Grand Combin Ski Tour

Fitness level
Tech level
Number of guiding days
6
Guiding ratio
1:6

The Grand Combin Ski Tour explores a well-known landmark in the Western Alps.  Nevertheless, the Grand Combin remains a mystery to most skiers passing en route from Chamonix to Zermatt. However, the massif is a hidden gem – with some of the best touring in Switzerland along it’s northern flanks. This tour explores the upper Val Bagnes, using the Brunet and Panossiere Huts along the way.

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What an amazing week! I enjoyed every bit of it… Such a beautiful area, with a great mix of terrain that got gradually more demanding as the week progressed. A brilliantly thought out tour. The huts were excellent, very relaxing after a long day and never crowded. Food was class in the Ponossiere hut, certainly for a northern lad like me. I’ve saved the best bit till last – Jonny and Dave. They worked their socks off for us to find the best snow and conditions, were completely professional and friendly. I can’t speak highly enough of them and just as with my experience with Al last year why I will keep my business with you, Alpine Guides. Hope you all have a great summer climbing and keeping fit. Time to pack the skis away now and dust off the fell shoes and road bike. Take care and many thanks again, see you next year. Regards to you, Al, Jonny and Dave.

Iain Kelley

Dave and Jonny were excellent throughout – well organised, relaxed atmosphere, high technical proficiency, good decision making and even took effort to add a training session or two.
Overall a fantastic and memorable trip to an area where not many British guides routinely operate. Many thanks Dave and Jonny – you might have to put up with my jokes again next year !!

Simon Wood

It was a great trip: challenging, inspiring, exhilarating, tiring (in a good way), skills improved, routes completed as planned, no injuries, stayed safe. Dave was a great guide and good company. His route selection was, I thought, a good match of my skill level, fitness and aspirations. I’d be happy to use your services again.

Owen Wallis
Trip has been first class – Kenny was an excellent guide, taking appropriate decisions for the party. Good combination of huts and superb variety of skiing options from them. Valley access to Passonniere Hut was not easy, so getting down was a challenge in the warm conditions. But Kenny was well up to it.
A great week away with exceptional weather and a good crowd.
Bob Soutter

Trip overview

The Grand Combin Ski Tour explores a well-known landmark in the Western Alps.  Nevertheless, the Grand Combin remains a mystery to most skiers passing en route from Chamonix to Zermatt. However, the massif is a hidden gem – with some of the best touring in Switzerland along it’s northern flanks. This tour explores the upper Val Bagnes, using the Brunet and Panossiere Huts along the way.

Please visit our Covid-19 Ski Information page for Covid FAQs, details of our new participation requirements, travel advice and what to expect on your trip.

Download factsheet (PDF)

Tour Info

This is a quiet touring area, offering a great ‘ski focussed’ week with excellent quality north facing descents that often hold powder, plus you can expect some large scale glacier terrain in the second half of the week. The tour is split between two huts, giving plenty of flexibility with regard to objectives and conditions, and allows lighter packs to be carried on the some of the big mountain days when we return to the same hut.

Trip Reports >> Grand Combin Ski Tour Report


Suitability

This is an intermediate to advanced level trip. To take part you should be at Fitness Level 3-4 and Tech Level 3 (see our Fitness/Experience guidelines below). You need previous ski touring experience, and some roped climbing or cramponing experience to complete the tour. It is a strenuous week with up to 8 hour days and some short sections of roped climbing, so you can expect to be skinning for 3-5 hours a day. Type of ascent: we use 100% skinning on the tour – approx 6100m of skinning up, 6100m of skiing down.


Guiding ratio

One IFMGA guide skiing with 6 clients.


Included in price

  • 6 days of guiding
  • All guides expenses
  • 2 nights hotel accommodation in Martigny/Le Chable including breakfast.
  • 5 nights accommodation in mountain huts, including breakfast and 3 course evening meal.

Excluded from price (see course factsheet for extra cost estimates)

  • Evening meals in Le Chable
  • Taxis and local travel
  • Lunches and drinks
  • Flights and transfers to resort
  • Insurance
  • Equipment hire

Hotels

We meet in Le Chable, near Verbier for briefing and the first nights hotel accommodation. Rooms are provided on a twin (or occasionally triple) sharing basis, but If you wish to book a single room please let us know at the time of booking and we will confirm availability. Any extra luggage can be left in the hotel, or else in the guide’s vehicle until your return to resort at the end of the week. Hotel details can be found on our Accommodation page.


Huts

For overnights in the high mountains we will use mountain huts. For more info please read the Using Alpine Huts article which provides an overview of typical facilities, average costs to help you budget for lunches/drinks, and general info on hut etiquette.  Also, our Multiday Ski Touring FAQs page answers some of the most common questions we are asked about multi day ski touring and logistics etc.


ABTOT Protected

This trip is protected by ABTOT – Alpine Guides Ltd, Membership Number 5394.  For further information, please visit our Financial Protection page.

Detailed Itinerary

Saturday

You should arrange outward travel on Saturday, arriving by 6-7pm latest in time for the briefing at your accommodation. Your guide will run through kit checks and safety routines, as well as hand out any rental equipment, before going on to discuss the current weather and mountain conditions and how these affect our plans. We’ll have maps and guidebooks of 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 the valley.


Sunday

Cabane Brunet

The day starts with a short minibus taxi ride up to Lourtier, before skinning up to the wonderfully situated Cabane Brunet.

How long the skin is depends on how far the road has been ploughed, but at this time of year it’s usually ~600m of ascent.

From the hut we then usually head out to do an avalanche safety/transceiver training session, with the possibility of making a short tour above the hut to check out the local terrain in the afternoon.

500-800m ascent to hut ~3hrs (+300m ascent and descent, 1-2hrs for tour above the hut)


Monday

Mont Rogneux

This is a lovely local classic circular tour that gives a great ski back down to the Cabane Brunet.

A pleasant skin up through complex terrain leads to the final snow crest of Mt Rogneux (3083m).

From here, there is the possibility of skiing steeper lines on the north face (which often holds powder till late in the season), before another short skin to regain superb spring snow slopes leading back to the hut.

1000m ascent and descent ~5hrs


Tuesday

Pointe de Boviere

An early start is needed for the long skin towards Pointe de Boveire (3212m), which has a steeper section to gain the summit.

A short technical ridge provides the interest, with some ropework and a good deal of exposure giving way to a series of steep kickturns above some uncompromising ground – good conditions are required here in order to safely reach the top.

The long descent offers amazing spring snow turns all the way back underneath the Petit Combin toward the cabane.

1100m ascent and descent ~5-6hrs


Wednesday

Crossing the Col des Avouillons to the Panossiere Hut.

The link day – the traverse of the Col des Avouillons (2647m) provides the main difficulty, with some steep ground to cross which may require a rope in order to get down onto the Glacier de Corbassiere.

Finally, the glacier is crossed before skinning up moraines to reach the Pannossiere Hut.

950m ascent, 400m descent ~4-5hrs.


Thursday

Tournelon Blanc

The Tournelon Blanc is another local classic – it starts with a with gentle warm up along the glacier, before tackling the steep 500m skin up to the Mulets de la Tsessette.

More gentle skinning follows this, before donning crampons for the final climb on foot to the summit.

The descent takes the same route back down, with 1000m of glacier skiing to the hut.

1050m ascent and descent ~5-6hrs


Friday

Petit Combin

The Petit Combin is a great finale to a weeks ski touring. The day begins with a long but steady skin up to the Col de Corbassiere through some spectacular scenery, before traversing across the upper glacier basin to gain the summit of the Petit Combin (3672m).

From here, the Glacier des Follets drops 1000m down from the summit to the Glacier de Corbassiere, which is then followed to complete over 2000m of descent down to Fionay.

1000m ascent, 2200m descent ~7-8hrs

PM bus/taxi back to Martigny for final hotel night.


Saturday

Return travel should be arranged on Saturday morning, after your final nights accommodation.

Location and Travel

Your course starts and finishes in the village of Le Chable, between Martigny and Verbier, with easy access and good links to the Grand Combin/Val des Bagnes and Valais Alps. The most convenient way to reach Le Chable is fly into Geneva, then take a train along the Rhone Valley to Martigny, and onwards a few more stops along the railway line to Le Chable.


Flights and transfers

  • Fly to Geneva with numerous budget airlines, for an overview of the best options check out the excellent Sky Scanner website.
  • Train from Geneva airport to Le Chable (1 hr): https://www.sbb.ch/en/home.html (integrated Swiss travel website)
  • If you plan to arrive by train (and also do any further travelling besides this tour), then purchasing a Swiss Travel Pass (details on website above) could save you some money on this course, as you get half fare on the cable cars in many resorts as well as on the trains and buses. If you purchase a Swiss card the journey from the airport to your resort and back will be included.
  • Alternatively hire a car at Geneva airport (approx 1.5 hours driving time).

For flights and other travel options, including train, coach and driving, visit our Travel Planning page.


Fitness and Experience

To enjoy this trip you should be comfortable operating at Fitness Level 3/4, and Ski Tech Level 3:

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, 40-50ml 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 300-400m/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.

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.

Equipment

Hut to Hut Touring 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!

Technical Clothing

  • Waterproof Jacket – preferably lightweight and breathable
  • Overtrousers/ski pants – preferably with side zips
  • Fleece mid layer – or equivalent
  • 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
  • Spare fleece/lightweight duvet jacket

Personal Items

  • Water container – at least 1 litre
  • Personal medications and blister kit – regular meds, zinc oxide tape, compeed and painkillers etc
  • Lightweight head torch
  • Ski goggles
  • Sun glasses – CE rated 3 or 4 with side protection
  • Sun and lip cream – factor 30+
  • Wallet, passport, Alpine Club/BMC card (hut discount) and insurance docs

Hut Overnight Items

  • Small wash kit
  • Spare lightweight t-shirt/socks/pants
  • Silk sheet liner
  • Ear plugs
  • (Hut slippers for indoor use, blankets/duvets and pillows are provided by the huts)

Technical Equipment

  • Rucsac 35/45l – try and avoid ones covered in too many features, just ski and ice axe attachments required
  • Ski mountaineering boots
  • Skis with touring bindings – some ‘freeride’ bindings are also suitable
  • 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 – lightweight model
  • Ice Axe – lightweight model

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!

Purchasing Equipment
Backcountry UK in Otley offer an excellent ski touring boot fitting service, one of the best ranges of ski mountaineering equipment in the UK and top notch advice.

Hiring Equipment
Please visit our Equipment Hire page for recommended hire shops in your resort, and Alpine Guides hire equipment price list (safety equipment is provided free of charge on certain courses – please consult price inclusions).


Insurance

For this trip you must have specialist travel insurance providing medical, emergency search/rescue and repatriation cover for off piste skiing and ski touring, as outlined in the trip itinerary. 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.

Further details can be found on our insurance info page.

Book Now

£1495