an hour or so, is cost effective and is a door to door service). There are many companies to choose from such as Transport Grant and Easybus.
There are several cash points in Chamonix and Maestro/visa/mastercard are all readily accepted.
How big will the group be?
Our ski courses will be no more than 6 people per guide. If the group is larger than 6, there will be a second guide and we will have the ability to split the group if necessary.
Is it possible to book individually rather than a group?
Yes. We run our courses with a minimum of 4 people. You can either book individually into a group or you can book as a group and fill the spaces yourself.
What equipment will I need?
Please read the kit list above.
When is the best time?
Good backcountry conditions are generally from January until early April in the Alps. In January and February we tend to have more frequent snow falls and March and April provide excellent spring skiing conditions.
Do I need insurance?
Yes. You will need to take out a comprehensive backcountry skiing package to cover yourself for your trip.
What’s the weather like?
The weather in the Alps is always changeable, but generally we are confident to say that January and February will be snow-filled and cold with temperatures hitting -15 on occasion. Fast forward to March and April and the weather is generally sunnier and we experience warmer temperatures around the 0 mark.
How do you match up people on the course?
It is very important for you to let us know your previous experience and ski ability level before booking with us. Then we are able to match you up to suitable groups with similar abilities to make sure you get the most out of your trip.
What will we do if the weather is bad?
Chamonix is perfectly situated on the border between France and Italy, with Switzerland within reaching distance too. This gives us ultimate flexibility to find the best conditions in the area. If needs be we will drive to Italy or Switzerland or other nearby French resorts like Les Contamines or St. Gervais in search of better conditions.
Why choose Adventure Base?
3 reasons to choose Adventure Base for all your mountain adventures.
1. Safety means success – We have been guiding clients in the backcountry for over 8 years with a very high safety rate. To date we have had no major incidents or injuries. This is due to us taking great care in assessing the current snow conditions, and educating our clients on mountain safety.
2. Fun times – We believe in fun times. Skiing in the backcountry can be a serious challenge. But who says it can’t be fun too? Our guides are full of energy, knowledge, fun facts and big smiles. They help create lasting memories.
3. Word of Mouth – Over 70% of new clients have been recommended to us by a friend or colleague. We don’t spend big on marketing campaigns, we stay true to our product, we pay attention to every detail and then let you do the talking.
“Ski touring is the best way to access the best of the Backcountry here – I’m still discovering hidden areas after years of exploring. My highlight of the week is Col du Passon – an epic 2000m+ descent and some fun ski mountaineering to reach the top of the Col”