Ski Touring in Grimentz
I first learned to ski as a small child when my family lived in Austria for a year - I caught the bug and have been obsessed with snowy mountains ever since. I spent all my winter trips to mountain resorts over the last 15-20 years on the 'dark side' of snowboarding, but recently I've refound my passion for skiing too. I have had an increasing desire to get away from the ski lifts and find wilder scenery and more exciting terrain - ski touring/mountaineering seemed like the best way to achieve this. This is partly born from wanting to 'get out there' but also with adventure photography in mind.
My brother had recommended a course with the Eagle Ski Club in Grimentz, Switzerland, having done it himself the previous year.
I was nervous but very excited leading up to it, especially with the weather reports suggesting a period of snowfall followed by settled conditions. The transfer bus wound it’s way up steep-sided valleys that seemed particularly pretty even by usual alpine standards. The village of Grimentz itself and the Hôtelde Moiry didn’t disappoint either – very charming and traditional.
On the first day we were split into groups according to experience/skill level. Our group lead by Tom Saxlund of New Generation Ski School immediately discovered some fun fresh powder in between and off to the side of the pisted runs.
I found my rusty ski technique held up ok but I got by more through strength and my snowboarders’ lack of fear of falling over rather than any great skill. All great fun though (perhaps excepting some of the heavy concrete-like snow we found lower down).
Our group headed over to Zinal for the second day, focussing on technique and carrying out a number of drills. I had my ski technique broken down and built back up again – it was quite an intense day with a lot to remember but I think it started to sink in properly over the next few days. The highlight of the day was a powder descent down to and across the Moiry dam.
The next day was the group’s first bit of ‘proper’ ski touring of the week, and my first ever. We went out with Graham Frost of Frost Guiding to the top lift at Grimentz then attached skins for a short climb up to Col de Louché.
The descent down the other side was superb with pitches of wide open totally untracked powder. The rest of the day continued in a similar vein finishing with a nice cold beer in St Jean – my best day on skis so far!
I was transferred over to the ‘A’ team for the following day with Tom. This was a baptism of fire for me as this group were quite a bit quicker than I was used to.
On the first descent I really struggled and fell several times - I considered demoting myself, but decided to persevere and by the end of the day it all clicked again during a glorious descent down into Zinal.
Our last day was with Graham again and was a superb way to finish the week, this time heading up to the Becs de Bossons hut then heading over towards the Moiry dam from the other side. There was a long climb involved but the payoff was more perfect powder with spectacular views of the Moiry glacier behind.
All in all it was a fantastic week with sublime conditions, and I can highly recommend Grimentz and the Eagle Ski Club for a (relatively) affordable way to get into ski touring - as a first-time member I was made to feel very welcome and supported. I will definitely be doing more ski-touring in future - it felt like a perfect fit more me and was one of the most inspiring things I have ever done.
**All photographs on this trip taken with a Sony RX100 MK I, shot in RAW and processed with Lightroom**