Check out this great little video of Vivian Bruchez steep skiing in the Chamonix Valley. As it’s name suggests steep skiing involves searching out the steepest and most technical lines on the mountain and skiing them in the best style possible. Any slope over 45 degrees can be considered a ‘steep ski’ and they range from wide open slopes with easy run outs to tight and technical colouirs with do or die skiing. Steep skiing is in many ways the most logical progression of skiing – trying to ski the hardest and steepest slopes humanely possible. There are a number of steep skiing specialists pushing the limits of the sport, blurring the boundaries between skiing and mountaineering.

Steep skiing requires a cool head, precise technique and an in depth understanding of the mountains. It’s an exhilarating and satisfying aspect of the sport but needs to be approached with respect. Conditions on a steep ski can really change the nature of the route, a descent which is fairly amiable in the right conditions can feel desperate if conditions are wrong and mistakes can be costly. There are many factors which can effect conditions such as temperature, wind, slope angle, slope aspect, snowfall and relief. It takes years to master the skills to operate safely in such extreme terrain and good local knowledge to know which routes to go for and when.

If you are interested in taking your skiing to the next level and trying out steep skiing then it’s advisable to hire a guide. With guide fees averaging £300+ per day it can be expensive to arrange this all yourself. We offer some superb Steep Skiing courses with the UCPA for a fraction of the cost of organizing it all separately. The price includes all the equipment you need to ski safely away from the pistes and a fully qualified mountain guide with invaluable local knowledge. Over the course of the week they will assess your ski ability, teach you specialist techniques for tackling steep terrain and then take you to the most suitable descents to safely push your steep skiing abilities.

Courses are available at Argentiere and Les Arcs. If you would like any more information on our Steep Skiing courses then do get in touch with us on 0203 328 5443 or send us an email to

We woke up this morning to a white washed winter wonderland in Chamonix with snow down to 1000m and the mountains plastered in white. We are still a few months away from the winter proper but with the first signs of snow it’s hard not to get excited about the winter to come. In case you hadn’t noticed the winter 2013/14 season has been on sale for a couple of months now and some weeks are already selling out. If you are planning on skiing with us this winter make sure you get your booking in soon so you get the week, resort and course you want.

There is a theory among the locals in Chamonix that you can predict what kind of season we will have by the how many berries there are on the trees. The theory goes that if the conditions are right for a harsh winter then the trees produce a lot of berries, nature’s way of providing for what is to come. This Autumn the trees are certainly loaded with berries and the local Chamoinards are predicting great things for the coming season. After a cursory Google it would appear that there is little scientific evidence to back up the theory but the old locals have had an uncanny knack of predicting the conditions in previous years so we are choosing to believe them!

A couple of bits of news:

Price Rise: French VAT Rise

The French government has just announced that it will raise it’s reduced VAT rate from 7% to 10%. The rise in VAT affects restaurant and transport costs which includes ski passes. As a result the UCPA has had to raise their prices by roughly £9 per holiday. It’s not a huge rise but worth being aware of. You can still get the old price before the increase if you book before the 16th of October. The VAT increase will mean a general increase in the cost of restaurant food in ski resorts, luckily with the All Inclusive UCPA formula you don’t have to worry about that though!

Ski Show Tickets to Give Away

We will once again be attending the London and Manchester ski shows and we also have a load of free tickets to give away.

The ski shows are always great fun and this year looks like no exception. There will be freestyle shows, freestyle lessons, mountain talks, an ice rink, curling lanes and a variety of shops showing all the latest gear. Best of all our amazing Action Outdoor stand will be there with our all new Snowboard Simulator. Come along and say hello, test your skills and maybe even win a free ski holiday!

We have tickets for both shows available and all you have to do to get your hands on a pair is like us on facebook and tell us why you think you deserve some free tickets, easy!

The 2012/13 season has turned out to be a great one for skiers and boarders with consistently great conditions from the very beginning. Heavy snowfall and cold conditions during December resulted in a solid foundation layer of snow setting us up nicely for the season. The opening day of the season was actually an amazing powder day with many locals describing it as the best opening day of the season they have ever seen!

With such great early snow hopes were high for the rest of the season. A few more pessimistic observers drew comparisons with the 2010/11 season when a large early dump was followed by long dry spells and icy conditions. Luckily for us they have been proved wrong and the snow has continued to come in abundance.

As yet the snow levels are not quite of the same epic proportions as last season but the snow we have had has actually been much more useful. Mountain conditions are fickle at best with a fine line between too much and too little snow and fresh powder can be ruined overnight by strong winds or rising temperatures. Last season’s glut of snow came in a few huge dumps creating such high avalanche risks that often the resorts were closed or partially open on those all important powder days. The gaps in between snow were sometimes quite long resulting in icy hard and windblown conditions which aren’t always that fun!

This season we have had an almost perfect weather pattern (for skiing) with a few days of fresh snow followed by a few days of sun to enjoy the powder and then just when it’s all starting to look a bit icy and few more days of snow! Throughout the French Alps resorts have been reporting consistently excellent snow even in the lower resorts with great conditions both on and off the piste.

When choosing a date for your ski holiday it is always a bit of a gamble what the snow gods will deliver and those elusive days of superb skiing are far from guaranteed. This season there haven’t really been any subpar weeks and it’s hard to pick one that really stands out from the rest. All in all an amazing season to go skiing or snowboarding in the French Alps and long may it continue!

We would like to say a big ‘Thank You’ to Alan, our competition winner from the Viewranger competition we ran earlier this year. Alan has very generously suggested that rather than go on his holiday himself he would rather that we sold the holiday and donate the proceeds to charity, we were more than happy to oblige such a kind hearted offer. So, if you are the next person to book a holiday to Val Thorens your money will be going towards two very good causes.

We have both chosen a charity each and the proceeds of the sale will be split between the two charities. Alan has chosen the Douglas Macmillan Hospice, a charity of great importance to his family and we have chosen Help for Heroes, a charity we believe strongly in and have supported in the past.

The Douglas Macmillan Hospice was established in 1972 as a 28 bed hospice serving the North Staffordshire area. Their mission statement is: ‘To promote comprehensive care for those with progressive advanced disease and a limited life expectancy in order that they may achieve the best possible quality of life’. To read more on the Douglas Macmillan Hospice or to make a donation please visit their website here.

Help for Heroes was established in 2007 as a registered charity with the aim of offering practical help primarily to those wounded in current conflicts – ‘We don’t care about the rights and wrongs of war but we believe that if young men and women are prepared to volunteer to serve our country on our behalf, and are hurt while doing so, they deserve our support’. To read more on Help for Heroes or to make a donation please visit their website here.

Epic TV are a fresh new company based in Chamonix offering access to thousands of top quality adventure films. The concept is a subscription based online service costing 6.90 Euros which in the words of Epic ‘For less than the price of a Big Mac, fries and a Coke you can get unlimited access to our massive library of the world’s best films on skiing, snowboarding, surfing, climbing, mountain biking, paddling, wingsuit/BASE jumping and more’.

Our well connected boss, being the influential fella he is in Chamonix, has managed to wangle a 6 month free subscription for all Action Outdoors customers. There are no strings attached and you don’t need to enter your credit card details to take advantage of the offer. To get your 6 month subscription visit the site then sign in through Facebook and insert the code ACTIONEPIC.

Before we partner with another company and promote their products we of course want to make sure they are any good. With this in mind I decided to take one for the team and spend a bit of time watching ski films, my job is quite tough sometimes….

To be honest I was somewhat sceptical of Epic TV when I heard about them. There is a wealth of high quality free content available on the internet these days so a website has to be fairly special to get me to hand over my hard earned cash. Nevertheless, with a free six month subscription on offer I decided to at least have a look round their site.

The first thing that struck me was the quality of the films on offer. I was pleased to see a good range of well known films with recognizable names, films that are not readily available for free on the internet such as ‘The Art of Flight’, ‘All.I.Can’ and ‘The Fall Line’ as well as some all time old school classics such as the groundbreaking ‘Blizzard of Ahhhhs’ and ‘Licence to Thrill’. From the films on offer it was clear that the guys at Epic had done their homework and had the support of top film makers in a number of the most exciting extreme sports.

I first looked around Epic TV during their Beta testing phase and needless to say there were a few rather annoying glitches. They have since put in a great deal of work and the user experience is now very slick, intuitive and professional. The only thing which does annoy me slightly is the requirement to download Microsoft Silverlight in order to play films on the site. In the modern age of the internet we have become used to the effortless usability of sites such as Youtube without the need for extra and unfamiliar software. Having said that the installation is quick and simple, requires little memory and being a Microsoft program you can rest assured its safe.

Once I recovered from my knee jerk reaction to paying for online content I realised it’s actually quite a good deal. Just one of these films cost about £15-£20 to watch on DVD so for about a third of a price of a DVD per month I can watch as many as I want online. For me the deciding factor was the quality of the films, they are the crème de la crème of adventure cinema with a number of award winning films, films that I genuinely want to watch. As an added bonus I get to watch a huge range of films that I would otherwise not watch because I would either not of paid for them or from different sports so I probably would never of heard of them.

Another compelling reason to use Epic TV is to support the adventure film industry. It’s a hard industry to succeed in with huge amounts of effort going in for very little profit. The prevalence of free films and internet piracy undermines the industry making profit margins even tighter. I am in no position to preach, in principal I am all for supporting such artists but when it comes to paying the high DVD prices I am a lot less keen! Epic TV is a great way for us to support adventure film makers, they get revenue from our viewing and we get to watch their films for a very reasonable price.

After a couple of weeks of using the Epic TV site I can honestly say I am impressed with what the guys have achieved. It’s a great service with superb content but you don’t just have to take my word for it, check it for free for 6 months and then decide for yourself if you think it’s worth the money.

The new winter season is fast approaching and as the first snows fall in the alps the excitement is growing. In the last few weeks we have heard a number of reports of keen skiers and boarders around the Alps snatching their first turns. It has snowed down to 600m already with the snow line holding at about 1200m. In Tignes the high glacier has been converted to a race training playground with gates literally everywhere and lycra clad speed demons warming up their legs in preparation for the racing season. Those willing to put in the effort of a human powered ascent are already enjoying the early season bounty.

All around the Alps the resorts are awakening and preparations are being made, lifts are being maintained, piste bashers serviced, bars stocked and skis waxed. With the first snows already here and a lot of snow forecast for the next few weeks it’s looking pretty good for the upcoming season. Next week we head of to Val d’Isere for our annual Ambassador’s weekend when we get to hang out with a few of our ambassadors and do some “staff training” – can’t wait!

It’s been a busy build up this year with a summer spent developing our new website and the usual hecticness of the autumn Ski Shows. Despite tough economic times we have seen a growth in bookings this year with a huge number of returning customers as well as many new faces. The popularity of our holidays is a testament to the outstanding value for money of our UCPA packages and we are really proud to be able to offer such accessible ski and snowboard holidays.

Unfortunately high booking numbers means a shortage of availability. New Years weeks is now sold out at all resorts, two of our solo weeks have totally sold out as have a number of popular weeks at various resorts. We hate having to tell people we have no more space so if you are thinking of coming away with us this season please make sure you get your booking in soon to make sure you get the course and resort of your choice.

Apologies for the lack of blogging over the summer, we have been super busy building our brand new website which we just launched this week. It’s been a great project with a lot of long discussions, head scratching and the occasional panic but I think we are all pretty happy with the end result – hopefully you are too! As a bit of celebration for our new website we are giving away a free holiday, the first 100 people to book on our new website will be entered into a draw and one lucky winner will get their holiday for free!

Our main aims in redesigning the website were to make it a more pleasant experience for you, our customers. Hopefully information is now more easy to find, easier to understand and the booking process should be clear and concise. As with any new website we expect a couple of glitches may appear in the next few weeks, please do bear with us and if you encounter an error do let us know on In fact if you have any feedback at all positive or negative please do get in touch, it is extremely useful to us.

In other news the 2012 -13 season is now on sale! We are getting pretty excited here in the office with new skis being ordered and the old ski legs beginning to twitch. Hopefully the season will be as good as last years bumper powder year, according to the long forecast we are due for an early start to the season if you set any store by these things.

A couple of bits of news for this season – the centre at Val Thorens has just been refurbished fresh for this season. We haven’t paid it a visit yet but by all accounts its very nice and will make it one of the nicest UCPA centres, we will get you an update with pictures as soon as we can. On a similar note Argentiere is closed this season for a much needed refurbishment which will be pretty exciting for next year. What that does mean though is that demand for Chamonix will be massive so if you are thinking of visiting the valley this season (especially during peak weeks) then make sure you book early!