Taking Our Snow Dog Ski Touring for the First Time

skiing with dogs

It was our first ski tour of the winter and the first ski tour EVER for our mountain pup. Happily we found 20cms of powder for him and us to play in

He's called Ullr, after the Norse snow god, bred here in Serre Chevalier, born to run on the snow-covered slopes. His mum is an Aussie Border Collie, his dad was a bit of a mystery, but now we know for sure...

Yes, his dad is most definitely a husky, one of the mixed race Alaskans that pull the tourist sledges during the winter in Serre Che. Not only did he prove his heritage on our first ski tour, yesterday, by digging a hole to lie in while we transitioned but, also, over the past few weeks when we have been running with him with a bungee lead. Just say 'mush' and he bounds ahead, pulling on his harness, ears laid back listening for instructions.

During our three months in the UK, we've taken him running up the prom by the sea on his bungee lead and on the South Downs with a GPS tracker. Once or twice he's disappeared into the trees with one of our Jack Russells, but always returned after a whistle or two but we were slightly concerned that he might stray on a ski tour.

So when we decided to take him and Beanie, our younger Jack (her mum, Kiki is now 12 years old and prefers sofa touring) to explore the snow in Cervieres as there's not enough to make a snowball in Serre Chevalier, we had his GPS fully charged.

Happily for us there was a surprising amount of powder up the hill. The only downside to ski touring here is that, at this time of year with the road too snow-covered to drive along, there's almost 3km of flat trail to skate along before the ascent.

Also, happily we needn't have worried abut the GPS for Ullr. He only strayed from the trail now and again to hoon around in the 20cm of powder. 

ski touring with dogs
 

We climbed around 500m as it was getting late in the day (it took us nearly two hours to locate all our kit) and the temperature was dropping, the thermometer reading -9C that morning. It was when we were transitioning on a chilly exposed plateau, that Ullr started to circle round and round on the spot, creating a cosy nest in the snow where he curled up and snoozed for 10 minutes while he waited.

But when Gav set off down hill in the powder, he was ecstatic - and, thankfully, cautious of the skis - bounding down alongside. Meanwhile, Beanie being smaller and hairier was finding the going a little hard where the snow was deeper.

ski touring with dogs
 

It was a leisurely pace going up and, skiing down, there were frequent pauses to wait for Beanie so, although, Ullr is only nine months old, it was an easy outing for him. We'll wait until he is a little older to try him harnessed to give us an extra pull when ski touring up, 

Personally, I can't wait!