Off piste course, Three days with Henry

What is three days off-piste?

Nothing beats the thrill and sensation of off-piste skiing. New ski equipment makes it easier and more fun so there’s the temptation to push yourself further off the piste in search of the perfect powder experience. There is a risk, but you can learn to manage it if you know what to look out for.

In this three day off-piste and avalanche awareness course we show you what to look out for in order to have fun and be safe off-piste. We also show you how riding off-piste doesn’t need to be any riskier than any of your everyday activities (if you didn’t know that a red light means stop, then driving would be much more risky!).

Henry is a leading authority on off-piste avalanche safety and is a fully qualified ski instructor. His three day programme, based in Val d’Isère and Tignes, combines great off-piste skiing with the chance to understand the mountain environment and gain skills so that you can both have fun and stay safe out there.

What level is this course?

It is for people who skied some off-piste.

In terms of technical content this ‘3 days Off Piste’ course with Henry and his Team is equivalent to an Alpine version of either

  • Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC) Avalanche Skills Training Level 1 (AST 1) or the
  • American Avalanche Association (AAA) Level 1: Avalanche Fundamentals

It matches these in terms of snow and avalanche training content.

What does the course include?

Each three-day course is based in Val d’Isère and Tignes and is a lot more than 3 days off-piste guiding. It includes:

  • Three days of off-piste skiing with guiding and some technique tuition by Henry and his ‘A’ team.
  • Henry’s ‘Essentials’ and In depth Avalanche Talks on-line so you can prepare in advance and follow up afterwards.
  • An understanding of the biggest reason people get caught in avalanches i.e. the Human Factor and how it affects decision making.
  • HAT Quick Reference Card – A memory aide for risk management and decision making, plus coaching on how to use it.
  • An avalanche search and rescue crisis management exercise using avalanche transceivers.
  • A Certificate of International Standards of Off-Piste Excellence (ISOPE) to recognise your participation on a course that provides full knowledge of off-piste risk management.
  • There’ll also be an introduction to ski touring if conditions are appropriate.
  • Photos and possible videos of the session.

Typical course programme

  • Tuesday 08:45-15:30 Off-Piste skiing and coaching on Decision Making (Where you go and When)
  • Tuesday 15:30-16:30 Discussion and Q & A
  • Wednesday 08:45-12:30 Off-Piste skiing and coaching on Risk Management (How you go down or up)
  • Wednesday 14:00-17:00 Avalanche Transceiver Training (being Well-Prepared in managing a Crisis)
  • Thursday 08:45-16:00 Off-Piste skiing and Course Overview while we’re skiing

What level of skiing skill do I need

At a minimum, you should have done 10 weeks skiing and be able to smoothly link your turns skiing down a red run and get down a black run.  You will probably have ventured off-piste next to the piste, you may have done some off-piste trips with a guide. You should be able to do a few turns in powder. It may not all be elegant but you can get around.

This course is not about extreme skiing and difficult couloirs it is about finding the best and most enjoyable snow and skiing for the group,

If you are a higher standard than this, then contact us to be placed on a course where we have stronger skiers.  we try to match the groups to a similar level of ability. We can do this best by talking with you.

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Course dates for 2020

Tuesday 7th – Thursday 9th January

Tuesday 28th – Thursday 30th January

Tuesday 3rd – Thursday 5th March

If you are a private group and would like to do a different date, then please contact us to arrange a private course.

Cost

£450 per person – Maximum 6 people.

If you book more than 4 places for your group, then the 5th and 6th persons will be half price at £225 per person

Any questions, please contact us

What level of off-piste skiing/boarding do I need to be?

Please contact us if you are not sure about your level.  Please advise Louise Forrest of your level
We offer can accommodate from Introductory level up to advanced off-piste. Each course is adapted to one of 5 levels to suit your particular standard of skiing or snowboarding:

Level 1 – Introductory: You can confidently get down a steep red run and traverse 30 metres along a slope in fresh snow without falling over.
Level 2 – Intermediate: You can link 5 to 10 turns in reasonable form in fresh snow on moderately steep slopes.
Level 3 : Intermediate Plus: You can confidently link 10 turns or more in fresh snow. You are comfortable on moderately steep (average steepness of a red run) to fairly steep (fairly steep part of red run) off-piste.
Level 4 – Good level off-piste: You can link as many turns as you like in light fresh snow with not necessarily the best form in the world.
Level 5 – Advanced level off-piste: You can confidently go off-piste pretty much anywhere on the mountain.

What safety equipment will I need?

It is essential that everyone participating on the course has a transceiver, shovel and probe. We also strongly recommend the use of airbags and helmets. We do not supply this equipment because we feel it is important that you start the process of learning about this kit now. For those staying in Val d’Isère, we recommend rental from Jean Sports – you can get a 25% discount on hire, from them, if you book on-line on this link: www.jeansports.com. For those  in Tignes, Tignes Spirit in Le Lavachet is the place to go – again with good discounts if you book on line: www.tignes-spirit.com

Which skis and bindings should I have?

We highly recommend that your skis have a width of  at least between 85 and 95 mm underfoot. (If you are at Levels 1 or 2, maybe even a little wider). Depending on snow conditions, we may recommend that you use skis with touring bindings and skins, as these enable us to access the better snow. If you do not have these, again they can be hired from Jean Sports in Val d’Isere and Tignes Spirit in Tignes.

What else will I need to bring?

For those without ABS packs, you will need to carry a backpack in which to put your shovel and probe, along with a drink, a snack and a spare layer of clothing. We let you know the day before if you will need to bring a packed lunch.

How many people do you take in a group?

We generally take between 4 and 6 people of similar ability per group.

Do you take mixed groups of snowboarders and skiers?

Generally we prefer to have groups of one or the other, as they can reach different types of terrain (e.g. for boarders it’s harder to traverse). If you are a group of 4 to 6 with boarders and skiers, who are happy to accommodate each others’ different needs, we may be able to help you.

Where do we run the courses?

In Val d’Isère and Tignes.

When do we run the courses?

Many Tuesday to Thursdays of the season. For single group bookings, we may be able to offer some flexibility on days – please enquire.

Will my insurance cover me off-piste?

All ski insurances are different. Please research yours very carefully, and have a look at this useful Off-Piste Insurance Article.

Advanced Courses

If you are interested in doing more advanced courses Henry and Henry’s Avalanche Talk (HAT) have designed multiple-day advanced courses which are available on demand. These advanced courses are equivalent to an Alpine version of the Canadian Avalanche Centre Avalanche Skills Training Level 2 (AST 2) or the American Avalanche Association Level 2: Avalanche Processes and Leadership.