Winter Activity Holidays: Styles and Grades
Exodus are leaders in small group activity holidays, but we understand that many people prefer to travel with their partners, families or own group of friends. Our series of independent holidays offer the research, organisation and backup that Exodus is known for, but without the obligation to travel in a group. We will arrange flights, transfers and accommodation for you. Once at the base, you can pick and choose your activities each day, according to your own preference. See the following trips:
Cross-country Skiing: Dobbiaco - Trip code: CXD
Cross-country Skiing: Kvitavatn - Trip code: CXK
Cross-country Skiing: Trins Austria - Trip code: CXT
Independent Winter Holidays with our sister company: Headwater
Based in some of the best cross-country skiing resorts in Switzerland, Italy, Finland and Norway, we stay in comfortable 3 or 4 star hotels with ski lessons and equipment hire included. Ski lessons are arranged by a local ski school and may be mixed with non-Exodus/Headwater clients. Each centre also has a variety of optional activities available such as downhill skiing, snowshoeing, winter walking, tobogganing, ski touring and even dogsledding.
With Headwater's unrivalled experience in organising self-guided holidays, you can rest assured that all the relevant maps and support will be provided. An information pack is sent out before departure, which includes details about the food of the area, ideas for extra activities and some handy ski exercises.
Cross-country Skiing: Davos (Independent) - Trip code: CTV
Cross-country Skiing: Dobbiaco (Independent) - Trip code: CTD
Cross-country Skiing: Kandersteg (Independent) - Trip code: CTK
Cross-country Skiing: Lapland (Independent) - Trip code: CTS
Cross-country Skiing: Venabu (Independent) - Trip code: CYV
Cross-country Skiing: Leutasch & Seefeld (Independent) - Trip code: CXS
Most of the holidays in this brochure are group holidays. Group sizes vary from 4 to 16, but generally comprise of around 10 participants. Travelling with like-minded people adds plenty of fun and laughs to your winter holiday, particularly if you are trying a new activity.
Perfect for solo travellers
It may surprise you to know that almost half of our clients are solo travellers, choosing to travel on their own rather than with a partner or friends. Of course, when you travel with Exodus, travelling solo doesn’t mean travelling alone.
All of our winter activity trips are ideal for solo travellers. From the moment you arrive at your destination, you’ll be with a group of likeminded people who share your passion for active travel. There will be others who have booked individually, and the couples and friends who travel with Exodus generally do so in order to socialise within a group and to enhance their holiday experience.
Dinners are taken as a group, and even on ‘free days’ your Tour Leader will recommend a restaurant and the majority of the group choose to eat together. It’s a great way of meeting new people.
For those clients who wish to travel with a group of other solo travellers, on certain trips we have set aside departure dates that are specifically recommended for clients booking individually. Solo departures are aimed at taking away that concern that you may be the only solo traveller when you arrive overseas. Look out for the SOLO Departures logo on the holiday pages and against the respective departures on the dates and prices page of the trips. Or see our Solo departures page for the full list.
We have a dedicated groups department which can arrange private departures on most of our brochured tours. We generally work with a minimum group size of 4-6 and maximum numbers usually apply (usually due to legal guiding ratios), as stated in our brochure. Where possible we will accommodate larger numbers, but it is important to us as supporters of sustainable tourism that we do not compromise the good of the environment or your enjoyment by taking too many people to sensitive destinations. For further details, please contact our Group Sales Department on
0845 330 6009 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Our Winter Activities 2012/13 brochure is now available. Request your copy!
Our simple grading system
Many of our holidays are aimed at beginners and are designed for people of just average fitness. All necessary instruction and equipment is included. Snowshoeing, dogsledding and snowmobiling are easy to pick up and require no previous experience. Cross-country skiing will involve more intensive instruction, and our groups are carefully graded to ensure participants have similar levels of experience.
It is important to choose a holiday appropriate to your fitness and experience levels. Of course some are tougher than others and the activity profile section gives more detail about what to expect. All of our holidays use one or other of the grading systems below.
Snowshoe and activity grades
Grade A - Easy activities requiring a little physical effort for a short amount of time. Previous experience is not necessary at this level, anyone who is reasonably fit and healthy enough to complete a weekend walk will manage.
Grade B - Relatively full days, with 4-5 hours of walking, although occasional longer or harder days may be involved. Previous experience is not necessary, but you should be confident of your fitness level.
Grade B/C -Generally 4-6 hours a day, with longer ascents and a faster pace in order to complete circular walks. There may be more challenging sections throughout the week and/or more basic accommodation in the evening. Previous experience not necessary but good fitness level required.
Grade C - Full days in the outdoors, with walks or activities lasting 4-6 hours a day. Fitness becomes more important at this level and some previous experience is desirable. Walks at this grade compares to extended walking in mountainous terrain, climate and remoteness can also play a part.
Grade D - Be prepared for long, steep ascents and descents, and for off-track skiing over variable snow. You need good fitness, stamina and sound and controlled technique. Climbing skins will be needed on some days.
Please note: On our website we currently use the above grading on the Winter Walking and Snowshoe holidays. However, in the Winter Adventures 2013/14 brochure there is a new 'icon' which shows a 'dial and rating number', along with the above wording (see image on the right)
The grades are still the same and the icon will be updated in due course on our website once all the programmes take up the new format. We apologise for any inconvenience or confusion this may cause.
Cross-country ski grades
It is essential to choose the right grade of trip for your level of cross-country skiing experience or ability. Please read our grading system carefully, and see the notes for each trip on the dates and prices page.
Grade 1 Beginners.
Recommended for beginners, or those who feel the need to improve basic techniques. We teach you the essentials and explore gently undulating terrain. All or most skiing is on prepared tracks (loipe). More experienced skiers are welcome, but the pace will be set for the beginners. Towards the end of the holiday you might ski 10-15km or more a day, at a gentle pace. Throughout the week you will be taught how to snowplough and different techniques to have you gliding along the tracks in no time.
Grade 2 Intermediates and confident beginners.
A mix of flat and hillier terrain. Grade 2 weeks are for people who have enjoyed a Grade 1 holiday, grasped the snowplough and now want to improve technique. We ski a little more quickly and over more challenging ground than on a grade 1 trip.
Acceptable for newcomers to cross-country skiing, but you should be very fit and have experience of ther sports that develop balance - ice-skating, roller-skating or downhill skiing. Most of the skiing will be on tracks but there may be some off-track skiing.
Grade 2+Intermediates (unsuitable for beginners).
On these holidays we will be skiing on some steeper terrain. Suitable for clients who have done a couple of weeks with us, have developed their snowplough and can cope fairly confidently with undulating tracks. Also suitable for those wishing to progress onto a skating week.
Grade 3 Advanced.
Choose this level if you can tackle ‘ups and downs’ competently, manage a controlled snowplough descent, and if you want to ski at a lively pace. You should also be able to get up swiftly and easily by yourself after a fall. The mix of track and off-track skiing varies.
Grade 4 Strenuous.
Be prepared for long, steep ascents and descents, and for off-track skiing over variable snow. You need good fitness, stamina and sound and controlled technique. Climbing skins will be needed on some days.
Cross-country Skating levels
Level 1 Beginners.
Recommended for those who have tried classic cross-country skiing, mastered the basics (including the snowplough) and now wish to try the skating style. Generally a faster skiing motion than classic cross-country skiing, you will need to be of reasonable fitness and have confidence on the snow. Whilst not skiing in tracks you will be on prepared, gradually undulating slopes and cover approximately 10-15km a day. This is not suitable for those who have not tried classic cross-country skiing.
Level 2 Intermediates.
Covering more challenging terrain, this level is for those who have already mastered the basics of the skating style and wish to improve their skating technique. Terrain covered will be slightly more challenging and you should expect to cover 15-20km per day. You will be taught techniques to help you increase your speed, perfect for those wishing to take on the challenge of a ski race.
Multi Grade: At certain centres we have two leaders running two grades at the same time, allowing skiers to move between grades during the week. Multigrade weeks are a great option if you are slightly unsure of your level, or like to ski at different intensities on different days, or if you are a couple who ski at different levels. These trips are highlighted with the ‘Multigrade’ logo
NB: The cross-country grades are listed against the departure dates on the holiday dates and prices pages so you can check which is the best week to travel with the correct grade for your ability.
Different Cross-country Styles
The majority of our holidays follow classic technique. Skiing will be in prepared tracks that are also known as loipes.
The movement is similar to walking with a gliding action involving a more pronounced motion back and forwards of the arms. Wax or grip under the ski holds it to the snow when a skier’s weight is on it, helping to tackle steeper gradients with ease and glide along flatter terrain. One of the easier ski styles to learn, the toughest element is the challenge of more undulating slopes. Once the snowplough technique is grasped these can be mastered with ease.
The movement for skating technique is more side-to-side and is similar to ice-skating or rollerblading. Skating skis are lightweight and shorter than classic skis, with increased ankle support provided in the boots. To join a skating holiday it is essential that you have mastered the basics of classic cross-country skiing first, including the snowplough. More physically demanding than classic style, once mastered most skiers find they can pick up speed and travel greater distances
at a faster pace than those on classic skis.
Off-track skiing offers adventure and exploration, taking you quite literally out of the tracks to make your own trails. Different skis are used to cope with the deeper snow and steeper slopes and you should expect to venture to more remote areas, often crossing frozen lakes and tackling steeper terrain. A style of skiing more commonly found in Norway, you are not restricted to following tracks and set routes. Deeper snow can provide a more controlled ski pace and softer landing should you fall!
Once you have picked your activity and your preferred grade, you should also consider a few other important issues.
It’s worth thinking about what you like to do in the evenings. Most of our holidays in Scandinavia are in wilderness locations, where evening entertainment is homegrown. The best locations for access to some low-key nightlife are: Seefeld in Austria, Villabassa in the Dolomites, and Slovenia.
Even on the single activity weeks we offer a number of other options for the evenings or free day, for example: hot-tubs, dogsledding trips, downhill options and torchlight sledging. Refer to the ‘Optional Activities’ section on the trip page Essential Info. tab for a list of what’s possible in the area. Otherwise try one of our multi activity holidays where the variety comes included.
Although you probably don’t want to spend an entire week downhill skiing, it can be an excellent
way to spend a free day. Many of our holidays are ideally located within easy access of excellent
resorts. Where this is the case we have given details in the ‘Optional Activities’ section on the trip page Essential Info. tab, more detailed information is provided in the Trip Notes.
If you and your travelling companion are into different activities but would still like to enjoy your holiday together, we have the perfect solution. Our Winter Walking trips in Trins and Dobbiaco are scheduled to coincide with cross-country skiing departures in the same destination. While one of you glides gracefully off with the group on the ski trails, the other can lace up their walking boots to join the winter walking group. Each evening you will meet up again to enjoy the comforts of your hotel. Please confirm room arrangements with a member of our sales team at the time of booking.