New for 2020! – Ski Touring and exploring the cultural history of Armenia, based in the capital Yerevan and mountain resort hotels around the country. The trip includes a mix of day touring and cultural visits and is in equal parts about discovering the country of Armenia as well as the ski touring. The landscape features mountains up to 4000m high and upland plateaus dotted with numerous extinct volcanoes, which make good ski objectives – all with the towering backdrop of 5137m Mount Ararat constantly on the horizon. Although nowadays in modern day Turkey, Mount Ararat is the national symbol of Armenia and a sacred mountain to the Armenian people.
Skiing in Armenia
Much of Armenia is made up of mountain ranges between 2000 and 4000m high, meaning that the country has long, cold winters – our ski objectives for the trip are at mid altitudes between 2000-3000m. This isn’t a deep powder snowpack region, but the mountains have reliable snow cover throughout the winter and offer plenty of good ski touring terrain. A number of tours are on extinct volcanoes, which give a full range of aspects to find the best snow. Other areas offer sheltered tree skiing in powder, higher summits above the tree line and spring descents on alpine meadows. During the week we base ourselves in two venues – one in a high wooded alpine valley where we can tour right from the door and a second hotel further north, which allows us to explore Lake Sevan and it’s surrounding regions. There is also one small ski resort in the country, dating from the Soviet Era, which we may visit for a day if appropriate.
Bordering Iran, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia – Armenia is a country rich in history and full of contrasts. It’s ancient volcanic landscapes are dotted with fabulous 1000 year old monasteries, many of which are Unesco World Heritage Sites and we’ll have chance to visit some of these during the trip. 5137m Mount Ararat – where Noah landed the Ark – dominates the skyline of the capital Yerevan; with it’s cosmopolitan feel, chic cafes and cultural sights, this is a great city to discover and explore. Finally, strong remnants of the Soviet Era are ever present – with communist sculptures, crumbling factories, Ladas and old trucks around every corner. These contrasts provide a fascinating mix of old and new to explore and discover this ancient and diverse country.
NB This is an ‘off the beaten track’ ski trip to a less developed nation, so a flexible mindset and a sense of adventure are pre requisites to enjoy this type of holiday. Expect the unexpected and you’ll have a great time – but if you like everything to go like clockwork, then best to ski in Verbier and Zermatt!
NB This trip travels out on Thursday and back on Saturday.
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Trip reports >> Ski Touring in Armenia
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This is an off the beaten track trip. To take part you should be at Fitness Level 3 and Tech Level 3 (see our Fitness/Experience guidelines below).You need at least 3 weeks ski touring experience and the ability to ski in all snow types in order to join this trip – if you haven’t skied with us before, then a reference from a guide (or ski tour leader that we know) will be required. The skiing includes 5-6 hour days with generally steady climbs and typically 800-1200m of ascent a day – so you can expect to be skinning for 3-4 hours a day. Type of ascent: we use 0-10% uplift and 90-100% skinning during the week – approx 6000m of skinning up, 6000m of skiing down, with day packs and at mid altitude.
Two UIAGM guides skiing with 8 clients.
Included in price
- 6 days of guiding
- 2 days of cultural visits and sightseeing
- All guides expenses
- 4 nights hotel accommodation in Yerevan including breakfast
- 5 nights hotel accommodation in the mountains including breakfast and evening meal
- Transport during the trip in Armenia
Excluded from price (see factsheet for extra cost estimates)
- Lift Passes
- Lunches and drinks
- Evening Meals in Yerevan
- Flights to Yerevan
- Equipment hire
We stay in good western standard 3 and 4 star hotels throughout the trip. Our hotel in Yerevan has great spa facilities and lies close to the city centre sights. Our first mountain hotel is likewise well appointed and offers skiing right from the door and our final hotel is in an off beat location and run by one of the best chefs in Armenia. Hotel rooms are provided on a twin sharing basis, but if you wish to book a single room please let us know and we will confirm availability.
Fly from London to Yerevan via Moscow, collect hire vehicle for the trip and drive to our hotel in Yerevan. NB The flight arrives very late, so our first day in Armenia is planned for sightseeing around the capital Yerevan.
Sightseeing and cultural day in Yerevan. After a relaxed start, we enjoy a great breakfast at our hotel, before setting off on a walking tour and sightseeing day around Yerevan. The general plan is to visit:
- Vernissage Market
- Republic Square
- History Museum of Armenia
- Kond District (pre Soviet area of Yerevan)
- Café Lunch
- Opera Square
- Cafesjian Centre for the Arts
- Evening Meal
Evening Ski Briefing – your guide will run through kit checks and safety routines, before going on to discuss the current weather and mountain conditions and how these affect our plans. We’ll have maps and information on the area to show you, so if you’ve any further questions or last minute requests, then this is the ideal time to bring them up.
Overnight in Yerevan
Saturday – Tuesday
4 days ski touring in the Tsaghuryat and Geghama mountains.
Sunday AM One hour drive to resort hotel in the Tsaghuryat mountains. Set in a high alpine valley at 2100m, this is our base for the next 3 nights and 4 days skiing. After dropping our bags off we head out on our first days touring, skiing right from the door.
On the following 3 days we do a mix of day tours – some directly from the hotel and other days visiting the Geghama mountains nearby, to make best use of snow and weather conditions. Maximum driving times are around 1 hour to neighbouring venues.
After skiing on Tuesday, we pack up the van and head north to a village near Lake Sevan. The journey takes just over an hour, with photo stops of monasteries, war memorials, Soviet Era factories and other interesting sights en route. The village lies on a high and somewhat desolate plateau in an agricultural region – don’t be disheartened however: as the guesthouse is a real hidden gem run by one of the best chefs in Armenia, where the welcome and food are excellent.
Wednesday – Thursday
2 days ski touring around Lake Sevan. Basing ourselves further north gives the opportunity to explore Lake Sevan and it’s surrounding areas. At 1900m, this is one of the largest alpine lakes in west Asia, with a number of iconic cultural sights along it’s shores and plenty of ski touring in the surrounding mountains. In the evenings we enjoy excellent food at our accommodation, which is an award winning restaurant and the best place to eat in the region.
On Thursday PM we drive back to our hotel in Yerevan.
Sightseeing and cultural day– visit to Garni Temple and Geghard Monastery.
Built to worship the Sun God Mitra in the 1st century AD, Garni Temple was built in an Hellenic style before being destroyed by an earthquake in 1679, then reconstructed between 1969-1975. It sits in a commanding position overlooking the Azat River Gorge.
Carved from rock at the head of the Azat Gorge in the 11th century, Unesco listed Geghard Monastery is an amazing place to visit and explore. The acoustics in the burial vault are quite incredible and definitely not to be missed!
We’ll have lunch near the monastery, before heading back to Yerevan for some final sightseeing and souvenir shopping at Vernissage Market and an evening meal in town.
Early start to the airport for flights home.
Your meeting point for this trip is London Heathrow Airport, at 8.30am on Thursday 6th Feb 2020 or at Yerevan hotel/airport. If you plan to fly to Armenia via another route, then you must make suitable arrangements to make absolutely sure that you will arrive in Yerevan at the same time as the rest of the group – please inform us of your plans if this is the case.
You need to book the following flights for the trip:
Travel out: You need to book on Aeroflot flight SU2581 from London Heathrow to Moscow and flight SU1868 from Moscow to Yerevan, departing on Thursday 6th Feb 2020 at 10.40am (4hr flight to Moscow, 3hr stopover, 3hr flight to Yerevan, arriving 00.45 local time, +4hrs GMT) – 23kg luggage allowance. For the past several years, Aeroflot have been offering free skis on winter flights in addition to the standard baggage allowance – we anticipate this will continue. In order to take advantage of the offer, you need to ring the airline in advance to notify them you are bringing a pair of skis – ie don’t turn up with a pair of skis at the airport unannounced and hope it will be Ok!
Travel home: You need to book on Aeroflot flight SU1965 from Yerevan to Moscow and flight SU2570 from Moscow to London Heathrow, departing on Saturday 15th Feb 2020 at 07.55am (3hr flight to Moscow, 3.45hr stopover, 4hr flight to London, arriving 15.00 local time)
NB Stopover times – several shorter flight time options are available for this journey on flight comparision sites and the Aeroflot website – but these options all have only ~1hr transfer time in Moscow, which isn’t really long enough so we don’t recommend them.
Further information and travel links can be found on our Travel Planning page.
To enjoy this trip you should be comfortable operating at Fitness Level 3/4, and Ski Tech Level 3/4:
Fitness Level 3
You do 3-4 hours cv training/sport per week. At this level you are happy doing a 5-6 hr hillwalk, 50ml cycle or 3-4hr mountain bike ride without being totally exhausted. If you are into challenges – then the thought of doing a road sportive, or training to do a 1/2 (or maybe even a full) marathon, wouldn’t seem too ridiculous. On foot: you should be able to do the full Langdale Horseshoe: Langdale – Pike of Stickle – Angle Tarn – Bow Fell – Crinkle Crags – Pike of Blisco – Langdale in a day without finishing up exhausted. On skis: you can skin uphill at 300m/hr for 3-4 hrs a day (ie 8-1200m of ascent each day)
Fitness Level 4
You do 4+ hours CV training/sport per week. A 70+ mile cycle ride, or 20+ mile hillwalk on a weekend would hold no fears. If so inclined, you might be the kind of person who has done longer road sportives/challenge rides, a ~3.30hr marathon or other similar endurance events. Keen hillwalkers who happily knock off 3-4+ munros in a day also have this kind of fitness and endurance. On skis: you can skin at 400m/hr or could handle 4-6hrs skinning a day. (ie 1000-1400m+ of ascent each day).
Tech Level 3
Confirmed Off Piste Skier. You can put down a reasonable set of tracks in powder, but difficult snow types – eg heavy wet snow, crusts, poor visibility or 40dg slopes – can all cause problems (though you can cope with them safely, if not elegantly!) *Equivalent to Ski Club of GB Off Piste Level: Purple – Advanced*
Likely to say: ‘I’d like to handle difficult snow/steep slopes more confidently in better style’
Our Advice: Off piste coaching still useful. Intermediate off piste weeks are at your level too. If you want to get into ski touring, try a touring course or intro level ski tour. If you’re an established ski mountaineer, then intermediate level tours are generally suitable.
Tech Level 4
Advanced Off Piste Skier. You can put turns in through heavier snow and on icy 40dg slopes, but difficult breakable crusts and skiing a fresh track off piste in zero visibility are still somewhat challenging! *Equivalent to Ski Club of GB Off Piste Level: Gold – Expert*
Likely to say: I’ve been skiing ten/twenty years – I’d like to do your ‘……’ tour.
Our Advice: You will enjoy our advanced level trips. If you are new to touring – then you could do a Haute Route with two or three days of skills training beforehand (but don’t overlook the physical fitness needed as well). Mileage is the best way to improve your ability level.
To view all of our Ski Fitness Levels and Off Piste Technical Levels, please visit our Ski Ability page.
If you need to top up your fitness for this trip, please see our Ski Touring Training Advice page.
Day Touring/BC Ski Course Equipment List
Just remember, every extra kilo on your back knocks 10% off your enjoyment on the descents – so try and keep the weight down!
- Waterproof Jacket – preferably lightweight and breathable
- Overtrousers/ski pants – preferably with side zips
- Fleece mid layer or equivalent
- Spare fleece or lightweight insulated duvet jacket
- Socks – specialist ski socks or a warm loop lined pair of mountain socks
- Wicking thermal top – not cotton please…
- Thermal leggings or ski pants
- Thin inner gloves
- Warm ski gloves or mittens, if you suffer from cold hands
- Warm hat
- Water container – at least 1 litre
- Personal medications and blister kit – regular meds, zinc oxide tape, compeed and painkillers etc
- Ski goggles
- Sun glasses – CE rated 3 or 4 with side protection
- Sun and lip cream – factor 30+
- Wallet, passport and insurance docs
- Rucsac 25/35l – try and avoid ones covered in too many features, just ski and ice axe attachments required
- Freeride boots or ski mountaineering boots – check detailed factsheet kit list for preferred boots
- Skis with touring bindings – check detailed factsheet kit list for preferred skis and bindings
- Velcro ski strap – to keep skis together on your rucksack if we need to carry them
- Ski poles – with good size 5cm+ baskets (telescopic poles are not needed)
- Climbing skins – they come with the skis if you hire your kit
- Harscheisen (ski crampons) – they come with the skis if you hire your kit
- Metal snow shovel – must be a full metal shovel (plastic blades don’t work in real avalanche debris!)
- Avalanche probe
- Avalanche transceiver – must be a modern digital model (older analogue models are now obsolete)
- Harness, with 120cm sling and locking karabiner
- Crampons – bring them if you have them
- Ice Axe – bring if you have one
Your guide will have all other safety kit, first aid and survival equipment.
Recommendations and Advice
Visit the Knowledge Base section of our website, where we publish an annual review of the years best new skis, boots and touring equipment, plus a range of other interesting tips and recommendations. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, please get in touch!
Backcountry UK in Ilkley offer an excellent ski boot fitting service, one of the best ranges of ski mountaineering equipment in the UK and top notch advice.
Please visit our Equipment Hire page for recommended hire shops in your resort, and Alpine Guides hire equipment price list.
For this trip you must have specialist travel insurance providing medical, emergency search/rescue and repatriation cover for the following activities: off piste skiing and ski touring in glaciated areas requiring the use of ropes, up to 5000m altitude. We also strongly recommend that you purchase cancellation cover, in case you’re unable to attend your trip due to personal circumstances or injury.
Please arrange your insurance as soon as your trip is confirmed to run.
Insurance for UK residents
British Mountaineering Council. The gold standard in insurance for UK residents. Very competitive single trip or annual cover for all ski touring and mountaineering activities. Use this link to book your BMC insurance.
If you use another insurance provider, then please check terms and conditions very carefully to make sure your activity is covered.
Please note this trip is outside European Territorial Limits, so you need to purchase Worldwide (Excl USA/North America) Cover.
Insurance for non UK residents
Austrian Alpine Club. Available to all European residents. AAC insurance is cheap and works ok for minor accidents and rescues, but is not as comprehensive as many other insurance providers. The medical cover included would not be enough for complex treatment or a prolonged stay in hospital. It also doesn’t include cancellation cover. If you choose to use AAC we recommend you take out extra medical cover with another provider, to ‘top up’ the AAC medical limit, as well as a separate cancellation policy.
Travelex. For US citizens – a range of policies with comprehensive cover.
Global Rescue. Cover offered to all nationalities.
Details of your insurance must be sent to us before the course starts, and brought to the course briefing at the start of your trip.
What happens to my deposit if I book a trip, but it isn’t confirmed to run due to insufficient bookings?
You may transfer your booking to different dates, a different course, or choose a full refund.
What happens if the weather or snow conditions are poor, or the avalanche risk is high?
We will make every effort to stick to the itinerary, but sometimes its necessary to change plans and ski in a neighbouring area or even further afield. Many of our itineraries are designed with flexibility in mind, and it’s usually possible to ski in most conditions with some careful alternative planning.
Does Alpine Guides ski with customers from overseas, including the USA and Canada?
Who goes on our trips?
We climb and ski with a broad range of ages and experience levels, and a large number of our customers come back year after year. We’ve guided 10 year old Ollie up the Old Man of Hoy in Scotland – now the youngest person to climb it. And 70 year old David has climbed the Matterhorn with us, as well as out-skiing people half his age!
How do I book a ski trip?
For scheduled ski trips it’s easy to book online, directly from your course page. For hire a guide/bespoke courses please get in touch for a quote.
Is there an age limit on any of our ski trips?
Under 18’s must be accompanied by a parent/legal guardian. There is no upper age limit, but please get in touch to discuss suitability if you are concerned about your age, with regard to fitness and pace.
How do I rent ski equipment?
You can rent certain items of specialist equipment from us, and the rest can usually be hired in resort.
What happens if I need to cancel my course?
If you wish to cancel you must notify us in writing, where upon the following charges will be applied from the date we receive your notice of cancellation:
- More than 8 weeks (56 days) before start date – loss of deposit.
- Between 4 and 8 weeks (28-56 days) before start date – 50% of course fee or loss of deposit, whichever amount is greater.
- Less than 4 weeks (28 days) before start date – full course fee.
Can I book a single room on my ski trip?
Yes – this can be done during the online booking process. Please add the single room option to your order, and we will confirm availability asap.