The ultimate ski touring adventure away from the pistes. Give your body a work out as you skin up the mountain and reward yourself with a dream powder off track descent! If you love the mountains, are reasonably fit and ski, then a mountain ski tour, otherwise known as backcountry skiing or ski touring will be very addictive! Once you have tried it, you'll never look back! Rather than using the ski lifts to get you up the mountain you skin up on your own steam. This means you are not dependent on any infrastructure so can go wherever you like, obviously taking into account safety and avalanches.
What is the difference between ski touring and ski mountaineering?
The main difference between ski touring and ski mountaineering is the technical difficulty of the tour but they are both essentially travelling through the mountains in winter and spring using specially adapted ski touring skis (more info on equipment can be found at the bottom of the page).
Sometimes ice axe and crampons are needed depending on the difficulty of the mountain. The more mountaineering skills; ice axe and crampons, glacier traverses etc, needed on a particular tour, the more likely it is to fall into the ski
mountaineering, rather than ski touring category.
Who can do it?
You need to be able to ski to intermediate level but you don't need to be an expert skier to enjoy ski touring or ski mountaineering. You should be able to get down any red in a ski resort and it is an advantage if you have experience skiing in lots of different types of snow including some off piste.
The other important factor is fitness. As you spend more time skinning up than actually skiing down, and can climb 600m to 1300m per day on an average ski tour, it is important to have a good level of cardio fitness! Read our blog to find out if you have got the necessary fitness and skills for ski touring.
For ski mountaineering, some alpinism and mountaineering skills are also necessary.
Ski touring is becoming more and more popular in the Alps. Read our blog article about why skiers are leaving the pistes in droves to try out ski touring!
Both ski touring and ski mountaineering are dangerous sports as you are off piste in the mountains and there is a very real risk of avalanche and other mountain hazards.
People die every year in the mountains and not always due to negligence. The mountains have claimed the lives of numerous experienced mountaineers. Whilst going with a guide does not make you exempt from mountain hazards, the benefit of years of experience, advanced safety training, expert technical ability and local experience is a serious plus! For all our guided ski touring holidays we use UIAGM high mountain guides, some of whom are also qualified ski instructors so that we can ensure your safety in the mountains and give you quality tips and advice on your skiing technique and ski touring skills! Make the most of our local expertise and highly qualified guides for an unforgettable ski touring adventure in the mountains!
Ski touring skis are generally lighter than downhill skis with ski touring bindings (allowing you to have a free or fixed heel) and detachable skins which stick to the bottom of the ski for skinning up hill. You also have 'couteaux' or ski crampons which attach to your skis for icy conditions. As you are off piste it is vital that you take a spade and probe and avalanche transceiver with you whenever you go ski touring.
For more detailed information you might want to have a read of our blog - All about ski touring.
Best Ski Touring Holidays
We have a range of ski touring trips and tours with set itineraries and fixed departure dates that you can join as an individual, couple or small group and we can also tailor make trips for groups of four or more in any of our destinations.
You can choose a refuge to refuge ski tour or go for a more flexible 'day ski tour' approach from one or two bases. You can also try ski touring as a one off activity as part of a winter multi activity holiday. For powder hungry skiers who want to spend less time skinning uphill, we also have a great Freeride Skiing Holiday in La Grave in the Alps.