From Introduction Level | Private Guiding
✦ Experienced UIAGM/IFMGA mountain guides
✦ A classic Chamonix touring venue
✦ High mountain scenery
✦ High safety priority and success rate
One of the classic ski touring arenas in the Chamonix valley is the Argentiere glacier. High and steep summits flank the wide and long Argentiere glacier on both sides. On the southwest side, we find the focus of our interest. Long glaciers take us to high passes, with great variety, and different challenges. After snow-falls we have some amazing powder skiing that is really good. On longer spring sunny days, we can be lucky to ski the best spring snow, where everyone is a hero.
On the northern aspect, and all the time in our view, we find famous peaks like the Aiguille Verte 4122m, Les Droites 3984m, Les Courtes 3856m, and Aiguille d’Argentiere 3901m. These peaks have all been scaled by mountaineers since the first days of alpinism. The steep ribbons of snow and narrow couloirs have all been skied by the protagonists of extreme skiing. Even today new “impossible” lines are being skied on these faces.
The focus of this trip is ski touring up the beautiful glaciers which go up towards Col d’Argentiere, Col de Tour Noir, Col de Chardonnet, and Col du Passon. It will be either a great introduction to high-altitude touring or for experienced groups simply 3 excellent touring days. We will stay in the Argentiere hut and enjoy their friendly hospitality. Being early out we can time our ascent and descent to be optimal for the time of the day and staying in the hut means we have time on
This trip is a good and logical trip for anyone with ambitions to do the Haute Route. Not only will you see and tour parts of the first Haute Route stage, but you will also be using much the same equipment as you would when doing the Haute Route. We will be doing all aspects of touring and practicing ski touring technics.
If you perform well on this trip, the Haute Route – Chamonix – Zermatt could be a good objective a as future ski tour.
The tours from the Argentiere hut are at altitude and relatively long, but fine for anyone with a good level of fitness. The skiing is never very difficult, but as we are at high altitudes and at different orientations, the snow can be of variable quality. That said some of the best skiing to be had are on these glaciers whether we are enjoying fresh powder snow or more spring snow conditions later in the season.
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This is a course that can only be booked by private groups.
*Group sizes of 5 or 6 participants are accepted as long as everyone has a good ski level.
We run this tour when the Argentiere hut opens during the touring season.
Normally it’s open between the start of March and Mai.
As the Argentiere hut is used for groups doing the Haute Route, booking this tour at the latest 2-3 months before a start date is advisable. Particularly weekends are often booked out very early.
Planning and logistics
Assignment of guides, planning, and information prior to the course, reservation of lifts.
UIAGM/IFMGA guides – 3 days of mountain guiding.
The guides working with us are all holders of the highest recognized mountaineering certificate. They are equally a friendly and nice group of guides used to handling groups and climbs in the Alps.
Group equipment (ropes & safety gear)
The guides provide the group security gear (rope, glacier travel equipment).
You only need to make sure you have your personal equipment
We include 2 nights in mountain huts on a half-board pension.
Any cost not mentioned in the “Included” section. The most important ones are:
Transport to Chamonix
Read more under practical info.
Accommodation in the valley
Read more under practical info.
You will need a single ticket to reach the start of the trip (count on appr. 30-35 euros/person).
Personal ski gear
Check the gear section.
Lunches & drinks
You should bring snacks for 2 days. You can purchase lunch in the huts, but you are welcome to bring sandwiches.
You should make sure you are adequately insured. Check our page on insurance.
Other possible costs
If we need to change the program the guide will inform you if there are additional costs incurred.
If we stay in other huts these will be included, but you might have some transport expenses.
A magic playground – The Argentière Bassin
One of the finest touring areas in the Alps happens around the Argentière Glacier and the Argentière mountain refuge. The vast choice of long and relatively gentle glaciers makes it possible to get a lot of mileage and learn technics in the majestic surroundings of the high Chamonix mountain range. This is a great introduction to ski touring, but can for strong groups be adjusted to add length and difficulty to the below-suggested program.
The choice of an itinerary will depend on the number of participants, the ski level in the group, and the actual mountain conditions.
The guide will on the first day be able to access the group’s level and lay down a final plan for the coming 2 days.
A typical program:
Day 1 – Glacier des Rognons – Argentière Refuge
Meet at the bottom of the Grands Montets lift – We take the lift to either the top of the Bochard or Herse lifts. From here we ski-tour to the Col des Rachasses. We continue up the Glacier des Rognons to the summit of the Grands Montets. From here we descend the Glacier des Rognons to the Argentiere glacier. Often the skiing is excellent on these northern slopes. We have about 1h to the Argentiere refuge skinning up the great Argentiere Glacier. We sleep in the hut.
Day 2 – Col du Tour Noir or Col d’Argentière
We will either ski tour to the Col du Tour Noir by the “Glacier des Améthystes” or the slightly longer Col d’Argentiere by the “Glacier du Tour Noir”. Finally, the guide will choose the route that makes the most sense, and where the snow is best. We have plenty of time and will be able to keep working on our touring technics. It’s a great day with majestic views. You will feel that touring at altitude takes it out of you and will enjoy the well-earned rest back in the hut. We sleep a second night in this hut.
Day 3 – Col du Passon
Our last day of touring. Early in the morning we slide down the Argentiere glacier and make our way up toward the Col du Passon. We leave the groups heading for the Haute Route and finish the day with a great descent into the small village of Le Tour. Strong groups will go all the way to the Tete Blanche for an even longer run down. If late in the season we do another high touring objective, with the possibility to ski out through the Argentière ski area. This is the case if the snow situation isn’t good enough all the way to the Le Tour village.
At the end of our ski day, we say our goodbyes.
The weather and temperature change quickly in the mountains, so we need to be prepared for all conditions.
The layering principle is what works best, as we can adjust our temperature by adding or taking off layers as the weather changes.
It’s important to have relatively light clothes, but it’s just as important that the garments are of high quality, durable, and weather-resistant.
Shell jacket – Gore-tex jacket. A relatively light version is perfect. It should have a good hood, vents under arms, and be made of good quality materials.
Shell pants –Gore-Tex pants of durable material, with a few pockets, often suspenders, and zippers on the side for ventilation.
Note : If you have a pair of “Guides” pants (often stretchy and weather-resistant Schöller fabric), you can get away with bringing a pair of light-shell pants., that most of the time will be stowed away in your pack for use when the weather is very harsh on top of your Guide pants. This is a popular combination for spring touring, where the guide-pants often do the job 80% of the way and offer much better ventilation and comfort.
Base layers – Top and bottom thermal underwear. You can adjust these to be either a light or warm version.
Mid-layer – A mid-grade fleece sweater or jacket is great.
Extra warm layer – a light down or fiber jacket is a fantastic item to bring. When it’s cold we might wear it ski touring, when taking a break or in the hut.
Warm hat – That covers the ears.
Neck gaiter – Something that can warm your neck and protect against wind and bad weather. A “buff” or other balaclavas are great.
Warm gloves – Finger gloves – if you suffer from very cold hands, mittens are the choice. You should bring 2 pairs of warm gloves, or at least in your group have an extra pair.
Fleece/light gloves – Less warm, nice to have when warm weather.
Socks – Make sure to choose a pair of socks that will keep you warm, but not so that you are too tight in the boots. 2 pairs.
Backpack – 30l-40l durable and lightweight. Should have straps or a system to carry skis comfortably. You need at least one ice-axe holder. If you like to use the backpack for hut-to-hut trips later, you can opt for a size of 40-45l.
Skis* – Good off-piste/touring skis with ski-touring bindings.
Skins* – Skins must be cut to the ski you use. Should have a maximum of 1-2mm to the edge and clip on the back tail—only glue skins.
Ski crampons* – “harscheisen” or simply “knives”. Get these before you visit Chamonix, as they are specific to your binding brand and ski width. It can be a frustrating exercise to find them last minute in Chamonix.
Ski touring boots* – Normal or Lightweight touring model, w. good “walk-mode,” “Vibram-sole,” and “tech binding inserts.”. Note that heavier “free-ride” boots with touring capability aren’t meant for more extended tours.
Ski poles* – A light telescopic ski pole. Make sure to choose a good brand (E.g. Leki). The basket must be wide enough for use in soft snow.
Harness* – When we bring the harness, it is mainly worn all day. Opt for a well-fitting, compact & lightweight ski touring model.
Crampons* – A hybrid model with steel front points and an aluminium backpiece is ideal for ski touring. We avoid full aluminium crampons as they aren’t durable enough. Full steel crampons are suitable, but they are heavy.
Ice-axe* – A short and light ski-touring model.
Ski helmet – We recommend all participants wear helmets. Today’s lightweight ski touring model helmets are well-ventilated, which makes it possible to wear them even when going uphill.
Ski strap – Used for various things, but mostly to keep your skis together and to attach the tips when carrying them on the backpack.
Avalanche beacon* – Choose a new quality model with three antennas.
Avalanche shovel* – A lightweight, extendable model of good quality.
Probe* – At least 2m long
* You can rent these items in most shops in town. When you rent skis, they should always come with skins & ski crampons. The rental equipment is never very light, as they are built to last.
Other Items – Remember “only nothing, weighs nothing”.
Head-lamp – You need a small and light headlamp. Useful if coming down late. Make sure to check if the batteries work.
Silk liner – A lightweight liner for sleeping in the hut’s bunk beds is obligatory.
Tea-flask – ½ l of warm tea is good to bring.
Water bottle – 1l water bottle. Water systems will freeze.
Snacks – A few snacks, nuts, a small sandwich
First-aid – Painkillers (Paracetamol + Ibuprofen), plaster, blister kit (Compeed, sports tape, small pair of scissors). Don’t bring any more than this unless you have a special condition that requires you to take other medicine (make sure to inform us of what you take).
Suncream & sun-stick
Snow goggles – It can be windy and we need to be able to protect our entire face.
Sunglasses – Category 4 with side protection.
Money, passport, social security card, etc.
Tour Grade: From S2/T1/B
Please read through the requirements for participating in this tour and follow the link to the “grading page.”
You need to be a good skier, who already has off-piste skiing experience. We will most likely encounter quite a few different textures of snow and the visibility can be variable if the weather is less than perfect. The better skier you are, the more you will enjoy the descents, and the more energy you will have for the touring up.
We will mostly be on 25-35 degree slopes but will have shorter sections of 35-40 degrees where you need to make either controlled short turns or be able to controlled slide down on your edges.
All 3 days are moderately demanding. Expect to do about 800-1000 height meters per day with a 6-8kg backpack. As the conditions can be variable both the touring and the skiing can be tricky at times, and anyone with less than the required fitness would be struggling.
That said we don’t need to go fast or have massive and long routes to do but to enjoy the trip to the fullest a good level of fitness is required.
Getting to Chamonix or the course venue
For most of our clients, the easiest way to get to Chamonix or the Alps, in general, is by plane. The nearest airport is Geneva.
Read more about getting to Chamonix here – Click here.
Not everyone wants the same accommodation type, so we rarely include Valley accommodation. Check our suggested hotels, B&B, and campsites on this page – Click here.
If you want us to include hotel nights in the price, please let us know what standard you are looking for.
You must take out search & rescue, repatriation, and cancellation insurance. Read more about insurance here – Click here.
We believe our finest task is to give every client a unique mountain experience without taking unnecessary risks. The experience of the mountain guide, access to the most recent weather forecasts, and information sharing between guides are some of the important elements for making good and sound judgment calls. Suppose conditions or other situations render an attempt at a peak dangerous, avalanche conditions of a ski tour no longer possible, etc.. In that case, the guide will do his/her best to devise a good alternate plan. This might be a 100% change of the program. Emphasis is put on staying safe and having a great time!
In some of our courses, we stay in mountain huts. On hut-to-hut trips, they are part of the itinerary; at other times, we use them as the starting point for a climb or ski tour.
The mountain huts offer basic accommodation in bunk-style rooms. Blankets and duvets are in the huts, so you don’t need to bring a sleeping bag. It is obligatory to bring a sleeping bag liner.
We are served a simple breakfast and a 3-course dinner (soup, main meal, dessert).
We will let the guardian of the hut know if you are on a special diet (vegetarians, allergies, etc.). Vegans will need to bring supplementary food.
There are hut slippers available for use inside the hut.
It’s helpful to bring cash for personal expenses (water, soft drinks, beer, lunches, etc.)
There is mostly no tap water in the huts, and you must buy bottled water.
You will be able to charge your phone.
Some mountain huts have showers. You must mostly pay for this; only a few huts can provide towels.
Make a booking
Please read through all the course information. Please make sure that you have the required level to join the course.
Contact us if you have any questions.
Read more about the booking process here – Click here.
We will need all to join a course to complete our “Participation Form.”