Ski Touring Week in the Ecrins

Holiday Overview

A progressive ski touring week introducing and practising essential skills and techniques in and around the Champsaur valley and Ecrins National Park in the Southern French Alps.

The Champsaur Valley and the Ecrins National Park are some of the most beautiful parts of the Southern French Alps to explore ski touring. They are wild and relatively untouched with dramatic mountain scenery and lots of wildlife including chamois, ibex, wild boar, deer and even wolves!

This is a progressive ski touring week introducing and practising the essential safety and technical skills for ski touring. You will also learn and revise your mountain safety skills such as avalanche search and rescue.

You will have a day in a traditional French ski village using the ski lifts and then skiing down via off piste routes to practice and improve your off piste skiing technique. This is to get used to the different off piste snow conditions you will encounter whilst ski touring and your high mountain guide will be able to give you some valuable skiing tips. Then you will do a range of different day tours in and around the Champsaur valley and the Ecrins range.

The area is a perfect French Alps destination for a first introduction to ski touring and for learning backcountry skiing basics. There is a great variety of easy day ski tours with the possibility to choose slightly more technical ski touring routes if required.

This ski touring holiday is a great for beginner and intermediate ski tourers looking for a ski touring course as it gives full flexibility over route choice. We can really make the most of local snow and weather conditions and choose day ski tours adapted to the group.

You don't need any ski touring experience but do need a good level of fitness and ideally have some experience skiing in different snow conditions. Read our blog to see if you have the fitness and skiing ability required for ski touring.

Your guide for the trip will be an experienced UIAGM high mountain guide. He will be a local guide who will have a wealth of local knowledge. Your safety will be his top priority.

You will have a free day in the middle of the week to relax at the Hotel le Chamois and explore the village of Ancelle. If you would like to try another activity... ice climbing, snowshoeing, downhill skiing, husky dog sledging and cross country skiing are all possible from Ancelle.

Read our blog article to find out more about ski touring in the area and have a look at our ski touring kit list for advice on what to pack.

If you are looking for a ski touring holiday that tours from refuge to refuge have a look at our Ski Touring in the Queyras.


Itinerary Overview

This is a gradually progressive week starting with an intensive off piste skiing day. Your guide will be on hand to give you technique tips. You will also review avalanche safety and search and rescue skills.

The rest of the week will be spent exploring the cols and summits in and around the Champsaur valley and Ecrins National Park. There are a huge variety of routes to choose from. Your guide will choose the most suitable options for the local conditions and the group so that you can make the most of the area and push your potential.

This is an example itinerary to give you a good idea of some of the summits we often use and what to expect from the week.

Day 1 - Arrival

We will meet you at the Hotel le Chamois to have a chat about the itinerary and what's in store for you during the week.

After that you can have a drink in the bar or go for a little wander around Ancelle before settling down to a hearty evening meal!

Day 2 - Off Piste Skiing Technique and High Mountain Safety

Full day guided off piste skiing in Serre Eyraud.

With your guide you will go and collect your equipment for the week. Then you'll go to the charming but challenging little ski village of Serre Eyraud where you will spend the day perfecting your downhill off piste skiing so that you can make the most of your descents when you are ski touring.

It's north facing so the snow is good and there won't be many other skiers here so you can let your hair down and go for it! It's a perfect place for practising off-piste technique. During the day you will also learn about high mountain safety and practice some of the safety skills essential for ski touring such as avalanche search and rescue.

Day 3 - La Palastre Day Tour (2280m)

Guided ski tour to La Palastre with its spectacular rock formations.

Ascent: 720m

La Palastre will be your first ski tour of the week. It's a gradual ascent through open snow fields and rocky outcrops with beautiful views over the Champsaur valley. You'll have plenty of time to get used to skinning up and getting comfortable with your equipment.

There are several options for the final part of the route so depending on how you are all feeling and the conditions it can be extended or shortened. It takes about 2 - 3 hours to climb in total. Depending on where you end up there are a few choices for skiing down. So you can choose the gentle gradients or the slightly more technical steeper couloirs.

Day 4 - La Petite Autane d'Orcieres Day Tour (2458m)

Guided ski tour to La Petite Autane d'Orcières finishing on a spectacular ridge.

Ascent: 850m

Today you will start your tour from the remote alpine village of Archinard. La Petite Autane d'Orcieres is a beautiful and varied ski tour. After a pretty start in the larch forest, you arrive at a series of little hanging valleys with rocky outcrops that you gradually make your way through.

After a relatively steep climb out of the last valley you finish up on a spectacular ridge. As you emerge onto the ridge you are rewarded with an impressive view of the east face of Grand Autanes. The ridge is narrow and feels pretty exposed but is an easy ski. The descent is as varied as the ascent with little gullies, slopes and rocky outcrops to navigate before reaching the tree line where you have an easy and pretty ski through on forest tracks.

Day 5 - Choice / Rest Day

This is the one day you can have a lie in so make the most of it!! There are plenty of things to do in and around Ancelle including piste skiing, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, ice climbing and even husky sledding.

So you can either relax and let your legs recover before the big end of week tour, try something completely different or continue skiing. It's really up to you and we can discuss the options available when you are here.

Please note that any activities or ski passes organised for this day are not included in the price and would be payable as an extra, either at the time of booking if you already know what you would like to do or locally when you are here.

Day 6 - La Coupa Day Tour (2630m)

Guided ski tour to La Coupa with beautiful views.

Ascent: 1100m

This is a wonderful summit situated on the Malamorte ridge which continues up to the summit of Le Barle at 2733m. There are a couple of different ways to reach this summit - either via the east face from Les Gourniers or the north face from Archinard and it is even possible to do it as a through tour. Whichever option your guide chooses for today, it will be an adventure into a wild alpine valley.

The grand finale is a dramatic ridge with spectacular views over the different valleys. A beautiful ski down without too many obstacles but with options to go for steeper little couloirs or to stay on the more gradual inclines!

Day 7 - Le Piolit Day Tour (2464m)

Guided ski tour to the Piolit with a dramatic ridge to finish!

Ascent: 1070m

Le Piolit is a classic ski tour with a dramatic and spectacular ridge to negotiate at the end of it! You will start from Ancelle and head up the Rouannette valley towards the Col de Pourrachiere. At the rather luxurious looking shepherd's cabin you then head up to the summit. From the summit you have panoramic views looking down over the ridges and can see the Lac du Serre Poncon.

To get back down, you can choose to go down a different way on the other side of the col Pourrachiere, to make a full circuit. The ski down starts off in open slopes with some rocky sections to avoid and then finishes off in the woods - a good challenge to finish off your week!

Day 8 - Return Home

This is the sad day where we have to say goodbye! You'll leave with lots of great memories wanting to come back for more!


Euan Taylor - Ski Touring Holidays

April 2013

What a week! Firstly, the organisation from Sally and the team was brilliant. Right from the start, the team were promp...

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John and Sarah Whitby - Ski Touring Holiday

April 2013

The introduction to ski touring course was excellent and fully met our expectations. As new comers to ski touring it g...

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Matthew - Ski Touring Holidays

March 2010

I joined an Introductory Ski Mountaineering Course with Undiscovered Alps in March 2010. Sally (the boss) and Bernard...

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John Goodman - Touring Holidays

March 2010

Hi Sally Just a quick note to thank you very much for the recent 'Introduction to Ski Touring week' with your company ...

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The nearest train station is Gap. Gap is on the SNCF train service which has links from Paris (overnight sleeper), Valence, Grenoble or Marseille.

The nearest airports are Grenoble, Lyon and Marseille, both approximately 2.5hrs drive from us here in the Alps. In the winter the local ski resorts are also served with a regular snow bus from Marseille airport.

Throughout the winter the local ski resorts are also served with a regular snow bus from Marseille airport.

We can arrange local transfers from Gap train station or the local ski resorts for 50€ per transfer (up to 8 people per transfer).

We can help you plan your journey, please ask us about getting here when you enquire.

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