Lepontine Alps Ski Tour

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

New Itinerary for 2022! – The Lepontine Alps Ski Tour offers a rare chance to enjoy a week of hut based touring in the high mountains in midwinter. At this time of year, North Facing powder descents are far more common – in an area which boasts dozens of superb ski peaks. Starting near Andermatt, we traverse the range across into Italy and back – taking in the best peaks and ski descents along the way. A variety of objectives are possible during the week, depending on snow and conditions.

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A very successful trip indeed! A combination of a small harmonious group, good weather, nice route and above all Paul’s guiding and banter. I think my best tour for many years.

Keith Grant

Trip overview

New Itinerary for 2022! – The Lepontine Alps Ski Tour offers a rare chance to enjoy a week of hut based touring in the high mountains in midwinter. At this time of year, North Facing powder descents are far more common – in an area which boasts dozens of superb ski peaks. Starting near Andermatt, we traverse the range across into Italy and back – taking in the best peaks and ski descents along the way. A variety of objectives are possible during the week, depending on snow and conditions.

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 great midwinter touring area with plenty of powder descents and varied days. A variety of objectives are possible during the week, depending on snow and conditions.  Touring is possible in the area in most conditions, but the itinerary may be subject to variation, taking into account the prevailing weather, snow and avalanche conditions.

We meet in Brig rather than Andermatt for this tour, as it is easy to reach from different airports to and importantly for a midwinter tour, it allows many more options if weather or avalanche conditions dictate a change of plan.

Trip Reports >> Lepontine Alps in Mid Winter


Suitability

Due to the length of some days, this is an 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 some previous multi-day touring experience in order to join this tour. The week includes 6-8 hour days and some big (1000m+) climbs, so you can expect to be skinning for 3-5 hours a day. Type of ascent: 100% skinning – 5000m of skinning up and skiing down on the tour.


Guiding ratio

One IFMGA guide skiing with 6 clients.


Included in price

  • 6 days of guiding
  • All guides expenses
  • 2 nights accommodation in Brig, including breakfast
  • 5 nights accommodation in mountain huts, including breakfast and evening meal

Excluded from price (see course factsheet for cost estimates)

  • Evening meals in Brig
  • Travel to Realp/back to Brig
  • Lunches and drinks
  • Travel to resort
  • Insurance
  • Equipment hire

Hotels

Our meeting point for this trip is the Hotel Europe*** in Brig, which is just 80m from the railway station in the centre of town. Rooms are provided on a twin (or occasionally triple or quad) sharing basis, but if you wish to book a single room please let us know and we will confirm availability. Any extra luggage can be left until in the hotel until your return to resort at the end of the week. Evening meals can be taken in Brig. 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 Sunday, arriving by 5-6pm latest in time for the briefing at your accommodation. Guide briefing: discuss plans, sort food and equipment, overnight in valley.


Sunday

Hut Approach.  Early train to Realp, then skin up to the  Rotondo Hut.   The standard approach to the Rotondo hut is to skin up the Witenwasserental from Realp.  En route we’ll have time to do some skills refreshment (transceiver training etc) or go for a short skin above the hut, if folk are keen for a little more exercise! 1050m ascent, ~3-4hrs from train station to the hut.


Monday

Day tour from the Rotondo hut – there are numerous great day tours in this area: Witenwasserenstock, Piz Lucendro, Rottallihorn, Muttenhorn are all potential options.  Our final choice will be determined by current weather and snow conditions. ~1000m ascent and descent ~5-6hrs


Tuesday

Traverse to Val Bedretto.  A day with many cols and a big descent – first we traverse the Witenwasseren pass, then the Rotondo pass, before making the long descent down to All’ Acqua in the Val Bredetto.  Overnight at the Ristorante All’ Acqua in Val Bredetto.  400m ascent, 1300m descent ~4-5hrs


Wednesday

All’ Acqua to Basodino Hut Today starts with a steady climb up to the Passo San Giacomo, where we briefly cross into Italy in order to reach the Bolleta di Val Magia and our main descent of the day, crossing back into Switzerland in order to ski down to the Basidino Hut for the night.  1000m ascent, 750m descent ~5-6hrs


Thursday

Basodino Hut to Cristallina Hut.  A day with more up than down!  The route to the Cristallina Hut passes through hanging valleys and icy tunnels, before taking in the summit of the Cima di Lago (2833m) and a nice descent down to the lake, then finally skinning up to the hut.  1000m ascent, 300m descent ~5hrs.


Friday

Piz Cristallina and exit the range.  On the final morning, we make an ascent of Piz Cristallina (2911m), before returning to the hut and a choice of long descents down into the Val Bredetto. PM Bus and train back to Brig and final hotel night. 400-600m ascent, 1650-1850m descent 4-5hrs


Saturday

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

Location and Travel

Your course starts and finishes in Brig in the Rhone Valley, with easy access and good links to the Bernese Oberland, Valais Alps and the SE Swiss Alpine chain. The most convenient way to reach Brig is fly into Geneva, then take a train along the Rhone Valley – Brig is on the main railway line, and our hotel is a short walk from the train station.


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 Brig (1.5 hrs): https://www.sbb.ch/en/home.html (integrated Swiss travel website)
  • If you plan to arrive by train, 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 Brig and back will be included.
  • Alternatively hire a car at any nearby airport (2-4 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.

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from £1195