Recommendations for Winter Alpine and Ski Touring Location

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 joe.91 15 Sep 2023

My partner and I are driving to the alps for 2 weeks in February and we're after somwhere that offers alpine winter climbing (Scottish V/VI), water ice climbing (WI4-5), off piste ski touring (35 degrees ish max) and general piste skiing.

My obvious location choice was Chamonix but having been there a few times in the winter and not knowing the alps (bar Chamonix) very well, I wondered does anybody know any similar areas we should consider? Any recommendations welcome! So far the Dolomites is on the list as an alternative. Thanks in advance. 

 Doug 15 Sep 2023
In reply to joe.91:

Somewhere in the Hautes-Alpes ? Some fairly big ski resorts (eg Serre Chevalier, Vars/Risoul, Puy St Vincent) plus some smaller ski areas which are fun for a day (eg Abries, Ceillac, St Veran), plenty of ski touring & well developed & fairly reliable ice climbing (eg Ceillac, Fressinières). Base yourself somewhere like Vallouise or Briançon & lots of options for playing within a short drive.

In reply to joe.91:

As Doug mentioned eastern side of the Écrins is a good shout for what you want. 

Briançon is therein town/city, it is at the junction on three mountain massifs. The Écrins national par, the Massif des Cerces and the Queyras. all three offer an immense amount of ski touring. 

I have made a free on line guide book to ski touring in the area - and did a mini guide with fatmap and fall-line ski mag -

One of the great bits is each area get slightly different weather so you can mix it up with conditions. 

For ice climbing there are a lot of options, Ceillac, Freissinieres and Fournel are the main one but a lot of other. plus la Grave is only 40min-1 hour away, so good Ice and amazing skiing. A good guidebook is the UK Écrins selected ice climbs by Steve Broadbent, there is a new local one coming out soon (don't have exact date, the old one manageable just). 

General piste skiing there is lots from big resorts such serre chevalier and montgenevre, mid ones like Puy St Vincent and vars, down to tiny one in the Queryas with a few lifts.

Also in Feb you can normally get some sports climbing done as well if you fancy a change. there are a lot of south facing crags that if the sun is out are great to climb through out the winter. My GF climbs most days in feb where as I skip tour most day. it's a great playground for that.

If you want any other info let me know. Cheers Rob 

In reply to ecrinscollective:

Completely agree with Rob about east Ecrins.  we wer able to combine ice climbing, ski touring sport climbing and T-shirt clad via ferrata in JanFeb 2 years ago. 

Last year we had 2 weeks in La Grave which is also worth considering though the valley is a bit gloomier compared to the BrianconArgentiere side 

OP joe.91 18 Sep 2023
In reply to joe.91:

Thanks for all the recommendations, we've been to Las Grave and Ceillac before. Whats the alpine climbing in the area like, I think we're after that more than the ice climbing tbh!

In reply to joe.91:

There is quite a bit, obviously no where near as much as Chamonix, or for the most as easy to access no lift access stuff really. I wont clam to have a vast knowledge, As its rare to prise me off the skis, but this is a chance I have skied down the lines if its skiable? 

There is some easier access stuff (still probably need ski's or snow shoes but doable in a day) like Fantomas grade 4-5 500m and some of the lines on the Tête de Sainte Marguerite, plus some stuff around the Combeynot off the col du Lautaret.

There is a lot in the Écrins park but access here is a little limited. With the road to Ailefroide shut in winter, Its a long skin in and then probably the use of a winter room or two. depending on the line you want. Can be fun depending if you like that kind of thing?

The guidebook you want is this one -


 Kean 19 Sep 2023
In reply to ecrinscollective:

Hi Rob. Thanks for posting the links to the free guides you've put together! Really keen to explore the area. Just to say, the ecrinscollective website is really laggy on my laptop. Takes ages to scroll up and down.

In reply to Kean:

Hi Kean, 

Thanks for letting me know, I will have a look at it. I am guessing it quite images intensive and maybe I need to look at this and the best option for it. 

cheers Rob

 David Bennett 19 Sep 2023
In reply to joe.91:Have you thought about Kandersteg? Outstanding for water ice and touring, maybe not as good for extensive pistes or alpine winter. Pistes and alpine just a short drive away

 nniff 20 Sep 2023
In reply to joe.91:

Pitztal / Otztal maybe?

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