Sunday evening the course convenes at the Grand Chalet hotel with welcome by ISM guides at 6.45pm and course briefing followed by evening meal.
We drive from Leysin to the Val di Rhemes in Val d'Aosta. From here we skin to the Benevolo hut (2280m, 2.5 hours). This charming hut is famous for the quality (and quantity) of the food and wine, and is an excellent base for us to warm up and acclimatise.
There are many exciting ski peaks to climb from the Benevolo hut. The Pointe de Galise is an excellent ski peak and its north facing glacier often provides excellent powder skiing. We have amazing views of the Gran Paradiso chain across the valley. We ski the glacier back to the Benevolo hut. Other possible ascents are the Pointe de Calabre 3445m, the Grande Traversiere 3496m and the Pic de Golette 3291m.
Today we start our ski ascent of the Gran Paradiso. We climb to the Refuge Fredrico Chabod (2750m, 3.5 hrs). The first stage of the approach takes us through an alpine pine forest, until the mountain opens out to give superb views of the Gran Paradiso and its north face. This hut is very modern and comfortable. This valley is home to many Chamois and Ibex, sightings are usually frequent and at close distance
The traverse of the Gran Paradiso (4060m, 5hrs). Our route takes us through a complicated glacier under the north face of Gran Paradiso, we then join the more normal route from the Vittorio Emmanuelle hut. For the last 100m to the summit we have to cache our skis and rope up as the summit ridge is rocky and exposed. We now have a well deserved 1300m descent either skiing the glacier back to the Refugio Chabod or down to the Refugio Vittorio Emmanuelle.
After climbing the Col de Tresenta we ski under the north face of the Ciarforon (3640m) heading towards the top of the Val Savrenche until we bypass a band of cliffs and ski to Pont (1960m, 6hrs) 1700m of descent. This avoids having to carry the skis down the steep rocky path below the hut as well as giving a fitting climax to the week and 'hero ski' to the restaurant terrace for the celebratory drink and lunch. Return to Leysin.
Maps: Valgrisnenche Val di Rhemes Hiking Map 3 and Valsavaranche Gran Paradiso Hiking Map 9 1:25 000 (there is no specific ski map for this area)