Our Western Oberland 3 day ski tour is an ideal first experience of alpine hut touring, learning essential touring skills whilst skiing some classic local peaks in this well known Swiss ski touring region. **Free safety equipment rental is included with this course**
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)
We base ourselves in the ideally located Lammeren Hut – an amazing spot, just a couple of hours skin from the Gemmi Pass cablecar station and complete with full restaurant service, a great bar and hot showers. The hut is situated in a high mountain cirque surrounded by a number of classic ski touring objectives, including the Wildstrubel which is the most famous ski peak in the region, offering a superb finale to the trip. Each day we will skin out from the hut and climb one of the surrounding peaks, incorporating skills training sessions along the way. Techniques covered include skinning skills, uphill kick turns, transceiver training and avalanche safety and avoidance. Tips and coaching to improve your off piste skiing also form an important part of the trip.
This is an introductory level trip. To take part you should be at Fitness Level 2/3 and Tech Level 2/3 (see our Fitness/Experience guidelines). You need to be a regular off-piste skier, but no previous ski touring experience is necessary.
One IFMGA guide skiing with 6 clients.
Included in price
- 3 days of guiding/instruction
- All guides expenses
- 2 nights accommodation in Leukerbad, including breakfast
- 2 nights accommodation in a mountain hut, including breakfast and evening meals
- Equipment hire: avalanche transceiver, shovel, probe, ice axe, crampons, harness
Excluded from price
- Lunches and evening meals in Leukerbad
- Flights and transfers
- Equipment hire
We will stay in a comfortable hotel in the mountain resort of Leukerbad, within easy access of the uplift to start our tour. Rooms are provided on a twin sharing basis, but if you wish to book a single room please let us know and we will confirm availability. Evening meals can be taken in Leukerbad. Hotel details can be found on our Accommodation page.
This trip is protected by ABTOT – Alpine Guides Ltd, Membership Number 5394. For further information, please visit our Financial Protection page.
You should arrange outward travel to arrive at your accommodation on Saturday Evening.
Evening Briefing. 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.
The trip starts with a cable car ride from Leukerbad up to the Gemmipass at 2300m.
Here, we don skins and set off to climb either the Daubenhorn or Lammerenhorn, practicing skinning skills and doing some avalanche safety training en route.
After enjoying a good descent from the summit, we then head to the Lammeren hut, which is our base for the next two nights.
Overnight in the Lammeren hut.
Ascent of the Steghorn (3146m) – this is a classic ski peak above the Lammeren hut and offers fantastic views from the summit.
Along the way we will discuss avalanche conditions and avoidance techniques, as well as practicing other important backcountry skills.
The descent from the Steghorn often holds good snow, with a variety of aspects to choose from in order to make best use of current snow conditions.
Learning how to choose the best slopes to ski at any given time is an important skill in backcountry skiing – both for safety and for finding the best snow!
Overnight in the Lammeren hut.
Ascent of the Wildstrubel (3244m) – the most famous peak in the area and a fantastic ski touring objective.
The climb up the Wildstrubel follows a curving valley up onto the glacier, where great angle north facing slopes lead to the summit.
The descent follows a similar line to the way up, offering great skiing in a wonderful high mountain environment. Once off the glacier, we continue down past the hut and re trace our route back to the Gemmi Pass cable car, which finally takes us back down to Leukerbad.
Overnight in Leukerbad.
We will aim to cover the following skills during this trip
Knowing how to skin uphill is pretty fundamental to all types of backcountry skiing away from resorts. Once you’ve got the basics of how to put skins on and off and how the ski touring bindings swap over from uphill to downhill mode, then it’s time to head off and practice some skinning.
The technique is to slide your skis along the snow in smooth strides – ie don’t lift them up off the ground with each step – it’s more of a ‘shuffle’ than a ‘walk’.
As the terrain gets steeper, eventually uphill kick turns are needed to change direction. These are difficult to master, but it’s important to practice them until you become proficient, as they are your ticket to travelling through the high mountains. In icy conditions, harscheisen (ski crampons) may also be needed for extra grip.
There are different spacing protocols for travelling on terrain such as glaciers and steeper slopes, in order to reduce the loading on the slope – so it’s important you know how and when to spread out within a group.
We’ll choose a tour appropriate to the level of the group, so that nobody struggles and everyone has the time to learn new skills and ask questions etc en route. You’ll need to bring a packed lunch, as we’ll be out in the backcountry all day, enjoying the skiing and scenery.
Avalanches are the number one cause of serious accidents to backcountry skiers, so it’s essential that you know how to plan a safe day in the light of the current avalanche forecast, as well as make observations and ski defensively on the ground.
This is an area that we discuss constantly throughout the course, both at a planning level and during each day out – on the way up and on the way down.
Danger signs to look out for, how to select a safe route, skin up safely and then back down again in a way that minimises risk are all covered, as well as emergency procedures and avalanche rescue.
Having all the skills and knowledge is one thing, but being aware of how group dynamics, peer pressures and other psychological factors cause people to make poor decisions in avalanche terrain is equally important, so we teach strategies to avoid these heuristic traps and improve your decision making.
If you are involved in or witness an avalanche incident, you only have 15 minutes to locate and dig out any buried victims, in order for them to stand a realistic chance of survival.
This is no easy task, so training and practice in how to carry out a coordinated avalanche rescue is vital for you to stand any chance of success.
There’s a lot more to it than simply doing a transceiver search:
Knowing how to protect the rescuers, coordinate a group search, divide up jobs, do a final pin point search, probe for the victim and finally, undertake a coordinated conveyer belt dig out are all essential skills needed to cut the rescue time down to 15 minutes.
Glacier skiing is a wonderful experience, but one that brings it’s own hazards. In order to travel safely across a glacier on skis, you need to know how to move correctly as a group and find a safe line through crevasses.
Carrying the right kit is equally important, so we’ll show you what you need to carry on your harness and in your rucsac, including how to set up a ‘cowstail’ to make recue from a crevasse easier.
It’s important to know how to conduct a safe descent, including the need for extra caution and control on glaciated terrain. In poor visibility or heavily crevassed terrain, you may even need to ski roped up – this is something you definitely need to practice before trying it for real.
Location and Travel
Your course starts and finishes in Leukerbad overlooking the Rhone Valley, with easy access to the touring within the Western Bernese Oberland. The most convenient way to reach Leukerbad is fly into Geneva, and then take public transport along the Rhone valley.
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 Leuk in the Rhone valley, then a connecting bus to Leukerbad. Tickets can be booked for entire journey via: https://www.sbb.ch/en/home.html (integrated Swiss travel website)
- 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 2/3, and Ski Tech Level 2/3:
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, 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)
Tech Level 2
Improving Off Piste Skier. You enjoy black runs and the kind of tracked out off piste terrain found around many big resorts, but you haven’t skied too much in properly deep snow without a base to it yet. *Equivalent to Ski Club of GB Off Piste Level: Silver – Intermediate*
Likely to say: ‘I’d like to ski well in powder/link lots of short radius turns/go ski touring’
Our Advice: An Off Piste Skiing Course is highly recommended. If you’d like to try ski touring, then do either an intro ski touring course or an intro level ski tour.
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
- 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 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.
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 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.