White Marmotte was started by Ian Huyton, Stine Keyes and a love of mountains. From our base in Les Deux Alpes, we 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. We also run ski instructor training courses in both summer and winter.
Ian started climbing at the age of 5, and got his first pair of skis when he was 7. After a degree in physics, he decided that he really belonged in the mountains, and set about qualifying as 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)
Freeski Development Coach Level 2
Rock Climbing Instructor (formerly Single Pitch Award)
Fluent in French, Spanish and English
He also has a degree in physics, but that was a long time ago.
In the Southern French Alps, far from the bustle of Chamonix or Zermatt, 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, the Briancon area is 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 of trails here where you will rarely see another hiker. As a result, the opportunities to spot the local wildlife are multiplied.
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) while 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.