• Ivan, Limitless Life Tour

6 Things you need to know before you go off-piste skiing

Updated: Oct 22, 2018

We all know (or should) that when riding in a ski resort, there are some rules we should follow in order to keep a “relatively” safe environment, like no stop in the middle of a run, control our speed at all times and have respect for all the users of the slopes. FIS rules here But what happens when it ́s been snowing all night long, and the only thing we want to do is riding powder? Is there rules to follow? Help will come if something happens to me? Am I in the ski resort or outside? Let’s start from the beginning.


How do I know if I’m off piste?

That ́s an easy one. If the run you are has a name, a colour, is marked, and usually (not always) it ́s groomed, is a run from the ski resort. Don ́t forget to check the trail map of the ski resort to know the boundary limits, and when you are technically inside the ski resort. This is important, as the insurance that usually comes with the purchase of the ski ticket, will only covers you inside the ski resort limits. Meaning that the ski patrol will only help you if you are on the ski resort, if not, you will need to pay, and most likely a lot, to get help. Also some ski resorts have forbidden areas, or special areas for off piste skiing, so don’t forget to check the rules of the resort.


It doesn't take a very steep slope to get into trouble.


Many times, just by riding a few meters away from the groomed area, you will be riding fresh snow, and that’s already considered off piste. But most of the times, especially for powder hunters, that’s not enough. It usually depends on the ski resort. For example in Japan or USA, most of the times you will access outside of the ski resort boundaries by a gate, that will warn you of the leaving of the ski resort, and that after that gate, you are on your own risk, sometimes you will have scary “danger of death” signs, or the fees you ́ll be charged in case of accident. In other resorts, like in Europe, there is no sign, just a rope that nobody cares if you duck, but once you do it, you are on your own, so nobody will go to rescue you unless you call for help.


Why going off piste? Is it dangerous?

If you have been riding for a few times, you know the answer already. Riding fresh, untouched snow, is the best feeling ever, yes, sometimes even better than that you are thinking about. The feeling of floating on clouds, with total freedom, is something can ́t be compared. But that doesn't come without risk, and how we manage it and how much risk are we willing to take, is just up to us. Once we are off piste, there is never 100% safe, NEVER. The mountain is an environment that is not easy to control, not only the obvious avalanche danger, but hidden rocks, tree stumps, cliffs, creeks, sudden weather changes...there are many things out of our control, but what we can control is our decisions and the risk that we want to take for ride those perfect lines.


How can I be safer riding off piste?

“No friends on powder days” is the biggest bag of rubbish in the snow world. There is nothing better that riding powder with your friends. It's more fun and exciting, we push each other’s, and most important, your friends will help you if something happens. What about helping you to get out of that whole you couldn’t ́t see? Or calling for help if you hit a tree and can ́t keep going? Always ride with friends, or with people you can trust, as professional guides, who are qualified to take you out of the ski resort and can provide first aid help if needed. Sometimes, that buddy, with “all the gear, no idea” is not the right person to care about your safety.


Get the gear

There are 5 essentials you should have at any times you go off piste. And personally I will add a 6th one.


1. Transceiver: Is a device used to find and to be found, under the snow in the event of an avalanche.


2. Probe: Collapsible long stick used to locate the individual under the snow.


3. Metal Shovel: To dig in the snow and find your friend. Don’t use plastic ones, it brakes easily.



4. Backpack: To carry al


l these items. Ideally with a quick access pocket specific for the avalanche gear.


5. Mobile phone: To call for help. Don’t forget to fully charge it the night before, and keep it close to your body, so the battery doesn 't goes flat because of the cold.


+1: I personally always carry this. It doesn t take a lot of space in my backpack, but can be very helpful, and solve some of the most common problems out there.


6. First AIDS kit: Nothing fancy, but basic. Bandage, band aids, plasters, sterile gauze...



Get the training.


So you've been riding off piste inside the ski resort for a while, you are confident with your skills, and hungry for more powder, so you decide to buy the safety gear and go out with your friends. But, hold on, anybody knows how to use a transceiver? What slopes are safe to ride? What conditions are more dangerous? Well, maybe is a good idea to take an avalanche course or some other off piste trainings. This courses can go from a simple day learning the basics, to a really complex month long course to forecast avalanches. It just takes one day and some practices with your friends to get to know the essentials. You don't need to know how dangerous is a slope by the way it looks, that why there are professionals writing the snow report bulletin, but, I can save your life or a friends life just to learn how to use a transceiver. Get your gear, and learn how to use it. It can save your life.

Ride with someone more experience than you.




Sometimes just a friend that has been riding there the whole winter would know what areas are safer to ride and will also know scary spots of the mountain to avoid. Also, professional guides, who knowns the mountain like nobody, and got the training and the skills, will show you where the best snow is.


At Limitless Life Tour, we offer freeride camps in any resorts in Europe. Explore the powder with professionals, in a safe environment, no matter your skills level, and learn to read the mountain and the snow, so you can have the best time! You won ́t only ride the best snow in the mountain, but will learn how to be more independent and proficient when riding with your friends. offer, we offer freeride camps in any resorts in Europe. Explore the powder with professionals, in a safe environment, no matter your skills level, and learn to read the mountain and the snow, so you can have the best time! You won ́t only ride the best snow in the mountain, but will learn how to be more independent and proficient when riding with your friends. offer, we offer freeride camps in any resorts in Europe. Explore the powder with professionals, in a safe environment, no matter your skills level, and learn to read the mountain and the snow, so you can have the best time! You won ́t only ride the best snow in the mountain, but will learn how to be more independent and proficient when riding with your friends. offer, we offer freeride camps in any resorts in Europe. Explore the powder with professionals, in a safe environment, no matter your skills level, and learn to read the mountain and the snow, so you can have the best time! You won ́t only ride the best snow in the mountain, but will learn how to be more independent and proficient when riding with your friends.



Ivan Alonso

Contributing Writer & Business Development Manager | Limitless Life Tour


Ivan@limitlesslifetour.com

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