What is off-piste and backcountry?

Off-piste refers to terrain with un-groomed snow both outside and within the ski area boundary. It refers to snow that has been left in its natural state and the conditions vary depending on the recent weather conditions and volume of skiers and boarders that have been there before. You could get conditions ranging from powder to icy. It is these variations in conditions and the challenges associated with successfully navigating them that makes off-piste skiing and snowboarding fun for expert skiers and riders.


Off-piste within the ski area boundary

Terrain within the ski area is controlled for safety by ski patrol.
The work carried out by ski patrol significantly reduces the risk of avalanches off-piste within the ski area boundary.
The off-piste within the ski area boundary is patrolled by ski patrol and they will come to your rescue should the need arise.
Most travel insurance policies for skiing also cover you for accidents, medical and rescue costs for incidents that occur within the ski area boundary (Check your policy).

As a ski school operating on the ski area, we are able to offer lessons to develop skills for off-piste skiing/riding and take you to off-piste areas within the ski area boundary. These skills will allow you to deal with off-piste snow both in and out of the ski area.  Our current insurance policy however,  does not cover us to take you into the back-country. If you wish to go back-country, we recommend contacting back-country guiding companies.


Off-piste in the back-country
Back-country refers to off-piste terrain outside of the ski area. This terrain is not controlled by ski patrol and has substantial avalanche danger associated with navigation through such terrain.
Appropriate avalanche specific equipment should be carried in case of an avalanche occurring. Knowledge how to use this equipment is essential and people venturing into back-country terrain should have attended training courses to gain the knowledge needed. Individuals and groups that haven't attended such courses should seek qualified back-country guides to lead and navigate them through the terrain.
Even those with the necessary knowledge and experience should consider using local guides to guide them as detailed knowledge of the terrain, preceding snow pack & weather conditions for the entire winter season preceding your trip is required to make better decisions regarding the condition of the snow.
Most insurance policies do not cover skiing and snowboarding in the back-country, unless you specifically seek insurance that deals with it.
Ski Patrol also will not rescue you from outside the ski area and rescue costs for search and rescue parties, helicopters etc can run into substantial amounts that you will be required to cover if your insurance doesn't.

Back-country skiing and snowboarding is very rewarding and worth investing the time and effort required to gain the skills and knowledge.

Going into the back-country should be a serious undertaking and we strongly urge that you seek advice from reputable guiding companies. Many exceptional guiding companies are available with highly qualified and experienced guides. These companies will also be covered with the appropriate insurance.