/ How did you get into ski touring?

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ROSP on 13 Jan 2017 - host-92-14-136-17.as43234.net
Hi all,

I'm a pretty competent piste skier and have done quite a bit of 'offpiste' between the lifts etc. My question would be how can I progress with my skiing with ski touring being the eventual goal? Should I join a club, hire a guide or go on a course?

Any advice you have would be great fully received!


blurty - on 13 Jan 2017
In reply to Ross Spours:
I did a few sessions with Alison Culshaw in Chamonix to improve off-piste skiing (her company actually runs a course called 'off-piste skiing for mountaineers'). She's an extremely talented instructor.

Some mates & I hired Rob Jarvis for 4 days to show us the practicalities of 'ski-touring' (Avi, nav, route appreciation, weather etc) - Rob is a very relaxed and informative guy; he understood the gig was less 'guiding' and more 'instruction' and was happy to help. We learned a lot and had a real laugh too.

Never looked back
Post edited at 14:08
Mike-W-99 on 13 Jan 2017
In reply to Ross Spours:

Already winter hillwalked and had done a lot of pisted snowboarding. Seemed logical to combine, rather than learn to ski I bought a splitboard though.
Doug on 13 Jan 2017
In reply to Ross Spours:

Probably different to most, but I came to ski touring via nordic skiing, mostly in the woods & forests of Strathspey although I had been winter walking & climbing for several years. A few early trips higher up the hill showed that I needed to learn how to turn so started spending some time riding the lifts at Cairngorm & Glenshee (but still mostly on xc skis).
kathrync - on 13 Jan 2017
In reply to Ross Spours:

Allison Culshaw's sister, Gillian Parker also runs off-piste courses in Scotland through Allison's company that are also very good. The Glenmore Lodge courses (off-piste skiing and/or touring at various levels) are quite good as well.

If you get to the point where you want to start getting out independently of organised courses and are looking for partners, there is a British Backcountry group on Facebook. I sometimes see partner requests on there.
Fiona Reid - on 13 Jan 2017
In reply to Ross Spours:

I'd skied mostly on piste with a small amount of off-piste for about 7 years before I did any touring. I did a 2-day course at Glenmore Lodge which was basically an intro to ski touring aimed at piste skiers who could ski red runs. That was pretty good, taught me how to use the kit, how to get skins on/off in a hoolie, how to do kick turns, how to use ski crampons etc.

From doing that I basically bought the kit (skins, skis with touring bindings) and just went on small forays from the ski lifts to begin with. Once happy with the kit and transitions from skin - ski - skin etc I went on longer tours on relatively easy terrain. E.g skiing off the back of Cairngorm then skinning back up, out to Ben Macdui and back again. Over time I did longer days (ski centre, Macdui into the Lairig Ghru, onto Braeriach, back to Lairig Ghru and out via the gap) and have done two trips to northern Norway where we toured 7 days in a row.

When I started ski touring I was already a competent summer/winter walker and climber thus had all the mountaineering skills, navigation knowledge etc thus if you don't have those skills you probably want to gain them first. Being in the middle of the Cairngorm plateau in a white out on skis is not the best place to discover you don't know how to navigate!

Since my initial 2 day course I've done another 2 day workshop (also at Glenmore Lodge) looking more at technique, skiing steeper stuff and skiing different snow conditions. I've also done an avalanche awareness course, learned (and practiced) how to use a transceiver, probe, shovel etc.

If you already have the winter mountaineering skills, navigational skills, avalanche skills (both awareness and knowledge of how to used a transceiver etc) then going from piste skiing to touring should be relatively straightforward. An intro to ski touring type course will give you an idea of whether you'd enjoy it without buying all the kit (ski touring is a good way to get empty your bank account) and is likely to be a lot cheaper than using a 1-1 guide. I don't know anything about ski touring clubs so can't advise there.

Mike Rhodes - on 13 Jan 2017
In reply to Ross Spours:

Have a look at the Eagles Ski Club which is totally dedicated to ski touring. They run trips for proficient skiers and cover all of the skills that you may need on a touring trip. You can also join some of their touring trips, private or guided. It's a great club.
I joined after meeting some members on the Haute Route.
Doug on 13 Jan 2017
In reply to Mike Rhodes:

I joined after meeting some members in an Austrian hut and sharing a table with them for dinner. The club also runs regular training meets for skiers who want to start touring, usually led by a guide. They also organise weekend meets in Scotland, although they don't always coincide with the snow
LastBoyScout on 13 Jan 2017
In reply to Ross Spours:

Everyone I know that's done much in the way of ski touring started off as decent skiiers and mountaineers and just changed kit. Not sure any of them have had much in the way of instruction, if at all.

Think there may have been a couple of sessions of hiring touring kit in resort to get a feel for what's needed, but then it was on to eBay for 2nd hand stuff and never looked back.

Depends what your experience is, though - can you deal with avalanche/crevass rescue, for example?
Steve Woollard on 13 Jan 2017
In reply to Ross Spours:

If you want to do it in the Alps you could try Frost Guides -


James Jackson on 13 Jan 2017
In reply to LastBoyScout:

> Everyone I know that's done much in the way of ski touring started off as decent skiiers and mountaineers and just changed kit. Not sure any of them have had much in the way of instruction, if at all.

I certainly fall into that bracket (stand-fast being a decent skiier; it's all relative!). Having spent loads of time in the mountains (be in UK, Alps or further afield) in all conditions, and enjoying skiing (but not doing enough of it), I realised the obvious thing to do was combine the two to avoid the misery of winter walking. Lo and behold, I was not the first to think of this! It truly is the way to move in the mountains in the winter; must less worry over timings (getting down is pretty swift), you can cover ground across and uphill much faster than walking too, and it lets one get into some pretty amazing places.

I spoke to some friends who toured, bought some kit and went straight out to the Alps and joined them on some tours. That worked well as they were confident ski tourers who were moving onto glaciated stuff, and I was a competent mountaineer who was learning how to ski tour. That was three years ago or so, and I haven't looked back.

Of course, my skiing has improved (but has a lot further to go for me to be happy - I'm quite self-critical and know my weaknesses - I can heartily recommend Gillian Parker too; I had a day of instruction from her last season), but the main improvement is refining kit and processes. Bitter winds on the Cairngorm plateau rather drive one to work on swift transitions and set systems to enable them!
jonnie3430 - on 13 Jan 2017
In reply to Ross Spours:

I googled it, decided that it didn't seem so difficult, bought the kit off eBay and did the silvretta traverse. I'm on the same skis, skins, tranciever, probe and shovel that I started with as they're good enough for punter use. Boots were a drama and I'm on my third pair because I found it hard to get boots that didn't destroy my shins after a day of use.

When this stuff breaks, I'll do the same. The price for new stuff is crazy. Apparently German fleabay is a better choice than UK with more on offer.
TobyA on 13 Jan 2017
In reply to Ross Spours:

You just get into ski touring (hello to Jason Issac and other denizens of climbers corner of the church).

But really, it can be that easy. If you can ski downhill, just get some gear, ski up a safe, not too silly mountain (avoiding avalanches and all the sensible stuff any winter walker would do), then enjoy skiing back down again. Finding some friends who do it is obviously ideal, but I've toured on my own in Scotland. Best day out last winter for me was skiing up and down Helvellyn!
badmarmot - on 14 Jan 2017
In reply to Ross Spours:

Hi when I moved to the Alps I was a boarder, then I saw the light and moved to skiing, luckily I had loads of locals willing to take me out and laugh at me, I mean show me the ropes.

For me it comes down to time vrs money if you have the cash a course can be great fun and the day is focused around you and getting the most out of it, having said that if you have time the self taught can be great fun as well, trying thinking what skills set are you missing? If you ski off piste you should already have an understanding of snow, Avalanche awareness and rescue, if not you need that sorted even for the lift feed stuff, if you happy in the mountains in winter that's a big plus, so it could be the skinning which won't take long to get going on?

A great area to learn is the Queyras, some easy tours and non glaciated don't need those skill straight away and generally good weather

Books like ski touring by Bruce Goodlad are a good read,

One of the hard things can be finding people to go with, if you do head out ecrin or Queyras way drop me a bell I am happy to ski with new people.

Cheers Rob

Seocan - on 14 Jan 2017
In reply to Ross Spours:

I winged it. I was happy in the hills in winter, and was happy skiing (but not with the piste queues), so read about it a bit, bought skins ( got the shoppie to show me how they went on and off), and progressed from there by doing some tours from the road till I was confident and competent to go farther.
TRip - on 14 Jan 2017
In reply to Ross Spours:

You've got mail.
AndrewHuddart - on 14 Jan 2017
In reply to Ross Spours:

I'd skied for years and was confident in most terrain off piste. I was also a climber and wanted to travel away from people more effectively than purely on foot. So, I bought touring skis, skis and boots and off I went. I already had bleeper, shovel and probe from off-piste.

I talked to folk, read lots and watched films and absorbed as much as I could. If you're already confident about avalanche safety, they're just hills, go explore them.

jonnie3430 - on 14 Jan 2017
In reply to Ross Spours:

The two most important books were bill O'Connors ski mountaineering guides to West add East Alps, because they told me where to go.
Doug on 14 Jan 2017
In reply to jonnie3430:

Was Peter Cliff's 'Ski mountaineering' when I started, although for anyone who can read French or German there are many other useful books, with guides to both technique and to routes
damowilk on 14 Jan 2017
In reply to Ross Spours:

I moved to NZ!

A bit more seriously, I'd always intended to, it just needed a bit of a jump start in opportunity. Here I did a backcountry ski course, then met some partners through a facebook group.
But it's a lot easier when you've got skiing within a few hours.
doz on 16 Jan 2017
In reply to Ross Spours:

couldn't afford the lift pass
15th hand pair of Silvrettas, pair of shite downhill skiis out an Edinburgh skip, old downhill boots, scrimped hard and bought new skins and as soon as I had a friend saved for transceiver and shovel. Was a while ago when secondhand kit was rare as hen's teeth...doesn't have to break the bank
AG - on 16 Jan 2017
In reply to Ross Spours:

Did downhill skiing and winter walking for years - got annoyed with queues at the lifts and hired some nordic skis / skins. Eventually bought my own telemark gear and i'm now on my 3 set of tele skis , which now have free pivot stlyle bindings and 4 buckle plastic boots.
I personally just got out as much as possible (in Scotland).

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