Adventures / Adventure School

Learn Mountain Expeditions Skills in the Pyrenees

Learn mountain expedition skills in the winter wonderland of the Pyrenees. 7 days.

Adventure School
6 Nights
France, Spain

On this supervised mountain journey, you’ll learn basic safety skills and build your confidence in trekking and climbing in winter environments. Over seven days you’ll develop your skills in snowshoeing, self-arrest techniques, avalanche assessment, navigation, mountain weather reading and climbing over snow and ice using crampons, ice anchors and belays. This course is run by Everest guide Rolfe Oostra.

Your hassle-free adventure includes

  • 5-day expedition skills course
  • 2 night’s guesthouse accommodation
  • 4 night’s mountain hut accommodation
  • Local, certified Everest guide (Rolfe Oostra)
  • Some technical equipment
  • Meals whilst on the mountain
  • Welcome meal
  • Local transfers
  • Airport transfers
  • All taxes and licenses relative to the trip

Perfect for

This trip is great for keen trekkers looking for a new challenge to take on a winter environment and all that comes with it. With some drastic terrain and punchy climbs, you’ll need a good level of fitness.

Need To Know

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  • Rucksack (60-65l) with waterproof cover and waistbelt
  • 4-season sleeping bag
  • Sleeping bag liner
  • Warm hat
  • Wide-brimmed hat
  • Sun protection: buff/scarf, wrap-around sunglasses, sunblock, lip salve
  • Ski goggles
  • Waterproof jacket and trousers
  • Windproof jacket
  • 2 base layers (moisture-wicking and thermal)
  • Long-sleeved fleece
  • Down jacket
  • Inner gloves and ski gloves
  • Climbing trousers
  • Thermal bottoms
  • Walking boots (crampon compatible)
  • Gaiters
  • Ski socks
  • Trekking poles with snow baskets
  • Crampons (available to hire)
  • Ice axe (available to hire)
  • Climbing harness (available to hire)
  • Climbing helmet (available to hire)
  • Snowshoes (available to hire)
  • Prusik loops x2
  • Screwgate karabiners x3
  • Sling (80cm-100cm)
  • Water bottle/bladder and water purification tablets
  • Comfortable evening clothes
  • Personal toiletries inc. towel, wet wipes, alcohol gel

Other recommendations are: - Camera - Mobile phone - Ear plugs - Head torch - Energy snacks - Plastic eating equipment (bowl, mug, spoon, etc.) - Personal medicine if required (please inform your guide in case of emergency)

The following are not included in the trip price:

  • Flights to and from Toulouse Airport
  • Snacks and drinks
  • Lunch when in Luchon
  • Farewell dinner in Luchon
  • Any additional accommodation fees necessary due to changes to the itinerary due to unforeseen weather conditions
  • Personal expenses
  • Travel insurance
  • Any additional costs associated with leaving the expedition early

This trip will run with a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 10.

Sure can! A lot of people do, and it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

There may be uphill and downhill challenges, so a good solid level of fitness is required. Expect to be able to do a 6 to 8-hour walk over rolling terrain with a few punchy climbs carrying a pack up to 12kg in weight.

The expedition may involve harder scrambling or some trekking and climbing with ropes. If snow is encountered then glacier travel with ropes, ice axes and crampons will be necessary.

Basic climbing skills are ideal, but will also be taught and certainly practiced during the expedition and pre-summit phase.

The food in the refuges is plentiful and of very good quality, often using locally sourced ingredients.

Breakfasts consist of pastries, fresh bread and jams and you can expect hearty meals in the evenings.

If you have any special requests, let us know and we will do our best to accommodate you.

During the day, temperatures can be warm and can even reach 15-17°C. In the evening, it could drop to below freezing with a distinct chill in the air.

During early spring or late autumn, there can be snow from the refuge up and the temperatures on the summit will be well below freezing. As you will be trekking in a mountain environment, the weather can rapidly change for the worse so you need to be prepared for all conditions. Even in good weather, it is not uncommon to have short heavy downpours or snowstorms.

You should endeavour to bring your own climbing hardware where possible in order to familiarise yourself with your own gear. If there are some items you don’t have, these can either be hired locally in Luchon or lent from your host depending on availability.

This training week is self-supported which means you will be carrying everything with you resulting in your pack weighing about 12kg.

Items that can be borrowed from your host include:

  • Crampons
  • Ice axe
  • Climbing harness
  • Climbing helmet
  • Snow shoes


View map

The Pyrenees straddle the border between France and Spain for over 400km and rise to 3400m. The area known as the ‘Thousand Lakes’ offers some of the best in Pyrenean trekking along routes through the Aigues Tortes National Park. The landscape is incredible in its variety and a pleasure to explore; jagged mountains above hidden Alpine cirques and hundreds of lakes tucked in every fold of this breath-taking terrain.

The French spa town of Luchon lies on the Spanish border; this vibrant town, with its many shops, bars and restaurants, is the largest mountain town on the French side of the Pyrenees, making it a popular area for skiing and snowshoeing.

Luchon was renowned for its baths in the Gallo-Roman period and a visit to the thermal baths is still a must today; the main attraction is the vaporarium – a huge natural steam bath, unique in Europe.

Start point

Toulouse Airport - 12:00

Your adventure begins at Toulouse Airport (TLS) at 12:00. Please schedule your flight to arrive more than 30 minutes before this time. You will meet your host and fellow adventurers in the arrivals area for your transfer to Luchon.

Finish point

Toulouse Airport - 14:00

Your adventure ends at Toulouse Airport (TLS) at 14:30. You are free to book any flight departing after 16:00.

What to Expect

Day 1: Arrive in Luchon

Your host will meet you at Toulouse Airport and take you to your accommodation in Luchon.

You’ll be issued with any equipment you need before heading out for a rock climbing session to explore basic climbing and abseiling techniques.

Back at the guesthouse, your guide will brief you on the days ahead before you retire for plenty of rest in preparation.

Day 2: Head into the Mountains

This morning, you’ll take a drive to the mountains; the area you cover will depend on the weather on the day but typical areas would be the Hospice de France, Valle de Benasque and the Vignemale.

Today, you’ll concentrate on snowshoeing and consolidating your snow safety. You’ll gain an understanding of varying snow conditions and avalanche risk assessment.

Tonight, you’ll stay in a mountain hut where you can relax and enjoy dinner with the group.

Day 3: Technical Mountains Skills

After breakfast this morning, you’ll spend the day learning and developing your mountain skills.

Working on varying terrain under snow and ice, you’ll learn self-arresting skills and work with your ice axe and crampons.

Tonight, you’ll spend the night back at the mountain hut or, if the weather permits and you’re feeling adventurous, in a snow hole or snow camping.

Day 4: Mountain Ascent in Winter Conditions

Today, you’ll put your new skills to good practice as you ascend a small peak.

While closely supervised, you’ll use your own decision-making and assessment skills to negotiate the peak and get a feel for trekking in a challenging environment.

You’ll spend tonight in the mountain hut or, again, snow camping if it’s deemed safe to do so.

Day 5: Summit Attempt

After yesterday’s ascent, it’s time to take it up a notch; today you attempt to summit the highest peak of the French Pyrenees, Vignemale (3298m) or Pico de Aneto (3404m).

With a qualified mountain guide at your side and your confidence boosted by yesterday’s ascent, you’ll put your new knowledge and skills to good use and make a remarkable achievement.

Tonight, you’ll camp out in the snow or stay in a mountain hut with your group.

Day 6: Return to Luchon

After breakfast this morning, you’ll don your snowshoes for the last time during this trip as you leave the mountains for your transfer back to Luchon.

When you arrive back in Luchon, your hard work will be rewarded with a celebratory meal with the group.

Tonight, you’ll return to the guesthouse for a warm shower and some much-needed R and R.

Day 7: Time to Head Home

Enjoy breakfast at your leisure before preparing to head back to the airport.

Your transfer will take you back to the airport at around 15:00, so you can even take some time to have one final wander around the charming spa town of Luchon before you head home.

Note: This itinerary and the duration of the activities are subject to change due to group abilities and preferences, and weather conditions and forecasts.


You’ll spend two nights in a guesthouse in the centre of Luchon. Rooms will be based on two people sharing and breakfast will be included.

During the course, you’ll stay in mountain accommodation; this may be unmanned winter quarters in a refuge or in a manned hut with facilities. Your host will be in touch before the trip to confirm arrangements.

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