Ski touring Hautes-Alpes

Ski touring is a very popular activity in the Pays des Écrins and the Hautes-Alpes.

The area has a thousand treasures. Who wouldn’t want to escape for a couple of hours, a day, or even several days in a beautiful setting to discover some of the valley’s gems.

Ski touring enables you to cross the mountains in winter. The same routes that are used by hikers in summer are often followed, the activity therefore takes place off the groomed slopes.

There are many possible ski touring outings in the Pays des Écrins. You can also visit the beautiful pristine areas of the Col du Lautaret, the Col du Galibier or the Queyras.

Ski touring, but with care, off-piste, but carefully chosen. To get off the beaten track and go further, add some skins to your skis and after the efforts of the climb, reward yourself with an unforgettable descent in an unspoilt environment.

Ski touring requires very specific equipment and should not be done alone. It is strongly recommended to be accompanied by a guide.

Ski touring

This involves skiing on steep snowy slopes, but without using any of the equipment associated with the ski resorts. In other words, the route will not include using lifts or groomed slopes. This leisure activity is not performance-based and allows you to discover the wide-open spaces, close to natural surroundings.

It has become more accessible, thanks to the equipment which is now lighter and more technical and no longer the privilege of elite mountain dwellers. It attracts a wide public due to its convivial, environmentally friendly and economic aspects.

The climb takes place using specific equipment. The bottoms of the skis are covered with a plush anti-slip material that sticks to the skis, commonly known as ‘skins’.  Around 1976, the first synthetic skins replaced those that used to be made of seal skins. Certain sections of the progression will need to be carried out on foot, carrying your skis on your shoulder. As for the descent, you will glide down the (ungroomed) snow on alpine or telemark skis or a snowboard.

A minimum of technical experience on the slopes is necessary to try ski touring and some experience in off-piste skiing will help for the descent. This discipline requires good physical condition particularly for the uphill part, so that you can make the most of the descent!

Ski touring also exists using cross-country skis in which case it is called Nordic ski touring.

Ski mountaineering is the competitive version of ski touring and may require mountaineering techniques and equipment.

Each year, the Pays des Écrins hosts the Ski Écrins Alpinisme competition, which is a vast ski mountaineering event across the massif, as well as international competitions in the discipline, such as the World Cup.

Pelvoux is proud of its ‘mountain’ brand. The lift pass office issues a ‘touring ticket’ that gives access to the ski touring area, which is particularly interesting and appreciated as it includes the ascension of La Blanche (2,953), to autonomously discover summits and passages in the mountainous areas.

Ski touring at the Pelvoux-Vallouise ski resort

The ‘touring ticket’ for the pleasure of downhill outings

You can use the Pelvoux resort chair lift to shorten certain outings and reach the higher zones,  or enjoy lovely downhill runs.

The ‘touring ticket’ is on sale at the ski pass office in the Pelvoux resort (flat rate: €6.40).

Ski touring at the Puy Saint Vincent resort

‘Pré Rouge’ ski touring circuit New in 2016!                       

Ski touring attracts many enthusiasts each year. However, for many, ski touring is synonymous with danger as it implies following ungroomed routes in powder snow and requires perfect knowledge of the mountains and the snowpack.

For this reason, the Puy Saint Vincent resort decided to create a touring circuit open to all.

So, get your skins and head off to discover this route and its sumptuous panorama. It is an activity that you will be able to try safely by following the advice and signs along the way.

The circuit is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (outside of grooming hours). You will start from Puy Saint Vincent 1400 m and go to Pré Rouge and the marked itinerary at an altitude of 2,000 m. If you feel adventurous, you can continue to the summit of the Crête du Rocher Noire at an altitude of 2,400 m (not set up at the present time).

Off-piste skiing is not risk-free, as the avalanche zones are not secured as they are in the resorts.

Therefore, in order to enjoy this sport, it is recommended you know the area and the snow conditions well.

Call upon a guide for advice or assistance to ensure a successful outing.


Beginners and easy

• Les Têtes 2,044 m (Puy Saint Vincent).

An ideal summit to start ski touring. There is a cross-country skiing trail close by to escape to if you are tired. Slight elevation and the possibility of leaving your print in the untouched snow on the way up as on the way down. Advantage: can be completed again and again for those who want to try a different kind of skiing.

• Col du Clos de Tramouillon 2,288 m (Champcella). A round trip initiation itinerary through a wide larch forest starting from Les Seyes with moderately steep valleys where the snow is often good.

Advantage: a clear view of the Tête de Gaulent as soon as you leave the forest.

Good skiers

• La Tête des Raisins 2,655 m (Freissinières).  A classic at the start of the Freissinières Valley and gorgeous in the full morning light! In ideal conditions, the descent is enjoyable due to the numerous upward slopes in all directions. Advantage: the view of the Durance Valley and the Guillestre area on the horizon to the south-east.

• La Blanche 2,953 m (Pelvoux). A must! Start from the top of the lifts in the Pelvoux-Vallouise resort. After the Croix du Chastellet at an altitude of 2,500 m, a steeper slope leads to the summit.

• Peyre-Eyraute 2,903 m (Saint-Martin-de-Queyrières). This outing starting from the Rocher Baron displays country landscapes up to the Fond Froid Valley. The first part of the descent is intense then easier across larch forests. Advantage: the view of the Écrins massif and the higher Briançon area is stunning.

Very good skiers

• Le Grand Pinier 3,117 m (Freissinières). This is an itinerary with varied scenery and a final part at a higher altitude. The snow conditions are often excellent, and it is possible to ski on all the upward slopes. Advantage: a stop at the Dormillouse gîte-refuge.

• Le Pas des Aupillous 3,160 m (Vallouise). Between Les Bans and the Pic Jocelme, this is a route to follow in the spring until late in the season. Wild, beautiful and steep.