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All you need to know about ski touring

Ski touring, or ski-alpinism, involves climbing slopes and then skiing down them. To do this, we use sealskins and specially designed touring skis. It's an outdoor activity that lets you enjoy nature while practicing a challenging and demanding sport.


In this article, we'll explore ski touring, covering the following aspects:


  1. Equipment needed

  2. Ski touring techniques

  3. Ski touring safety

  4. Where to ski tour

  5. The benefits of ski touring



Ski touring equipment

Ski touring requires specific equipment, different from that used for downhill skiing. Here's a list of the essentials for ski touring equipment:


  • Skis: Touring skis are lighter than alpine skis. They are fitted with special bindings for ascent and descent.


  • Skins: These synthetic skins are attached to the underside of the skis. They enable the skis to adhere to the snow and prevent them from sliding backwards.


  • Climbing crampons: These aluminum crampons are mounted on the ski bindings. They enable you to hold on when traversing on hard or icy snow.


  • Ski poles: Touring ski poles are lighter and stronger than alpine ski poles. They are often telescopic to adjust your comfort between ascents and descents.


  • Boots: ski touring boots are lighter and more flexible than alpine boots. This makes them easier to walk in on ascents. They have a walking position that disengages the shaft, and are equipped with grippy soles for walking on rocks.


  • Clothing: Warm, waterproof clothing is needed to protect against the cold and damp. Multi-layer clothing is recommended.


  • Rucksack: A lightweight, practical rucksack with a Reactor® anti-avalanche airbag system. Necessary for carrying equipment, food and water.


  • Safety equipment: Touring skiers must have suitable safety equipment. This includes avalanche transceivers, shovels and probes.


  • As well as at least one first-aid kit, a rope and a radio for the group.


It should be noted that the choice of equipment must be made according to the level of experience and objectives of each ski tourer. It is advisable to consult a professional or an expert to choose the most suitable equipment.


Ski touring techniques :

Ski touring involves ascending and descending snow-covered slopes. Ski touring techniques are therefore different from those of traditional downhill skiing. The basic technique is to advance uphill, using skins to grip the snow.

To conserve energy, it's important to maintain a vertical position. You also need to manage your breath and glide your skis over the snow to avoid sinking.

For the descent, touring skiers must use a turning technique adapted to the snow and slope. They must also use a braking technique to avoid falls.


Ski touring safety :

Ski touring is an outdoor activity that involves many risks. Avalanches, falls, injuries, fatigue, bad weather and orientation difficulties are all possible. So it's important to take every precaution to ensure skiers' safety.

It's a good idea to find out about weather conditions and avalanche risk before setting off. Safety equipment is a must. This includes a shovel, a probe, a transceiver (DVA) and a backpack with an ABS-type airbag system. And don't forget to respect the safety rules inherent in high-mountain skiing.

The wisest thing to do is to be accompanied by an off-piste skiing professional. This professional can be a ski instructor or a mountain guide.

A ski instructor is an expert in snow, avalanches and off-piste skiing in the high mountains. He has the advantage of being able to help you progress technically. A mountain guide, on the other hand, has the advantage of being able to accompany you on glacier terrain.


Ski touring locations

There are many places in the world where you can enjoy ski touring. Here are a few examples:


The Alps

The Alps are a paradise for ski touring. The mountains of the French, Swiss, Austrian and Italian Alps offer ski touring routes for all levels of skier. Places like Chamonix, La Grave, Val d'Isère and Les Trois Vallées offer vast networks of ski touring itineraries.


The Swiss, Italian and Austrian Alps also offer a wide variety of trails for ski tourers. Zermatt, Verbier, St. Moritz, St Anton, Lech, Pitztal, Dachstein and the Dolomites are all popular with ski tourers.


Norway

Norway is famous for its vast expanses of mountains and fjords in the Arctic region. They offer superb ski touring routes. The Lofoten Islands, the Bodø Alps, Tromsø and Lyngen offer ideal conditions for ski touring. Ski touring can be practiced from a lodge or from a boat, for ski-sailing packages.


Japan

The island of Hokkaidō has incredible snow cover during the Siberian Monsoon from December to February. Its powder snow is the lightest in the world, and its widely-spaced birch forests offer excellent visibility. These features make Japan a must-see destination in the life of a ski touring enthusiast.


Greenland

Its wild fjords, glaciers and icebergs make it an ideal destination for sailing and ski touring.


Svalbard

Spitsbergen Island is also a popular destination for sailing and ski touring. This is thanks in particular to its polar bears, seals, walruses and whales.


Canada

Canada's Banff, Jasper and Yoho national parks offer spectacular ski touring terrain.


The United States

The United States abounds in ski touring spots. They can be found in the mountains of the West, Colorado, Montana and Utah.


Iceland

Iceland offers unique landscapes for ski touring. These include the western fjords and northern mountains.


New Zealand

New Zealand has some spectacular mountains offering ski touring routes. They can be found in the South Island's Southern Alps.


It's important to find out about local ski touring regulations before you set off. It's best to rely on professionals to organize your trip.


The benefits of ski touring

Ski touring has many advantages, including :


  • Exploration: Ski touring allows you to discover isolated, otherwise inaccessible areas, offering a unique experience and beautiful panoramic views.

  • Fitness: It's an excellent activity for developing endurance and muscular strength.

  • Freedom: With ski touring, there are no marked trails or time restrictions. You're free to ski wherever you like.

  • Economy: Ski touring is less expensive than traditional downhill skiing. You don't have to pay to use the lifts.

  • Contact with nature: Ski touring lets you immerse yourself in nature and enjoy the natural environment.

  • Personal challenge: Ski touring is a sport that requires technique, endurance and strength. These are things that can be very rewarding when you succeed in reaching your goal.

  • Safety: Ski touring avoids the risks of crowds and queues. Usually they are on the lifts and traditional ski runs. It also allows you to practice safety measures such as avalanche risk management.


In short, ski touring is a sporting activity that offers a wide range of physical and mental benefits. It allows you to take full advantage of wide-open adventure terrain, virgin snow and nature in general. It's also an extraordinary way to travel the world with friends. Specialized professionals are on hand to prepare your tailor-made trips and guide you in the safest possible conditions.


To find hiking itineraries in different parts of the world, click here!


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