Our Queyras ski touring holiday is a rare mid winter multiday ski tour, exploring the Queyras Regional Park, staying in comfortable Huts and Gites with showers and plentiful home cooking each night. This is a beautiful area well away from the major resorts, where the skiing is characterised by accessible ski summits and lovely descents, frequently skiing powder in open forest glades at this time of year.
This is a great mid winter multiday touring area and one of the most reliable venues in the Alps for powder ski touring at this time of year. The ascents are generally very steady whilst carrying light packs, as crampons and ice axes are usually not required. Due to the nature and variety of terrain, touring is possible in the area in most weather and snow conditions. Two nights are spent at a couple of the huts/gites, allowing even lighter packs on some days.
This is an intermediate level trip. To take part you should be at Fitness Level 2-3 and Tech Level 3 (see our Fitness/Experience guidelines). You need some previous ski touring experience in order to join this tour (day touring experience is sufficient – the Queyras is a great venue for experienced ski tourers looking for excellent snow, but is also suitable as first multiday tour for keen off piste skiers). The week involves 5-6 hour days with generally steady climbs and typically 6-900m ascent a day – so you can expect to be skinning for 3-4 hours a day. Type of ascent: we use 25% uplift and 75% skinning on this tour – approx 4750m skinning up, and 6550m skiing down.
One IFMGA guide skiing with 6 clients.
Included in price
- 6 days of guiding
- All guides expenses
- 7 nights accommodation including breakfast and evening meal in a mix of gites, huts + hotels
- Transport during the course
Excluded from price (see factsheet for extra cost estimates)
- Lunches and drinks
- Travel 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. Hotel details can be found on our Accommodation page.
Huts and Gites
For overnights in the high mountains we will use mountain huts. This tour uses a mixture of small, friendly huts and remote gites – these are usually very quiet midweek and offer great home cooked food. For more info please read the Using Alpine Huts article which provides an overview of typical hut facilities, average costs to help you budget for lunches/drinks, and general info on hut etiquette.
You should arrange outward travel on Saturday, 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.
AM Drive up into the Queyras to St Veran to start the tour.
St Veran to Refuge de la Blanche.
St Veran in the heart of the Queyras is our starting point for the tour. Using the ski lifts gains 800m of height quickly and from the top of the lift system, it’s then just a short skin to the summit of Pic de Chateau Reynard, where there are great views of the surrounding park and Monte Viso to the east.
Several options are then available to reach the Refuge de la Blanche, taking in summits and cols with both south and north facing descents, before a final skin up to the hut.
This is an ideal day for finding your feet and hopefully skiing some powder, without too much strenuous skinning!
600m ascent, 800m descent ~4-5hrs
Circular Day Tour
The Refuge de la Blanche is a friendly and comfortable hut, with hot showers available and great food, so it’s an ideal spot to spend a couple of nights.
Several day tours are available from the hut (including safe options in poor weather etc).
Our plan is to complete a circular day tour, traversing across the border into Italy and back, via two cols – this finishes with a great north facing powder run straight back to the hut.
– 850m ascent and descent ~4-5hrs
Refuge Blanche to Molines
There are a couple of good ways to ski from the Refuge de la Blanche to Moline en Queyras – both of which involve taking in a summit, before skiing either the Vallon de Longet or Vallon de Clausis.
Both are great north facing descents, leading down into the same valley – where skating and poling down the cross country ski trails leads to our gite in Molines en Queyras.
Either way, a warm welcome awaits at the Gite – with good food, a warm fire and beer to be enjoyed in the evening.
600m ascent, 1300m descent ~5-6hrs
Molines to Arbries
Our objective today is a fine ski summit above Molines, which has some excellent views.
From the top, a few hundred metres of skiing down open ground leads to the top of the trees and an outstanding north facing descent through open larch forests, that are often filled with powder.
Eventually we pop out on the road, where a short walk to the bus stop allows us to take a ride to Arbries which lies about 3 miles up the valley.
900m ascent, 1200m descent ~5-6hrs
On from Arbries
Arbries is a small ski station with some excellent freeride terrain and tree skiing.
From the top of the lift system, it takes about an hour to skin up to the summit of La Lauziere, which gives a good descent north into the valley beyond.
A couple of hours skinning reaches the summit of the next peak and a longer, steeper descent back down through the forest to the road, where some schussing and poling leads down to a lovely remote gite at the head of the valley.
900m ascent, 1500m descent ~5-6hrs
The Final Day
On the final day we make a long, circular tour to and from the Gite. The climb starts steadily up the valley floor at first, then climbs the hillside to reach a decision point below two cols.
The right one leads to Italy before climbing back into France, whereas the left one reaches the same point via a shorter route.
The descent for both is the same – a long north facing powder bowl dropping down into the forest which leads back to the Gite.
900m ascent and descent ~5-6hrs
Fri PM – return to St Veran and then Mont Dauphin for the final night in the Lacour.
Queyras Off Piste Skiing
It’s possible to go ski touring in the Queyras in most kinds of weather and snow conditions.
However, if a very big storm comes in, then all is not lost – as the area boasts some of the best, safe, lift accessed tree skiing anywhere in the Alps.
We’ve had many great days here when the avalanche risk is too high to go ski touring, skiing fresh powder lines off the lifts all day long instead, with hardly anyone else around.
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 mts from Mont Dauphin train station.
The best way to reach Mont Dauphin in winter is fly to Turin (the nearest airport), then take a transfer bus to Briancon and then a train to Mont Dauphin, or alternatively 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 Turin
- Transfer bus from Turin airport to Briancon (7 times per day Sat/ 4 per day Sun): Visit Linkbus website – linkbus-alps.com/en/ for tickets and timetables.
- Train from Briancon to Mont Dauphin (every 2 hrs): voyages-sncf.com/billet-train/horaires
- 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: Turin 2.30hrs, 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 2/3, and Ski Tech Level 3:
Fitness Level 2
You do 2-3 hours cv training/sport per week. At this level you should be happy doing either a 3-4 hr hillwalk, cycling 30-40 miles or mountain biking 2-3 hours without being exhausted. On foot: you should be able to walk from Ogwen Cottage in North Wales up Glyder Fach – Glyder Fawr – Y Garn – Ogwen in ~5hrs. Or in the Lake District Langdale – Bowfell – Esk Pike – Angle Tarn – Langdale in ~ 6hrs. On skis: you are capable of off piste skiing all day or doing a couple of hours skinning with out finishing up exhausted – ie you can do this for a number of days without taking a rest day.
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.
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!
- 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
- 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)
- 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
- 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 – 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!
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 (safety equipment is provided free of charge on certain courses – please consult price inclusions).
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.
What happens about accommodation, if the weather is very poor and we end up spending extra nights in the valley instead of in huts?
We will make any necessary last minute bookings for the team. On trips taking place outside the Chamonix valley, any extra valley hotel nights will be on a BnB basis rather than half board.
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.