New for 2021! – our Valpelline ski tour provides a rare chance to explore this remote part of the Aosta Valley, including an ascent of the Tete de Valpelline and nights spent in the Aosta and Nacamuli huts. We make a circular tour of the Valpelline, climbing the steep Col de la Division and also traverse along part of the final day of the Haute Route – but in the opposite direction!
This is a quiet ski touring area with an excellent variety of terrain, including long days with some steep climbs and steep descents along parts of the route. Expect some roped climbing and plenty of glacier skiing during the tour. Stable weather and snow conditions are required to complete the whole itinerary, but ski touring is possible in the area in most conditions.
This is an advanced level trip. To take part you should be at Fitness Level 3-4 and Tech Level 3-4 (see our Fitness/Experience guidelines below). Solid ski touring experience is required to join this tour, plus some roped climbing or cramponing experience. Type of ascent: 100% skinning on this tour – approx 6000m of ascent and descent.
One IFMGA guide skiing with 5 clients. An Aspirant guide may also join the team, skiing at 2:5 ratio.
Included in price
- 6 days of guiding
- All guides expenses
- 2 nights accommodation in the Chamonix valley, including breakfast
- 5 nights accommodation in mountain huts, including breakfast and evening meal
- Return travel from Chamonix to the tour start point in Italy
Excluded from price (see factsheet for extra cost estimates)
- Evening meals in the Chamonix valley
- Cable cars and taxis
- Lunches and drinks
- Travel to resort
- Equipment hire
Our base and meeting point is the Hotel de La Couronne in the alpine village of Argentiere, 15 mins from Chamonix. The Couronne is a friendly place in the centre of the village, close to ski hire shops, bars, restaurants and bakeries, and within walking distance of the famous Grand Montets ski area. 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. The hotel has ski and general storage facilities, so any extra luggage can be left until your return to resort at the end of the week. Evening meals can be taken in Argentiere in the hotels partner restaurant. Hotel details can be found on our Accommodation page.
For overnights in the high mountains we will use mountain huts. This tour stays in friendly Italian huts with great food, coffee and a super relaxed atmosphere. 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.
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.
Place de Moulin Dam to the Prarayer Hut
After breakfast, we drive through the Mont Blanc Tunnel to Italy and then up the Valpelline to the Place de Moulin dam (or however far the road is ploughed) – the drive takes about 2hrs. Our tour starts here, with a contouring skin above the lake to the Prarayer Hut, which takes 1-2 hrs depending on how far we can drive.
From the hut, we’ll then head out to do a short tour and skills session above the hut in the afternoon.
~200m ascent to hut 1-2hrs (+400m ascent and descent, 2-3hrs above the hut).
Day Tour from the Prarayer Hut
There are numerous great day tours around the Prarayer Hut; classics such as the Bella Tza-Valcorniere Cols Tour, Chateau des Dames, Blanc de Creton etc offer long tours with excellent descents – we’ll choose the best objective for current conditions.
1200-1400m ascent and descent ~5-7hrs.
Overnight at the Prarayer Hut.
Approach to the Aosta Hut
A steadier day, skinning up to the remote Aosta Hut. After reaching the hut, if snow conditions are still Ok we may head out for a recce of the Col de La Division or the following days’ tour.
~750m ascent to hut 3-4hrs (+300m ascent and descent if we do a recce).
Dent D’Herens Ski Summit (Pt 3957m) from the Aosta Hut.
Leaving the Aosta Hut, we descend slightly before making a long skin up onto the Grandes Murrailles Glacier, weaving through crevasses past the Perelli Bivouac Hut at 3827m in order to reach the ski summit at 3957m, just beneath the east Ridge of the Dent D’Herens – the views from here are superb! We follow the same route on the descent, which gives excellent skiing throughout.
1250m ascent and descent ~5-6hrs.
Overnight at the Aosta Hut.
Tete de Valpelline to the Nacamuli Hut
A long, technical day – with steep ground in both ascent and descent! A steep climb straight above the Aosta Hut leads up to the Col de la Division, which is a rocky/snowy climb up a cliff band, protected by chains. From the top of this, we then skin up the Tete de Valpeline (3799m) to be greeted by one of the finest views in the Alps.
We now double back and begin to reverse parts of the final day of the Haute Route: traversing the Col de Mont Brule (with a steep descent on the far side, as anyone who has climbed up it will already know!) across to Col Collon, where we finally ski down to the Nacamuli Hut.
1400m ascent and descent ~7-8hrs.
Final Summit and descent to Place de Moulin
There are several great options around the Nacamuli for a final ski summit of the week: eg Pointes D’Oren, Pointe Marcel Kurz, Becca Vanetta etc – we’ll decide on a suitable objective for the current conditions. All of them line up to a huge descent back down to the Valpelline, where we finally traverse back to the car and our start point at Place de Moulin.
~600m ascent, 1500m descent ~4-5hrs.
PM Drive back to Chamonix.
Return travel should be arranged on Saturday morning, after your final nights accommodation.
Your course starts and finishes in the Chamonix valley, at our base in Argentiere – the Hotel De La Couronne.
The most common way to reach Chamonix is fly to Geneva, then take a shared minibus taxi transfer to the Chamonix valley (must be booked in advance).
Flights and transfers
- Fly to Geneva with numerous budget airlines, for an overview of the best options check out the excellent Sky Scanner website.
- Airport transfer from Geneva to Chamonix: Mountain Drop-offs offer the best all round service, with regular reliable transfers through the season. They offer a shared minibus taxi service which meets you in the airport and drops you off at the door of your hotel. Book your transfer here and use promo code ALPGUID to receive a discount on your journey.
- Alternatively hire a car at Geneva airport (1.2 hrs drive to Cham).
Other travel options
- Driving from UK, take the ferry or Eurotunnel to Calais/Dunkerque, then 9-10 hours driving on the French Autoroutes (budget approx 80 Euros each way in tolls).
- Euroline coach UK to Chamonix (takes 1 day): www.eurolines.co.uk/en
- Eurostar train from the UK to Lyon, then onward train service to Chamonix (excellent fast service): www.eurostar.com/uk-en
Further information and travel links can be found on our Travel Planning page.
To enjoy this trip you should be comfortable operating at Fitness Level 3/4, and Ski Tech Level 3/4:
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.
Tech Level 4
Advanced Off Piste Skier. You can put turns in through heavier snow and on icy 40dg slopes, but difficult breakable crusts and skiing a fresh track off piste in zero visibility are still somewhat challenging! *Equivalent to Ski Club of GB Off Piste Level: Gold – Expert*
Likely to say: I’ve been skiing ten/twenty years – I’d like to do your ‘……’ tour.
Our Advice: You will enjoy our advanced level trips. If you are new to touring – then you could do a Haute Route with two or three days of skills training beforehand (but don’t overlook the physical fitness needed as well). Mileage is the best way to improve your ability level.
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).
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.