D = DESCENT
Simple skiing on wide slopes with little danger of exposure due to cliff faces, seracs or glaciers. Expect slopes similar to a red piste in gradient terms.
Expect some slopes with object dangers like cliff faces, narrow passages between crevasses or ice falls and the occasional gully or couloir. Slopes may be slightly steeper than in our D1 grade but generally do not exceed 30 degrees.
Expect steeper slopes, narrower gulleys, and skiing in more confined spaces. You must be able to ski completely in control in all snow conditions on slopes up to 35 degrees.
A = ASCENT
Climbs on these ski tours average between 800 and 1000 metres a day at a moderate pace on gentle terrain. Expect to spend fours hours climbing. A1 tours do not generally require the use of an ice axe but you may need boot crampons on one or two passes.
Longer climbs up to 1200 metres a day but with optional peak ascents requiring some mountaineering skills. You will use crampons and may need an ice axe (see individual tour requirements). Expect to cover the 1200 metres in 3.5 hours – so these tours do move at a faster pace than our A1 groups.
These tours are tougher and require climbs of 1400 metres and occasional longer days up to 1800 metres a day. You need to be completely competent with uphill kick turns (able to perform them in steep tricky situations) and you need an ice axe and crampons. A3 tours are only suitable for people who have completed at least three ski tours before.
F = FITNESS
These tours require basic hill and ski fitness as they are only at moderate altitude and you are climbing and skiing at a moderate rate. We expect you to be able to climb and ski at a steady pace with two or three breaks during the climb.
As these groups move at a faster pace, and many of these tours are at a higher altitude, you need to be fitter. You should be a regular hill walker or cycle a fair amount and you should be ski fit too – so ideally you will have been skiing on piste (or on an off -piste week) before joining these groups.
These groups cover ground at a fast pace without stopping very often. You need to be able to climb with a good rhythm at this pace for up to five hours. These tours are only suitable for people who have many years ski touring experience and are well prepared physically.
Note : please bear in mind that although we have given each tour a D.A.F grade the actual grade of a route may well feel different if the conditions are hard – i.e if there is a lot of breakable crust, or stormy weather for example.