When someone refers to off-piste skiing, they are referring to backcountry skiing. Backcountry skiing is skiing either or near a ski resort on places that are not marked or patrolled. Piste skiing, or alpine skiing, typically takes place on places that are maintained by a ski patrol. When preparing to go on an off-piste skiing trip, there are some things to remember.
Find a Buddy
When getting ready to ski off-piste, it is important to let someone know where you are going. Many people recommend having a qualified guide because they can help you stay safe. If you choose to ski off-piste without a guide, however, to keep yourself safe, you should make sure to ski with someone else. Never participate in off-piste skiing alone, and always let someone know where you are going. This is a critical part of safe off-piste skiing.
If you are visiting a resort in Canada, there is an entire association dedicated to teaching skiers and snowboarders how to be safe in case of an avalanche: the Canadian Avalanche Association or CAA. There are quite a few Avalanche Skills Training Courses, which teach skiers how to be aware of avalanches and how to rescue other skiers. When skiing off-piste, these are crucial skills to learn for your own safety and the safety of those you are skiing with.
Making sure that your equipment is up to date and organized is crucial. Before even heading out to ski off-piste, make sure that everything is working, and you have all the supplies that you might need. Also, talk to your guide and check the weather forecast so that you know what additional gear you might need. Sites like SMF new are a place for skiers to talk to each other and discuss equipment that is working well for them. If you are unsure of what equipment to use, check these boards out and ask other skiers.
When getting ready to ski off-piste, be familiar with the terrain that you are skiing in. In addition to that familiarity, being able to read a map and use a compass are crucial skills for anyone spending time in the mountains and traveling on unmarked paths. While it can be useful to have GPS, this should not be the only method that you have for knowing where you are. Having a planned route also keeps you safe because it means that you can tell someone where you are going.
Be Aware of Conditions
Whether you have a guide or not, it is important to check the weather conditions. Knowing what the weather is going to be like before you head out into it allows you to choose the correct gear for your activity. This also means that you know what the levels of risk for avalanches are, an important thing to consider when skiing off-piste.
Skiing off-piste can be a lot of fun, but there are several things to consider before setting off on your skiing adventure, so take heed of the above advice.