débuter le ski de randonnée avec nos conseils Wed'ze

Learning about and starting ski touring

March is the ideal time of year for ski touring! Would you like to have a go? Check out my advice!

What is ski touring?


Perhaps you've already seen people wearing skis, climbing uphill near groomed slopes? Well that's an example of ski touring! Ski touring is a complete sport; it's a mix of hiking with skis, fitted with skins, and downhill skiing through powdered snow . Most of the time, it's practised on unmarked trails but you can also do it on the edge of groomed slopes, depending on the ski resort's regulations.


The aim? It's an alternative way of skiing, great for expending energy and finding virgin slopes to ski down. Some people prefer the climbing and others prefer the skiing. As a skier and/or snowboarder, when ski touring for the first time, you'll need to make a trade off between comfort when climbing uphill and your downhill skiing performance.


découvrir le ski de randonnée avec nos conseils wed'ze

The right equipment for starting ski touring


1. Skis

To kit yourself out properly for ski touring, let's start with skis. The compromise here is to find a ski that is long enough to allow you to ski downhill easily but not so big that it's difficult to manoeuvre when climbing uphill. The ideal is to have a wide waist width so you can move easily through powder. The optimal waist width is between 90 and 100 mm so there's not too much surface area, and consequently weight, to lift when climbing but the ski is sufficiently versatile to negotiate all types of terrain.


Of course, there are a whole range of different types of skis: skis for those who enjoy going uphill fast and those who prefer the fun of skiing downhill ... but this article is just an introduction to ski touring so you'll have plenty of time to decide on your preferred mode later, should you enjoy it!


débuter le ski de randonnée avec nos conseils Wed'ze


2. Bindings

There are two kinds of bindings.


*Plate bindings which are proper ski bindings with a system that allows the heel to remain free when climbing uphill, similar to snowshoes. They are quite heavy when skiing uphill but have the advantage of being safe and comfortable when skiing downhill.


*Binding inserts for touring skis which, in contrast, are very comfortable for climbing and are increasingly comfortable for downhill skiing. However, they require special ski boots.


découvrir le ski de randonnée avec nos conseils wed'ze


3. Poles

When it comes to poles, telescopic models are perfect because you can adjust their size when you go up or downhill.


débuter le ski de randonnée avec nos conseils Wed'ze


4. Skins

Finally, last but not least, skins (which, today, are all made from synthetic material). They are intended to help you walk uphill when wearing skis; the hairs dig into the snow each time you take a step which helps the skis grip and prevents you sliding back down. Choose skins that are wide enough for your skis, using your waist width as a reference point; then cut them to match the size and shape of your skis.

Wed'ze sells skins in packs with Samurai Freeride skis.


débuter le ski de randonnée avec nos conseils Wed'ze


Safety is paramount: essential equipment


For your first outing, we recommend that you go with a guide or instructor. You'll get sound technical advice and also find some good spots to explore during your first trip.

You need to have a safety kit, as you would when going on any off-piste excursion. Remember:

- Your Avalanche transceiver that will you need to test, together with the transceivers of other ski party members, before setting off.
- Your backpack, equipped with an "air-bag" system if possible, containing the essential snow shovel/probe pairing.

- Water and a small pick-me-up in the form of a cereal bar or dried fruit because climbing uphill, as well as skiing downhill, both require a huge amount of energy. You need to be able to recharge your batteries!

- A first aid kit and a small repair kit (screws, elastics, spray glue for the skins, bit guards for the poles), that doesn't weigh too much, is very useful

Once you've got these final items, you'll be all set to head off and conquer those beautiful slopes!

How to get started ski touring?


1. Dressing properly

Ski touring is primarily about climbing uphill and requires a great deal of effort. You can quickly become overheated if you don't know how to kit yourself out. The simplest and safest method: the layer system. You can easily remove layers when you're hot and then put them back on when you're cold. My tip? Take a spare layer that you can put on when you reach the top. The best way to avoid getting cold. Remember to wrap up when you reach the top before embarking on your well-earned descent.


2. Preparing properly

Proper preparation is key to a successful ski touring excursion. You're well wrapped up. You've got your boots on. You're all set to explore new landscapes? It's time to take the plunge but before you start, remember there are certain ground rules that you should always follow:


- Check the weather several times in advance and one last time before you set off so you're confident of good weather conditions for your trip.

- The local avalanche bulletin, which is never far away, will give you a good idea of the snow conditions on the ground.

- Tell your friends and family about your itinerary and let them know if you change your mind at the last minute. Never set off alone.


découvrir le ski de randonnée avec nos conseils wed'ze


Some ski resorts have marked trails for beginners, or organise introductory sessions and other ski touring-related activities. Remember to ask your ski resort for information so you can test your skills in a safe environment and take the advice of professionals, including guides, instructors or ski patrol rescuers.


Have you already tried ski touring? If so, do you have any advice for those starting out? Share your advice and comments!


I hope you enjoy some great ski-touring trips!


débuter le ski de randonnée avec nos conseils Wed'ze

Pauline MARTIN
Dialog leader