Adventures / Sub Zero

Winter Hiking and Survival Skills in the Alps

Crunch through the snow to rustic mountain huts and learn how to survive while you’re up there

This trip is no longer on sale

Trip Ref #10223

Adventures / Sub Zero

Winter Hiking and Survival Skills in the Alps

Crunch through the snow to rustic mountain huts and learn how to survive while you’re up there

DURATION

3 nights

LOCATION

France

ANNUAL LEAVE

2 days off work

SEASON

Dec-Apr

GROUP SIZE

Up to 8 people

MEETING POINT

Geneva International Airport, Switzerland

ACCOMMODATION

Mountain hut · Guesthouse

DIFFICULTY

Moderate

You'll need to be reasonably fit and happy hiking for several hours each day, but you won't need any previous snowshoeing experience.

Hike into the wilderness through fresh powder fields and silent forests in the French and Swiss Alps

Hone your avalanche safety and mountain rescue moves with epic views over the Mont Blanc Valley

Sup mulled wine and munch fondue in a hidden igloo dome, in a forest, by a fire, under the stars

This trip is brand new

We’re still waiting to collect any reviews from other travellers on this trip. However, all our hosts go through an extensive vetting process to ensure that your adventure is awesome.

Included

Guides

Professional, friendly and experienced English-speaking guides

Accommodation

2 nights in mountain huts, 1 night in a guesthouse

Meals

3 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 3 dinners

Transfers

Transfers to and from Geneva airport

Equipment

Snowshoes & poles

Not Included

Flights to and from the meeting point

Travel insurance

Personal expenses

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

Geneva International Airport, Switzerland

11:30

Ends

Geneva International Airport, Switzerland

15:00

Transfers

Your host will meet you at 11:30 at Geneva Airport ready for the transfer to the start point of the adventure. You should book a flight or train that arrives at the airport no later than 11:00.

Your return transfer will arrive at Geneva Airport at around 15:00 pm on Day 4, so you'll need to book flights or onward train travel departing from 16:30 onwards.

Travel options

You can fly into Geneva Airport (GVA) from various European origin points.

For those who wish to avoid flying, Geneva Airport is easily accessible by train via various routes across Europe. For example, take the Eurostar from London to Paris and then connect to a number of direct lines or an overnight sleeper train from Paris to Geneva and on to the airport train station.

Day 1

Mountain hut · Mixed dorm

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2

Guesthouse · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 3

Mountain hut · Mixed dorm

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 4

Departure day

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

Breakfasts always include coffee, bread, jam and butter, and, depending on the mountain hut, may also include orange juice, cereal, yoghurt, fruit, cheese and meats. Dinners are hearty, warming and served in large portions to keep you well fuelled for the trip. Typical meals include a soup starter, a main course of meat and veg with a side of grains or pasta, and a dessert such as vanilla pudding or crème brûlée. Picnic lunches will be provided each day, with a sandwich or wrap, salad, and a selection of fruit, muesli bars, chocolate and nuts etc.

On the evening of day two, you'll eat out under the stars in an igloo dome, tucking into Swiss cheese fondue, mulled wine and sausages around an open fire.

Vegetarian, vegan, and most other dietary requirements can be catered for. Just let your host know when booking.

What is the accommodation like?

Chalets du Loriaz

A cosy mountain hut with a dining area and open fire. The hut has toilets and running water, though no showers. The hut accommodates up to 18 people in mixed-dorm style with mattresses, pillows and blankets provided. The dormitory is heated so you won’t need to bring a sleeping bag (though bringing a liner will provide some extra comfort). There is a small bar where you can grab a beer or some wine for the evening.

Gîte La Casita

On day two you'll stay at Gîte La Casita, a guesthouse nestled in a quiet mountain village, which provides a cosy refuge for hikers, cyclists and skiers throughout the year. The house was built in 1900 and renovated in 2006 with twin share rooms with shared bathroom facilities. You'll appreciate the hot showers here after your day of winter skills on the Loriaz hills.

If the Gîte is not available, your alternative accommodation will be at L'hôtel du Col de la Forclaz, a 6th generation family-owned hotel on a mountain pass.

Upgrades

Unfortunately, private room upgrades are not available due to the nature of the accommodation on this trip.

Cabane Barraud

Another cosy alpine mountain hut awaits you at Cabane Barraud, but be prepared to muck in. You'll need to carry food up, chop wood, help get the fire and stove going, and prep the dorm for sleeping. Again you'll sleep in a mixed dormitory with blankets and pillows provided.

Day 1

Arrive in Geneva, snowshoe to Loriaz refuge

Driving

2hrs

Snowshoeing

4hrs · 4km · 720m up · 50m down

From the airport, your host will drive you to the Trient Valley near Chamonix. Your adventure begins from the small village of Vallorcine, where you'll get kitted out with snowshoes and poles and given a rundown of the adventure ahead. The first hike is a steep forest ascent before reaching open fields of fresh powder. You'll spend your first night in the wilderness in a cosy hut with good food and a well-earned drink.

Day 2

Hike on the Loriaz hills and learn winter skills

Snowshoeing

4-5hrs · 7km · 120m up · 800m down

Clip your snowshoes back on to tackle the loop over to the Tête de la Chevrette, a vista over the Mont Blanc Valley with awesome views of the mighty Aiguille Vert and Aiguille du Dru. In the afternoon you'll begin your winter skills training. Hello transceiver, avalanche shovel and probe! You'll learn about snow and avalanches, first aid and mountain rescue methods. You'll also practice how to use the safety gear before road testing your new-found skills with a series of challenges. After a short hike and drive, you'll reach your cosy home for the night. Grab a hot shower before a slap-up meal of Swiss fondue, sausages and mulled wine set around and fire in an igloo dome, in the forest, under the stars.

Day 3

Soak up the solitude at the remote Cabane du Barraud

Snowshoeing

4hrs · 7km · 720m up · 40m down

Hop back in the van for a short drive to the trailhead at Gryon. It's a real team effort out in the wilderness today. Start with an easy and gradual ascent up to Solalex, a picturesque mountain hut where you'll top for drinks. Next up is the remote Anzeinde Valley. Keep your eyes open for chamois! The hike ends at the Cabane du Barraud where you'll help chop wood, make a fire, melt snow to drink, prepare dinner and arrange the sleeping quarters before relaxing into the evening.

Day 4

Hike back to civilisation

Snowshoeing

4-5hrs · 12km · 250m up · 940m down

After a cosy night, you’ll help prepare a proper breakfast, pack and get ready for your last day in snowshoes. Today you'll scale the stunning Pas de Cheville; a mountain pass with magnificent views of the Les Diablerets range. If the weather's good you’ll be able to see the famous Matterhorn in the distance! Following a different path back down to Solalex hut, you'll retrace your steps to yesterday's trailhead where your snowshoeing adventure sadly comes to an end. Your host will transfer you to the airport by 15:00, ready for any flight departing after 16:30.

15% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 15% discount on us to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

Which pieces of kit are included in the trip cost?

  • Snowshoes
  • Hiking poles
  • Head torch
  • Sledge
  • Avalanche transceiver

What do I need to bring?

Bags

  • 20-30 litre backpack
  • Small dry bag for phone and electrical items
  • Waterproof cover/liner

Clothes

  • Strong and waterproof hiking boots with a high ankle
  • Hooded mountain jacket - windproof, waterproof (gore-tex best) and breathable
  • Mountain trousers - windproof, ideally waterproof and breathable
  • Good-quality down or synthetic jacket
  • Fleece jacket or similar
  • Good quality thermal baselayers. Wool is best, especially merino
  • Balaclava, face mask or buff for protection against cold & wind
  • Thick & warm hat x 2
  • 2-3 pairs of thermal waterproof and ideally windproof gloves
  • Snow/ski goggles
  • Underwear
  • Thermal mountain socks with heavy insulation
  • Something to sleep in
  • Additional warm, comfortable clothes for the evenings in the mountain huts
  • Change of footwear for relaxing at the huts

Other

  • Sleeping bag liner
  • Sunglasses
  • Padlock for left luggage
  • Universal travel plug adapter
  • Power bank or solar charger
  • Passports (and visas)
  • Travel Insurance documents
  • Earplugs
  • Suncream
  • Personal first-aid kit (including blister treatment)
  • Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, sanitary wear etc)
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Alcohol hand-gel
  • Reusable water bottle x1 litre (two if you have room)
  • Biodegradable wet-wipes
  • Energy bars and snacks

Walking Poles

Payable In Resort

Walking Poles

We've crunched the numbers to work out the total carbon footprint of this trip, and plant enough trees to suck 2x as much back out the atmosphere.

What's the number?
It works out on average at 60kg of CO2 emissions per person, including all local transport, accommodation, food, activities, guides, staff and office operations.

The only thing it doesn’t include right now is flights and travel to the destination. We do make an overall estimate across all our customers separately, but as we don’t book flights, have customers from all corners of the world, and no way of reliably knowing their travel plans, we simply can’t include an individual number in the figure on display here. We’ve got a goal for 2022 to fix that, so that when you book, there is a way to measure and mitigate the carbon emitted by your flight too.

But what does the number mean?
Yep, hard to picture eh? To give you an idea:

  • Driving 1000miles/1609km would be approx. 281kg of CO2 in an average car (or 140.5kg per person if there was 2 of you in it).
  • A return economy class flight London - New York would be approx. 1,619kg (1.66 tonnes) per person.
  • 10 trees in a temperate forest are estimated to remove approx. 250kg of CO2 from the air in a period of 5-10 years.

What are we doing about it?
Our trips are relatively low-carbon by design, and we're working with all our hosts to develop long term carbon reduction plans. For every person booked with us since 2016 we’re planting enough trees to suck at least 2x more carbon out the atmosphere than is emitted by their trips. All native trees, as part of amazing projects that are re-foresting degraded land, tackling the biodiversity crisis and supporting local communities at the same time. We go further than that too, also funding re-wilding projects worldwide to help protect important keystone species from extinction. See the reforestation and re-wilding schemes we support. See our carbon action plan.

Want to know more?
Amazingly, no international travel company has ever publicly published their carbon measurements before, as far as we know. We believe that must change, quickly. So we’re openly sharing the method we used in the hope that other companies will be able to more easily follow suit and build on what we've done so far. You'll find it all here.

Snowshoeing is a type of hiking that uses a special type of footwear - a snowshoe - to spread your weight over a larger area to move easily across powder snow-covered terrain. While today's snowshoes look modern, snowshoeing has actually played a vital role in Arctic life for centuries, with traders and trappers using wooden versions to move freely through the wilderness.

Snowshoeing is incredibly easy, comfortable and safe. You simply clip your snowshoe to the outside of your hiking boot and off you go. You'll be in the hands of local, experienced, and trained guides who know the area intimately and will guide you safely throughout the hike.

It is important that you pack the right type of boots to fit the crampons that will be provided. You will need a warm winter mountaineering boot, ideally B2 crampon compatible or hybrid (i.e. Scarpa Manta or Charmoz). Full plastic double boots are not required and are likely to be uncomfortable for most of the terrain encountered. You can read more about crampons and selecting the right boots here.

This trip is suitable for beginner and experienced hikers with a good level of fitness who are able to hike 15–20 km each day with as much as 1000m of elevation gain. You will be carrying your pack between the refuges so should be confident hiking with a 35-50L pack.

Sure can! Over 50% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

Temperatures in this part of the Swiss Alps average around 4˚c / 39˚f between December and March. Although usually pleasant, on any winter hike in a high mountain environment you will potentially encounter high winds, rain, snow, ice and steep slopes. This trip is no different and you should be prepared to face these conditions. For help packing for these conditions, have a look at the kit list.

For those wanting to arrive a day or two early or extend their trip at the end - your host is happy to help arrange pre or post-trip accommodation in Geneva on your behalf, with the price and style depending on availability and your budget.

Private transfers can be arranged, however, these are very expensive, so we recommend taking public transportation from Geneva Airport or from the train station to your pre-trip accommodation. Public transport in Switzerland is easy and straight forward to navigate, and air travellers to Geneva Airport can take advantage of free public transport into the city.

Yes! Any extra kit or luggage you have with you can be safely left with your local host at the start of the trip. You'll carry your own bag up to the mountain hut for the night so we recommend packing light and aiming for a bag weighing no more than 8kg.

Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our adventures. Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure.

Your insurance policy should also include specific Covid-19 cover, including cancellation and curtailment cover if you, your travel companion or a close relative are diagnosed with Covid-19.

We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

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