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Winter Holidays: Activity Levels & Styles

Activity level

If you want to push yourself, we can provide the challenge, but most of our winter holidays are exactly that – holidays. Most are aimed at beginners and are designed for people of average fitness. All necessary instruction is included and on some of the trips, so is all of the equipment you need. Each trip has a difficulty grade ranging from leisurely to tough, which we now show against the activity level to further help you differentiate between our trips. Please consider the fitness and experience level required for each trip and if you have specific questions, contact one of our sales team before booking.

Cross-country skiing involves more intensive instruction and our groups are carefully graded to ensure participants have similar levels of experience. Please see below for specific grading details. All other activities are easy to pick up and require no previous experience, yet their grading takes the terrain and remote nature into consideration.

Choosing your style & grade/activity level

Winter Walking & Snowshoeing

Easy activities requiring a little physical effort for a short length 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.  


Relatively full days, with 4-5 hours of walking, although occasional longer,harder days may be involved. Previous experience is not necessary, but you should be confident of your fitness level.


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.


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 compare to extended walking in mountainous terrain. Climate and remoteness can also play a part.



Comparing summer & winter walking grades
Our grading system works the same in the summer as the winter, as we take the terrain into account when calculating the grades. So if you have enjoyed a moderate level 3 grade summer trip, choose a moderate winter trip (level 3).

Cross-country skiing grades

Exodus offers cross-country skiing holidays to suit a wide range of technical and physical levels. This year we have improved on our old system to be more comparable to the activity levels we use on our snowshoeing, cycling, activity and trekking holidays. Skating technique requires a certain level of competence in classic cross-country skiing, so this retains the original system.The aim remains to create groups of similar ability and fitness. We believe a slightly different system is still required, due to the tuition we provide on our holidays. This sets our cross-country skiing holidays apart, as we tend not to need to teach people how to ride a bike or walk! Our descriptions are below, however feel free to call and speak to an expert if you are unsure which grade or type of holiday will suit you best.

Grade 1 Beginners.
A week for complete beginners. Inevitably we start with the basics, including how to stop using the snowplough technique and how to turn. You will be on skis for at least 5-6 hours a day with a focus on tuition, getting comfortable on skis and building towards longer tours through the winter landscape.In some centres there may also be some easy off track skiing. This involves heading off the pre-cut tracks, typically across frozen lakes or snow covered pastures.

Grade 2 Improvers
These weeks are ideal for those who have enjoyed at least one grade 1 holiday and grasped the basics. They offer tuition to refresh and improve technique and typically will ski a little further than Grade 1 weeks, and over more varied terrain, i.e more ups and downs and therefore requiring a slightly higher level of fitness.

In some cases these weeks are acceptable for newcomers to cross-country skiing. Beginners on these weeks should be very fit and proficient in sports that develop balance - ice-skating, roller-skating or roller skiing and will need to pick up the basic technique quickly. Please contact us if you wish to book a Grade 2 holiday but have not skied before.

Grade 3 Intermediates
A grade 3 week is ideal for those looking to push on, tackle some slightly steeper terrain and cover more ground each day. Typical groups will have a few weeks skiing behind them, be very comfortable with the basics and happy on longer day tours. There will still be tuition on these weeks,  at the required level.

All our race weeks (Finlandia-Hiito [Trip code: CFX], Engadin [Trip code: CME] and La Transjurassienne [Trip code: CMJ] ) are set at this level, as are our higher level skate weeks. Please not the higher level skate week also require specific skating experience.

Grade 4 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.

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.

Grade 5 Challenging
Grade 5 is for experienced, very proficient skiers looking for long, steep ascents and descents, including off-track skiing over variable snow. Good fitness, stamina and sound and controlled technique is required.

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.

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 skiing
At certain centres we have two leaders running two grades at the same time. These are ideal if you are unsure of your level, prefer the option of changing grades during the week, or if you are in a couple who ski at different levels.

Naturally, our beginners’ weeks include plenty of instruction to get you started. But all our holidays include some teaching, and those who ski at a more advanced grade will enjoy the combination of longer tours with some on-the-go tuition as required. Our ski leaders come from diverse backgrounds – many have ski instructors qualifications, while others are experienced ski enthusiasts, keen to impart their knowledge and skills.

NB: The cross-country grades are listed against the departure dates in the holiday dates and prices section 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 that can be mastered with ease. In prepared tracks (known as loipe), 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. Once the snowplough technique is grasped (grade 1) even more undulating slopes become stress-free.

The movement for skating 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. More physically demanding than classic style, once mastered most skiers find they can pick up speed and travel greater distances at a faster pace. To join a skating holiday it is essential to know how to snowplough (on either classic or downhill skis) and have good balance and fitness. Trips where you can experience skate style are the Asiago Skate & Classic Week and the Seefeld Skating Course.


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! Trips where you can experience off-track skiing are cross-country skiing in Mosstrond and cross-country skiing in Kvitavatn



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