Snowshoeing in Italy / France: We’re back!

Back to London after a fab week snowshoeing in the Southern Alps where we had a *lot* of snow and Arctic conditions ….. and although this meant we didn’t get all the advertised views and snow conditions curtailed our routes somewhat, you don’t miss what you don’t know.

First day out in the snow - under Cima del Bosco
First day out in the snow – under Cima del Bosco

We still got out and about and had an amazing time – ploughing our way through larch forests knee deep in snow, being dazzled by the pristine white landscape of the peaks and plateaus and the sparkling alpine scenery, tobogganing down hillsides and crossing sunken streams.

Costa Via Veccia, above Rifugio Capanna Mautino
Costa Via Veccia, above Rifugio Capanna Mautino

The day we spent on a figure of eight around the Rifugio Capanna Mautino was just magical – Costa Via Vecchia, Costa la Luna and Cima Saurel in the morning, and up to the Col Begino in the afternoon.

Morning view from the Costa Via Vecchia
Morning view from the Costa Via Vecchia
Tobogganing down the slopes below the Cima Saurel
Tobogganing down the slopes below the Cima Saurel
Me and Steffi at the Col Begino
Me and Steffi at the Col Begino

We got lots of avalanche / snow assessment training too from Yves, our fantastic guide and accompagnateur en montagne. Amazingly knowledgeable and great company too – he really made the trip.

Thankfully not much sign of snow once we were out of the mountains and driving back towards Turin at the end of the week, and back in my bit of Blighty the snow has all gone – missing out on The Beast from the East feels a bit like being out of the country when Princess Di died.

So, all in all, a really great trip – I am planning to find another snowshoe holiday for next Feb. Hopefully that won’t mean we all get Arctic weather again….

And despite the cold (-25C one morning at the Mautino Hut, -24C the next) I didn’t need to use Hazel’s down jacket. It turns out dry cold is very different from the damp version we’re more familiar with!

Here are some photos to whet the appetite: more to follow once I do the Photos & Notes.



Snowshoeing in Italy / France: Final Prep

On the downhill run for our Transalpine Snowshoe Week, with Exodus.


… purchased – LV= again. Premier annual multi-trips policy, Worldwide excluding North and Central America, Caribbean and Bahamas. Premier level covers trekking up to 6000m (in anticipation of Tsum and Manaslu in November).

Update: Winter Sports cover added. LV= doesn’t list snowshoeing as one of the activities that requires Winter Sports cover, but it turns out that it is. Thanks to Steffi for the tip!

Travel jabs

… checked – I had a whole lot redone in advance of my 2016 Nepal trek (in line with TravelHealthPro’s recommendations for Nepal) so I am all up to date with Hep A, Typhoid, Hep B, Diphtheria–Tetanus-Polio and Rabies. Next top up jab will be Typhoid in August 2019. Not that I’ll need any of these for Italy/France!


… from Thomas Exchange Global / on Wormwood St.

Weather forecasts

…. monitored / monitoring – looking chilly thanks to the Polar Vortex! I’m borrowing Hazel’s superior down jacket and taking my Icebreaker thermals and wool fleece lined mittens.

Click though to the Long term forecast and scroll down to the 4-hour daily views on YR and you’ll see that the temperatures are forecast to be even lower during the day (-17C, -18C, -19C ….)

Looking chilly in Thures
YR weather forecast for Thures
Looking chilly in Cervières
YR weather forecast for Cervières

Additional details

…. obtained from Exodus / France Outdoors, their local partner operating the trip:

1. Luggage transport / access

We got clarification on when / where we’d have access to our luggage, and confirmation that we wouldn’t be expect to carry our main bags to the Mautino hut.

Day 1 + Day 2: the group will stay in the same gite in Fontana del Thures, so you will have access to your main luggage.
Day 3 (Monday): a taxi will take everyone’s luggage in the morning to Cervières. So you won’t have access to your main luggage for 2 nights – you’ll just have what you take in in your backpack. Luggage cannot be left behind in the Mautino hut.
Day 4: Luggage cannot be left behind in Mautino hut.
Day 5 + 6 + 7: the group will be reunited with their main luggage in Cervières.

So you can leave your main luggage with what you don’t want/don’t need to carry for the Mautino hut on Monday morning to be transported to Cervières.

2. Lunch on transfer days

For most of the trip meals are provided. The gaps are lunch on the days we arrive and leave, when we’re on the transfer from / to Turin airport, and dinner on the way home too. Here’s what got back from Exodus:

Our local partner confirmed that on arrival there usually is a stop to buy some food on the way to the gite. On departure day, the transfer is planned around 2pm, so the group can eat at the gite or at another Auberge in the village. Additionally you could also buy a picnic at the gite to take away – there are no supermarkets there.

Steffi’s bringing Cardigan bread and cheese, and I’ve got a small pot of chutney to contribute to a picnic lunch on Saturday.

I have to say, our main contact at Exodus has been great at finding out these additional details for us, and very good at replying to our random questions.


….is about to commence!

Packing…. is about to commence

Online Check-In

…. and we’re checked in for the flight to Turin too. Boarding passes printed.

Snowshoeing in Italy / France: Preparations

It’s 2018 so I can start final preparations for the first  trip of the year … Exodus’ Transalpine Snowshoe Week.


The kit list is ready. I have a spreadsheet with tabs for kit list, itinerary & flights, insurance & emergency contacts and money. The kit list lists everything I usually take on a trek/trip, right down to extra plastic bags (always take more than you think you’ll need!), which I use as the starting point for each trip. Based on the Essential Equipment given in the Exodus trip notes, I’ve added “sit mat” and removed “thermals” and a few other camping/trekking-related items.


I asked Exodus if there were any maps that cover the area we’ll be in. No joy, so I revisited Google and unearthed a few more the places mentioned in the trip notes, and made a Google map – click on the blue pins for more detail:


I also found a couple of key places on Yr – “a joint service by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute and the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation” – which is my go to resource for weather forecasts:

Update 23 February 2018

I’ve found the YR forecast for Thures, which is where we actually are at the start of the trip.


The last piece of prep, other than packing, will be to get my annual travel insurance. Probably go with LV* again as they’re still rated as the best value policy on MoneySavingExpert, and their Premier level insurance covers “Trekking and hiking and fell walking up to 6000 metres“.


Steffi, Dave and I have been coordinating our Friday rendezvous, and the plan is food followed by the Thameslink down to Gatwick for our night in the Premier Inn.

Where next: Snowshoeing in Italy / France

We’ve booked! Deposit paid and Premier Inn (one night at) purchased. Now I just need to book the time off work….. 

Where next-ish, as Phil and I are off to Berlin first.

Destination: The Southern Alps, crossing from Italy to France and back.

When: Winter / Spring 2018.

What: Transalpine Snowshoeing, with Steffi.

Why: Three Four reasons:

  1. I love snowy mountains.
  2. I’m still searching for a winter trip to match 2014’s superb Mt Toubkal Winter Climb.
  3. I’ve fancied having a go at snowshoeing for ages. “Everest” Dave recommended it years ago, and Steffi went for a week in Transylvania earlier this year and raved about it.
  4. Who knows what Brexit will bring!

We’ve gone for the Exodus trip because it looked the most adventurous of their Winter 2018 Snowshoe offering – it’s rated as activity level 4, moderate/challenging, and we’ve 2 nights in a mountain hut, backpacking in our essentials for those nights/days. Plus all meals are included and the price was right (especially with their Winter Trip 5% off offer and our return customer 5% discount). I am really looking forward to all those “superb views”!

How: On Exodus’ Transalpine Snowshoe Week (no link – they don’t like me doing that!).

We’re flying London Gatwick – Turin (and back) with British Airways and have gone for flight-inclusive: partly for convenience, and in particular to get the transfer to Thures (part of Cesana Torinese, which is 43 miles from Turin and on the border with France, Wikipedia tells me) at the start of the trip and back from Cervières (across the border, in Hautes-Alpes, France) at end;  and partly based on cost, flight-inclusive is only £120 more than flight (and transfer!)-exclusive.

The group flight leaves Gatwick horribly early on the way out, so we’ve booked a twin room at the Premier Inn, Gatwick for the night before, for the princely sum of £43.50.

Can’t wait!


Day 1: Arrival and transfer to Thures (part of Cesana Torinese)
Day 2: Val Thuras* & Cima del Bosco*
Day 3: Fontana del ThuresMautino Hut*
Day 4: Explore around the Mautino Hut
Day 5: Mautino Hut –  Cervières
Day 6: Cervières south faces
Day 7: Cervières loop walk
Day 8: End Cervières

* Not much info in English, so these links are to Italian pages on, and to the website for the Capanna Mautino (aka the Mautino Hut).