The climate of Mount Etna generally provides good compact snow conditions and often spring snow. It's after a fresh snowfall that the powder can be fantastic! Slopes vary in steepness, but on the whole, they are wide open slopes ideal for intermediate off-piste skiers. There are ski lifts (a gondola, chairlift and two drag lifts) plus a few pistes on Mount Etna's northern slopes close to the town of Linguaglossa.
The best conditions tend to be in February and March. We plan to use a mixture of lift-accessed ski touring to reach the summit of Etna. From the top of the lift at 2,500m, it takes around 3 hours to reach the main crater. Additional days skiing will be spent exploring each side of the Etna National Park using our own vehicle to access the best skiing conditions at the time.
The Mediterranean atmosphere and mild climate, combined with the warm and cheerful hospitality of the locals, certainly makes for an authentic Sicilian adventure!
Our trip covers 4 ski days with 5 nights of accommodation.
We plan to meet at the airport at Catania and travel by road the short distance to the Hotel Sapienza. The hotel is located at 1920m on Mt. Etna and right next to the Etna cable car. It has spacious rooms a large dining room serving excellent food. You can see more information on the hotel HERE.
Our first ski day we will ski the southern slopes of Mt. Etna and can include routes such as Canalone degli Svizzeri and Montagnola. From the hotel, we will take the lifts of the ski area and then ski tour for a short distance and have a choice between the 2 ski route. We stay back in the Hotel for the night.
From the hotel, we will ski tour to the craters of Mt. Etna at around 3323m, a long but enjoyable climb. This will give us a big descent on the north aspect of Pizzo Deneri (2847m) down to the Rifugio Citelli at 1741m. We overnight in the Rifugio Citelli http://www.rifugiocitelli.it/
East - North Traverse
We re-ascend on our skins towards the Pizzo Deneri at 2874m and descend to the Refuge Piano Provenzana at 1800m. From there we reach our hotel by a short bus or taxi ride.
West - Southeast Traverse
We have a short transfer by taxi or bus to the Piano Provenza. We will use the lifts to get to Anfiteatro at 2340m and from here we ski tour to the Nort-East crater. We can enjoy a long and amazing ski down to the Torre del Filosofo and the Valle del Bove until we reach the Rifugio Manza. From here we traverse to Col Lapide Malerba and ski down to Piano dei Pompieri. We return to the Hotel Sapienza for our final night.
Departure after breakfast. Our guide will drop you back at the airport in Catania in the morning for your onward travel. If you wish to stay on in Sicily for a few days you are free to make you own onward travel plans when you wish.
The terrain is mostly good intermediate level skiing and touring, occasionally there will be some more technical parts due to conditions where the snow can be icy or windblown. Its important to have some previous ski touring experience for this trip plus a good level of off-piste skiing ability.
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*Single rooms subject to availability and supplement.
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This is an extensive list of the equipment you will need if you are coming on one of our Day Ski Touring trips
During the trip you will be staying most nights in comfortable chalet or hotel accommodation on a half board or B&B basis. You will just need to carry a day pack with your avalanche safety equipment and a few personal items.
On some of our trips you will stay 1 night out in a mountain hut. Huts in the Alps are comfortable but very basic with limited facilities – running cold water, European-style toilets and dormitory-style accommodation. All the huts provide ‘hut slippers’ – these days they are usually Crocs - and so you will not need to carry additional footwear. You will need to have a sleeping bag liner for any hut nights; huts provide a duvet or blankets plus a pillow for sleeping so its not necessary to carry a sleeping bag.
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.
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.
For this trip you should have a ski touring set up, boots, skis with touring bindings, skins and couteaux. You will also need a harness, ice axe and boot crampons and a ski helmet.
We recommend you bring all your own skis and boots (for touring), we believe it is possible to hire from a new shop located in Nicolosi (close to Ragalna) but we do not know what makes/models of skis/boots they have and the quality.
You can however hire boot crampons, ice axe and harness from our guide if you book this well in advance, please speak to our office about it.
Mount Etna, the highest active volcano at (currently 3,329m) and largest (20km radius) in Europe, with fantastic views to the Mediterranean and Ionian Sea, is an experience that will endure in your memories.
Sicily is rich in history and home to Doric-style Greek temples, Byzantine mosaics at the Cappella Palatina and a former royal chapel in Palermo. However, invariably overlooked is its charm as an sensational destination for rather enigmatic ski touring on volcanoes nestled above Mediterranean shores! Prepare to be overwhelmed by just how varied and diverse are the many features that Sicilian life embraces, shaped by its distinctive landscape, culture, cuisine and people.
While seeing is believing, in Sicily it's equally the case, of course, that tasting is to truly experience this exceptional destination. The sublime local cuisine is an essential feature of Sicilian life. In fact, for many visiting Sicily the food, considered some of the best in Europe, is reason enough to return year after year! From arancini to cannoli, Sicilian dishes are known the world over; with influences from Arabia, Africa, Iberia and, of course, mainland Italy, the fusion of flavours that form in the island's cuisine are truly remarkable. Aside from the cultural influences that have transformed Sicilian cuisine over two millennia, Sicily's fantastic climate has also played a major part in shaping the local practices of the island's farming communities and their tilling of its fertile soils. The lush fields and orchards produce bumper crops of olives, tomatoes, citrus fruits, pistachios, grapes (including those of the wine making variety!) and almonds... That not to mention of course all the delightful seafood that's fished and landed in local ports from the island's coastal waters. The result? A cuisine that’s always very fresh, diverse, and utterly delicious! By good fortune the IFMGA guide, Gianni Dorigo, that leads the Mount Etna ski tour has handily identified the best of the restaurants to enjoy during the trip, ensuring you'll enjoy the quintessentially warm and exuberant hospitality of the isle while savouring the finest Sicilian cooking.In early spring, the climate of Etna National Park generally provides good compact snow conditions and, if we're lucky, chance to ski a little powder too, on occasion.
There's nothing quite like linking flowing turns through fresh snowfields with sweeping vistas of the Mediterranean! In just four days the Mount Etna trip combines many contrasting experiences and provides a fantastic insight on many levels to the special life of Sicilians. Adding ski touring to the mix certainly makes for a rather quixotic adventure: skiing one of the most active volcanoes on Earth and the centrepiece of Sicily’s largest national park — Mount Etna — clearly isn't your everyday exploit (making for some rather unique bragging rights upon your return!). Join us then on the Mount Etna ski tour and prepare yourself for a sun-drenched, flavour-filled, extraordinary ski journey quite unlike any excursion you've ventured on before!
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.
It is a condition of booking that you are fully vaccinated (unless exempt) and you comply with the entry rules to a destination country.
We plan to meet at Catania airport on Saturday 29th Feb at around 1400hrs. Direct flights are best taken from either London Luton or London Gatwick airports. On the departure day, if you wish to be dropped back at the airport we will do so that morning. If you wish to extend your stay either side of our dates this is possible and we can meet at the airport or our first night's accommodation.
We would plan for our guide to have the use of a minibus for the duration of the trip to make transportation around the area easier.
All our ski tours are led by our team of IFMGA Mountain Guides. The team is led by Olly Allen, Matt Dickinson and Nick Parks. The maximum ratio for this tour is 6 skiers with 1 guide. The minimum group size is 4. The maximum is 12 with 2 guides. This trip is typically lead by Guido or Massimo Candolini 2 of our Italian IFMGA Mountain Guides, who have lead trips to Etna before.
We stay in a comfortable B&B accommodation in the towns on the edge of the Etna National Park, this accommodation is provided on a twin share basis, if you wish to have a single room then please ask but they are subject to availability and usually there is a supplement. We spend 1 night in a mountain Rifugio where typically the accommodation is dormitory style.
Our Introductory level is suitable for people who can ski red and black pistes in resorts without problems and you can deal with moguls and some ice. You will be new to off-piste skiing or maybe have dabbled a little on the sides of the piste or even attended a previous off-piste specific course. You would like to ski powder snow with confidence and learn to link turns off-piste in a variety of terrain as well as being able to control your speed and adjust your turn radius.
Introductory level ski touring trips are appropriate for people looking for their first touring experience. The pace is relaxed and typically we skin for 2-4hrs per day so ascents are about 500 - 800m vertical. You need to be a reasonable off-piste skier (at our Off-Piste Development level), able to link controlled parallel turns in powder snow and ski through trees in control. You need to be prepared to hike short sections on foot carrying your skis on your rucksack (though you won’t need any specific mountaineering knowledge, so crampons and an ice axe are usually not required).
Off-Piste Coaching and Adventure
For our Intermediate graded off-piste ski courses and trips you will have at least a couple of weeks off-piste skiing experience and /or received some previous instructions on an off-piste specific course. You can link 10-12 turns together in reasonable control, speed and style, following the fall line in most conditions. If you’re looking to improve your technique in deeper snow and steeper slopes then our Off-Piste Coaching Development trips are for you. These are instructor-led courses.
If you want to get some miles under your skis then look at our Off-Piste Adventure Intermediate trips which are led by our team of Mountain Guides. On the Adventure courses you can expect to hike or ski tour short distances to get to better snow and terrain, although no previous ski touring experience is required.
These tours will involve around 3-5hrs of skinning per day, achieving around 800 – 1000m of vertical ascent. We would expect you to be able skin to a pace of 300m of vertical ascent per hour. You need to be able to execute good uphill kick turns on steeper slopes and have some familiarity with use of crampons and ice axe. You need to be a reasonably strong off-piste skier able to deal with a variety of snow conditions (powder, crust, slush) and able to ski on steeper and narrower slopes with the requisite ability and confidence for exposed sections.
For our Advanced Off-Piste Coaching courses you should be an excellent piste skier and have many years experience of skiing off-piste. You should be able to ski off-piste in most conditions linking controlled parallel turns, ski bumpy terrain, trees, narrow gullies and enjoy pushing yourself to achieve new things. Your skiing should be reasonably fluid and autonomous i.e. you can already adapt your turn radius and speed to the terrain and snow conditions off-piste. This course will focus on the technical and tactical skills to ski steep terrain, jump turns and line choice as well as refreshing your avalanche skills and mountain safety. The mission is for your skiing to become more dynamic and reactive!
You are an experienced and confident off-piste skier able to handle most snow types and conditions, you can ski steep slopes (30 degrees+) and make short turns in gullies and ski through trees. These skills have been learned over a number of years of skiing off-piste with mountain guides or experienced groups of friends. You are happy to ski tour to access descents and better snow, so you will have previously used ski touring equipment and can do effective and safe uphill kick turns. You aspire to ski the best snow available and are happy to push yourself to reach the best snow and terrain.
Advanced-level tours are for experienced ski tourers who’ve previously completed another hut-to-hut trip or multiple day tours. A large proportion of the terrain may be steep and exposed; thus confidence in your uphill kick turns on 35+ degree slopes is a must, as is your ability to ski slopes of 40 degrees. You will be a strong, fluid off-piste skier able to handle all conditions. You will be confident of using crampons and an ice axe and happy scrambling/climbing on snow and rock on short climbs to summits, and in gullies to gain a col.
You can ski fluidly and autonomously on all terrain. You often ski couloirs and gullies and seek out steep slopes and you can jump turn in narrow couloirs and have experience of abseiling and sideslipping on steep terrain. You can ski fast with fluid ‘freeride’ style turns and can jump off small rocks and ski trees with no fear or problems. You are happy to ski tour and hike to reach the best snow and terrain and you should have some basic knowledge of using crampons and ice axe. Your aims are to push your skills and challenge yourself further.
Expert level ski tours are pure ski mountaineering journeys in the high mountains. You must be confident skiing steep exposed terrain and ski touring for at least 5 hours per day with long ascents. You will be expected to climb on your feet carrying your skis on your pack to summit mountains above 4000m in altitude. You must be completely confident with your crampon placement and use of an ice axe and you will have some basic rope skills and be happy walking along exposed ridges on mixed terrain to gain the summits of peaks.
You can ski all day comfortably off-piste with only short stops for food and drink, you can do this for multiple days on your holiday. If necessary you can ski tour for around 1-2 hrs up hill plus your happy to do a few short hikes to access good snow with your skis on your shoulder or rucksack. Your stamina and endurance fitness is good and you work hard to maintain a good level of fitness. You will be exercising 3-4 times a week and also at the weekend; thus running a half marathon, doing a 50 mile cycle ride, 3-4 hours on a mountain bike or a full day’s hill walk would all prove possible with this stamina level.
You can ski all day comfortably and will be expected to ascend on skis at around 400m/hr and be able to skin for at least 5hrs with up to 1000m to 1300m of ascent per day. Your stamina and endurance fitness is good and you work hard to maintain a good level of fitness. You will be exercising 3-4 times a week and also at the weekend; thus running a half marathon, doing a 50 mile cycle ride, 3-4 hours on a mountain bike or a full day’s hill walk would all prove possible with this stamina level.
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.