The Vanoise: This is one of the best areas in France for ski touring. It has everything including glacial and non-glacial routes, reliable snow, friendly refuges and good access. Here's a great circuit to consider:
Starting in Val d'Isere we take the lifts up to 3200m before skiing down to Pont de la Neige. From there it's skins on and then up 450m to the Col des Fours. After that we enjoy a nice ski down to the Refuge Fond des Fours. The next day we head South and then up to the Col du Pisset at 3000m. We then have the option to either ski down to the Refuge de la Femma, or to make a detour and climb (on ski, but sometimes on foot too) the Point de la Mean Martin 3330m before heading down. If you wanted to extend the tour we could easily spend an extra night in the Refuge are there are plenty of day tours to do from there. The final day sees us climbing from the Refuge at 2350m to the Col des Barmes de l'Ours at 3077m. People still feeling strong can carry on to the summit of the Point de la Sanna (3446m) but there's no obligation to do so. From the col it's a fantastic long descent all the way to Val d'Isere where the group can stop for a cold drink while I take the bus to Le Fornet to collect the car.
Les Contamines. Les Contamines in Haute Savoie has long been recognised as a great venue for day tours, but with the building of a new refuge (Refuge du Pres) it now offers numerous options for multi day tours. This area is non-glacial and generally <2500m, which makes it ideal early season (December to February). The logical place to start is in Les Contamines ski area, using the lifts to get up high, before skiing into the Beaufortain Range and away from the crowds. There are numerous options to get to the refuge but the most popular are the Col de la Fenetre and the Col de la Sicle. The refuge is hidden from view until the last moment, and there is often the chance for more powder right next to it. The Refuge was only built in 2021 and has 30 beds. It's a very comfortable place to stay, with the luxury of hot showers as standard ! The next day offer lots of options for day tours, with Lac du Jovet and the Col du Bonhomme being obvious choices, before an exhilerating and long ski all the way down to the valley. This tour could be 2 or 3 days long.
Hospice du Grand St Bernard. The Hospice, or Monastery, as it is often called, is a place steeped in history, and is located on the Swiss/Italian border in Canton Valais. The original hospice was built over 1000 years ago to provide shelter for travellers heading over the high pass. It's been expanded many times and now offers comfortable accommodation with showers private rooms (if requested). From the car park at Bourg St Bernard (1900m) we head up on skins to the hospice in around 2 1/2 hrs. There is the option to climb to the Col Est du Barrasson to increase the length of the day. The following day(s) there are plenty of options including Mont Fourchon (2901m) and the Fenetre d'en Haut before a nice ski back to the car.
Dates and Prices on application.
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