Off Piste Safety
Skiing off piste can be very exciting and a great way to get away from busy pistes and experience real 'powder'. But it can bring its own dangers and it is essential that you are properly insured. Read on...
Off-piste skiing & snowboarding rewards you with powder and few people to share the slopes with - but beware the pitfalls - ski insurance cover is essential.
Before you go off in to all that powder, off-piste safety is paramount to ensure a great skiing holiday. Make sure your ski insurance cover includes off-piste activity where allowed. Obviously if in the ski resort it says prohibited off-piste - please heed the warnings - they are in place for a reason. Most ski insurance cover will include off piste - but if you plan on snowboarding or skiing off-piste - just make sure!
General off-piste safety advice
Ideally check with local ski guides on off-piste safety in that particular ski area. Some are more dangerous than others due to up-slope conditions. Alternatively check with your ski rep - they should have all the relevant knowledge.
Never snowboard or ski off-piste alone. For obvious reasons, always take a similarly competent boarder or skier when you go off-piste - that way if either of you got into difficulty you have a good chance of getting help. Also make sure you have transceivers in your clothing, a bar or two of chocolate, first aid kits and even a mini shovel.
It is always a good idea to understand the basics about avalanches and the conditions that cause them. Also, what to do if you find yourself caught up in one - some very simple knowledge could save your life (read more on avalanches and avalanche safety). Being able to use an avalanche transceiver (or peeps as it is sometimes called) is also a big advantage as it is a combined transmitter and receiver and can help you locate people in your party that may be buried.
So why go off-piste or 'out of bounds'
With the increase in popularity of skiing and snowboarding, going off-piste can enable you to get away from the masses, find more technical 'runs', find fresh powder and really experience the mountains. Ski insurance cover usually covers this, but you can understand their hesitancy, as increased accidents and rescues costs them money.
So we suggest you check the ski resort you are going to for the type of off-piste conditions, then check your policy to ensure you are covered fully if you need help. Remember, recovery costs by helicopter run in to thousands and you will be liable if you don't have the right ski insurance cover