Learn how to access offpiste skiing safely
Develop the mountaineering skills you need to get out of the resort, and make good, safe decisions. Gain the confidence to leave the resort boundary and ski offpiste.
- 3 days
- 1 instructor to 4 skiers
- Become an independent offpiste skier
- Course materials included
- Avalanche and decision making lecture
Skiers who want to safely explore the backcountry and ski offpiste. If you’ve attended a guided ski tour before and want to gain independence, this is the course for you.
Why you’ll love it…
You’ll learn learn how to safely access the forbidden fruit that is out-of-bounds skiing, which means ripping through powder fields for ever more!
What to expect
We’ll cover the key things you need to know, and be able to do to ski offpiste safely. We’ll spend at least 2 of the 3 days on foot, developing your mountaineering abilities. We’ll aim to put everything into context on the last day, and go for a ski tour, led by you.
Ski mountaineering specific skills
- How to attach skis to your bag and stow your poles
- Appropriate techniques – when to use skins / ski crampons / crampons
- How to use an ice axe
- How to attach crampons to ski boots
- Accessing steep slopes and corniced edges safely
- Basic ropework and snow belays to safely access and assess steep slopes
- Scoping out a line
- Dynamic risk assessment – likelihood & consequence of a fall
- Interpreting the avalanche forecast
- Understanding how the weather forecast affects our day
- Applying both of these to stay safe and find the best snow
Looking after yourself
- Keeping your kit organised
- Managing your clothing
- Being comfortable in a challenging environment
- Kicking steps
- Effective and precise use of crampons
- Using an ice axe effectively, and self arrest
- Setting a nice skinning track
Avalanche avoidance and route finding
- Terrain management
- Safe travel protocol
- Dynamic risk assessment
- Approaching corniced edges
- This will include an avalanche lecture
Meeting point and time
Let’s meet at the Grog and Gruel in Fort William at 7.30 pm on Thursday 14th March. It’s a great pub and serves nice food. The best plans are always hatched in pubs anyway aren’t they?
We’ve left this to suit your budget, there are lots of options in Fort William. Being within 5 minutes’ walk of the high street is ideal, as you can then easily get to supermarkets and restaurants.
Getting here and away
Fort William has a train station, with frequent trains from the south.
Here’s the kit list. Please get in touch if you’ve any problems.
Why Scotland is perfect for this course
Scotland has incredible skiing if you now where to look. It’s the perfect place to run this course; conditions change rapidly, and the difference of 100 metres can render a slope safe or dangerous, fun or terrifying. Understanding how and why this happens will then give you the perfect grounding for offpiste skiing abroad, where the differences are generally less extreme.
If we choose to, we could use the lift access at either Glencoe ski resort, or the Nevis Range. These resorts give quick access to excellent mountaineering terrain and offpiste ski descents.
Why Will’s running this course
Will’s worked as a ski instructor in Japan, New Zealand, and the USA. Annual ski mountaineering trips have seen him climb and ski 4000 metre peaks in the Alps, explore remote areas of the Rockies, ski blower powder in Arctic Norway, and cool lines – the San Joaquin couloir his favourite. He’ll have been in Scotland for the whole season, working on winter mountaineering and climbing courses, so will have a good knowledge of the snowpack and mountain conditions for your course.