Ski touring has grown in popularity over the past 10 years. Once strictly the preserve of the winter mountaineer, ski touring has become a popular recreational activity. However, ski touring is not mainstream and never should be. Touring is a serious mountain activity that has to be approached step by step and under the guidance of IFMGA guides.
What is important is firstly the’ journey’ and secondly, finding the best snow and most rewarding descents in remote and beautiful environments.
Ski touring is possible anywhere there is enough snow, and the season runs from January through to May or early June, although the classic touring season in Europe is March through to May. One can day tour or hut-to-hut tour where the nights are spent in high mountain huts.
Certainly, ski touring can be hard work, with a lot of effort needed on the uphill sections. However, the effort is well worth it: the thrill of making first tracks on a long descent, well away from the rest of the ski world with the wild splendour of the winter mountains all around.
10 reasons you should get into ski touring:
1 To get back to the roots of skiing: skiing was developed as a mode of transport in deep snow. Touring takes you back to these roots. Use your skis to get from A-B, definitely an interesting way to travel.
2 For fitness: Ski touring offers an excellent opportunity to up your fitness, and what better place to do it than the fresh air of the high Alps. Ski touring is a low impact, but high energy activity that exercises the whole body evenly. Getting fit in the gym isn't as much fun as this!
3 To give yourself a goal: There are many famous ski tours, most of which are 6 days in length; each tour is graded for the difficulty of the skiing and the amount of effort needed. Booking on a ski tour provides a set goal to prepare for and is very satisfying to complete.
4 To have an adventure: Every ski tour whether long or short has a distinctive adventurous feel, and the memories last a long time.
5 To ski the best snow: Within European ski domains, the powder seems to get skied out quicker every year! Ski Tourers are able to sidestep this race for fresh tracks. During our tours, we almost always find legendary untracked snow.
6 To ski the real backcountry: Ski touring takes you far away from the ski domains and the crowded world of mainstream skiing. Touring takes us into the untouched backcountry where the best snow awaits. Nothing beats the feeling of climbing to a remote col, crossing to the other side to discover a vast expanse of untracked snow, leading for many kilometres down into a deep valley.
7 To make new friends: Ski touring is a friendly and supportive scene. Life in the huts is always sociable and there is a keen need to share information. Come on in and join the club!
8 For the sense of voyage: Multi-day ski tours always have a sense of voyage. Passing through mountain villages, across summer pastures and of course, the high mountains is a fascinating journey worthy of any travel magazine.
9 To hone your off-piste technique: Ski tours are fairly committing ventures; you have to expect any snow type the mountain can throw at you. Sometimes powder, sometimes spring snow, but also crust or slush! The way to progress is to ski all snow types and do so as much as you can.
10 To extend your ski season through to May (or longer): Simple: stay fit and ski for longer. Plus the mountains in Springtime are magnificent.
How Do I Get Started?
If you already have a good level of off-piste skiing, then the best way to get started is to do an introductory ski touring skills course. This will provide a good grounding in the essential touring skills as well as include some highly enjoyable day trips. If you are coming from a mountaineering background, it is worth noting a lot of the skills are transferable. But please make sure your downhill skiing skills are sufficient to enjoy ski touring.
Once you understand the rules of the game, you are free to pick from the wide choice of tours we offer.
IFMGA / UIAGM / IVBV
The IFMGA / UIAGM / IVBV symbol is the logo of the International Federation of Mountain Guides Association.
Nick, Olly and Matt are all fully-qualified UIAGM Mountain Guides and members of the British Mountain Guides Association.
The International Ski Instructors Association is the world body for professional ski instructors.
The ISIA was formed in 1971 and there are currently 39 member nations representing the very best in ski instruction around the world.