Are you aware of your risk when ski touring or freeriding? | How to ski

This winter we have been facing a lot of people starting ski touring or skiing off-piste. Which I think is amazing. People spend their time outside, the best thing what can happen. Although being out in the alps without any knowledge about avalanche safety, the risks which are existing when skiing off-piste or ski-tour are immense.

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Avalanche Safety, ski Arlberg
Skiing off-piste at the Arlberg region

If you think about the last week, we had avalanche level 4 out of 5, and people still went out ski touring, freeriding without using the right safety equipment, lacking knowledge and simply don’t care about avalanche safety, the risk of themselves and their friends.

This article should help you to start thinking about whether you go out ski touring, freeriding or not and if you go if you care about the avalanche safety and be prepared in a proper way.

Sandra Lahnsteiner lately shared her thoughts about, how people act when being ski touring or freeriding on her Instagram account.

When being skiing off-piste or ski touring consider those points in terms of avalanche safety:

  • First of all, I highly suggest to be rational against yourself and think about am I a good skier. Can I do this? Overconfidence is risky and can lead to dangerous situations.
  • Who are you skiing with? Are those locals, ski guides, professionals who know what they do? If you just ski with people who are the same level of knowledge as you, you bring yourself and others into danger. Consider that when planning the sickest ski tour or freeride day.
  • Did you ever consider to ski with a professional, such as a ski guide? They will teach you how to behave, how to act and learn skiing.

If you think you are a pro skier or experienced, I am sure you are aware of those points which are listed in the e-book I wrote. Get the free version here and now.

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What to consider

The avalanche centre in Tirol is sharing daily reports about the current avalanche situation in the alps. The bulletin gives you relevant insights about avalanche safety, level of danger, the snow conditions, weather expectations and much more.

Check avalanche reports

The professionals behind that system work hard and intense to keep us safe.

There are 5 different danger levels on the scale to consider. Every level provides different characteristics and situations. The information helps to analyse the current situation and supports the decision of whether you go or not. Find a great scale here.

They also provide relevant insights into different avalanche problems. It is very helpful if you check those to understand what we all talk about. Find these insights here.

Learn about snow profiles. Snow does not mean snow at the same. The snow can be affected through weather, temperature, wind, … Be aware of that, that when snow is falling it does not mean its the same as last time. Snow changes and gets affected easily that's also a relevant reason for avalanches.

Check weather reports

Please check weather reports before you consider to ski. I listed you some of the ones I use.

How to behave in an off-piste area, when considering the avalanche safety:

  • First of all plan your tour
  • Check avalanche report + snow
  • Check the weather
  • Who are you ski touring with?
  • How did you choose your route selection?
  • Did you respect the skiers below you, when dropping in? Why is it not possible to respect others, especially in terms of safety and cross an entire face just because it will be a sick ride?
  • First come, first serve! Relax and respect distance! Ski on distance! It's much safer.

Safety Equipment

The past weeks I saw a lot of people skiing without any avalanche equipment. Wtf? People skiing off-piste, 50 cm fresh snow, avalanche level 4 out of 5 and they don’t carry any safety gear. This is something which needs to be changed.

Here are the things you need to carry when skiing off-piste or ski tour! BUT learn first how to use the gear! The gear itself does not safe you from an avalanche. Are you aware of that? (answer this question honestly to yourself)

Must-haves when skiing off-piste or ski tour

  1. Beacon – is the thing which you put around your upper body and in the best case turn it on
  2. Shovel – A shovel is needed in terms of an avalanche to shovel or to build a bivouac when you are having an accident or need to stay outside
  3. Probe – The probe is needed to deepen the search when someone is underneath an avalanche (it’s usually +260 cm long)
  4. First aid kit
  5. Bivouac back – BIVY
  6. Book a ski guide or mountain guide who teaches you how to use those general tools

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This article is only a suggestion and created with the greatest care. We don’t take any liability.