The Haute Ubaye Ski Touring Week is an opportunity to ski lovely open slopes and wooded glades in the back of beyond, enjoying early season day touring in the remote Haute Ubaye Valley. This is a very quiet ski touring area, with an excellent record for powder touring at this time of year. Summits and back bowls in the region are primarily north facing.
The week starts and finishes in Mont Dauphin, just south of Briancon. During the week we stay at a lovely remote Gite in the Haute Ubaye valley, which offers a warm welcome each night, fantastic food and skiing right to the door. Due to the nature and variety of terrain, touring is possible in the area in most weather and snow conditions.
Trip reports >> Haute Ubaye Powder Touring Report
This is an intermediate level trip. To take part you should be at Fitness Level 3 and Tech Level 3 (see our Fitness/Experience guidelines below). You need some previous ski touring experience in order to join this tour. The week includes 5-6 hour days with generally steady climbs and typically 600-1000m of ascent a day – so you can expect to be skinning for 3-4 hours a day.
One IFMGA guide skiing with 6 clients.
Included in price
- 6 days of guiding
- All guides expenses
- 2 nights hotel accommodation in Mont Dauphin, including breakfast and evening meals
- 5 nights Gite accommodation in the Haute Ubaye, including breakfast and evening meals
Excluded from price (see factsheet for extra cost estimates)
- Uplift and local travel
- Lunches and drinks
- Flights and transfers to resort
- Equipment Hire
Our initial hotel and meeting point is the Hotel Lacour in Mont Dauphin. The hotel is often used by skiers, as it offers convenient accommodation just 50m from the train station in Mont Dauphin, with good access to the Queyras and Haute Ubaye regions. 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.
During the week we base ourselves at a remote gite high in the mountains with shared rooms, amazing home cooked food and a Norwegian hot tub! Hotel details can be found on our Accommodation page.
Our touring base:
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.
Drive to Haute Ubaye, taking in a day tour en route.
Monday to Friday
Day Touring in the Haute Ubaye. Possible areas and tours include:
L’Aiguillon is an excellent day tour starting and finishing right at the Gite and it’s a summit that’s skiable in pretty much all weather and snow conditions.
The best part though, is the north facing descent: the first pitches follow lovely open ridges and bowls, before dropping into a superb larch forest, which goes right down to the main valley floor – this is an excellent long descent. In the valley bottom there is a good spot for lunch, before starting to skin back up to the Gite in time for tea.
Depending on how much snow there is at the time, this climb may be up a path through the forest all the way back to the Gite, or partly up through the woods and partly back up the road.
Climbs on this tour are all very steady, with the total ascent for the day being 800-1000m depending on the line chosen.
The tiny ski station of Ste Anne has a good selection of lift assisted day tours and plenty of excellent off piste terrain, which makes for a great day hit after a fresh dump of powder.
It’s quite possible to ski off piste or day tour in the morning, then have lunch in the resort looking out across the valley, before doing another backcountry sortie in the afternoon.
The terrain is sheltered and often has very good snow, with a great variety of pitches and bowls both above and below the tree line to ski.
Like most small ski stations in the middle of nowhere, it’s always a very relaxed and quiet spot. Typical skinning ascent from St Anne ranges from zero to 500m for the day.
Tete de Plate Longe
The Tete de Plat Longe is a classic ski summit above the village of Larche, close to the Italian border.
The ascent starts opposite the village, climbing up a track into a lovely hanging valley through open mature forests.
Above the tree line, the route cuts out onto a ridge line to the summit, which gives excellent views of the nearby Aiguille de Chambeyron to the North and the Mercatour National Park to the South.
The descent is 1000m long and all North facing – of course – with the usual mix of open powder bowls and widely spaced larch forests, until the final crazy track run down the last few hundred metres to the valley floor.
To round the day off, there is also a very good café to stop at on the way home!
Crete de la Seyte
The Crete de la Seyte is a hidden gem, tucked away behind the village of Argentiere La Besse in the lower Durance valley.
This tour gives a very long north facing powder run down through the trees and makes for an excellent first or final day, as it’s near to the road when travelling across to the Haute Ubaye.
The lower section of the route follows either a footpath or a track depending on snow cover, so you can always get plenty of good skiing in. The halfway point is also at a lovely alpine meadow, which makes a great spot for lunch.
This is an out and back tour, so we can skin up as far as we like or stop when it suits – anything from 800m, right up to 1400m depending how much energy you’ve got!
Col de Vars
The Col de Vars offers a number of tours to some of the higher summits in the area, on more open alpine terrain. There are both steeper and shallower options, to keep things safe in a variety of snow conditions.
The skiing here starts at over 2000m, so it’s very reliable and the tours are all top notch, with plenty of north facing descents as well as spring snow on various different aspects.
The French resorts of Vars and Risoul are also nearby, so there is always the possibility of an off piste day, if your touring legs need a bit of a rest part way through the week!
Tours involve typically 600-900m of ascent from the road.
Fri PM Drive back to Mont Dauphin for our final night.
Return travel should be arranged on Saturday morning, after your final nights accommodation.
Mont Dauphin, near Guillestre, is a convenient access point to the Queyras National Park, Monte Viso, and the Haute Ubaye regions. It is a quiet, unspoilt corner of the Alps, enjoying excellent mid season snow conditions and a huge variety of non glacial touring terrain, far away from the hustle of the main alpine resorts. Our hotel is just 50 metres from Mont Dauphin train station.
The best way to reach Mont Dauphin in winter is fly to Grenoble, Lyon, or Geneva where bus and train connections link to Mont Dauphin (see details below). Check Sky Scanner flight comparison site for the best flight options.
Flights and transfers
- Fly to Grenoble (Isere)
- Bus from Grenoble Airport to Grenoble Gare Routiere (45 mins): actibus.com/aeroport/#aeroport
- Then: train from Grenoble to Mont Dauphin (3 hours via Gap): voyages-sncf.com/billet-train/horaires
- Fly to Lyon
- train from Lyon Airport to Mont Dauphin (5 hours via Grenoble and Gap): voyages-sncf.com/billet-train/horaires
For 2 or more people travelling together, airport car hire is also a cost effective option – NB you must hire a car with winter tyres or snow chains – all routes cross high mountain passes in winter, where special equipment is compulsory. Driving times to Mont Dauphin from the various Airports are: Grenoble 3hrs, Lyon 4hrs, Geneva 4.30hrs (via Frejus Tunnel).
For flights and other travel options, including train, coach and driving, visit our Travel Planning page.
To enjoy this trip you should be comfortable operating at Fitness Level 3, 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, 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).
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.
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
European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This gives you reciprocal health care in European countries. You can apply for an EHIC card online here or from most Post Offices. You need an EHIC in addition to your travel insurance.
European residents (non-UK)
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.
For any nationality
Global Rescue. Cover offered to all nationalities via a combination of GR membership and their separate insurance policy.
If you choose an alternative provider, or if there is any doubt about the scope of your chosen policy we recommend that you send your insurer the link to the relevant Alpine Guides trip webpage, and ask them if cover extends to those activities and has the required components (search/rescue, medical, repatriation and cancellation). It’s worth mentioning that rescue and medical expenses in Switzerland can be significantly more expensive than in other countries, so a decent level of cover is required for Swiss tours.
We recommend that you send us your insurance details before the trip commences, and they must be brought to the course briefing at the start of your trip. However, we cannot check the detail of every individual policy, and it is your own responsibility to ensure you are adequately insured.
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.