Towards the sky. A ski touring course for beginners.
Deserted winter landscapes, pristine deep-snow slopes, fresh mountain air: a ski tour fulfils such yearnings. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be an expert. In Graubünden, beginners will find the perfect offerings for their first ski touring experience.
The Davos Klosters region is one of the most traditional ski resorts in all of Switzerland. The mountain world here offers endless opportunities for ski tours and numerous other winter experiences.
On to your magical mountain experience
The sound of crunching snow underfoot. The mountain peaks shimmering in the morning sun, still casting their long shadows. Bettina’s view wanders over the snowy slopes and up to the Pischa. “Everything is wonderfully prepared for you. Perfect ski touring weather,” she calls out to her three guests with a big smile. The group stops, the excited and joyful conversations falling silent. A wintery stillness surrounds them.
Bettina Leimgruber, mountain guide
The 45-year-old Graubünden native grew up in Davos. Around five years ago, she made her long-cherished dream come true and completed her training as a Swiss mountain guide. Whether ski touring or freeriding – Bettina guides her guests in her home country safely up and down the right mountain according to their wishes.
Bettina Leimgruber knows the magic of such moments. And she knows that more of these will follow today. The mountain guide will give her three guests their first ski tour. In the mountains of Davos Klosters, where she grew up and which is still her favourite place to explore. First, however, it is necessary to take a few precautions. Bettina patiently gives the course participants some tips: How to correctly glue the climbing skins onto the skis. How to best adjust the touring ski boots. How to click into the touring binding. Then, finally, once everyone has checked to ensure the avalanche transceivers are functional, the group starts the ascent.
Traveling safely with an expert to reach peak happiness.
Hardly anything satisfies the need for peace and quiet and an authentic nature experience as much as a mountain tour in winter – be it on touring skis or with a splitboard. Climbing the mountain with the strength of your own muscles. The feeling of being on top of the world upon reaching the summit. Soaking up the silence of seclusion. And finally gliding back down to the valley on pristine powder snow slopes in a rushing descent. But can anyone do it? Isn’t this unique world of snowy and secluded mountain peaks only reserved for experts?
“Actually, anyone can go on a ski tour,” Bettina assures. “Provided they are somewhat fit and have a reasonably mature skiing technique. Or snowboarding technique. Since touring is also a pleasure with splitboards.” She would know. After all, she has been a certified mountain guide for five years and has been on touring skis for thirty. But a ski tour is not quite as common as a day on the ski slopes, either. It needs special equipment, and anyone who veers off from the slopes needs to be aware of a few basics. “If you’re going on a ski tour for the first time, it’s best to book a beginner course at a mountain guide school,” the expert advises. In Graubünden, mountain guide schools offer tailor-made packages in three regions, from ski tour introductory tours to guided day tours and right through to ski tour and avalanche courses.
No enjoyment without safety
Sunshine and powder snow are sure to make the tour a successful experience. For mountain guide Bettina, however, there is even more to it than that: “It is important to me to make the participants aware of how they should behave in alpine terrain.” Meaning that newcomers to ski touring should become aware of the possible dangers and understand how these can be eliminated as much as possible. “When making the ascent, I always explain why I walk up here and not there. Even on the descent, it must be clear to everyone where it is possible to ski down without worries and where caution is required.” The enjoyable ski tour adventure is enriched with a pinch of mountain knowledge.
Equally important is correct handling of the safety equipment. “The best equipment is only useful if you know how to use it,” Bettina is convinced. A playful search exercise with the avalanche transceivers, digging a deep hole with an avalanche shovel, detecting a buried backpack using a probe – this is all part of the programme on a ski touring beginner course. “And the guests always find such exercises really great.”
The ski touring group has already gained quite a bit of altitude. The mountain guide safely sets the ascent trail in the snow. Always zigzagging up the mountain. “Along the way, I always give the participants tips. For example, how to change direction when climbing with a pointed turn.” What sounds simple and looks easy does not work on its own in practice – certainly not in deep snow. The newcomers to ski touring are happy about all the help and guidance.
Soon the group falls into a steady, leisurely routine. “When climbing, I always pay attention to the pace. Not too fast, not too slow.” Now Bettina’s “students” are also no longer so preoccupied with the initially still unfamiliar gear. The tour becomes even more enjoyable, and there is enough time and energy to let the local offer explanations about the surrounding mountains and valleys.
3 tips for the first ski tour:
- The equipment is best rented from a specialist shop to begin with.
- Beginner courses with mountain guides help to ensure you will successfully reach the summit.
- El Dorado Graubünden is a ski touring paradise with close to 1,000 mountain peaks.
Summit bliss and downhill exhilaration.
One last turn, which leads the group to a ridge. The participants are astonished that they have already arrived at the summit. Surrounded by endless other mountain peaks, seemingly on top of the world. No signs of civilisation and day-to-day stresses. The effort required for the ascent feels as if it has been blown away. The freshly crowned summiteers are beaming with pride.
After the obligatory summit photos, the group needs to recharge. The snack from their backpacks is quickly gobbled up. Because the real highlight still awaits: the descent through airy powder snow. Every turn is a delight, every splash of snow is celebrated with bellowing cheers, every metre of altitude closer to the valley makes the soul do somersaults.
On the penultimate slope, Bettina instructs her group to look back at the mountain. The downhill tracks meander across the snow cover, both a signature and proof of what has just been experienced. Satisfied, the group curves the last few metres down into the valley. There is a good chance that they will tackle another mountain sometime soon.
Ski touring courses for beginners in Graubünden
Graubünden is the ideal place for your first ski touring experiences. In the three regions of Davos Klosters, Prättigau and Disentis Sedrun, mountain guide schools offer tailor-made packages.