Europe has hundreds of mountain huts scattered throughout their vast mountain ranges. Take advantage of these unique hut systems and explore hut to hut ski touring options in Europe. You know it’s on your bucket list. As Warren Miller says, “If you don’t do it this year, you will be one year older when you do.” So what are you waiting for?
After a bit of research, we found 7 classic backcountry hut to hut ski touring options in Europe that everyone should aspire to complete. These traverses, tours, and circuits are all multi-day adventures that utilize alpine huts, offer mind blowing terrain, and are yours for the taking. (Guidebook recommendations at bottom of post.)
Hut to hut ski touring is a classic European experience that every mountain enthusiast should experience at least once (a year). It’s unfortunate these extensive hut systems don’t exist in North America. Take advantage of Europe’s high alpine trams that whisk you into the alpine for easy access to some of the world’s most stunning terrain. Most of these tours do not have routes set in stone, so get creative, do your research, and pick the best hut to hut ski tour for you.
What are the best hut to hut ski touring options for you? Here are some very brief descriptions of some classic ski tours in Europe:
- Haute Route – France/Switzerland – The Haute Route is the route between Chamonix, France and Zermatt, Switzerland. It’s one of the most popular ski traverses in the entire world. There are several variations to this uber classic ski traverse as it crosses alpine and glaciated terrain. (Get a Haute Route guidebook.)
- Bernese Oberland Ski Traverse – Switzerland – Ski tour through the Swiss Alps and see classic mountains like the Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau. This multi-day trip weaves through stunning terrain and connects huts surrounded by 4000 meter peaks and some of the largest glaciers around. Add in epic ski descents with options to tag big peaks and this traverse could become your new favorite. (Get a guidebook).
- Ortler Traverse – Italy – The Ortler Circuit is nestled between Berina and the Dolomites. The Ortler Traverse begins in Sulden near the Austrian/Italian/Swiss border. (Get a guidebook).
- Silvretta Traverse – Austria – The Silvretta Traverse is a good beginning ski traverse that starts near Ischgl, Austria. This route travels through the Austrian/Swiss border region near St. Anton. Tour across gentle glaciers, stay in full service mountain huts, tag numerous summits, and enjoy this mellower traverse. (Get a guidebook.)
- The Piz Bernina Group – Switzerland – Starting at the Diavolezza Cable Car, this ski tour is more of a ski mountaineering adventure that goes through alpine, glaciated terrain and connects huts throughout this mountainous region. (Get a guidebook).
- Dolomites Circuit – Italy– This route explores the mighty Dolomites near Tre Cime di Lavaredo as you ski tour through the unreal terrain of Italy.
- Gran Paradiso Ski Tour – This tour begins and ends in Chamonix, but spends the time traversing through Italy’s Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso. The Gran Paradiso is the only 4000 meter peak entirely in Italy. Enjoy views of Mont Blanc, Grand Jorasses, Matterhorn, and Monte Rosa over the multi day ski circuit. (Get a guidebook.)
This is far from a complete list of ski tours and traverse in Europe. You may also want to research the Urner Traverse, the Otztal, Haute Maurienne Traverse, Albula Alps Traverse, and many others. There’s a lifetime of skiing in Europe.
When deciding which backcountry hut to hut ski touring option in Europe is right for you, here are a few factors to consider:
- Hut Availability
- Time Of Year
- Escape Routes
- Skiing Potential & Ability
Do your research and make sure that you pick the best hut to hut ski tour for you and your backcountry partners. Some are more ski mountaineering oriented. Others offer ski descents of 4000 meter peaks. Some are less crowded. Others will hold better snow. Some allow you to just ski with daypacks (because your gear can be transported to different huts by taxi). Some offer views that will change your life. Others are great for beginners. Pick the right one for you.
One key ingredient to making your hut to hut ski tour a positive experience is a bit of local knowledge. Hire an IFMGA/UIAGM Guide or a local guide to help show you the way. It will make life easier. Ongosa.com is an excellent resource to find backcountry and off piste guides throughout Europe.
Be sure to tag your social photos with #amountainjourney and share your adventures with the world. Have fun and be safe.
Learn more about ski mountaineering and hut to hut ski touring in the Alps in these books: