How to be safe on the entire mountain
When snow is constantly falling across the Alps it is no wonder that people begin to think about exploring the mountains off the piste. Tempting tree runs and giant powder fields are what most holiday makers dream about. With most people only getting a mere 7 days in the mountains each year, that sense of temptation is something we all know too well.
However, both pistes unmarked and those that are closed always have a considerable hazard of avalanche. Our Ski Total staff were well aware of the dangers they could face by going into “unknown territory”, so much so they decided to take part in some Avalanche training, together with Evolution 2, to widen their knowledge of the mountain and its potential dangers.
First off our trainer, Phillipe, made it very clear that venturing off piste ‘blind’ is a big mistake. Clearly marked pistes and piste closures mean that an avalanche could potentially be right around the corner and so basic knowledge of the mountain could essentially save your life. Phillipe then went on to explain the importance of 3 vital pieces of off piste equipment; the transceiver, shovel and probe.
Phillipe explained that a transceiver was both an invaluable and dual purpose tool in avalanche territory. If ever buried in an avalanche, this is the device that will help both your friends and the ski patrol find YOU. This is also the machine that will help you find your friends if they get caught in a snow slide. The transceiver actually had once helped Phillipe personally save the lives of others; never go off piste without one.
After you have located whoever has been buried by the snow, more often than not, no part of their body or equipment may be showing above the snow level. A probe is a large collapsible stick that fits into your backpack. Some also have marked depth indicators on them so when you poke into the snow you will know how deep to dig.
Once it is believed the probe is touching whoever is buried, it was time to dig. Using a strong, aluminium shovel was recommended over plastic for being stronger and having greater durability.
Philippe concluded our training by letting us practise using the transceivers by finding bags buried in the snow.
The training provided by Evolution 2 was mainly a reinforcement to our staff that avalanches are a prevalent threat to life in the mountains and it is your own responsibility to recognise danger. You can never guarantee that you are 100% safe no matter how much training you have, however, arming yourself with the right information and being prepared means you can have the maximum amount of fun, safely! We are now offering an off-piste group clinic, which is perfect for you and your group to start getting to grips with all the safety techniques for your next ski trip.