Monte Viso Ski Tour

Fitness level
Tech level
Number of guiding days
5
Guiding ratio
1:6

The Monte Viso Ski Tour is renowned as one of the finest multiday ski tours in Europe, circumnavigating the most famous peak in the Southern Alps. Tucked away at the back of the Queyras National Park, this is a wild and remote region with unparalleled scenery and great skiing.

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I would like to say how much I enjoyed everyone’s company over the last few days and pass on my thanks for being such excellent touring companions. Truly the highlight of my year.

David Ibison

Had a fab time with a great group, many thanks to you and Al for all your help. I’ll be back!

Paul Dallas

Always try to make any trip the best to date and that was easy on this one. Jon was spot on and Kev with his peak bagging ethic meant that by Thursday night we’d had four great days and the probability of returning to the valley on Friday morning. But no, another weather window and another peak. What a great trip, so thank you Alpine Guides and the team, especially Jon. The three of us are going to keep in touch, hopefully to hatch a plot for a trip next year.

James Mitchell

Bloody Amazing week. Really loved it. It was great to meet Kev and Jim and I thought that Jon was a really top quality guide. I felt very safe with him and he was very good at taking on board what we wanted to do whilst being sensible about the conditions. Thanks to Alpine Guides for organising such a great trip, thanks for Kev and Jim for making it so fun and thanks to Jon for putting up with us! I’ll be back. p.s. I never thought it was possible to put on weight whilst dragging yourself up so many mountains. Testament to the amazing food we got throughout the week!

Henry Unwin

The trip went well. The weather was difficult to judge as we were right on the edge of a system of bad/good weather, but we still skied a top or a col on every day.The places we stayed at were great little places, better food than you would get in most hotels I think. Jon was easy to get on with and picked up some good tips from him. So a good trip, thanks.

Kevin Woodcock

Trip overview

The Monte Viso Ski Tour is renowned as one of the finest multiday ski tours in Europe, circumnavigating the most famous peak in the Southern Alps. Tucked away at the back of the Queyras National Park, this is a wild and remote region with unparalleled scenery and great skiing.

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 wild and remote ski tour with superb scenery and few other people around. The tour is long and intricate, traversing the French-Italian border. At least one night is spent in an unmanned hut, so we’ll be taking food and stoves along. Stable weather and avalanche conditions are required to complete the circuit around Monte Viso, but good variation tours are possible in the region in most weather and snow conditions.

Trip Reports >> Report 1,  Report 2 (video),


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 multiday ski touring experience in order to join this tour. It is a strenuous and commiting route (where we need to carry food for an unmanned hut night) and includes 7-9 hour days with some big (1000m+) climbs, so you can expect to be skinning for 3-6 hours a day. Type of ascent: we use 100% skinning on this tour – approx 4600m of skinning up, 4600m of skiing down.


Guiding ratio

One IFMGA guide skiing with 6 clients.


Included in price

  • 5 days of guiding
  • All guides expenses
  • 6 nights accommodation including breakfast and evening meal, in a mix of gites, huts and hotels
  • Transport during the course

Excluded from price (see course factsheet for cost estimates)

  • Uplift
  • Lunches and drinks
  • Travel to resort
  • Insurance
  • Equipment hire

Hotels

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. Hotel details can be found on our Accommodation page.


Huts

For overnights in the high mountains we will use mountain huts. This tour uses a mixture of small friendly huts and an Italian gite – very rarely busy, and offering great home cooked food. There is also one night in an unguarded hut which really adds to the special wilderness feel of this trip! 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

Sunday

You should arrange outward travel on Sunday, arriving by 5-6pm 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 Mont Dauphin.


Monday

AM Drive up into the Queyras. Skin up to the Refuge du Viso from L’Echalp.

Refuge Du Viso

It’s a long skin up to the Refuge Viso from L’Echalp, but the journey is up a beautiful valley with fresh views constantly unfolding, as Monte Viso grows ever larger in the distance.

The hut itself is modern and well equipped and amongst other things, sports a climbing wall in the dining room(!) and a reading area upstairs with a full sized sofa – there’s a nice wood burning stove too and good food in plentiful supply.

750m ascent ~4hrs.


Tuesday

North Side of Monte Viso

Traversing round the north side of Monte Viso to the Quintino Sella Hut is a long day by any route, but one of the best days ski touring in the Alps. From the northern end, the views are astounding – sweeping right across the entire arc of the Alps.

There’s then a long descent down toward Riale for lunch, before the final slog up to the col a kilometre before the hut – where we sleep in the unmanned winter room for the night, cooking for ourselves in this remote location.

900-1500m descent ~7-10hrs


Wednesday

South Side of Monte Viso

The traverse round the south side of Monte Viso is thankfully much shorter than the northern side the day before – but the route goes into some very remote terrain. After crossing a couple of small cols quite near to the hut, a long descent then follows, leading eventually to the forest and a nice picnic spot down in the valley floor.

From here, the route heads down into the main Val Variata which we must head up for another 3 miles in order to reach the gite – either on foot, on ski or in a taxi depending on energy levels! Either way – a warm italian welcome awaits, with hot showers and plenty of excellent food.

450m ascent, 950m descent ~5hrs


Thursday

Refuge de la Blanche

The route back into France starts with a long climb through lovely scenery at the head of Val Variata.

This leads to the Col Blanchet, with more excellent views of the nearby Tete des Toillies, before enjoying a great north facing descent to the Refuge de la Blanche.

This hut is one of the best in the area – with very friendly staff, hot showers again and more great food and drink.

1100m ascent, 450m descent ~5hrs


Friday

L’Echalp

The route north from the Refuge de la Blanche  crosses the Col de Chamoussiere and Col Vieux in order to make the final 1400m long descent back to our car at L’Echalp.

This is a big descent, at first down open slopes, before dropping into extensive larch forests to reach the cross country trails in the bottom of the valley which take us back to the road.

650m ascent, 1400m descent ~4-5hrs

PM Drive back to Mont Dauphin for our final night in the hotel Lacour.


Saturday

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

Location and Travel

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


Car hire

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.


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, 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.

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 £1050