White Marmotte was started by Ian Huyton, Stine Keyes and a love of mountains. We started in Les Deux Alpes in 2017, running the occasional mountain skills day or ski tour alongside Ian’s ski teaching. Next we added NNAS navigation courses. Guided day hikes followed, along with educational nature walks. Finally, we took the step of becoming a licenced tour operator in France to offer multi-day guided trekking packages.
In 2021, we made the move to Chamonix, following the call of the bigger mountains. Although Deux Alpes and the Écrins will always have a place in our hearts, living in Chamonix allows us to fully develop our summer offering. From our base below Mont-Blanc, we now run courses and trips across the Alps. These include guided treks and ski touring, as well as mountain & navigation skills courses for walkers and skiers.
Ian started climbing at the age of 5, and got his first pair of skis when he was 7. After studying physics at Sheffield, he decided that he really belonged in the mountains and set about becoming a ski instructor.
His teaching career began at Nevis Range in the Scottish Highlands back in 2004. Since then he has taught skiing on three continents before settling in France.
He achieved his International Mountain Leader Qualification in 2017, and has guided groups around many European long-distance treks. These include Tour du Mont Blanc and the Haute Route. When not working or playing in the mountains, he writes for 2alpesnet.com and other websites.
BASI Level 4 International Ski Teacher Diploma (full French and European equivalence)
International Mountain Leader Award
European Mountain Safety Award (Eurosecurité)
ANENA Formateur (French Snow and Avalanche Research Association Instructor)
Freeski Development Coach Level 2
Rock Climbing Instructor (formerly Single Pitch Award)
Speaks French, Spanish and English
He also has a degree in physics, but that was a long time ago.
Stine is the brains behind White Marmotte, having a PhD in nuclear physics and a successful career as a quant analyst. She moved to the Alps full time in 2019, having spent more and more time there over the previous years. At White Marmotte she runs the website and is basically in charge, whilst still quant analysing at the same time. When not working, she likes to run, cycle or ski tour – the further and more strenuous the better.
The White Marmotte name is a combination of the features that make up our strengths. This fictional creature combines the white of our snowy winter playground with a playful emblem of the Alps in summer. We also mix English and French spellings to emphasise that whilst we come from English speaking countries, we live and work in the French Alps. You can read more about real life marmots in this blog post.
Some important legal stuff
White Marmotte / Ian Huyton is a registered Tour Operator with the French Tourism Development agency, Atout France. This allows us to offer multi-day packages with accommodation while complying with the European package travel regulations which are incorporated into the French Code du Tourisme.You can view our Atout Immatriculation Certificate here.
The name and logo are registered marques with INPI France. Ian Huyton is a registered Entreprise Individuelle (individual enterprise). Our SIRET number is 81746607100039 (all French businesses must have a SIRET number).
The Chamonix Valley needs no introduction to mountaineers as the birthplace of alpinism at the foot of the highest mountain in the Alps (Mont-Blanc, for those not in the know). Skiers will know it as the site of the famous Valley Blanche – the biggest lift served vertical drop in the world. This is indeed a must-do run for competent off-piste skiers, but there is so much more to skiing in and around Chamonix, especially once you put on touring skins and start hiking.
In summer, Chamonix is the starting point for two of the most famous long distance hikes in Europe – the Tour de Mont Blanc and the Haute Route. One bonus here is the close proximity to both Switzerland and Italy. This lets us hike easily across national borders giving the trekking here a uniquely international flavour. Another bonus is the network of accommodation both in the surrounding valleys and on the mountains themselves.
We offer ski lessons in Chamonix and neighbouring resorts in conjunction with Freedom Snowsports. In summer we run guided trekking and navigation courses from the Chamonix Valley.
Along with the highest mountains in France and the Alps, the Mont-Blanc area covers seven valleys in three countries. Beyond the Chamonix valley, the most popular destination in the region, the rest of the massif is also full of beautiful places to ski, hike or climb. There is a huge variety in these valleys too, from the chic Italian ski town of Courmayeur to the unspoilt slice of pastoral Switzerland that is the Val Ferret. Whether you’re looking for remote hiking or major ski resorts you’ll find both here.
We love to hike, trail run, ski and ski tour in all parts of the range, as well as visiting some of the picturesque alpine villages and high refuges.
Like the massif itself, the skiing near Mont-Blanc goes far beyond Chamonix, although Chamonix is of course famous for its ski slopes. There are many more ski areas in and around the range, and most are included on the Mont-Blanc-Unlimited ski pass.
The three biggest concentrations of skiing are the Chamonix valley with five ski areas, Evasion Mont-Blanc, which includes St. Gervais, Megeve and Les Contamines, and Courmayeur in Italy. There are also two small ski areas in the Swiss Val Ferret and some even smaller areas in the Trient Valley just over the border from France. Read on for the full list…
In the Southern French Alps lies a mountain paradise to rival the most popular areas of the Alps. The Ecrins region hosts wild and beautiful hiking, sun-kissed rock climbing, classic Alpine mountaineering and world-class ski resorts. Villages like La Berarde, La Grave and Ailefroide are woven into the fabric of mountaineering history. Alongside these renowned names, there are many more picturesque and unspoilt villages to discover.
The range holds the only 4000m peaks in France outside the Mont-Blanc massif. Back in the golden age of Alpinism, many famous climbers of the day journeyed here to scale them. But the biggest prize, La Meije, held out until 1877. This was one of the last great Alpine peaks to be conquered. At the foot of these high peaks lies the Brianconnais region, celebrated for rock climbing on warm limestone. There is actually good rock climbing all around the range, but the Brianconnais crags provide the highest concentration of easily accessible sport climbs.
For our summer courses and trekking, perhaps the best thing about this area is the lack of crowds. Aside from certain tourist hotspots, the trails here tend to be empty. There are hundreds of kilometres where you will rarely see another hiker. As a result, there are multiple opportunities to spot the local wildlife.
For more detailed info see:
Les Deux Alpes lies in a beautiful corner of the world with a lot to offer anybody who loves the mountains. The town is perched on a high plateau on the edge of the Ecrins National Park. On the pistes, a vertical drop of over two kilometres can be skied from 3520m on La Lauze down to 1294m in Mont de Lans. The resort is often described as being ‘upside down’ due to having some of the easiest terrain at the top. Steep lower slopes hold challenging black runs (plus the brand new Jandri 1 blue). In contrast, above 3200m the glacier hosts cruising blues with a spectacular view.
In summer the glacier draws international athletes from around the world to train on guaranteed snow while the lower slopes turn into a downhill mountain biking paradise. Beyond the lift served area there is easy access (perhaps too easy) to the wild high mountains and glaciers that the region has to offer.
Geographically, the ski area forms part of a long, broad ridge which rises from Bourg d’Oisans to the peaks of Le Rateau and La Meije, separating the Upper Romanche and Veneon valleys. This terrain gives a wide selection of long and involved off-piste routes and ski tours which take you from the high reaches of the ski area to the remote tributary valleys and picturesque villages of the Veneon or to the steep north facing slopes of the Romanche.
Aside from Les Deux Alpes itself, there are several other ski areas close by ranging from the enormous to a pair of lifts in a field. This is a region where tiny, unspoilt ski stations like Chazelet and Col D’Ornon stand alongside the world-class resorts of Alpe D’Huez and Serre Chevalier.
For some, the biggest draw in the region is the freeski mecca of La Grave La Meije. The Telepherique runs from the village at 1450m to the glacier at 3200m giving access to a huge playground of ungroomed and unpatrolled off-piste terrain. Above that, a unique drag lift on the Girose glacier takes skiers to 3600m and the tenuous link to Les Deux Alpes. Avalanche safety equipment is essential and an off-piste instructor or mountain guide is highly recommended. There are many dead ends here. Consequently, following tracks can easily get you into trouble in an area with a large population of extreme skiers. That said, it is a truly amazing place to ski and a descent of the Vallons de la Meije should be on every skier’s must-do list.
Ride Camps is the brand name British instructor Craig Nelder uses for his Snowboard/Mountain Bike experiences and coaching products. All products are offered in and around the stunning French resort of Les Deux Alpes.
Craig’s goal is to help you get the most enjoyment and satisfaction from your mountain riding sports and to help you reach your full potential! He can work with both adults or children of all levels from complete beginner all the way up to training and qualifying new instructors.