Are you searching for some peace on the mountain? Looking for a more sustainable way to explore the mountains? Keen to keep fit and breathe in the crisp mountain air? Maybe ski touring or split boarding could be right up your street. This is when you attach grippy skins to the bottom of your skis or split board to walk uphill. This enables you to access areas out of the resort boundary so it’s perfect for avid explorers like yourself.
For some, they may think it’s crazy as there is plenty of great places to ski that you can access via a ski lift (if they’re open!) … but nothing beats the feeling of gliding through the fresh untouched snow. Choosing your own line and stopping for a coffee in a secluded mountain refuge.
Best Kept Secret Locations for Ski Touring
Before heading out on any adventures make sure you have the relevant avalanche rescue equipment (shovel, probe & transceiver). Make sure you’re well informed on the weather forecast and avalanche risks and never ski alone. Please note all timings are estimated on someone who is relatively fit and experienced with ski touring or split boarding.
Breche du Portetta
- Location: Accessed from the top Chanrossa chairlift in Courchevel 1650
- Good for: Advanced skiers or boarders
- Duration: 3/4 hour (+bus journey back around 50 minutes)
This is an easily accessible ski tour in the valley of Les Avals. From the top of Chanrossa, traverse across and put your skis on at the top of the ridge. Ski down a short way, past the refuge du Lac Merlet, into the heart of the Vanoise National Park. Then put your skins on and begin to climb up in the direction of Petit Mont Blanc.
Take a left and carefully traverse/climb towards the Breche du Portetta. The last section is steep and boot hiking is recommended. You will see a small opening in the rocks which you can hike between.
Once you’re through the small opening in the rocks, you have a narrow chute for the first part of the descent. It then opens up and you can ski right down into the Pralognon town. You will end up on a pisted track which brings you out just by the cross country track in the middle of town. The bus back to Courchevel is €8 and they run hourly via Champagny & Bozel.
Note – Stop for a coffee in Pralognon before catching the bus back to Bozel, Courchevel.
Val d’Isère, France
Mont Roup, Vanoise National Park
- Location: Accessed from the back of the Grand Pre Chairlift.
- Good for: Introduction to ski touring
- Duration: 1.5 hours
Mont Roup, a great intro tour into the Vanoise national park. From the back of the Grand Pre chair, make your way towards Mt Sana. This is a great ski down before even putting your skins on. The tour up the valley takes around an hour.
Once you have reached the col under Mont Roup, it’s time to take your skins off. You can enjoy the gentle ski down towards the traditional tour du Charvet. You finish your tour at the Manchet chair lift, which brings you back into the resort.
Bruson & the Tête de la Payanne
- Location: Switzerland Mobility
- Good for: only 250m climb with over 950m descent.
- Duration: 2 – 4 hours
Traverse around from the top of the Grand Tsai t-bar into the bowl below the Col de Chargerat and put your skins on. Climb through the col and turn left, up the ridge to the Tête de la Payanne.
Ski crampons can be useful here if the snow has been melted & refrozen. Enjoy the view and then skin across to the south summit to take your skins off. Ski along the ridge to the col at Le Basset and then down the slope to the summer chalets at Le Tseppi (1800m).
Follow the track back through the woods to the Bruson pistes. It’s a lovely 1/2 day (a couple of hours) for experienced tourers but can feel wild and adventurous for novices.
Note – The tour is around 7.5km but can be extended by climbing the Six Blanc or by climbing up towards the Col de Mille after the descent from Le Basset. To find out more about off-piste adventures in Verbier, click here.
Col de la Sachette
- Location: Accessed via the Aiguille Percée chair or the Marais chair
- Good for: An introduction to ski touring
- Duration: 3-4 hours
A classic intro to ski touring in the wild heart of Parc national de la Vanoise ending up at the feet of Dome de la Sache one of the mountain symbols of Tignes.
Note – Don’t miss out on a little stop at Refuge du Palet for a coffee or a Tarte au myrtille. Highly recommend!
Ski touring has become a firm favorite for many who love exploring the vast beauty the mountains have on offer. But the powder isn’t just for the pros – there are some stunning, mellow ski tours to be found. You just need someone who knows the way.
We offer off-piste lessons for competent skiers and introduction to powder and ski touring lessons for those who are new to the discipline. So, what’s stopping you? Rent some touring kit, book a lift-free lesson and start exploring. It really is a gamechanger.