Backcountry Skiing in La Grave

La Grave | France
Trip Highlights

Top three reasons to go backcountry skiing in La Grave

  • Trip Highlight

    Admire the out-of-this-world vistas of the French Alps all around you

  • Trip Highlight

    Push your off-piste skills to a new level on diverse top-tier terrain

  • Trip Highlight

    Escape the crowds and suit all of your backcountry needs in this serene mountain haven

Situated at the foot of Massif des Écrins and dominated by the towering La Meije peak (13,070 ft / 3,984 m), La Grave is a quaint ski resort village in the French Alps and a veritable paradise for freeriders and the hardiest powder chasers. This alpine area enjoys an intimidating reputation due to its challenging off-piste freeride terrain and its wide array of open bowls, steep couloirs and magnificent glaciers. With only one groomed trail on a glacier, this resort is a resort in name only—the better part of La Grave’s massive vertical boasts rugged and glaciated terrain and spectacular descents stretching into the distance, making it ideal for more experienced backcountry aficionados! On top of that, this tranquil backcountry skiing haven is never crowded, so it is perfect if you’re looking for your own private powdery playground. Remember, this demanding area is not for newbie skiers—make sure you hire a knowledgeable guide and get ready for epic backcountry skiing in La Grave! Find out more about why La Grave is one of the best places for backcountry skiing in Europe from 57hours.

Season

January through April

Nearest city

Lyon, France, is 2.5 hours away

Duration

5 days

Skill level

Intermediate to advanced

Itineraries

Choose how you spend your day

Intermediate Backcountry Skiing With a Guide

5 days

Treat yourself to five days in La Grave, France, and experience some of the best off-piste skiing in the world! Although skiing in La Grave and its area is known for challenging off-piste terrain and steep slopes, your guide will adapt to the level of the group and tailor an ideal adventure for you. Witness and ski on some of the classic routes in this area. If you already have some experience in the backcountry, but want to upgrade your skills, prepare for an exhilarating La Grave backcountry skiing adventure!

Advanced Backcountry Skiing With a Guide

5 days

Get ready to enjoy the fields of untracked powder while skiing on some of the best and most challenging off-piste terrain in the world! This is a true paradise for any advanced freerider who wants to challenge themselves even further and reach a new level in the backcountry. On this 5-day adventure, your guide will show you the ins and outs of some classic spots as well as some routes for the more advanced enthusiasts and adapt the terrain choice to your abilities. Hire an expert guide and enjoy backcountry skiing in La Grave!

Trip Highlights

Itinerary

Intermediate Backcountry Skiing With a Guide

Day 1: Evaluation and classics in the area

On the first day of this electrifying adventure you’ll meet up with your guide who will evaluate the level of the participants so that he can tailor a perfect trip for you! You’ll head out to La Grave’s classics such as Les Vallons de La Meije and the Chancel route and get a chance to ski down some scenic routes and head down through several steep couloirs, all while taking in the glorious mountainous vistas that the French Alps offer.

Day 2: Experience the Girose Glacier, the La Banane and Patou couloirs

On this day you’ll experience some steep slopes and descents and ski on the Girose glacier, the highest point you can reach using a lift in the resort. On the Chancel Route, you’ll head down La Banane and Patou, the steep-sided couloirs, with La Banane being longer and, as the name suggests, a bit curved.

Skiers on the Girose Glacier

Days 3, 4 and 5: Conquer stunning couloirs, Saint Christophe, Trifides…

During these three days, your guide will show you and take you through different alpine valleys and some legendary couloirs such as Couloir de Fréaux, la Voûte and the Chirouze couloirs. Couloir de Fréaux has the easiest access and is narrow and steep at first, after which you can enjoy skiing down a long descent and eventually reach the village of Les Fréaux. La Voûte contains an open slope and gets progressively steeper as you move along. The Chirouze couloirs count three steep couloirs, one more stunning than the other. You’ll also ski towards the small village of Saint Christophe en Oisans and the Trifide couloir.

The left Chirouze couloir

Advanced Backcountry Skiing With a Guide

Day 1: Evaluation and Classics in the area

On the first day of this electrifying adventure you’ll meet up with your guide who will evaluate the level of the participants so that he can organize a perfect trip for your backcountry needs! You’ll head out to La Grave’s classics such as Les Vallons de La Meije and the Chancel route and ski down some stunning and memorable routes. Along the way, you’ll head down through several steep couloirs, all while enjoying the peaceful atmosphere and the otherworldly vistas the French Alps offer.

Day 2: Experience the Girose Glacier, the Banane and Patou

On this day you’ll experience some steep slopes and descents and ski on the Girose glacier, the highest point you can reach using a lift in the resort. On the Chancel Route, you’ll head down La Banane and Patou, the steep-sided couloirs, with La Banane being longer and, as the name suggests, a bit curved.

Skiing down a couloir, La Grave

Day 3: Combeynot massif

Let your guide take you to the Combeynot massif, a real skiing paradise where the snow is great, the slopes are quite steep and there are many couloirs on top of that. The views from this massif are breathtaking and even though the terrain is steep, you won’t regret it once you’ve conquered it!

Combeynot Massif, La Grave

Days 4 and 5: Conquer stunning couloirs and glaciers

During the last two days of this adventure, you’ll head out to different valleys from the cable car and/or by using the skins. Ski on some legendary couloirs such as Couloir de Fréaux, la Voûte and the Chirouze couloirs. Couloir de Fréaux has the easiest access and is narrow and steep in the beginning, after which you can enjoy skiing down a long descent. La Voûte contains an open slope and gets steeper and steeper as you go. The Chirouze couloirs count three steep couloirs, one more stunning than the other. You’ll also ski towards the small village of Saint Christophe, visit La Meije Glacier and spend two days and one night in a mountain lodge!

La Meije glacier
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Things to know

Things to know

Covid measures in La Grave

57hours is committed to providing safe outdoor adventure experiences. We require all guides using our platform to have a COVID-19 safety plan and to make the details of that plan accessible to travelers. In most cases, group sizes will be reduced, guides will avoid overcrowded locations, and other safety measures will be met depending on the location and activity.

We also expect clients to respect local regulations and take measures to protect themselves, guides and the communities they’re travelling to. For more information on COVID-19 measures in La Grave, France, please refer to France Diplomacy’s advice for travelers and foreign nationals.

Please contact us if you have any questions or require further information. We are happy to provide you with the most up-to-date information

What’s included?

What you get in this adventure:

    • An experienced, UIAGM High Mountain Guide with extensive knowledge of the area
    • Five days of backcountry ski touring
    • Avalanche safety kit if necessary (transceiver, shovel, probe and harness)

What’s not included:

    • Technical backcountry ski touring equipment
    • Transportation of the participants and guide on the days that you leave La Grave, transportation to La Grave and all the trips during the adventure
    • Food and snacks
    • Accommodations
    • Cable car transportation

How fit do I need to be?

To enjoy this backcountry adventure, you need to be in very good physical shape. You will be on your feet for 5-7 hours a day for five full days covering a lot of diverse terrain every day. You will need to manage controlled descents in variable conditions. All participants should feel comfortable on challenging red-level resort runs or higher and be able to carry a loaded daypack while skinning up variable degrees of terrain. For the advanced program, you need to be in really good shape seeing as you’ll go uphill on 1000 m of uneven terrain.

What if I’ve never backcountry skied before?

To participate in this tour, you need to have previous backcountry skiing experience. For the intermediate tour, you need a good level of skiing. For the advanced adventure, cross-country skiing experience is beneficial and recommended, but not essential. You will be skiing, touring, and summiting on glaciated terrain for hours every day. Your guide will take care of the planning, oversee your technique, and teach you how to better manage the terrain. They also have the experience and avalanche training necessary to keep you safe.

What equipment do I need to bring?

For technical backcountry ski touring gear, you will need to bring:

    • Alpine touring skis, telemark skis or splitboard with skins (can be rented)
    • Touring boots and poles (can be rented)

For personal items, we recommend bringing:

    • Helmet
    • Sunglasses or ski goggles
    • Gloves and hat
    • Wind and waterproof shell jacket with hood (Gore-Tex recommended)
    • Ski pants (Gore-Tex recommended)
    • Down jacket or vest
    • Synthetic or wool base layers, underwear and socks
    • One triple-action locking carabiner or two conventional locking carabiners
    • Repair kit and Leatherman for your equipment (can be shared between several people)
    • Water bottle and 1L of water
    • Thermos with a warm beverage — optional
    • Food you can eat on-the-go
    • First aid kit
    • Sunscreen
    • Daypack large enough to carry all items listed (around a 30-40L backpack)
    • Camera — optional

Can I rent equipment?

All mandatory gear can be rented if you don’t have your own. You can rent:

    • Avalanche safety pack, including backpack, beacon, shovel and probe from Objectif Meije
    • Alpine touring or telemark skis, touring boots and poles can be rented from Objectif Meije

Ski rental locations are in La Grave and should be picked up the night prior to your outing. If you need to rent gear, let us know and we can help make arrangements.

Group sizes and age requirements

Group sizes and pricing:

    • For this adventure, the max client-to-guide ratio is 4:1.
    • Costs per person decrease as the group grows for this adventure, so it’s the perfect opportunity to ski with friends and family.

Backcountry skiing in La Grave can be arranged for larger groups. Contact us to make arrangements.

Min. age requirements:

    • If you are older than 18, you’re good to go.
    • Minors may be permitted to join private tours on a case-by-case basis.

If your group has skiers under the age of 18, contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.

 

Getting there and meeting location

To get to La Grave, most people fly into Lyon-Saint-Exupéry Airport, 2 hours away from La Grave. When you get to Lyon, you can rent a car or take a bus or train to Grenoble, and then take a bus directly to La Grave. You can also fly into Turin Airport 2.5 hours away. From Turin, you can rent a car or take a train to Bardonecchia and then drive to La Grave for 1h 20 minutes.

The meeting place is in La Grave. Once you and your guide agree on the details of your itinerary, your guide will suggest the best place to meet, whether that’s at the guide shop or a predetermined location. The guide will choose the appropriate terrain dependent on conditions and the ability of the group.

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