Courmayeur Backcountry 2015 – Mont Blanc & The Vallee Blanche

Phil Smith, Director of Snoworks Ski Courses reports on the Courmayeur Backcountry 2015
Photo: Starting out on the world famous Vallee Blanche.

Courmayeur, situated against the backdrop of Europe’s most famous and highest mountain Mont Blanc. A picturesque village with everything Italian – quaint backstreets with cafes and restaurants and of course Italian Cappuccinos!

The skiing, well what can we say! You’re on the doorstep of Europe’s highest mountain, Mont Blanc. Along with the longest, most famous, most spectacular off-piste descent in the world, 23km and 2,800-metre vertical descent. It’s the home of the Vallée Blanche.

OK here we go, the important bit. Like all off-piste itineraries it will be adjusted and modified to make the most of the prevailing conditions and the level and experience of the group. But to give you a taste of what’s in store:

A transfer to Chamonix and up the world famous Aiguille du Midi at 3,812 metres. You’re in the heart of the Mont Blanc area and under the shadow of the great Mont Blanc itself. The Aiguille du Midi telepherique is stepped in history. Built in 1955 and for 20 years the highest cable car in the world. To this day it still holds the record for the biggest vertical ascent in the world starting at 1,035m in the town of Chamonix and at the top an amazing height of 3,842m.

Exit the top and head through the ‘ice tunnel’ and you’re onto the ‘arête du midi’. Take a deep breath your about to head along a ridge with 40 degree drops either side back to the Chamonix valley way below. But enjoy as you’ll be roped up with a safety line all the way along to the start of this unforgetable skiing adventure.

Once your skis are on there are numerous choices of routes depending on your experience, ability and taste for adventure. The easiest route is open to everyone from competent red run skiers. So even for those with limited off-piste experience you are about to savour one of the worlds most famous and longest off-piste routes. For those with more experience you can take one of the many other routes possible including the ‘Vrai Vallée Blanche’ as it’s known, ‘Petit Envers Du Plan’ and for the adventurous the ‘Grand Envers du Plan’ with some gradients of 40 to 45 degrees.

Another classic descent and another ‘once in a lifetime’ experience. The Toula Glacier starts from the Helbronner Cable Car in Courmayeur at a height of 3450m. A metal staircase allows access to the Toula Glacier followed by a spectacular 2,000m vertical descent ending in the village of La Palud.

Closer to home you take the two top lifts in the Courmayeur ski area, Cresta Youla and Cresta d’Arp. From here there are some classic off-piste routes with various options for each. Descend via Arp Vieille taking in the magnificent views of the Glacier du Miage ending in Val Veny. Head east backcountry to the village of Pré-Saint-Didier or ski way out backcountry through the Vallon de Youla to the village of La Balme.

…and if the above is not enough and you want to get higher and further away. There are numerous heliski options on the glaciers surrounding Mont Blanc and don’t forget the cost of the guide is already included in the Backcountry fee so all you pay for is the drop.

It’s backcountry accessed by lifts with the unique Snoworks blend of combining Snoworks instructors to develop your off-piste skiing with mountain guides to search out those unforgettable off-piste descents. Safety equipment including backpack, transceiver, shovel and probe all included in the cost of the course.

We’ve opted for the Hotel Cristallo run by our partners Mark Warner. At £618, it’s amazing value for money and includes; return flight, airport transfers to the resort and half board with all the normal trimmings of a Mark Warner holiday along with the essential items for all Backcountry skiers, hearty breakfast, afternoon tea and cakes and wine with the evening meal – Italian of course.

We’ll be limiting the course to 28 skiers in 4 groups of varying ability levels and experience. From adventurous skiers with limited to no off-piste experience (level 4) to experienced off-piste skiers looking for further development, great off-piste skiing and challenge (levels 5 and 6).

28 skiers, 4 groups then it’s FULL. So if you fancy coming to the home of the highest mountain in Europe and the longest, most spectacular, most famous off-piste run in the world, please please book as early as possible.

Date: March 1st 2015

Call our office on 0844 543 0503 or use the ‘Reserve A Space’ facility by clicking here.

Backcountry (20) Backcountry skiing (3) courmayeur (1) off-piste (22) Vallee Blanche (1)