IN GENERAL

Sandals or slippers for indoors (outdoor shoes are not permitted inside the chalet).
Don't forget the chalet has a sauna and hot tub. Bring a swimming costume with you,

 

SUMMER HIKING

SNOWSHOEING

CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING

 

SUMMER - HIKING

EQUIPMENT NEEDED In addition to your “normal” daily clothes, you will need the following:

Traditional or lightweight walking boots with good ankle support and a strong sole
Waterproof/windproof jacket and over trousers
A warm 2 season jacket or sweater/fleece or two thinner sweaters for layering,
Hat (preferably with ear protection) and gloves (even for August) to wear in cold / windy weather.
We advise using dry flow wicker clothing rather than cotton as it dry much quicker and more comfortable when trekking.
Sun hat (the sun in the Alps has a very high UV factor and is very intensive),
Sun screen and lip salve and sunglasses.
Water containers or Thermos Flask to contain 1 ½ litres of liquid,
Daysack of 25/30 litre capacity,
Sandals or slippers for indoors (outdoor shoes aren?t permitted inside the chalet).

NOTES. If you feel your ankles are reasonably strong, a lower shoe is fine but it should be waterproof and have proper soles which grip on rock (Vibram with the yellow sticker or similar).
Waterproof trousers are vital. But they don't have to be expensive gortex versions. Check out for instance www.decathlon.co.uk for non gortex equivalents.

Don't forget the chalet has a sauna and hot tub. Bring a swimming costume with you,

WHAT TO TAKE WITH YOU ON A SNOWSHOE OUTING.
This is a fairly "dry" description of what to pack on a snowshoe trip (with us we hope). It also should be useful for anyone who walks in winter back home. It is not intended as the ultimate correct list, rather as the starting point for further discussions. Please email us your own equipment recommendations and suggestions and I'll paste them into a future newsletter. I'm planning a similar newsletter on Cross-country equipment and downhill skiing. Email up front your recommendations on these if you get a moment.


HIKING BOOTS: Waterproof reasonably sturdy hiking boots with semi rigid soles and good ankle support. .

GAITERS are a must.

RUCKSACK: Medium sized daypack /Medium sized daypack / rucksack (approx 30 litres). Very occasionally you should expect to carry your snowshoes on the outside of your pack.
Packs with a lid or adjustable side straps are well suited for this. A rucksack cover or inner lining (bin bag will do) to keep things dry.

Temperatures can fluctuate dramatically in the alps and often surprise us. I have often seen plus 5 centegrade in August and on occasions plus 18 centegrade in January. In winter you can expect minus 5 to minus 17 at night. But it is generally a dry cold which is much easier to cope with. During the day temperatures can get quite pleasant if you are dressed adequately and it is surprising how often one can enjoy a little sunbathe during lunch stop. A major factor to take into consideration is wind chill. I have pasted in Centegrade and Fahrenheit temperature charts below to help accentuate the cooling effects of wind.

Tabel: Windchill - Temperature in Celsius and Wind in m/s

Temp
[C]
Windchill (Celsius) at Windspeed in m/s
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
16
18
20
-20
-25,8
-28,9
-30,9
-32,4
-33,6
-34,6
-35,4
-36,2
-36,9
-37,6
-18
-23,4
-26,4
-28,3
-29,8
-30,9
-31,9
-32,7
-33,5
-34,1
-34,8
-16
-21,1
-24,0
-25,8
-27,2
-28,3
-29,2
-30,0
-30,7
-31,4
-31,9
-14
-18,8
-21,5
-23,2
-24,5
-25,6
-26,5
-27,3
-27,9
-28,6
-29,1
-12
-16,5
-19,1
-20,7
-21,9
-23,0
-23,8
-24,5
-25,2
-25,8
-26,3
-10
-14,1
-16,6
-18,2
-19,3
-20,3
-21,1
-21,8
-22,4
-23,0
-23,5
-8
-11,8
-14,1
-15,6
-16,7
-17,7
-18,4
-19,1
-19,7
-20,2
-20,7
-6
-9,5
-11,7
-13,1
-14,1
-15,0
-15,7
-16,4
-16,9
-17,4
-17,9
-4
-7,1
-9,2
-10,5
-11,5
-12,4
-13,0
-13,6
-14,1
-14,6
-15,0
-2
-4,8
-6,8
-8,0
-8,9
-9,7
-10,3
-10,9
-11,4
-11,8
-12,2
0
-2,5
-4,3
-5,5
-6,3
-7,1
-7,7
-8,2
-8,6
-9,0
-9,4
2
-0,1
-1,8
-2,9
-3,7
-4,4
-5,0
-5,4
-5,9
-6,3
-6,6
4
2,2
0,6
-0,4
-1,1
-1,8
-2,3
-2,7
-3,1
-3,5
-3,8
6
4,5
3,1
2,1
1,5
0,9
0,4
0,0
-0,3
-0,7
-1,0
8
6,8
5,5
4,7
4,1
3,5
3,1
2,7
2,4
2,1
1,8
10
9,2
8,0
7,2
6,7
6,2
5,8
5,5
5,2
4,9
4,7

Anyone who has downhill skied knows how desperately cold it can feel sitting on a chairlift on a windy day. Downhill skiers don't normally climb uphill unless they are ski touring. Snowshoers, lucky creatures, can get nice and warm while climbing their hills. One generally finds when snowshoeing when climbing the clothes come off and when pausing they quickly go on again. That is another reason for the importance of a reasonably large rucksack. Otherwise you end up with discarded clothing wrapped all around you and you look and feel like a mobile wardrobe. Often people are advised to bring a fleece. Personally I don't like big thick fleeces. I find I am too warm when they are on and too cold when they are off and they take up too much space in my pack. Also I have heard that fleeces were originally made of a sort of cardboard material. Hence the fact I used to find them uncomfortable and not breathable enough. I know better materials are now being used for fleeces but it is important to have a good look at the materials label whenever you purchase one. I do sometimes wear what Decathlon / Quechua calls:

Forclaz 900 Warm softshell QUECHUA

warmth and protection from the wind during all your HIKES. Warm, water-repellent, wind jacket. http://www.decathlon.co.uk/forclaz-900-warm-softshell-id_8103386.html Windproofing Excellent wind protection thanks to its windproof membrane Warmth470g/m? STRATERMIC component. Curly fleece lining. Water repellence Water slides off the STRATERMIC fabric thanks to a water repellent treatment Breathability Hydrophobic fabric transferring moisture out, coupled with a breathable membrane Durability Precise brushing, imperceptible pilling. Excellent wash resistance Those comments I pasted from the Decathlon website. Downside is it's rather a drab bit of clothing.. Once again the reason I am plugging Decathlon is that it's cheap and just down the road from us. PLEASE EMAIL YOUR RECOMMENDATIONS AND SUGGESTIONS AND I'LL POST THEM ON A LATER NEWSLETTER FOR OTHERS TO SHARE. THAT WOULD BE REALLY HELPFUL. ( I've seen similar in shops made by other companies ...... it's a good concept)

I often use the Forclaz as a final second layer in winter. If it's mild and not snowing heavily (a bit of snow is fine) it doubles up as an outer layer though I'll still pack a waterproof outer shell in my bag. So rather than bring a bulky conventional fleece I prefer a series of layers ie breathable pullovers I can quickly take off and put on. I like a reasonably thin pullover first and then one or two slight thicker ones. That way I can control my temperature more accurately, store my clothing easier in my rucksack and don't have that too hot / too cold syndrome of the fleece. So for me the name of the game is defintely layers.

BASE LAYER: Cotton shirts are not suitable while exercising as they hold moisture and dry slowly.. Once one has perspired cotton holds the dampness and you quickly get cold. I recommend the use of  wicking clothing as it dries quickly and minimizes moisture levels. There have been radical changes recently in sport clothing material. A decent first layer is really essential. Something that dries rapidly and doesn t hold the humidity. Most serious sport clothing companies manufacture such products now. Look for  wicking ,  dry flow ,  breathable manmade fibres. They are more expensive but once tried always worn. They are tremendously comfortable and when washed dry rapidly. A newcomer on the market is ICEBREAKER. This New Zealand company produces expensive but hi-tech merino wool garments which they claim you can wear for over a week without needing to wash them. (To test this theory wear one every day on your next holiday and see if other guests are still willing to sit next to you). Web site www.icebreaker.com One gripe I have about icebreaker is I do find them prone to tearing. I wear a lot of Berghaus base layers, find them extremely breathable and quick drying and they seem to last forever. Except for the ones the dog got hold of.

SECOND LAYER
: While talking about second layers I really mean second, third, fourth layers etc. Everything under the outer shell. Similar to first layers, second and third layers should be of a breathable quality material. DEFINITELY NOT COTTON! Berghaus and Patagonia do some great breathable pullovers. In winter I will take at least two pullovers or second layers with me but none of them too thick. Then I'll have either a third pullover or preferably an alternative inner jacket like the before mentioned Forclaz 900 that are not necessarily waterproof but if possible water and wind resistent. I often bring a gilet especially in summer. This is a French word. I looked up an internet defition of gilet: (Clothing & Fashion) a waist- or hip-length garment, usually sleeveless, fastening up the front; sometimes made from a quilted fabric, and designed to be worn over a blouse, shirt, etc. Being sleeveless your arms don't feel restricted and it's smaller to pack away. I like to mess around trying out different combinations of second layers. Sometimes I wear a shirt over a shirt and then the pullover. On many a milder winter day I've often stripped down to the shirt over the shirt combination. Good combination for summer too. Just to add another variatoin, a biking thin light water resistent or proof outer lay or cross-country ski light outer layer can work a treat as an final second layer when snowshoeing.

OUTER SHELL: I have yet to find a completely waterproof and breathable jacket or trouser. If you find one tell me about it. When choosing your outer shells the material doesn t have to be goretex. If it is goretex, in theory it is guaranteed for life. If it doesn t do its job even after washing with special goretex waterproofing produce and having tried the waterproofing sprays then send the offending item back to the manufacturer. You have nothing to loose. I have been having increasing success with considerably cheaper products including Columbia s  Storm Dry fabric and for a number of years with Quechua which is produced for the French sport shop chain  Decathlon. that I was talking about earlier. There are branches of Decathlon in the UK. For online purchases click on www.decathlon.co.uk When I started in this business I was a  brand snob and wouldn t have been seen dead displaying a Quechua label. Now most of my mountain clothes are Quechua. Here's a link for the jacket I am currently wearing both in summer and winter. http://www.decathlon.co.uk/alpinism-700-jacket-id_8071305.html After I posted this link, looking at the same jacket on both decathlon.fr and decathlon.co.uk I see the jacket now bears the Simond label. But it's exactly the same jacket I bought with Quechua written on it.. Simond sport manufacture is based in Les Houches right by the indoor climbing wall which they financed and they must have gotten together with Quechua whose testing site is just down the road from us in Passy. I had noticed a lot of Simond products in Decathlon shops recently and am very happy with a Simond lightweight rucksack I bought last summer in Decathlon. Quechua call a lot of their waterproof material including this outer shell  Novadry" and it works a treat.

TROUSERS: When snowshoeing in my opinion having suitable trousers (US and Canada "pants") is perhaps the most important thing to get right. Ok if you are just trying out snowshoeing, a hiking trouser with a waterproof over trouser works fine. Otherwise ski trousers are ok but can be too warm when snowshoeing uphill. Ideal but not always cheap are Alpinism multiseason trousers. Decathlon do a fantastic winter walking trouser (about 80 Euros a pair) that I often wear for downhill and cross country skiing as well as for snowshoeing. In theory it should snow and not rain when on a snowshoe trip in the Alps. In rain or wet snowfalls I'll alway wear a waterproof over trouser. I don't buy goretex. I go for cheaper alternatives like Novadry. Look out for Intersport's home brand Mackinly. I was very happy with a 40 euro over trouser I bought there. While snow isn t as quickly wetting as rain the trousers must have a certain amount of water resistence. One of the most fun things in snowshoeing is slightly down on your backside so you need a trouser you can just brush the snow off. Once again I am going to rave about Quecha. While I'll carry an over trouser in my rucksack for heavy snowfall days, for most outings my Quechua jobs will do. Here's the link. http://www.decathlon.co.uk/inuit-3-in-1-trousers-id_8188759.html

Plus extract from the blurb: Reference : 8188759 Trousers Versatile use, warmth and protection when HIKING in cold weather on foot or in snowshoes. 3-in-1 trousers: warm and breathable inner tights (can be used on their own). Protective trousers (can be used on their own). Versatile when both used together. Also good: FORCLAZ 900 WARM trousers From?54.99**http://www.decathlon.co.uk/forclaz-900-warm-trousers-id_8188766.html http://www.decathlon.co.uk/forclaz-900-warm-trousers-id_8188766.html
comfort durability and warmth during hikes in cold conditions.

INNER TIGHTS: The inuit trousers write up mentioned using them in conjunction with inner tights....... I never wear inner tights.... not even when I am downhilling. I find them too warm. But many people swear by them so probably best to bring a pair along and see how you get on.

Through the extremities (head, ears, hands) one can regulate most effectively heat and cold and these must be able to be protected against the cold and in the case of the head from the sun as well. You'll need headgear to keep you dry when it snows, warm when it's cold and to protect you from the sun. The effects of the sun when there is snow are intensified as the suns rays bounce back at you from the snow. The ultra violet intensity in the Alps is very high.

HATS / CAPS. Your HEADGEAR is going to need to keep you dry warm and protect you from the suns rays. If you want to do all that in one go then get a waterproof peaked cap with fold down earflaps to keep your ears warm. If you can't find one in the UK remind me when you are out with us and I'll show you where to get one. I like a reasonably big peak because not only does it protect me from the sun but when it's snowing the hat keeps my sun glasses reasonably dry and the sunglasses keep the snow from driving into my eyes which can be very annoying. Berghaus and others do those climbing hats with fold down ear protection and smaller peaks. A ski hat or what do you call them now, Beanies? is good to keep your ears warm not prone to blow away when windy which a peaked cap is prone to do. So really it's like golf clubs. Carry a few with you and choose which one to use as you go along.

SOCKS I actually wear the same socks when I am snowshoeing that I wear hiking in summer. If the boot fits well you won't have pressure points which can block you circulation and give you cold feet. There are a great variety of special hiking and anti blister socks and I really feel they are worth the investment.

SUNGLASSES are essential. I would not step out on a mountain in winter if everyone didn't have sunglasses. On the first ascent of Mont Blanc, Dr. Paccard got snow blindness and had to be led back down by his partner Balmat. Snowblindness feels like having your eyes rubbed by sand paper and is excruciatingly painful. Damage can be temporary on long lasting and part of the cure is to sit for a few days in a dark room. So bring sunglasses. They don't have to be expensive but they must have decent UV protection.

SUN TAN LOTION. Hi factor.

GLOVES. Make sure they are waterproof. Back up pair is useful. Some like to wear an inner glove of silk or similar warming fabric (back to the layers idea) Mittens work exceptionally well because your fingers keep each other warm rather than having cold ear whirling around your finger as you do with convential gloves.

LIP STICK. Just as your face is prone to burning in the intensity of sun on snow but so are your lips and they can become very dry and cracked. On a number of occasions I have gone out for a curry at the end of a winter season and barely been able to eat it because my lips were cracked.

MAPS, COMPASS, GPS I will have with me. So you won't need them. However you are welcome to look at my map whenever you wish. If buying a map for our local area I recommend you buy a 50 scale of the Mont Blanc region.

FIST AID. Most important is blister treatment. I'll be carrying an emergency first aid kit.

SITTING MAT: Thermarest does a great blow up mat which is small to pack and gives great isolation.

Also essential when you come to stay with us is slippers because we follow local tradition of not wearing shoes in side. Bring also swimming trunks for the sauna and the hot tub plus the swimming pool just down the road.

We have a free computor for you to use and there is free wifi for your phones and ipads. Camera wise I am a great fan of smaller cameras which are easier to have available when you see that perfect shot rather than having to dig that monster reflex out of the bag. However it is very difficult to see your compostion with a screen. An viewer you can look into is much easier. Can do some small models with eye pieces.

An old fashioned eye piece makes it much easier but these are fewer and rarer on small modern cameras.  Often with a screen you have to aim the camera in the general direction and hope. I recently bought for around 100 Euros a tiny Canon powershot A1310 with eye piece view finder and 16 mega pixels. Happy days!!!

WHAT TO TAKE ON A CROSS-COUNTRY SKI OUTING.


The notes I made previously on what to take on a snow-shoe outing should prove helpful for Cross-country outings too.  As when snowshoeing,  I believe when cross-country skiing wearing layers you can take off and put on is really effecctive..  I mentioned the Quecha / Decathlon alpinism trousers I also use for  cross-country.  Heres the link:  http://www.decathlon.co.uk/forclaz-900-warm-trousers-id_8188766.html   They also do an excellent stretch (but not too tight) specific cross country ski trouser that is ideal on a reasonably active cross-country outing.  However if there is a possibility of snow fall I would either bring a light waterproof over trouser to put over them or wear a thicker trouser from the start.   Strechy leicra clothing is practical and comfortable allowing ease of movement when skiing actively.   However when you hit sixty as I have you might decide to leave the leicra for the younger generation.   Though I have seen some dynamic oldies squeezed into very tight and flashy leicra outfits and good luck to them.

When preparing for a cross-country day tour in complete wilderness you’ll need to prepare more on the lines of a snowshoe outing   However my current discussions are targeted at  day or half day visits to specific cross-country resorts with prepared trails.  The challenge of dressing for this type of cross-countryskiing  is the diversity of types of cross-countrytrack  and intensity of excercising one can do.  On snowshoeing I know I’ll get warm going up hill and cool when I pause and it is very rare I’ll bump into a restaurant where I can get warm. In the alps there is a reasonable chance there will be one or more restaurants or cafes along the way when cross-country skiing on prepared tracks. Many of the alpine areas provide a heated room where you can stay warm eat your own lunch.   Similar to snow-shoeing, when cross-country skiing while moving one is keeping reasonably warm but when pausing, if you are outside you will quickly get cold and need to put on some extra layers.  But if  you know of a restaurant where you can buy lunch or if you are very fortunate eat your own lunch you might not need to carry those extra bulky layers.   Also cross-country classic skiing can be a very relaxed stroll….. a gentle walk even but it can also be an aerobic work out.  Cross-country skate will invariably  be a work out. Therefore, one of the major challenges of cross-country is not what to take but rather what not to take.  Most locals out for a few hours cross country skiing will just take the clothes they actually need to wear while they are  exercising ie keeping moving.  They don’t normally dress for extended pause periods and rely on the actually ski movements keeping them warm.  Then they’ll jump in the car and shoot off home for a shower and probably some food.   If you are out on the trails all day the important factor is “can you go somewhere warm while pausing - taking lunch.  Obvoiusly other important factors come into play.  What is the weather forecast?  Will you be in the shade when you set off and later in sunshine finally finishing the day in shade  The more you carry the harder it will be to ski effectively.  A heavy rucksack will easily throw you off balance and restrict your movements.   All too easily you’ll fall backwards as your skis shoot out of control forwards.  You’ll need an awful lot of forward lean to compensate for the heavy weight pulling you backwards.  Knowing what NOT TO TAKE is the secret.  I do what I call  “dressing down”   I’ll bring ample clothing with me for the journey. Then I’ll get out of the minibus, take a deep breath and start to take some of it off.   When I start skiing I wabt to feel I don't quite have enough on.  And invariably  more layers will be stripped off and have to be carried with me once I have been skiing for ten minutes.  Problem is a 30 litre rucksack fully packed can easily throw you off balance while skiing and really spoil your skiing enjoyment.  So if you are warm enough before launching down the ski trail, you will very quickly be too warm and can end up looking like a wardrobe on skis with coats, jackets and scarfs wrapped around you and flying in the wind.  The major factor re dressing is therfore will  you be able to be in a warm place when you stop for lunch.   If  you are skiing in the outer reaches of Norway miles from the nearest café you must take it all with you.  But if you are  cruising down Italy’s Aosta valley, you are never too far from the next Choccolade Caldo or even Vino Caldo you are less likely to die of hypothermia!.  I tend to cross-country with a large bum back which I can wrap my jacket around if I need to.  Just enough for my water, a pullover, second pair of gloves, and essential - my hard wax stick to rub on my skis if they are sticking.    And of course the camera.   I really don’t think massive complicated cameras are advisable for active sports in the mountains.  Small cameras can get excellent results.  One problem if I may side track is that in sunny weather in snow it is very hard to visualize what you are photographing in a viewing screen. 
I find specialized biking clothing excellent for cross-country skiing and to some extend biking gear can be excellent for skiing.
Another finicky detail is gloves when cross-country.   Technique wise it is advantageous to be able to loop your hands through the ski straps.  Thick bulky gloves oftenwon’t fit through the straps.  A thinner pair makes the skiing aspect much easier.  But then cold hands can make life a misery.  It is worth considering mittens.  The advantage of mittens is that he fingers keep each other warm.  Trouble is reasonably thin mittens are not easily available.  The specialist cross-country ski shops normally stock them and you can now find Salamon mittens at Decathlons.