Telemark, Alpine & Nordic skiing info

Free-heel skiing
Telemark skiing or telemarking
Alpine skiing or 'downhill' skiing
Nordic skiing
Ski touring & hut-to-hut touring


Ski Touring & Hut-to-hut Touring


This is skiing away from prepared pistes or trails. It may involve climbing passes or peaks and skiing down as part of a trip. This may be a day or multi-day outing of varying levels of difficulty. The ski equipment depends on the terrain skied and the aim of the trip. Clothing and equipment for safety in remote mountain situations is needed.

There are two types of ski touring:

Nordic mountain or hut-to-hut touring

Comprises a journey over rolling mountains, such as those of Norway or the Cairngorms. It emphasizes travelling and coping with variable snow conditions beyond the trails as opposed to skiing the very steepest slopes. It uses the techniques from track and skating as well as downhill turns but uses heavier touring boots and metal-edged Nordic mountain touring skis, bindings and poles.

Standard of skiing and equipment for Nordic Touring:
There are wonderful, easier trips even if you have only a strong plough turn as long as you have learnt the travelling techniques. Metal-edged, Nordic-cambered, mountain-touring skis allow ease of travel but need a bit more skill to turn. Ascents are made using waxes or skins for steeper climbs. Rucsacs with your clothing, etc., weighing 10-15kg have to be carried on multi-day trips.

Ski Touring in Alpine mountain terrain

There are day tours or multi-day ski tours (using Alpine huts to complete a journey). Alpine mountains are at much higher altitudes, steeper in character and involve bigger ascents than Norwegian mountains. The snow is also generally much deeper, more difficult and variable. There may be crevasses on glaciated routes. Ascents of cols and small summits, generally on ski (or with only a very short section on foot) may be part of a tour.

'Ski Mountaineering' differs from ski touring in that more technical ascents of significant summits are integral to the trip. This may require the use of ropes, crampons and ice axes beyond where skis and skins can go.

Standard of skiing and equipment for touring in Alpine mountain terrain:
Whether on AT or Telemark gear, a good standard of downhill skiing, adaptability by using all the downhill turns, plus experience of off-piste skiing in a ski area, are essential before alpine tours are undertaken. Avalanche transceivers, shovels, probes and climbing skins, and the ability to use them are necessary and are either taught or revised on each tour.

Note: the law in the Alps means that tours on glaciated terrain can only be led by IFMGA Mountain Guides. The Off-piste & Telemark Ski Company uses IFMGA Guides for all Alpine tours on glaciated terrain. Skiing with an unqualified but paid leader is not recommended and will usually invalidate your insurance policy. 'IFMGA' are the initials of the international umbrella organization of mountain Guides previously identified by the initials 'UIAGM'.

Ends – return to information index

Telemark ski touring

Ski touring on Telemark skis – skinning uphill is possible without any adjustment to telemark bindings though some models now have a 'tour mode' for less effort and ease of doing uphill kick-turns.

Alpine ski touring

Alpine touring – note 'walk mode' with heels still clipped into the hinged part of the binding