Enjoy hut-to-hut traverses through some of the most spectacular scenery in the world on these classic ski touring trips. Since he first visited the Alps as a teenager, Larry has returned to the Alps almost every year to ski, climb and continue exploring this great range. After the mountains of Canada, this has become his second home. With over 20 complete tours of the Haute Route and many seasons in Chamonix and Zermatt, Larry has extensive local knowledge of the mountains and culture. Larry's expertise will help you get the most out of your trip to the Alps and an experience of a lifetime.
The Haute Route, Berner Oberland and Ortler Traverse each require good physical condition and advanced skiing ability. You should have previous experience backcountry skiing. We can and probably will be skiing in all conditions from powder to corn, wind hammered and frozen crud. No day is particularly hard, but doing it day after day for a week takes its toll. Good skiing ability will help you save energy on the descent. Mountaineering skills are not a prerequisite and will be taught as needed on the tour. You must be able to do a kick turn on steep icy slopes and side slip on 40-degree slopes.
The Haute Route is the best know ski tour in the Alps for a good reason. It is a high-level journey through the heart of the heavily glaciated Western Alps. This version of the Haute Route offers the most comfortable options with extra hotel nights and fine dining.
The Berner Oberland Haute Route has some of the most spectacular scenery in the European Alps. We will travel hut-to-hut with only light packs, enjoying the skiing along the way. This is a high-level ski tour about long ski descents and peak bagging. It is almost entirely on glaciers.
This tour focuses more on skiing than traversing from one area to another. In fact, the tour starts and finishes in the same town, Santa Caterina. There are many high peaks to bag, and long ski runs down. We seldom have to carry our skis, and we often spend two nights in the same hut, which eliminates the pressure of having to make it to the next hut.
The Haute Route is the best-known ski tour in the Alps for a good reason. It is a high-level journey through the heart of the heavily glaciated Western Alps. This height of land formed a natural barrier that became the boundary between Switzerland, Italy and France. Today it is not so much a barrier as an alpine playground. We will travel from country to country, between languages and cultures, all on skis. This version of the Haute Route offers the most comfortable options with extra hotel nights and fine dining. The tour is designed to maximize the mountain experience without compromising on the quality of food and accommodation. This is a first-class mountain experience.
We begin the Haute Route from Zermatt in the shadow of the Matterhorn. We traverse across Switzerland, wandering our way through the glaciers and over the passes, making ski ascents of the Pigne d’Arolla 3772m (12370 ft) and Mt Blanc de Chelion 3827m(12552 ft). From Mt Avril, it is a long ski descent to green fields and the tiny Italian village of Glacier. We transfer by vehicle to Courmayeur, which rests 12000 feet below the south face of Mt Blanc (4808m, 15770 ft). In the morning, we take the lift up for our long ski descent between the granite spires of the Valle Blanche.
The mountain huts on the Haute Route offer clean dorm-style rooms, hearty meals, beer and wine. When in the valley, we stay in comfortable family-run hotels. On the third night, we drop down into Arolla for another night in a hotel, and ride the lift out of the valley in the morning. This hotel night is missed by most other variations of the Haute Route. Our last night, in Cormayeur, we stay in a beautifully detailed stone building which has been in the family for three generations. The restaurant offers fine dining, with regional dishes of the Aosta Valley. A sommelier, a trained wine professional, will help you to choose from over 400 labels.
The Berner Oberland haute route has some of the most spectacular scenery in the European Alps. We will travel hut to hut with only light packs, being able to enjoy the skiing along the way. This is a high level ski tour about long ski descents and peak bagging. It is almost entirely on glaciers. There is not as much emphasis on having to make it to the next hut as other traverses in the Alps. Indeed we often spend two nights in the same hut to take advantage of the numerous skiing and climbing objectives. We stay on the high glaciers and do not descend to a low valley until the end of the tour when we drop 6000 feet to the small town of Munster. Many of the peaks that we climb are done as summer mountaineering objectives, the fast descent on skis makes them much more enjoyable in the spring.
This area of central Switzerland is a picturesque landscape of rolling green hills and snow-capped mountains. There is huge vertical relief, up to 11,000 feet, between the peaks and the valleys. We will be travelling from spring in the low valleys to snow on the high glaciers, then back down to spring again in a completely different region of Switzerland. From the north, the Berner Oberland is dominated by three great peaks; the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau. On the right the Jungfrau, the virgin pure and beautiful, is draped with white glaciers beckoning in the sun. On the other side of the range is the Eiger.
Minimum 4 people
Santa Caterina, Italy
This tour focuses more on skiing than traversing from one area to another. In fact, the tour starts and finishes in the same town, Santa Caterina. There are many high peaks to bag, and long ski runs down. We seldom have to carry our skis and, we often spend two nights in the same hut, which eliminates the pressure of having to make it to the next hut. There is a lot of skiable terrain in this area and many different options for loops. When the tour is finished, you can visit the 2000-year-old Roman baths in Bormio.
The Ortler-Cervadale group lies in northern Italy, just below the Austrian and Swiss borders. This area is the border between Italian and German-speaking areas and was the front line in World War 1. Evidence of the battles can be seen at some of the passes with barb wire and machine gun placements. Large parts of this range are now protected in a National Park. Although this is a high, mountainous and heavily glaciated area, there are no peaks above 4000m. This makes the area less famous and less crowded than the nearby Haute Route.
Although some of the strategically located huts started as military bases, they are anything but Spartan. The Italians know how to live well and The Ortler traverse is sometimes known as the Cappuccino traverse. Good food, good drink and comfortable rooms are the trademarks of this tour. Many nights we will sleep two people to a room, sometimes even with your own washroom. All huts have showers.