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Starting ski touring

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
What would folks' recommendations be for trying touring for the first time? I have skied off piste but never put skins on.

I have eyeing up a few organised "Introduction to Ski Touring" type courses, which all look a lot of fun but are fairly pricey. Or would a better option be to just rent some gear for a day next time I am in resort and have a go at skinning up some pistes or cross country trails? Any opinions welcome.
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Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@ejayAD, Get Fit !! Start in the Summer by hiking up a few hundred metres vertical
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@stanton, I'm sure the OP is astounded to hear that hiking up mountains on skis requires you to be fit!
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To get used to the kit and the motion, skinning up the side of a piste, or better still a marked resort trail, is a good start. In the last 2 or 3 years, a noticeable number of resorts have started marking in-resort ski touring trails. Of course this misses out a lot of the point of ski touring, but it's a good start.

After that, it depends on your aims and experience. To be a safe self-sufficient ski tourer you need a lot of skills. Avalanche and off-piste awareness is one major set, but you'll also need more general mountaineering experience (navigation, route choice, weather, and more if going on glaciers)
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@ejayAD,
Often guides offices will put together a group for one day of intro to skitouring. I’d suggest you do that to learn the basics before getting the gear and doing it on your own. Cost of joining a mixed group for one day shouldn’t be too much
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Steilhang wrote:
@stanton, I'm sure the OP is astounded to hear that hiking up mountains on skis requires you to be fit!


It is a good start before spending a lot of money on equipment..

Majority of Skiers who have been Off Piste have generally used some form of ascent Lift to get there.

Ski Touring you HAVE to be fit to enjoy it.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
ejayAD wrote:
What would folks' recommendations be for trying touring for the first time? I have skied off piste but never put skins on.

I have eyeing up a few organised "Introduction to Ski Touring" type courses, which all look a lot of fun but are fairly pricey. Or would a better option be to just rent some gear for a day next time I am in resort and have a go at skinning up some pistes or cross country trails? Any opinions welcome.


@viv
I can’t think of anything worse for a first ski-touring experience than skiing up the side of a piste. I would say rent some kit and do and introductory course/session. jedster's suggestion of doing one of the guides office intros is very good.

@ejayAD
Ski touring is a cross between walking and mountaineering with skis on. It’s brilliant but a very different experience to piste skiing/resort based off-piste. There’s a lot of effort for very little “actual” skiing. I love it, but it’s about the journey, the whole day, not just the comparably short descent at the end of the day (well, early afternoon descent before the sun affects the snow too much…..)
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
I did three days with Alpine Experience on what I thought were lift served off-piste morning sessions. However they are very keen on touring so after the first couple of days which had good snow in-resort we did a morning of touring. The ski shop they are based at are helpful and will sort out kit. Reasonable prices too. I had done several weeks lift served off-piste prior.
http://www.alpineexperience.com/guides/

The Ski Club GB & Snoworks could sort you out for courses. Am glad I only paid out for one morning and soon realised it was not for me.

I am fit (for a mid 50s guy) and not overweight. I train year round for skiing at the gym although with strength training (have an aversion to running as vulnerable knees and would cycle but too dangerous locally). I found it hard work!!

No plans for touring this year. I can see the benefits but not my thing.
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+1 for Alpine Experience which is where I first used skins

Edit: Glenmore Lodge do a 2 day introduction which may be a means of keeping the costs down. £325 with accommodation, £275 without

Not as glamorous as somewhere in the Alps you might say (a lot of people here may refute that) but perhaps you can save that until you've tried it first
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Thanks all, some good advice. Maybe hiring some gear and doing a short introductory course seems like a good option. And comments about fitness noted... obviously climbing a hill at high altitude will take it's toll!
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I'd try to do it somewhere with nice weather first.

It's not mega hard to do on newby routes (technique or fitness wise). But my first few goes were in shirtsleeve weather, I'm not sure it would have been as enjoyable with horizontal snow and zero viz.

Yes Scotland, I'm looking at you wink
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Quote:

But my first few goes were in shirtsleeve weather, I'm not sure it would have been as enjoyable with horizontal snow and zero viz.

Yes Scotland, I'm looking at you



@Mosha Marc, that is shirtsleeve weather wink
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Laughing
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Just spent a morning with Åreguiderna in Åre, Sweden (you can fly direct from Gatwick with EasyJet). Beginners level tour, from the lifts maybe just 1 to 1.5 hours of skinning, a nice ski down and lunch Smile Cost £65, including all equipment needed. Skistar do a intro to ski touring on certain days.

Did a similar thing in early May last year with a friend in Björkliden (Swedish Lapland). The 1313 tour from the top of the lift system, just a hour of skinning.

Most Swedish reports (north of Åre at least) offer these kind of intro tours. I guess most ski resorts worldwide offer similar(?) - unless it’s the swedes that are outdoor fitness fanatics, which could be the case.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@ejayAD, We are planning on running an Intro to Ski Touring course in the Three Valleys next January. Havent decided on the exact format yet but leaning towards 3 full days and 3 half days with a lot of gentle small tours to get off the beaten track and enjoy the quietness of the mountain...

Costs will be £399 for the coaching and around £180 for rental equipment plus travel and accommodation. Would something like that be of interest. Just trying to gauge interest in such a course as most are fairly full on...
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@skimottaret, I might be interested in that. Done quite a bit of alongside the piste stuff so not a complete beginner. Long time until next January though....................
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@skitow, Cool, once I get the details sorted will bung up on our website. I think there are a fair few people who have done a bit on sides but would like to access some reasonably gentle terrain but still get off the beaten track a bit... If you PM your email address I can keep you informed...
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@Themasterpiece, @skimottaret, I think peoples idea of an intro/beginner tour varies.

As long as it doesn't get too techy, there's nowt wrong with a full day out.
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I think at least one day of instruction is advisable. It is very important to know how to put the skins on properly, how to change the bindings from uphill to downhill mode and vice versa and how to use the elevation facilities on the bindings. Basic technique is important as well as knowing how to turn, whether just by plodding round if the slope is shallow but also how to do a kick turn. Tips about unbuckling the top of your boots if using traditional downhill boots are also useful.

It is reasonably straightforward but I feel some initial tuition is advisable.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@Mosha Marc, I agree but can be a touch tiring if full day every day... our course will be a mix of kit introduction, mountain awareness and guiding to ensure nice safe terrain.
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A quick hour on the basics on a nursery slope at 5pm is always a good idea. Skinning is not difficult, it is the body management which you have to master, ie how little clothing you need on the way up and how much more on the way down. Such things as white base layers in spring are good, an umpires floppy hat to stop you getting burn't on the way up, lots of layers etc.
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skimottaret wrote:
@ejayAD, We are planning on running an Intro to Ski Touring course in the Three Valleys next January.


Definitely sounds interesting! Could be a good format for a beginner, not committing to a full week's full on touring, and from the research I've done that kind of pricing would definitely be competitive Smile
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
ejayAD wrote:
What would folks' recommendations be for trying touring for the first time? I have skied off piste but never put skins on.

I have eyeing up a few organised "Introduction to Ski Touring" type courses, which all look a lot of fun but are fairly pricey. Or would a better option be to just rent some gear for a day next time I am in resort and have a go at skinning up some pistes or cross country trails? Any opinions welcome.


this guy is worth a try
Michał Trzebunia freeride academy Zakopane Poland. it's cheap out there and a very nice place to visit
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Val D'Isere organises beginner sessions the week before Easter. Contact their tourist office for details.
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@skimottaret, why January?

Not exactly prime touring season!

For sure touring is now all season as opposed to classic Spring but surely an introduction to touring would be better in the Spring when you don't have the stress of weather conditions and all that entails.

I always take people out in Spring as people don't have to be able to ski off piste as Spring snow is far more user friendly as opposed to powder.

Just my two cents worth.........
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@Weathercam, I hear you and may consider changing it to Spring but primarily wanted to do it in early low season for ease of accommodation options and lower cost.. We would struggle to get rooms in March and April could be a slush fest if last few seasons are to go by...
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@skimottaret, i did my first intro into touring in late jan in the 3 valleys based in bride le bain , was the perfect time for short lift assisted tours to make more of the descent and great consistent conditions , got me hooked Toofy Grin
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@Dabber, cheers That is reassuring... I did most of my touring in Jan as well and didnt have many issues other than being cold !
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Guys I've been touring for a good few years!

Ask yourselves why don't the huts open till Spring!

Spring touring is so much safer. Full stop!

You don't have to be able to ski powder.

Clothing not so much of an issue and nor is variable snow pack.

Options of safe routes are plentiful.

I could go on.

That said I've probably donned skins thirty odd days this season so far on fat skis so yes Jan can be great. Just maybe not good for beginners that's all.....

PS: late March /April best deals to be had as resort skiing coming to the end, and sorry your comment "slush fest" says you don't know much about ski touring as up early to climb and ski down before noon skiing perfectly transformed snow is standard practice unless you're searching out N facing slopes Noon onwards.

PPS: @skimottaret, what about avalanche skills and are you qualified to teach / coach people off piste in France ?
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@Weathercam, PS : I get the early start and ski before noon for best snow conditions and that deals are available but our clients prefer earlier season trips. Perhaps after our intro session some may do a bit of springtime touring Smile

PPS : I won't be taking the group but am organising the trip. A local ISTD friend with 20 seasons in the the valley will be doing the teaching... snowHead
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@skimottaret, still sounds as if you have not thought it through, as you'll be mixing up off piste and all that entails in January together with ski touring.

Perfect for people that ski off piste and have the necessary skills but beginners?

Spring ski touring is great for people new to venturing Off Piste and whilst the up can be challenging at times if icy think on the whole is easier than in cold snow.

Plus totally different kit to tour in powder (fat skis more preferable) as opposed to more normal classic lightweight touring gear, that said many ski rental shops now stock more FreeRide orientated kit.

Best of luck
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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I taught myself (by skinning 1100m up to the Col du Berard) but I'd only recommend this approach if you've done a reasonable amount of mountaineering or snowy hill walking.

Starting by doing tours on piste is possibly more complicated than people imagine. Best to only skin up when the lifts are running and on pistes where it is welcomed (or at least accepted) by the lift company. If you look around when riding lifts you might spot a piste which you regularly see locals using for training. Typically this is a blue run starting in the valley and climbing up to a small privately run restaurant. Shallow gradient is important as when skinning up the side of a piste you can't zig zag up the steep bits like you would when touring off piste.

Starting with a UIAGM Guide or ISTD Instructor is the most problem free way to get started.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
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@ejayAD, as discussed above Scotland could be a good bet for an intro to touring - the way this season is shaping up there should be some excellent touring conditions later in the season, with longer days and calmer conditions.

There can be great touring in March/April and later, even when the mountains look a bit bare there is often deep snow packed in gullies & stream beds, and on lee slopes.

You should be able to hire touring kit in Aviemore or Breamar

Glenmore lodge run courses https://www.glenmorelodge.org.uk/ski-touring-courses/
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@Weathercam,
Agree spring is better for ski touring but for a single or half day introduction then IMHO during the main season is probably better. If someone doesn't like ski touring what are they going to do the rest of the week if the lifts aren't running?

Plus if they do it in Jan and get hooked there's still time to get a ski touring trip organised for the spring Toofy Grin
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Skiing around a ski resort might not give you that "out in the backcountry mountains feel" or "mountain hut feel".

The Jamtalhütte is a great hut to ski tour from, nearest ski resort is Galtür.



http://youtube.com/v/70F73o7Szmc


http://youtube.com/v/qInNMfT84wE



http://youtube.com/v/WClO2FWWuTM
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