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Winter Holidays: Activity Levels & Styles

Winter Activity Levels

Information on snowshoeing activity levels and cross-country ski grades is below. All other trips, such as mixed activity, Northern Lights or winter cultural trips, are set according to the general activity level descriptions as detailed above.

Snowshoeing Activity Levels

Activity level 1 - LeisurelyEasy 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.  

Activity level 3: ModerateRelatively full days, with 4-5 hours of snowshoeing, although occasional longer,harder days may be involved. Previous experience is not necessary, but you should be confident of your fitness level.

Activity level 5: ChallengingGenerally 4-6 hours a day, with longer ascents and a faster pace in order to complete circular routes. There may be more challenging sections throughout the week and/or more basic accommodation in the evening. Previous experience of mountain snowshoeing and a good fitness level required are required.


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
Equivalent Activity Level - leisurely/moderate
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
Equivalent Activity Level - Moderate
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
Equivalent Activity Level - 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.

Our race weeks - Engadin Ski Marathon CME (if doing classic style) and Finlandia Hiihto Ski Race CFX are also set at this grade.

Grade 4 Advanced
Equivalent Activity Level - Moderate/Challenging
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
Equivalent Activity Level - 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.

Skating Style

The movement for skating is similar to ice skating or rollerblading. Skate 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 than those on classic skis. 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.

Cross-country skating levels

L1 – 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.

L2 – 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.

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