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Ski Touring and Off-Piste

Alpine ski-touring is the perfect way to enjoy the mountains throughout the spring, giving the freedom to travel anywhere quickly and efficiently when deep snow makes walking impossible.

It appeals to keen skiers who want to escape lift queues and crowded pistes to ski off-piste on the pristine snow of the higher mountains, and also to mountaineers (with some ski experience) who want to gain new skills and add a new dimension to their mountain activities.

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ISM's alpine ski touring courses are distinguished by the depth of experience of the Guides (a crucial factor in determining safe routes) and their detailed local knowledge - which ensures that you get the best ski touring available in the prevailing conditions.

Our ski tours (or Haute Routes) take you to the wildest and most beautiful parts of the Alps, well away from overcrowded ski resorts and beaten trails such as the Chamonix-Zermatt Haute Route in peak season.

Off-Piste Skiing is an integral part of alpine ski-touring and offers perhaps the most exhilarating experience you can have on skis – taking you away from prepared slopes into the real mountain environment with its infinite variety of snow conditions, each of which you can learn to understand and ski proficiently.

The skill, training and local knowledge of our Guides will enable you to enjoy this serious environment to the full and in safety.

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Course Progression

ISM's ski touring courses are structured so as to allow you to progress in a logical and thorough way through our course programme to a level at which you can get full benefit from our most advanced ski tours such as the Chamonix Zermatt Haute Route week.

ISM 'Instruction' courses are primarily dedicated to teaching skills (always within the context of enjoying great off-piste & ski touring) and may involve you leading from the front and starting to make decisions on route choice and safety for yourself while on our 'Guiding' courses the guide will normally be leading at all times.

All of our courses involve a degree of 'Coaching', which we define as constantly improving and refining your existing skiing and ski touring ability.

Grading of Ski Courses

Snow conditions vary from year to year and week to week, so grading of ski touring courses is not a precise art. However we hope you find these a useful indication of how demanding a tour will be and whether it suits your ski experience. If in doubt please contact the office.

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Introductory Ski Courses

These ski touring courses and off-piste skiing courses aim to take a competent skier into a new world of ski adventure away from prepared ski slopes. They are suitable for people who are comfortable skiing linked turns on piste and have tried some off-piste skiing, and who are keen to learn ski-touring techniques. The trips are not too arduous or serious, having shorter uphill days involving at most four hours skinning with light packs.

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Intermediate Ski Courses

For confident skiers who are happy skiing off-piste in most snow conditions and who have some knowledge of ski-touring techniques. Experienced off-piste skiers with no ski touring experience are also welcome. There may be some strenuous days so a good level of fitness is required, but the routes are generally less committing as there is flexibility in the programme.

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Advanced Ski Courses

For strong skiers with previous alpine ski touring experience and able to ski a range of snow conditions off-piste. There may be several strenuous days (involving ascents using skins for 4 to 8 hours) and the routes are more committing, with several sections on and above glacier level. Packs will be slightly heavier so a high level of fitness is required.

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Important Notes
COURSES CONVENE IN LEYSIN except when otherwise stated on the course pages. Details for joining these courses will be found on the relevant course page.

Inclusive Prices
Once you have reached us, your course fee normally covers everything apart from personal ski equipment and lunches/drinks taken in restaurants (all picnic lunches are provided). Occasionally when internal bus/taxi transport is used variably within the course, this is not included in the price - this will be clearly stated in the course description.