France, Europe

Off-Piste and Ski Touring Skills Ste Foy - Team Ruth

Made your first tracks away from the piste poles but dreaming of venturing further than the lifts will take you? This is the trip for you!

A combination of both off-piste instruction and ski touring skills, this course is aimed at intermediate level off-piste skiers who want to learn the essential ski touring skills for traveling safely and confidently in the backcountry, whilst also having an instruction to improve off-piste skills and technique. This course is perfect for the aspiring off-piste skier, your ambitions can range from just trying the backcountry to completing the legendary Haute Route ski tour or another multi-day hut-to-hut ski touring trip. 

The touring possibilities in the Tarentaise (French Alps) are huge and we’ll make the most of it all by heading into the wilderness between Sainte Foy and the Italian border, completing several climbs to the frontier and getting off the beaten track around Val d’Isère. 

Day Itinerary

  • Arrive in Ste Foy. In the evening you will meet up with your Mountain Tracks guide for an initial briefing and review of the itinerary.

  • An action-packed 3 full days of adventure on the mountain. We will focus on essential ski touring skills including route planning, choice of line on the ascent, effective technique in different conditions, uphill kick turns, use of ski crampons, looking after your equipment and dealing with kit problems. Throughout the week, you will also receive intensive coaching in your off-piste technique from one of our instructors. Your technique will be fine-tuned with additional skills to cope with different snow conditions and slopes whilst skiing unforgettable off-piste descents.

    The final goal is to allow you to travel safely, efficiently and confidently in the backcountry and be ready to take on tours and guided adventures.

The price includes:

  • 3 full days off-piste guide fees and expenses

 

The price does not include:

  • lift pass,
  • lunches,
  • beverages, 
  • transfers

 

BOOK WITH CONFIDENCE

Your Financial Protection
ATOL
£2.50 per person of the cost of any air package is paid to the Civil Aviation Authority to provide ATOL Protection to you. This means the money paid for these arrangements is fully protected. Our ATOL number is ATOL 2911. For more information see our booking terms and conditions.
ABTOT
ABTOT provides protection for your booking as set out in Holiday Information.
Ski Club Winter Arrangements limited (trading as Mountain Tracks)
Registered in England No. 2099115. VAT No. GB 461 5692 34

ATOL        ABTOT

We accept the following payment methods

 

 

This is an extensive list of the recommended clothing and equipment you will need if you are coming on one of our Off-Piste Coaching courses.  On these courses you’ll be staying in a comfortable catered chalet or hotels. When skiing you need to carry just a small day pack, which contains your safety equipment and any personal items you may need.

  • When choosing clothing for backcountry skiing and ski touring you want to think light, warm and versatile. During the trip weather conditions will change and you’re likely to go from icy-cold mornings when you’re wearing everything to keep out the chill to warm afternoons where you’ll be carrying most of your gear in your rucksack. Getting hold of the best and lightest kit available is always worth it and most of the major brands have suitable clothing for backcountry skiing.

    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.

     

    • Roll neck rather than a scarf. We use and recommend the ‘Buff¹ ¬ a light, stretchable tube. Excellent despite the name! They do both a fleece/cotton version for warmth or just a cotton one (to keep the sun off).
    • Headwear to include warm hat and sun-cap or wide-brim hat for extra protection from the sun. Mountain Tracks fully supports the wearing of helmets for skiing, although not mandatory for any of our trips we do recommend them.
    • An outer shell jacket made of waterproof and breathable material like Gore-Tex or similar with a built-in hood. The lighter the better and so a shell is recommended rather than an insulated jacket.
    • 1-2 thin fleeces - rather than a thick layer between your skin and the outer shell - an approach which gives better heat retention and good flexibility. These tops are known as ‘mid layers’. The principle of ‘layering’ e.g. allowing you to easily add/remove layers depending on the temperature and the activity is recommended to ensure comfort on the mountain.
    • Insulation layer like a down or Primaloft jacket is a good item to have ready to wear in the event of cold weather, it can live in your rucksack as a spare layer and can come in very handy for sudden changes in the weather.
    • For the lower half, it’s essential that you have a pair of thermal base layer pants (long johns).
    • These can then be combined with either:
    • (a) a good pair of ‘technical shell’ pants in a waterproof and breathable fabric like Gore-Tex
    • (b) a pair of mountain or alpine pants in a softshell material together with a pair of lightweight, breathable over trousers with long side zips.
    • Top and bottom underwear made of a synthetic, wicking material. Very popular at the moment are the wool based layers from companies such as Ortovox. They are comfy, breathable and warm when needed and can be worn for days without your friends catching a whiff!
    • Good quality Gore-Tex gloves or mitts and a thin pair of softshell or fleece gloves for when it is hot and for ski touring in. Silk inner gloves can be useful if the weather is cold and you suffer from cold hands.
    • Technical Socks - Investing in good quality ski socks will improve fit, warmth and feel when skiing for long periods. Bring along a few pairs.
  • For these trips it is essential that 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.

    Skis

    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.

    This winter our lead guides are using Elan skis. Praised by magazine testers and professional skiers alike for its unique blend of lightweight performance, the Ripstick 96 is proven to be the ultimate freeride ski in all snow conditions. The Ripstick 106 is the ultimate freeride ski for any terrain. From boundary line to the base lodge, peak to the parking lot, and trailhead to tailgate this ski excels in all conditions. The new Ripstick Tour 94 is designed on a wider platform, enabling the skier to float better, ski faster, and turn easier in backcountry conditions.

    It is built to blend high performance at a low weight, for the perfect mix of freeride downhill performance and efficient ascending capability. With Ripstick Tour 94, the confidence to conquer long ascents and charge challenging descents is the name of the game.

    There are many ‘all-mountain/freeride’ skis to choose from and we also recommend skis from Salomon, Dynastar, Movement, Black Crows, Trab Skis, Scott and Volkl.  Look for a ski that is the right size for your height, typically the tip of the ski should be somewhere around your nose height.  As for the width of the ski or “side cut” a mid-fat ski – 90-110mm under the foot is a good place to start; this offers plenty of flotation off-piste while remaining suitable for day tours and they should also handle reasonably well on piste and mixed terrain.

    Elan Skis: www.elanskis.com

    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.


    Boots

    It is essential that you have ski touring boots for these 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 hike & ride boot is best. 

    Our guides are using ROXA boots. They recommend R3 ski boots, the lightest high-performance alpine ski boot in its class. The 110 TI is geared for big mountain chargers who may use “Tech” and/or Alpine bindings and often hike or skin to find their lines. The RX Tours is targeted toward skiers who prefer to blaze their own trail and leave the lift lines behind.

    Scarpa has led the way in touring boots for many years but they have been joined by other manufacturers like Dynafit, Salomon, Scott, Black Diamond, Dalbello and K2; all producing their own versions of ski touring boots.

    • ROXA R3 and RX Tour ski boots provide a range of models suitable for all sorts of terrain and snow conditions. It is a family-owned company located in Italy, focused on advanced materials, and ultralight compounds and one of the first companies to use CAD Design software to design and 3D print prototypes.
    • Scarpa’s Freedom boots are their Hybrid offerings, with 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 Cosmos 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

     


    Boot Liners
    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 moulded 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.

    Custom Footbeds
    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.

    Bindings
    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!

    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.

    Ski Poles
    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.

    Rucksack
    A small day pack can be used on this course as you're not travelling hut-to-hut and don't need to carry a lot of gear. However, the pack should have the key features of a good ski touring pack:

    • a method of attaching your skis in either an A-frame (one either side) or both together on a diagonal ski carriage
    • easy access into the main compartment without having to empty the sack to get something at the bottom
    • separate pocket for avalanche shovel, handle and probe
    • small top pocket for items like wallet, sunglassed/goggles etc; an ice axe loop
    • built-in rain cover and a secure method of attaching/stowing a ski helmet 
    • good hip/waist belt and adjustable shoulder straps

    Avalanche airbag rucksacks are generally not recommended for ski touring due to the additional weight however they can be used on our ski touring skills courses

     

    • Ski Skins – these are skins which, now made of artificial fabric, 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) - 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 aluminum 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.
  • The “Safety Trilogy” - required on all our ski tours and off-piste courses.

    • Avalanche Transceiver/Beacon
    • Snow shovel
    • Avalanche probe

    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
    • Good pair of ski goggles with a lens for low light is essential in the event of snow and poor visibility
    • Good quality sunglasses with 100% UV protection
    • 30-35 liter rucksack
    • 1 – 1.5 Liter water bottle – we don’t recommend hydration systems (e.g. camelbak) in winter as they can freeze.
    • Food – bring some of your favorite hill nibbles (chocolate, energy bars)*
    • Suncream and lip salve
    • Camera with a large capacity memory card!
  • Most resorts have ski shops that hire ski equipment and we try to provide relevant contact details for all our courses and tours.

    Prices do change by resort/country, but here’s an approximate guide to hire costs for 6-days hire:

    Touring Skis plus skins and ski crampons €150-180
    Touring boots €80-90 
    Boot Crampons €45-50
    Ice Axe €30-40
    Harness €20-30
    Helmet €20-30
    Transceiver/shovel/probe €75-80

    Our guides also generally have additional sets of safety equipment (transceiver/shovel/probe) which they hire out to clients for €65 for 6 days hire. Must be booked in advance.
Ste Foy.jpg

Sainte Foy

View map

Sainte Foy-Tarentaise (to give it its full name) is a small village just off the main road up to Val d’Isère. The ski area and small resort is another 5 km away and boasts some of the best off-piste ski terrain in the Alps.

For years it has remained relatively unknown - particularly when compared to its more renowned neighbours of Tignes, Val d'Isère, Les Arcs & La Plagne. Its reputation as an off-piste ski area has grown and grown... what was just a Mountain Tracks secret for a while has started to leak out! That said, it remains unspoiled and still offers amazing skiing! Situated just below the famous Espace Killy (Tignes & Val d'Isère) in the heart of the Savoie region and fast building itself as a haven for off-piste skiers.

Sainte Foy boasts superb snow quality, unparalleled tree skiing and is never crowded. Groups will roam the terrain around Sainte Foy itself, Tignes, Val d'Isère, La Rosière and the twin resorts of Les Arcs & La Plagne - all of which provide extensive off-piste descents.

Our top reasons for visiting Sainte-Foy:
  • Small resort but revered by many for the quality of the off-piste skiing
  • Easy access to other world-class resorts: Val d’Isère, Tignes, La Plagne
  • Very good snow record and skiing until mid-April
  • Some of the best day tours and ski safari itineraries anywhere in the Alps
  • North-facing slopes mean good conditions remain after most other resorts are tracked out

Resort Height: 1,550m

Highest Lift: 2,650m

Nearest Airport: Geneva or Chambery

Transfer Options: Geneva is a 2.5-3hr transfer by road. Our accommodation provider offers return airport transfers at fixed times (included in the price of our week-long trips at the Auberge, only between Geneva airport and the chalet), please contact our office to ask more about these transfers. Otherwise, you can get to the resort by road transfer with one of the many companies that offer seats bookable on a shared basis. There is also a public bus service to Bourg St. Maurice and Sainte Foy with Alti bus. If you are travelling from Chambery Airport you can take a train to Bourg St. Maurice and link to the resort with a taxi or bus.

It is also possible to travel by train to Bourg Saint Maurice (with a Eurostar direct day service from London St. Pancras to Bourg Saint Maurice on Saturdays throughout the ski season. Timetables and bookings are available at Eurostar. Bourg St Maurice is only 10km from the chalet and the train offers a viable alternative to a flight and transfer. The chalet hosts provide a twice-daily pick-up and drop-off service at the station.

  • Insurance

    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 UK residents Ski Club Travel Insurance may be a suitable option.

    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.
     

  • ETIAS & EES

    ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System) 

    1. What is ETIAS?

      • Starting in the first half of 2025, travellers from over 60 visa-exempt countries will be required to have an ETIAS travel authorisation to enter most European countries within the Schengen Area.
      • ETIAS enhances security by checking the details of travellers before they arrive.
      • It is similar to systems like the ESTA (USA) and eTA (Canada).
    2. Who Needs ETIAS?

      • Travellers with British passports or passports from other visa-exempt countries must complete the ETIAS process.
      • Holders of EU or Schengen Area passports or valid EU/Schengen Area visas are exempt.
    3. Application Details:

      • ETIAS costs a 7EUR processing fee, waived for those under 18 or over 70.
      • Validity: Three years from application, tied to your passport’s validity.
      • New passport = new ETIAS.
    4. Application Form Questions:

      • Basic personal details (e.g., passport info, name, address, citizenship, gender).
      • Additional questions during the process (e.g., criminal history, past travel, health).
    5. Application Fee:

      • 7EUR euros.
      • Electronic payment via debit/credit card.
    6. Approval:

      • Most applicants receive approval within minutes.
      • Valid ETIAS visa waiver for three consecutive years.

    Remember to apply for ETIAS approval to explore your favourite European destinations! More details will be confirmed by ETIAS authorities. You can find additional information at the following links:

     


    EES (Entry/Exit System)

    The Entry/Exit System (EES) is an automated IT system developed by the European Agency for the operational management of large-scale IT systems. Its primary purpose is to register travellers from third countries each time they cross an EU external border. Here are the key points:

    1. What is EES?

    2. Who Is Affected?

      • The EES applies to non-EU nationals travelling for a short stay (up to 90 days within any 180 days) to European countries using the EES.
      • Exemptions apply; for example, holders of EU or Schengen Area passports or valid visas are exempt from EES registration.
    3. Advantages of EES:

      • Saves time by replacing manual passport stamping.
      • Automates border control procedures for more efficient travel.
      • It helps identify travellers who overstay or use fake identities or passports.
      • Contributes to preventing, detecting, and investigating serious criminal offences.
     Remember, additional information about the EES system will be confirmed by authorities, including application acceptance details. For further resources, check out the ETIAS and the official EES website. 

      
  • Ski Touring - Guides

    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. 

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