Chamonix Off Piste & Touring Skills

Ski Mountain Skills

A ski instruction course designed to improve both your technical off-piste skiing and mountain safety skills, whilst doing lots of good skiing and touring in the process. The course programme has been thoughtfully designed by Alison Thacker (BASI ISTD Ski Instructor) and Rob Jarvis (IFMGA International Mountain Guide) and has been running since 2012. The courses are either run by Alison and Rob, or our small team of excellent instructors and guides, who we are extremely proud to have working with us.

Course Aim

To develop competence and confidence skiing and touring in variable off-piste terrain, to ensure it is something you look forward to rather than fear. To achieve this there are two skill sets that need to be developed; ski technique and safe travel skills. You will come away from this course feeling that you have both.

Ski Technique

The BASI Ski Instructor will work with you to make the downhill become something you look forward to whatever the snow type. They will give you the tools to float effortlessly through the powder, embrace the bumps, control the hard pack, manage the ice and even tackle the crust. You will gain tactics to ski smoothly through the trees, feel more confident on the steeps and have a strategy for when snow conditions are so poor you just need to get down the mountain safely.

Our instructors have experience of delivering these skills to skiers from beginner to mountain guide and other ski instructors. They will analyse your own skiing style and coach the improvements accordingly. 

Safe Ski Travel in the Mountains

The skier who ventures beyond the marked runs and on to the open mountain is in adventurous terrain.  By ascending on skis, using skins, untracked slopes can be reached or a quiet summit view enjoyed away from the crowded pistes. The pleasures are great but the hazards are real.

During 2 active days skiing the IFMGA Mountain Guide will lead you through the mountain practicalities of backcountry ski travel.

  • How to use skins and bindings effectively so that ski ascents become an aesthetic and efficient pleasure. 
  • How to interpret avalanche and weather forecasts alongside actual mountain snow conditions and decide where to ski safe and good terrain accordingly. 
  • How to become highly skilled in the use of your essential avalanche equipment (shovel, probe and transceiver) and be able to manage an avalanche scenario should one arise.
  • How to ski on a glacier, including roped ski travel, will also be covered, ideally during a descent of the Chamonix classic ‘Vallée Blanche’.

The Guide will not only deliver these practical skill sessions but constantly ‘drip-feed’ information about the constant decision making processes involved in off-piste skiing and ski touring. 

You can download a sample programme here.


£820 per person


5 days

Group Size

Maximum 6 people

What’s included?

  • 2 full days ski instruction & off-piste skiing with a ski instructor.
  • 2 full days touring skills instruction & off-piste skiing with a Mountain Guide.
  • 1 full day with both BASI Ski Instructor & IFMGA Mountain Guide to help you combine the skills.
  • Avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe if required.

What’s not included?

  • Accommodation. We recommend that you stay at Ski Breezy in Chamonix. If they are full or you would like an alternative style of accommodation please see our recommended list for places to stay in Chamonix.
  • Lift passes. For this course we recommend buying day passes. 
  • Flights and transfer from the airport to Chamonix.
  • Food and drink during the course.
  • Insurance. All clients must have their own insurance for skiing off-piste and ski touring.
  • Kit. Check out the course kit list here

Course Pre-requirements

Ski Ability

To get the most from this course you will be a strong piste skier and be able to get down all groomed slopes with confidence.  You should have skied off-piste before (but not necessarily succeeded!) even if this is just "side country" beside the pistes.

We have also found that people really enjoy this course when they have done lots of off-piste mileage but never really got the hang of it. Or if you are able to rip it up in the powder but feel you only have “one skill set in your tool box” so struggle to make changes to adapt to the changes the off-piste environment throw at you.

Mountain Fitness

You’ll need to be able to cope with full days out on the mountain and have the fitness to skin steadily uphill for a few hours at an approximate rate of 250m per hour (including stops and transitions) for 2 to 3 hours. This will feel like hill-walking uphill not running uphill.

Team Approach

These are group courses and you will need to embrace the important team aspect of off piste skiing and touring.  If you are keen to maximise your time in terms of individual ski coaching, or completing longer / more physical tours then private hire is recommended.

Private Courses

We can run a private version of this course, which can include the same programme as our group courses, or can be tailored to your teams preferences. For example, previously we have included a night in a mountain hut for private groups, like the Monastery at Grand St Bernard. Please email to discuss your requirements.

About Us

‘Chamonix Off-Piste Ski & Mountain Skills' is a joint venture between ‘High Mountain Guides’ and ‘Off-Piste Performance’ aimed at giving you expert advice and coaching in all aspects of mountain skiing.

Alison Thacker runs ‘Off-Piste Performance' and holds the BASI International Ski Teacher Diploma. She has delivered Continuing Professional Development (CPD) to the British Mountain Guides and works as a trainer on the BASI Mountain Safety Courses training aspiring instructors. When not teaching skiing she'll be off ski touring somewhere. She spends the spring time running ski touring courses in Arctic Norway with her husband James.

Rob Jarvis runs ‘High Mountain Guides’ and is a full time IFMGA Mountain Guide based in the French Alps near Chamonix. He has led mountaineering and ski expeditions around the world including skiing to the South Pole and, a bit steeper (!), Mount Vinson, the highest peak in Antarctica.


Thanks very much for everything you've done this week, I've thoroughly enjoyed the course and it's been a pleasure to get to know both you and Rob. It really has been a trip to remember for me. Carl Rouse

Great week, superb teaching and coaching... The course delivered everything I had hoped for, had a fantastic experience. I would certainly recommend the course as an immensely enjoyable slice of off-piste and high mountain fun- if very tiring! Thank you Andy Baird

Thanks to everyone for a great team week, it helped me a lot to be in a group with a similar skill level, a good sharing attitude and an exceptional capacity for fun. I feel that I gained the foundation skills for getting safely around the mountain. The course took me to the edge of my comfort zone at times and fully into my fun zone throughout. Thanks to Rob & Alison for another great course which employs your complimentary specialities to create a harmonious package. Adam Firth

The difference in my confidence on a mixture of snow types between the start and end of the week was astounding, and absolutely what I wanted to achieve. The coaching from you was by far the best I have ever experienced - the focus on a few specific drills and techniques rather than endless minor changes was highly effective for me. I'll definitely be back and plan to bring my daughter out for some beginner lessons! I'd also highly commend Ski Breezy, which you recommend for accommodation - easily the best ski chalet I've stayed in and it was great to socialise with others from the course. The logistics of being together also made life a lot more simple on days out of the valley - definitely one to continue recommending to your clients, in my opinion! Calum Carruthers

Thanks Alison for a fantastic and fun week of ski coaching, your enthusiasm & intuitive teaching were just perfect.... You had me skiing down things I wouldn't have thought I could get down. They all said you were GOOD...and they were right!! Many thanks from a very happy skier ;-). Julia Tucker

Just to say a huge thanks for a great course last week. Lots learned and refreshed and some terrific days in the mountains. The last day capped it! David Monteith

Great week with the both of you bursting with the confidence to drag us in and out of stuff that's just scary enough for us to feel like real 'mountain men' without really having to come close to it ourselves...That's a very good recipe. Can I have some more? Robert Wine

Alison and Rob you have given me skills and knowledge to go see places that a year so ago I never thought I'd get to. Thanks. Mervyn Trease

Absolutely brilliant course and you cleverly engineered a great bunch of like minded fellow skiers. Rob stretched my uphill considerably more than I expected and I found I quite enjoyed using the ice-axe, even more than actually getting there - just glad it wasn't another 100m! The latest 2 weeks have given me a chance to practise what you taught...Alison's clear and deceptively simple message in my ears, or better still hands and feet, guiding me comfortably down a number of 40+ degree slopes whilst trying to emulate her effortless style. The course has made me much more aware of the slopes around me and to take more personal responsibility for security even when following a guide. I have had quite a bit of tuition in the past and yet no other course has made such a difference; definately 5 stars, so long as you don't get so busy that I cannot come back." Norman Haacke 

see chamonix off piste & touring skills dates

see chamonix off piste & touring skills dates

Off-Piste Ski Ability
Newbie, Effective but not efficient
Instruction and Ski Touring
Ski Instructor & Mountain Guide