Ski touring: Val Thorens without a chairlift

Ski touring used to be a gnarly pursuit for beardy blokes but new itineraries in the French Alps offer a safer – but still arduous – way to enjoy the sport

Traditional downhill skiing may be all glitz and glamour, but the biggest growth area in winter sports at the moment requires a certain amount of hard graft and is as likely to have you dripping with sweat as swooping elegantly downhill.

Ski touring, or ski de randonnée as it’s known in France, involves forsaking ski lifts and hiking up the slopes before hooning back down. According to Snowsports Industries America (SIA) the sport has seen a 15% growth in popularity in recent years, as have sales of specialist ski touring; by contrast, regular skiing and snowboarding trips have seen a decline in sales.

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