This guidebook describes the finest high-level ski tours and ski mountaineering routes in the Western Alps in areas as diverse as the Ecrins, Vanoise, Haute Maurienne, Gran Paradiso, Mont Blanc, Valais and Urner Alps. Includes the classic Haute Route, the ski mountaineering traverse through the Alps between Chamonix and Zermatt.



Generally, February/March until May. Best times vary from route to route, and are indicated in the guide.


Chamonix, Champex, Zermatt, La Berade, Bonneval-sur-Arc, Aussois, Cogne (Val d'Aosta), Verbier.


Ski mountaineering is a potentially dangerous activity, and should only be undertaken by those with a full understanding of the risks and with the training and experience to evaluate them.
Must See

Must See

Idyllic conditions of perfect snow, few crevasses, a track in place, and perfect clear weather!
1 Jan 2002
7 Nov 2017
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.4cm
  • Overview

    The European Alps offer some of the finest and most accessible ski mountaineering in the world. A combination of magnificent and varied terrain, an enviable snow record, excellent public transport, unrivalled hut system and long ski season make them a focus for mountaineers and skiers throughout the world.

    This first volume of the Ski Mountaineering series describes The 'Classic Haute Route', the traverse between Chamonix and Zermatt, and also brings together a selection of the finest high-level ski tours in the Western Alps in areas as diverse as the Ecrins, Vanoise, Haute Maurienne, Gran Paradiso, Mt Blanc, Valais and Urner Alps. Volume 2 covers the Central and Eastern Alps.

    The routes described will provide a lifetimes ski mountaineering for the average ski mountaineer, with rewards and challenges for all levels of ability.

  • Contents

    Using this Guidebook
    On Tour
    The Hut System
    Avalanche Awareness
    Avalanche Accidents
    Helicopter Rescue
    A Safety Strategy for Ski Mountaineering
    Grading and Difficulty
    Equipment List
    Écrins Haute Route
    Stage 1 La Grave – Gare des Ruillans – Col de la Girose – Glacier de la Girose – Brèche du Râteau – La Bérarde
    Stage 2 La Bérarde – Refuge Temple Écrins with optional ascent to the Col des Avalanches
    Stage 3 Refuge Temple Écrins – Col de la Temple – Refuge Cézanne – Refuge du Glacier Blanc
    Stage 4 Refuge du Glacier Blanc – Dôme de Neige des Écrins – Refuge des Écrins
    Stage 5 Refuge des Écrins – Col Émile Pic – Glacier de la Plate des Agneaux – Refuge Adèle Planchard
    Stage 6 Refuge Adèle Planchard – Grande Ruine – Villar d'Arène
    Haute Maurienne Traverse
    Stage 1 Bonneval-sur-Arc – Carro Refuge
    Stage 2 Refuge Carro – Levanna Occidentale – Col du Grand Méan – Refuge Evettes
    Stage 3 Evettes Refuge – L'Albaron – Refuge d'Avérole
    Stage 4 Refuge d'Avérole – Ouille de l'Arbéron – le Villaron
    La Poulé – Vanoise High-Level Circuit
    Stage 1 Aussois to the Refuge Dent de la Parrachée
    Stage 2 Refuge Dent de la Parrachée – Col du Labby – Refuge de l'Arpont
    Stage 3 Refuge de l'Arpont – Dôme de la Chasseforêt – Refuge du Col de la Vanoise (Felix Faure Hut)
    Stage 4 The Grande Casse from the Refuge du Col de la Vanoise (Felix Faure Hut)
    Stage 5 Refuge du Col de la Vanoise (Felix Faure Hut) – Pralognan – Refuge de Péclet Polset
    Stage 6 Refuge de Péclet Polset – Dôme de Polset – Refuge de Péclet Polset
    Stage 7 Refuge de Péclet Polset to Modane or Aussois
    Grand Paradiso Haute Route
    Stage 1 Valnontey to the Rifugio Sella
    Stage 2 Rifugio Sella – Grand Serra – Rifugio Vittorio Emanuele
    Stage 3 Vittoria Emanuele Hut – Grand Paradiso – Chabod Refuge – Eaux Rousses
    Stage 5 Eaux Rousses – Rhêmes Notre-Dame
    Stage 6 Rhêmes Notre-Dame – Benevolo Refuge
    Stage 7 Benevolo Refuge – Becca della Traversière – Rifugio Mario Bezzi
    Stage 7 Rifugio Mario Bezzi – Becca di Giasson – Valgrisenche
    Mont Blanc Haute Route
    Stage 1 Champex – Val d'Arpette – Trient Hut
    Stage 2 Trient Hut – Aiguille du Tour – Fenêtre de Saleina – Col du Chardonnet – Argentière Hut
    Stage 3 Argentière Hut – Col des Grands Montets – Pas de Chèvre – Requin Hut
    Stage 4 Requin Hut – Cosmiques Hut
    Stage 5 Cosmiques Hut – Mont Blanc Traverse – Gonella Hut
    Stage 6 Gonella Hut – Col de la Seigne – Aiguille des Glaciers – Conscrits Hut
    Stage 7 Conscrits Hut – Dômes de Miage – les Contamines Montjoie
    High-Level Day-Tours in the Mont Blanc Massif
    Day-Tours in the Aiguilles Rouges
    Col des Aiguilles Crochues to Le Buet
    Col du Belvédère to Le Buet
    Col de Beaugent to Le Buet
    Day-Tours from the Grands Montets or Argentière Hut
    Col du Tour Noir
    Aiguille d'Argentière via the Glacier du Milieu
    The Three Cols
    Col du Passon
    Mont Blanc via the Grands Mulets
    Mont Blanc du Tacul – North Face Normal Route
    Tours from the Conscrits Hut
    Contamines Montjoie to The Conscrits Refuge
    Dômes des Miage
    Aiguille des Glaciers
    Pain de Sucre du Mont Tondu
    The Classic Haute Route
    The Classic Haute Route
    Stage 1 Argentière – Grands Montets – Col des Grands Montets – Argentière Hut
    Stage 2 Argentière Hut – Col du Chardonnet – Fenêtre de Saleina – Trient Hut
    Stage 3 Trient Hut – Champex – Bourg St Pierre
    Stage 4 Bourg St Pierre – Valsorey Hut
    Stage 5 Valsorey Hut – Plateau du Couloir – Col Sonadon – Chanrion Hut
    Stage 6 Option 1 Chanrion Hut – Otemma glacier – Col Chermontane – Vignettes Hut
    Stage 6 Option 2 Chanrion Hut – Brenay Glacier – Col du Brenay – Pigne d'Arolla – Vignettes Hut
    Stage 7 Vignettes Hut – Col de l'Evêque – Col Mont Brulé – Tête de Valpelline – Zermatt
    Stage 8 Zermatt – Saas Fee via the Adler pass
    The Grande Lui Variation
    Stage 1 Trient Hut – Fenêtre de Saleina – Col de Saleina – La Fouly
    Stage 2 La Fouly – Fenêtre de Ferret – Great St Bernard Hospice
    Stage 3 Great St Bernard Hospice – Col de Prox – Chaux de Jean Max to c2257m – Valsorey Hut
    The Verbier High-Level Route
    The Classic Haute Route
    Stage 1 Mt Fort Hut – Three Cols – Dix Hut
    Stage 2 Dix Hut – Pigne d'Arolla – Vignettes Hut
    Stage 3 Vignettes Hut – Col de l'Evêque – Col Mont Brulé – Tête de Valpelline – Zermatt
    Stage 4 Zermatt – Adler pass – Saas Fee
    Arolla High-Level Circuit
    The Classic Haute Route
    Stage 1 Arolla –Pas des Chèvres– La Luette– Dix Hut
    Stage 2 Dix Hut – Pigne d'Arolla – Brenay Glacier – Les Portons – Chanrion Hut
    Stage 3 Chanrion Hut – Mt Avril – Regondi Bivouac Hut
    Stage 4 Regondi Bivouac Hut – Mont Gelé – Bivouac de l'Aiguillette (Singla)
    Stage 5 Bivouac de l'Aiguillette – Col du Petit Mt Collon – Col de l'Evêque – Col du Mt Brulé – Col du Valpelline – Col de la Tête Blanche – Bertol Hut
    Stage 6 Bertol Hut – Tête Blanche – Wandflue– Mota Rota– Glacier Ferpecle – Les Haudères
    Zermatt and Saas Fee 4000ers
    The Classic Haute Route
    Stage 1 Kleine Matterhorn – Breithorn – Guide d'Ayas e Champoluc Hut
    Stage 2 Guide d'Ayas Hut – Castor – Quintino Sella Hut
    Stage 3 Quintino Sella Hut – Il Naso – Gnifetti Hut
    Stage 4 Gnifetti Hut – Signalkuppe – Zumsteinspitze – Monte Rosa Hut
    Stage 5 Monte Rosa Hut – Adler pass – Strahlhorn – Britannia Hut
    Stage 6 Britannia Hut – Allalinhorn – Langflue Restaurant/Hut
    Stage 7 Langflue Restaurant/Hut – Alphubel – Saas Fee, or Täsch

    Appendix A Summary of the Tours
    Appendix B Further Reading and Information
    Alpine Ski Mountaineering, Volume 2: Central and Eastern Alps

  • Maps

    IGN 1:25,000

    Meije Pelvoux TOP 25 2436 ET

    Tignes - Val d Isere - Haute Maurienne TOP 25 2633 ET

    Les Trois Vallees TOP 25 3534 OT

    Chamonix Massif du Mt Blanc 3630 OT

    St Gervais 3531 ET

    Didier Richards 1:50,000

    Ecrins - Haute-Dauphine

    IGC 1:25,000

    Grand Paradiso la Grivola Cogne

    Cervino-Matterhorn e Monte Rosa

    Kompass 1:50,000. Sheet 86

    CNS Ski Maps 1:50,000. Sheets: 282S, 283S, 284S.

    CNS 1:25,000. Sheets: 1344, 1345, 1346, 1347, 1348, 1329, 1326

    Landerskarte Der Schweiz 1:50,000. Sheets: 283S, 293

    Landerskarte Der Schweiz 1:25,000. Sheets: 1327, 1346, 1347, 1328, 1329, 1347, 1348, 1349

  • Updates
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    Alpine hut seasons

    Readers should be aware that seasons for individual alpine huts are determined by the people who manage them and may change. The suggestion of a hut as a stop on a ski tour in this guide does not guarantee that the hut will be open (although most huts have winter rooms open and available throughout the winter as explained in the guide). You should always check ahead, by ringing the numbers given in the guide or by looking at the appropriate Alpine Club website. These websites have the most up-to-date information on the huts: Austrian Alpine Club –; Swiss Alpine Club –; Italian Alpine Club –; French Alpine Club –; Slovenian Alpine Club –; German Alpine Club –

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Oconnor Bill

Bill O'Connor

Bill O'Connor is a mountain guide with extensive winter ski mountaineering experience and is an author of books to trekking in Nepal and Lakeland Scrambling.

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