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Ski touring, three spring trails with stopover in a refuge

Until the end of April, the wardens welcome ski hikers in the mountain huts. After the heavy snowfall of the last few days, the conditions are ideal for escaping in these vast and wild spaces. Selection in the Alps and Pyrenees.

Milder temperatures and longer days in the mountains, where the snow is still dense with the falls of recent days, this is the ideal combination for the practice of ski touring. The discipline has experienced an unprecedented enthusiasm in this winter without ski lifts and alpine skiing. All the more reason to continue its momentum at the start of this spring. The arrival of fine weather in March and April allows you to escape in sealskins higher and further.

Spring conditions that make skiing easier

The mildness of spring is also savored during a stopover in a refuge, here that of the Dent Parrachée, in Savoy. Nolwenn Patrigeon

White at the top and green at the bottom. The contrasts are striking and above 2,000 meters above sea level, the accumulation of snow is still significant. At high altitude, “ski touring” is sometimes practiced until summer! The conditions make the climbs more pleasant: no more frostbite or cold wind which whips the face, but a pleasant sun which heats the back, gives a healthy glow and allows you to enjoy the panoramic snack at the top. Even the snow changes and, if you are in the right niche – neither too early nor too late in the day – then you can savor the famous “carpet”, this freshly thawed snow that slides under the skis and gives l ‘nice feeling of being world champion.

An organization specific to Covid-19

Pandemic forces, the guardians of mountain huts must also adapt during this still complicated spring. Many have decided to wait until summer, but around ten of them open access to reservations and thus welcome hikers to their perched shelters from March, in compliance with health regulations. The protocol will be the same as that applied last summer with, among other things, a reduced number of beds, the need to bring your sleeping bag and to move with the mask inside the establishment. . The French Federation of Alpine and Mountain Clubs (FFCAM) ​​which manages an altitude heritage of 120 refuges in all the French massifs, therefore invites hikers to consult the dedicated page of its site (https://ffcam.fr/ouverture -des-shelters-Printemps-2021.html) and to systematically contact the refuge concerned to find out the reception conditions.

Our three ski touring weekend ideas for this spring


The refuge, located on its granite promontory, at the bottom of this magnificent Pyrenean valley. Pierre Meyer Photographs

Altitude : 2151 m

Guarding from April 3, 2021

At the bottom of the Gaude valley, on its granite promontory, this robust stone refuge is located in the heart of the Pyrenees National Park. Its south-facing terrace allows you to admire the highest point of the French Pyrenees, the Vignemale (3298 m) as well as the Square Piton, the Aiguille des Glaciers and Chausenque. If the ascent of the culminating summit via the Ossoue glacier is reserved for very experienced skiers, access to the refuge from the Pont d’Espagne already offers a beautiful escapade of 3 to 4 hours via Lake Gaube, one the jewels of the Park, and the Esplumouse waterfall. An immersion in a mythical place of the Pyrenees, a magical and wild setting, between forests and vast plateaus.

Practical information

Support: Cauterets guides office. www.guides-cauterets.com; phone: 06 42 06 33 82.

Nightly rate at the refuge: € 25.70 or € 12.85 for FFCAM members.

Reservations: https://refugeoulettesdegaube.ffcam.fr/reservation.html

Access: From Tarbes then Lourdes, take the direction of Argelès-Gazost, then Pierrefitte, Cauterets and finally Pont d’Espagne.


In the Mont-Blanc massif, this refuge is immersed in the impressive universe of high mountains. Jean-Francois Chabert

Altitude : 2614m

Guarding from March 20, 2021

In Haute-Savoie, the Conscrits are one of the emblematic refuges of the Mont-Blanc massif and the essential stage before carrying out races such as the Dômes de Miage, the Aiguille de la Bérangère or the descent of the glacier d ‘ Armancette. Perched in the Contamines-Montjoie National Nature Reserve, this nest with modern and original architecture overlooking the Tré-la-Tête glacier still requires 6 hours to climb from the village. Less sharp hikers can stop off at the Tré-la-Tête refuge, accessible in just 2 hours, for a gourmet organic snack or even a night. Up there, in Les Conscrits, between valleys, glaciers and rocky outcrops, warden Christine Mattel welcomes hikers and mountaineers into the impressive world of high mountains.

Practical information

Support: Bureau des guides Saint-Gervais / les Contamines; www.guides-mont-blanc.com, tel. : 04 50 47 10 08

Nightly rate at the refuge: € 32 or € 16 for FFCAM members.

Information and reservation of Conscrits refuge: https://refugedesconscrits.ffcam.fr, Tel. : 04 79 89 09 03

Access: from the Cugnon car park in Les Contamines Montjoies. Autoroute Blanche until exit Passy n ° 21.


In the heart of the Parc de la Vanoise, the refuge seems lost in the white immensity. Jean-Francois Chabert

Altitude : 2520m

Guarding since 1is mars 2021

In the heart of the Vanoise National Park, this nicely renovated refuge offers a stopover that leaves no one indifferent. The white and wild immensity contrasts particularly with the warm and funny welcome of the caretaker Franck Buisson. His talent as a storyteller could also fill the current lack of outings to the theater for visitors!

The refuge is perched 500 m above the large Plan d’Amont lake. Its access is normally facilitated by the ski lifts. In this particular year, hikers must therefore start from the village of Aussois 1,100m below, go through the Plan d’Aval and continue their ascent along a forest track. A getaway to the borders of the Maurienne that will take between 3 and 5 hours depending on the physical form of the skiers, with ibex and vultures as witnesses.

Practical information

Support: Savoie-Maurienne guides office; www.guides-savoie.com. +33 (0) 4 79 20 31 16.

Nightly rate at the refuge: € 24.80 or € 12.40 for FFCAM members.

Information and refuge reservation: https://refugeladentparrachee.ffcam.fr; Phone. : 04 79 20 32 87.

Access: Bottom of the Aussois slopes. A43 motorway towards Turin, exit n ° 30 – Modane, Haute Maurienne, then departmental road 1006. Cross Modane and take the D215 towards Aussois.


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