Top three reasons to go backcountry skiing in the Chamonix area
Avoid the crowded pistes, lift lines and tracked-out snow in scenic backcountry
Develop your off-piste and avalanche safety skills on diverse terrain in one fell swoop
Soak up the jaw-dropping mountainous vistas and the inviting atmosphere of the Chamonix area
Sitting at the foot of Mont Blanc and nestled beneath snow-capped peaks piercing the sky, Chamonix is a true snowsports mecca that should be added to every ski fanatic’s bucket list. With wide powdery slopes, steep couloirs, tree glades, countless backcountry skiing options and proximity to the neighboring countries, it comes as no surprise that outdoor recreation has been etched into the identity of this quaint town for decades. Thanks to all of this, Chamonix is arguably the best backcountry skiing location in Europe. With its wide array of well-connected superb terrain, allowing the hardiest of rippers to visit France, Italy or Switzerland in one day, the Chamonix area makes for the ideal training ground to add new skills to your off-piste skiing repertoire. What is more, this region is also a perfect classroom if you wish to master the essential avalanche safety skills. Add to the equation the surreal vistas at every turn and this idyllic area will leave you wanting more. Hire an expert guide, broaden your skiing horizons and explore the prized Chamonix region! Find out more about why your next family trip should be backcountry skiing in Chamonix from Nika Marohnic, amateur backcountry skier and mountaineer based in Brooklyn, NYC.
February through March
Geneva, Switzerland, is an hour away from Chamonix
Intermediate to advanced
Book this adventure
5-Day Intro to Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Awareness
Spoil yourself with five days of amazing skiing in the Chamonix area and learn how to stay safe in the backcountry in the process! This backcountry ski class poses a thrilling combination of shredding top-notch powder and developing new off-piste and rescue skills. Enjoy lots of skiing on a variety of terrain and snow types, learn some valuable uphill and downhill skiing skills and what to do in case an avalanche strikes. Become a competent member of a ski touring group, all while soaking up some of the most breathtaking views that the alpine terrain around you offers.
Day 0: Course briefing
The evening before this thrilling winter adventure begins, you’ll meet up with your guide who’ll give you a briefing for the week and talk about the equipment and expectations. The guide will also perform kit checks and talk about safety routines, discuss the current weather and mountain conditions and how these affect the plan for the upcoming days. This day is a perfect opportunity for you to ski independently before the course starts to warm up for this immersive adventure.
Day 1: Core skills
The day starts off with morning weather and avalanche discussion and a drive to an appropriate ski area. You’ll then get an initial session where your guide will lay the foundations of avalanche awareness and rescue and show you the basics of using the shovel, probe and transceiver. Get some warm up runs on- and off-piste with an introduction to ski touring equipment. Afterwards, you’ll set off on an appropriate lift-assisted day tour and build the necessary skills as you travel.
Days 2 and 3: Development and consolidation
These next two days of this electrifying adventure will be filled with ski touring, all while building and understanding avalanche awareness even further. You’ll work on efficient skinning and kick turns, route selection, efficient transitions from uphill to downhill mode, glacier skills, basic use of the rope and much more. Aside from lots of skiing, you’ll learn the avalanche rescue protocol and procedure, how to assess risk and hazards in the mountain as well as practical avalanche awareness.
Days 4 and 5: Multi-day mountain hut journey
Over the next two days, you’ll go on a multi-day ski tour into the mountains and make an overnight trip to a mountain hut, possibly the monastery at the Grand Saint Bernard Pass in Switzerland. This is one of the most ancient passes through the Western Alps, but keep in mind that this trip is dependent upon the weather and conditions. Throughout these two days you’ll continue working on your off-piste skills and learn how to navigate and plan single and multi-day trips.
Meet your guide
Just back from a fantastic weekend in Chamonix. The first time ski touring and we are total converts! Mike was a fantastic guide, despite being beginners we had three full days of great touring/skiing in three different areas of the mountain. And all the while Mike was great at helping us learn about the equipment, the mountain and avalanche safety. If we go back to Chamonix I will definitely be getting in touch with Mike to guide us again.
Things to know
Covid measures in Chamonix
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 Chamonix please refer to France Diplomacy’s advice for travelers and foreign nationals and the Chamonix COVID-19 sanitary rules.
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 you get in this adventure:
- An experienced, certified ski guide with extensive knowledge of the area
- Evening briefing and five full days of backcountry skiing and avalanche awareness training
- All fuel and transport during the course starting and finishing in Chamonix
- Loan of technical equipment (harness, crampons, ice axe, belay plate, sling, carabiners and prussic loops)
What’s not included:
- Technical backcountry ski touring equipment
- Avalanche safety equipment
- Transportation to and from the start of this course
- Food and snacks in Chamonix and mountain hut
- Accommodations in Chamonix and mountain hut
How fit do I need to be?
To enjoy this backcountry and avalanche awareness adventure, you need to have a good level of fitness as a typical day will involve around 2 or 3 hours of uphill skinning. You will need to manage controlled descents in variable conditions. All participants should feel comfortable on challenging blue or black-level resort runs and be able to carry a loaded daypack while skinning up variable degrees of terrain.
What if I’ve never backcountry skied before?
To participate in this tour, you don’t need to have previous backcountry skiing experience, but it is always welcome. You will be skiing, touring, and summiting on glaciated terrain for 5-7 hours every day. You have to be able to make strong parallel turns on piste and possess the ability to make effective turns off-piste. 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)
- Avalanche safety equipment (can be rented from a rental shop or your guide):
- Digital, 3-antenna avalanche transceiver or beacon
- Lightweight snow shovel
- Avalanche probe
- Harness for glacier travel (for advanced touring)
For personal items, we recommend bringing:
- 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
- Daypack large enough to carry all items listed (around a 30-40L backpack)
- Camera — optional
Loan of technical equipment is included and it consists of a harness, crampons, an ice axe, a belay plate, a sling, carabiners and prussic loops.
Your guide will give you the detailed equipment list after booking.
Can I rent equipment?
All mandatory gear can be rented if you don’t have your own. Avalanche safety pack can be rented from your guide or in a rental shop. You can rent:
Ski rental locations are in Chamonix 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 6:1.
- The minimum number of participants and 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.
Ski touring in the Chamonix region 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 Chamonix, most people fly into Geneva Airport about an hour away from Chamonix. From there, you can rent a car or take a shuttle service.
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.