Group Snowshoeing Week


Holiday Overview

Guided snowshoeing off the beaten track in a pristine winter wonderland. A week of fresh alpine air, beautiful scenery and great snowshoe walks adapted to your group.

If you are a walking club looking for a winter walking holiday or a group of like minded outdoories looking for some winter inspiration away from the ski resorts, snowshoeing is a perfect option.

Discover the pristine winter wildernesses and immerse yourself in the quiet beauty of the Alps in winter on snowshoes.

The Southern Alps is a mecca for snowshoeing with it's open valleys, excellent sun and snow record, abundant wildlife and variety of routes... snowshoe through high altitude villages, go for a moonlit snowshoe walk, discover high altitude lakes, snowshoe through the larches, mountain ridges, take in a col or mountain summit..... and more.

Snowshoeing is easy to do and accessible to anyone who can walk with a reasonable level of fitness. However, the mountains are dangerous in winter and there is a real risk of avalanche so choosing where to go does require experience and local knowledge.

We use UIAGM high mountain guides for our guided snowshoeing trips. It's a qualification over and above what is required for leading snowshoeing groups but the guides have avalanche training and high mountain experience that is invaluable in choosing where is safe to go. Their experience also gives you more flexibility as a group to snowshoe slightly off the beaten track and waymarked tourist routes.

This package includes 5 full days snowshoeing but it is no problem to include some half day snowshoe walks or even mix and match it with other activities.

When you book your trip, we'll have a chat to find out the average fitness level of your group and what your interests are and tailor a programme of snowshoe walks to suit you.

Have a look at our snowshoeing kit list for advice on what to bring with you.

Itinerary

OVERVIEW

The Champsaur and Valgaudemar valleys are situated just on the edge of the Ecrins National Park and are rarely visited by mainstream tourists. They remain one of the true winter wildernesses and wildlife refuges of the Alps. There are numerous possibilities for snowshoeing in and around the area and this itinerary is just an example. 

When you enquire, we will discuss the requirements of your group in detail and tailor make your itinerary to suit your fitness levels and experience.

All our guides for the guided snowshoeing weeks are fully qualified UIAGM high mountain guides. They will have your safety and enjoyment as their priority through out the trip.

Day 1 - Arrival

When you arrive, we will come and meet you at your accommodation, go through the snowshoeing week and bring your snow shoes to try on!

Depending on what time you arrive you can go for a short walk around the area or just relax in your accommodation and drink in the views!

Day 2 - Plateau of La Coche

Full day snowshoeing up to a plateau with views over two valleys.

The Champoleon valley is a wild winter wilderness frequented by chamois and ibex. It is walled by 3000 meter peaks with a river along the valley bottom, a scattering of traditional alpine villages, trees and cliffs. You will depart from here and make your way up to the plateau of La Coche through the woods.

Once you arrive on the plateau, you will be pleasantly rewarded with beautiful panoramic views over the Champsaur and Champoleon valleys. Have fun exploring the open snow meadows of the plateau before heading back down. This will be a gentle start to your week, to help you get used to wearing snowshoes and warm up your walking legs. The guide will also explain the safety of the mountains in winter!

Day 3 - Through the Larches in St Leger Les Melezes

Full day snowshoe walk through forest ending up at a high altitude chalet for mulled wine.

St Leger Les Melezes is a beautiful little ski village situated half way up the mountain in a forest of larch trees (melezes - is larch in french). There is a whole network of forest tracks and trails criss crossing the mountain side with magnificent panoramic views over the Champsaur valley and of the Vieux Chaillol mountain (Champsaur's highest mountain).

The top of the forest brings you out on to a spectacular ridge and the possibility to snowshow up to the summit - a very interesting route through limestone formations.

This snowshoe walk can be as strenuous or relaxing as you like - it is very easily adaptable. There are steep paths going all the way up to the summit of La Cuchon or gentle traverses of the forest - you can decide on the day!

It's best to time this walk to finish in the high altitude chalet hidden away in the forest! After a day of fresh air and exercise a glass of mulled wine or cup of steaming hot chocolate will be just the ticket!

Day 4 - Summit of La Palastre

Full day snowshoe with picnic on the col (6 - 7 hrs)

This is a beautiful and very rewarding day out up to the summit of La Palastre at 2278m. It is a gradual ascent through open snow fields and rocky outcrops with beautiful views over the Champsaur valley - about 720m of ascent in total.

You will see ice falls, woods, interesting rock formations and magnificent views so plenty of opportunities to stop and admire the scenery, look out for animal tracks and take photos.

After reaching the col for a well deserved picnic lunch in the sun, you head up to the summit for that real top of the world feeling! Then it is all down hill and on snow shoes you can slide, run, jump and generally have lots of fun getting down the mountain - the snow is very forgiving! A really good day out in the mountains!!

Day 5 - Rest / Choice day

We can plan another activity for this day at the time of booking or leave it open for you to do your own thing.

There are plenty of things to do in the area from a day ice climbing, to husky sledding or skiing or even a day relaxing in the pool and jacuzzi complex. There are also self guided snowshoe walks in the valleys that are safe to do by yourselves. we'll give you infomration on these when you are here.

Day 6 - Remote Alpine Village of Prapic

Full day snowshoe through a classic alpine village and in to the Ecrins National Park.

This snowshoe walk starts in Prapic, an ancient farming village, still habited all year round by about four families, with classic alpine architecture and village lay out - very pretty. After the village you walk in to the Ecrins National Park through a beautiful classic u shaped valley.

There are choices for exactly where you go and we an decide on the day depending on the snow and weather conditions. It is possible to walk up on to a high mountain plateau or follow the river to the head of the valley and even up to a col.

Whichever way you choose, you are likely to pass a waterfall (usually frozen in winter) called the Saut du Laire which means 'jump of the thief' - it has an interesting little folk tale associated with it that your guide will be only too pleased to tell!

The way back passes a quaint little chapel situated all on it's own in the winter wilderness - a reminder of the religious heritage of this valley! It is possible to start this walk later and finish it off as the sun is setting. The glow of red and orange as the sun sets over the mountains and the glow of orange lights from the village is a truly beautiful scene.

And what better way to enjoy it than in the peace and tranquility of the high mountain environment on snowshoes. Experience the calmness of the Alps at night, gaze at the stars and pin point the man on the moon!

Day 7 - The summit of La Piolit

Full day snowshoe with picnic on the summit (6 - 7 hrs)

This is a big but very rewarding day out up to the summit of La Piolit at 2484m.

The last section to the summit is also quite technical so may not be possible depending on the conditions and the group. However, even getting up to the col before the summit is a big adventure and takes you in to a truly alpine wilderness.

This snow shoe walk starts off following the beautiful Rouanne valley from Ancelle. Then about half way up you start to climb, zig zagging through beautiful mixed forest with a view of a dramatic cliff face (Le Lauterat) across the valley.

As the woods start to thin you walk out on to open snow fields with magnificent views all around you.

There are different routes to get to the summit, but the most popular is to go up to the col de la Pourachrere at 2173m. As well as being a great picnic spot, this is also a good opt out point if anyone doesn't fancy going up to the top - a perfect viewing point across the Champsaur valley.

Those who get to the summit will also see the Lac du Serre Poncon (biggest dammed lake in Europe) in all its winer glory! Then it is all down hill and on snow shoes you can slide, run, jump and generally have lots of fun getting down the mountain - the snow is very forgiving!

Day 8 - Return home

This is the sad day when we have to say goodbye :( but hopefully it will be more a bientot than aurevoir!

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Directions

The price of the trip does include all transfers to and from the snowshoeing walks. However the initial travel costs to the valley are not included as there are various options available to get here by train, plane or coach which we can discuss with you in detail to help you find the best option for your group.

As part of our service, we will give you help and advice on the different options available to find the best solution for your group. The nearest airports are Grenoble, Lyon and Marseille, both approximately 2.5hrs drive from us here in the Alps. The nearest train station is in Gap with regular rail links to Grenoble, Marseille, Aix-en-Provence and Paris.

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