Discover ski touring

Discover ski touring
©Yves Thollon

Ski touring is a growing sport that involves skiing on ungroomed terrain, such as steep slopes or mountain peaks.

This activity allows skiers to discover incredible landscapes, far from the crowds of traditional ski slopes. Ski touring is also a great way to challenge yourself physically and mentally, while reconnecting with nature.

The basics of ski touring

The material

You will need specialised equipment for ski touring.

  • Touring skis are lighter than traditional skis and often have special bindings that allow them to be detached for ascent and attached for descent.
  • Meidjo bindings are a popular choice for touring skiers because of their versatility and durability. They are designed to provide excellent stability and precise control on descents, while still offering sufficient freedom of movement for climbing. Meidjo bindings are also compatible with most ski touring boots on the market.
  • Skins are used to grip snow surfaces when climbing, while ski touring poles are often longer than traditional poles to provide better reach and balance.
  • The avalanche transceiver (DVA) is a compulsory safety device, and crucial for locating people buried in avalanches.
    Before every outing in the mountains, it's important to check that your avalanche transceiver is working properly. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to carry out the necessary checks.
    You should also carry a shovel and probe in your rucksack for digging and locating a buried person in the event of an avalanche.

Once you have the necessary equipment, you will need to familiarise yourself with the basic skills of ski touring. This includes the ability to navigate in difficult weather conditions, recognise avalanche warning signs and know mountain safety techniques. It is recommended that you take a ski touring course or practice under the supervision of a qualified instructor if you are a beginner.

Ski touring seasons

Ski touring can be practised throughout the year, depending on the weather conditions and snow levels. In general, the ski touring season starts in December and ends in April, but this can vary depending on the region and altitude. Skiers should be aware of weather and snow conditions when engaging in this activity. Skiers should be able to recognise avalanche warning signs and know how to react accordingly.

Yves Thollon and the serial heelers

Tips for safe ski touring

Ski touring can be done alone or in a group. However, it is often recommended to ski in groups for safety reasons. Skiers can help each other in case of emergency or bad weather conditions.

It is also important to ensure that the equipment is appropriate for the snow conditions and skill level of the skier. Skiers should be able to recognize avalanche warning signs and know how to react accordingly. This includes the use of safety equipment such as avalanche transceivers, shovels and probes. Skiers should also be familiar with avalanche rescue techniques and how to use their safety equipment in an emergency.

Increasingly, ski resorts are offering marked ski touring routes to allow beginners to experience this activity safely and under the supervision of qualified instructors. These routes are often equipped with safe zones for beginners and allow skiers to enjoy this activity in complete safety.

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