Off-Piste Skiing & Avalanche Training

Skiing fresh powder on untracked slopes is one of the greatest pleasures the mountains can provide. The stunning mountain scenery, the solitude and silence away from the resorts, the infinite variety of snow, the ski techniques to deal with in a huge expanse of varied terrain combine into a special mixture that is hard to beat. If you want to find those hidden powder stashes or the freshest, deepest snow, you need to cope with the tools, knowledge and decision making skills necessary to travel safely in avalanche terrain. To venture away from the controlled pistes and into the mountain arena you owe it to yourself and friends to be trained first. Even shoveling might sound elementary but it’s the next frontier in decreasing avalanche rescue times.

We did a 2-day course in off-piste skiing and avalanche training with 6 young season skiers in the Monte Rosa massive. We focused on the awareness and avoidance of avalanche terrain and discussed some basic decision-making strategies including travel techniques. Of course we trained and talked about basic rescue procedures together with information that should be known by anyone traveling with or without a mountain guide in the backcountry. The mountain guide hopes that the group in the end went home with a more thoughtful approach to their future off-piste skiing. For those interested we covered such things as:

  • Recognize weather and snowpack conditions contributing to instability.
  • Reading avalanche bulletins.
  • Apply risk reducing travel techniques.
  • Understand basic avalanche mechanics.
  • Identify avalanche terrain.
  • Understand basic self and partner rescue including efficient transceiver use.
  • Understand principals of route selection based on stability evaluation.
  • Shoveling and probing technique.
  • Skiing off-piste terrain can be quite complex but should always still be fun and I wish them a snowy and safe winter season! Your are welcome to join us for future courses in the Alps, please feel free to contact us for further information.

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