This guided trip begins in Courchevel in France, passes through the 3 Valleys (Trois Vallées), La Plagne, Les Arcs, La Rosière, La Thuile, Courmayeur, Helbronner (Monte Bianco and the Italian Vallée Blanche) before finishing in Chamonix. Along the way the group will experience a great deal of variety, both in terms of terrain and skiing conditions. The goal is to explore the more remote corners of this vast area and to enjoy fantastic off-piste skiing and ski touring. One of the highlights of the ski touring safari is the very last run down the Italian Vallée Blanche from Point Helbronner to Chamonix - a wonderful 12-mile descent across stunning glaciated terrain...a memorable finale to the week!
A ski safari is a little like a hut-to-hut ski tour without the huts! Every night of the voyage is spent in a different valley base in a hand-picked hotel. The idea is to get as much off-piste skiing as possible during the journey, but the occasional piste isn’t ruled out! We carry a small rucksack with our ski safety and touring gear, and the rest of our luggage is sent by vehicle. Ski safaris are a great adventure and a superb way to explore the landscape.
Prices includes 6 guided days with all guide fees and expenses, 7 nights half-board hotel accommodation and luggage transfers.
Prices do not include: travel out to Courchevel and back from Chamonix, equipment hire, lunches, uplift costs and local transfers.
Here at the Mountain Tracks, we give you our word that we will fully refund every part of your package holiday if it is not able to run due to COVID-19.
Our Mountain Tracks and holiday teams are monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak guidance and advice while communicating closely with our suppliers to make sure everything is in place to keep you safe.
Read more: Frequently Asked Questions.
We are proud to offer all of our returning customers a £50 discount.
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Ski Club Winter Arrangements limited (trading as Mountain Tracks)
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This is an extensive list of the recommended clothing and equipment you will need if you are coming on our Courchevel to Chamonix Ski Safari.
During the safari you will be staying most nights in hotels or chalets.
We do provide luggage transfers during this trip so that on 2-3 days on the week you will have access to your bags. However you do always need to ski with a backpack containing kit you'll need during the day. We recommend keeping the weight of your pack as light as possible. If you are new to alpine multi-day ski trips, try taking your pack out on the slopes before the trip to see how it feels. You quickly realise the benefit of ‘skiing light’.
When choosing clothing for ski touring you want to think light, warm and versatile. During the trip weather conditions will change and you’re likely to go from warm afternoons where you’ll be carrying most of your gear in your rucksack, to icy-cold mornings when you’re wearing everything to keep warm! Getting hold of the best and lightest kit available is always worth it and most of the major brands will be able to supply a suitable kit.
This season, we’ve partnered with Ortovox to provide us with the very best safety kit and clothing. Our guides will all be decked out in the latest Ortovox jackets and trousers and will keep warm, dry and comfortable thanks to their technical wool base- and mid-layers. Our guides couldn’t recommend their kit more highly.
For all touring trips it is essential you ski with an all-mountain/freeride type skis, ski touring boots and ski touring bindings. If you have your own skis but they do not have ski touring bindings then you will need to rent skis. The same applies if you have downhill ski boots, you will need to rent ski touring boots.
This winter our lead guides are using Salomon Explore MTN and Salomon QST touring skis. The MTN 95 is an award-winning ski with great stability at high speeds whilst the MTN 88 is a best-selling lightweight touring ski. The QST’s are slightly heavier and therefore suited to charging; perfect for day-touring.
Lockwoods Ski and Outdoor are supporting our guides and we suggest that if you’re interested in any of the MTN or QST skis, you should make Lockwoods your first point of call.
For alpine ski touring we recommend an all-mountain/freeride touring ski that isn’t too heavy, a really lightweight ski comes at a cost to performance on the descents so are only recommended for really good off-piste skiers with a strong interest in ski touring.
There are plenty of great skis to choose from and we highly recommend skis from the following manufacturers:
Dynastar Skis: www.dynastar.com
Movement Skis: www.movementskis.com
Black Crows Skis: www.blackcrows-skis.com
Trab Skis: www.skitrab.com/en-us
Scott Skis: http://www.scott-sports.com
Volkl Skis: http://www.voelkl.com
There are plenty of other great skis to choose from so if you’re planning on buying skis for ski touring or general skiing and have any questions do not hesitate to call us, or Lockwoods, to discuss the options available.
If you are planning on buying skis for ski touring and general skiing and have any questions do not hesitate to call us to discuss the options available to you.
It is essential that you have ski touring boots for all touring trips as walking uphill is much more comfortable in these types of boots with a walk mode and great flex. A dedicated touring boot or a hybrid freeride boot is best.
Scarpa have lead the way in touring boots for many years but they have been joined by other manufactures like Dynafit, Salomon, Scott, Black Diamond, Dalbello and K2; all producing their own versions of a ski touring boot.
• Scarpa’s Freedom boots are their Hybrid offerings, great ski performance, a walk mode and vibram sole. Their Maestrale (men’s) and Gea (women’s) boots are also highly recommended.
• The Scott Celeste and Cosmo boots have stood the test of time and are good all-round choices.
• Salomon’s Quest Max series offer boots with a walk mode in various flex’s with good downhill performance.
• Dynafit offer the Mercury or Vulcan boots plus a range of lightweight options like the TLT6.
The best of the rest are:
Fischer - Transalp
Black Diamond – Quadrant and Factor
K2 – Pinnacle boot
Dalbello – Lupo or Sherpa
Langue – XT series offer a ski boot with a walk mode in various flex options
These days many manufacturers offer ‘thermo-fit¹ liners as standard equipment. You may also want to consider a custom liner as these are heated and molded to your foot and boot for a perfect fit. They can make all the difference especially if you have trouble finding really comfortable ‘off-the-shelf’ boots. Zipfit liners are a great option for anyone seeking total customisation in fit and comfort. They will replace the original liner.
Essential kit – to provide additional comfort and ski control. If you want to get footbeds made or a pair of new boots fitted then we suggest you visit somewhere like Profeet for a professional fitting. Don’t forget if you have footbeds in your downhill boots but need to rent touring boots then you can bring the footbeds with you and put them in the hire boots.
For all ski touring trips ski touring bindings are essential. Fritschi and Marker both make excellent ski touring bindings and you have a few different options to choose from. Many more people are seeing the advantage of the “pin” binding system now offered by a number of manufacturers as these are light and offer ever improving security despite their minimalist looks!
It’s essential you have ski touring bindings on your skis. Although Pin bindings have been around since the Dynafit Low Tech bindings over 30 years ago, since their patent expired the technology has advanced substantially. Salomon, with their Shift Binding, are at the forefront; they’re ‘multi norm compatible’ so fit a selection of boots and are lighter than most freeride bindings. Our lead guides are using the Shift binding this winter, so if you’d like to know more about them give Lockwoods a ring.
We recommend telescopic poles. They must have wide powder baskets (4-5 inches/100-120mm diameter) otherwise you’ll be up to your armpits on the ascents. Go for an alloy rather than carbon poles which are lighter but have a nasty habit of snapping near the basket due to ski edge nicks.
For most ski tours especially multi-day hut-to-hut tours you will need a 35 - 40 litre rucksack. You might get away with a big 30 liter pack if you are an experienced ski tourer and know what to pack. Most people will find a 35-40 liter pack is a good size for touring.
Key features of a good ski touring pack:
Ortovox Haute Route 40 rucksack will be a good choice for ski touring trips.
Avalanche airbag rucksacks can be used for touring but they are heavy, adding somewhere between 5-8kg just for an empty pack plus canister. So unless you are sure you can carry it and fit all you need in, we do not recommend you use one.
Over a long multiday tour, every gram of weight is important as you have to carry and move it yourself. Carrying a heavy pack will hinder and tire all but the most experienced and fit ski tourer.
On our ski safaris we do use the lift systems in resorts to gain height before heading off into the back country on a tour. You will need to have:
Ski Skins – these are skins, now made of artificial fabric, that stick to the bottom of your skis and allow you to walk up hill. They must be cut to fit your skis exactly, so if you are bringing your own skis you must provide your own skins.
Ski Crampons (aka couteaux in French) - most ski touring bindings have ski crampons specifically designed for the binding. We always carry these just in case. Again if you are bringing your skis and touring bindings you must provide your own ski crampons.
Ice Axe - general lightweight mountaineering / alpine pick. Ideally this needs to be short enough to fit in your pack.
Boot Crampons - ideally lightweight aluminium ones although steel crampons are required for more demanding tours
Climbing Harness - a simple lightweight harness. The key feature is that it should have fully adjustable leg loops for putting on over ski boots, crampons, etc.
On some safaris in non-glaciated terrain an ice-axe, boot crampons and climbing harness may not always be required. However as conditions and itineraries can change we do generally recommend that you bring these items with you. If you do not own these items they can be rented to you by our guides or via one of the local sports shops.
The “Safety Trilogy” - required on all our ski tours and off-piste courses.
We recommend Simple and intuitive ORTOVOX AVALANCHE RESCUE KIT 3+
Remember it is not enough just to carry this equipment; you have to know how to use it.
How about joining one of our specialist avalanche courses – check out www.mountaintracks.co.uk/activity/avalanche-training
Food and Water
We suggest you bring with you or buy in resort snack food that you can take out on the hill with you each day. Things like cereal bars, dried fruit and nuts, chocolate, sugary sweets or your favorite hill snacks. When you’re staying overnight in huts its best to take supplies for the days you are away. Huts do sell food but it’s expensive and sometimes stocks run low.
If you have any food allergies or dietary requirements especially if you are a Coeliac (Gluten free) or have a dairy allergy we strongly recommend you bring some food with you that you can supplement your dinners with. The huts are fairly good at providing for vegetarians but less so for other dietary needs.
You have to buy bottled water in the huts as usually any running water is non-potable. Bottled water is expensive in French and Swiss huts; you can be paying upto 12-16CHF per 1.5L bottle of water. So please ensure you budget for this cost.
Courchevel is one of the principal resorts in the famous 3 Valleys ski area in France, one of the largest, most renowned and most popular ski areas in the Alps.
As well as Courchevel the other principal resorts are Meribel, Val Thorens, La Tania, Les Menuires and St Martin de Belleville.
Together the area has more than 200 lifts and over 600kms of piste suitable for everyone from first day novices to expert level. The off-piste terrain here is equally impressive with enough choice to satisfy the most demanding backcountry enthusiasts. The highest lifts take you to 3200m (on the Glacier de Peclet).
Courchevel is made up of a number of smaller villages which are named for their altitudes in metres: Courchevel 1300 (Le Praz), Courchevel 1550, Courchevel 1650 (Moriond), and Courchevel 1850.
If you are staying in Courchevel, the big off piste classics are aro und the Aiguille du Fruit, the back of Roc Merlet and the Vallée des Avals. The Loze area has some excellent terrain for those who are just adventuring off piste for the first time. From Courchevel you can access the skiing across the 3 Valleys and glacier skiing on the Glacier de Vanoise and at Val Thorens is easily accessible.
It is a condition of booking that you are insured for your chosen activity and the cover must include medical expenses, personal accident, personal liability, third party risks and rescue (including helicopter rescue). You are strongly advised also to take out cover against cancellation and curtailment.
For more details and to purchase a policy online visit http://www.skiclubinsurance.co.uk/
If you need assistance arranging your personal insurance please let us know.
The most convenient airport is Chambéry which is situated 110 km away.
Grenoble (175kms), Lyon (185km) or Geneva (190km) are the next best options.
Altibus operates public bus services from all 4 airports to the 3 Valleys.
They offer a regular daily service throughout the winter and tickets can be purchased in advance on-line through Altibus. Go to www.altibus.com
The journey from Geneva airport to Bride Les Bains takes 3 hours and a 1-way ticket costs about €70 and a return ticket costs about €120.
Bensbus (www.bensbus.co.uk) offer shared transfers from the airports to Bride Les Bains. A 1-way transfer costs from £44 per person.
You can also travel by train to nearby Moutiers from where you can take a taxi to Brides Les Bains.
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.