We recently received this email with a question. I am sharing the question and our reply here because I think it is interesting for everyone. It is certainly important that you understand the areas that are secured and are not secured.

Hi there
I got into an interesting debate with a ski mate as to what constitutes the controlled (patrolled – assuming that means the same thing) area in a ski resort.
I think the controlled area is broadly identifiable by boundary ropes, which means all of the off piste areas between pisted runs (unless clearly marked to the contrary) is also within the controlled area.
We recently received this question. I am posting it here as I think it is relevant to everyone and we hope you find the question and our reply is helpful.
My mate thinks it is only the pisted areas or off piste that could avalanche on to a piste that is "controlled". My understanding is that the controlled area is much wider than that.
Could you confirm?
this conversation came up as regards insurance. I am a HAT subscriber and have read your insurance advice document.
Before reading that (and still) I advise our holiday clients to ensure that their policy covers off piste but also advise clients that the policy is probably restricted to off piste within a controlled area. if they are planning to tour off piste outside of the controlled area they need a specialist insurance product, as the cheaper ones may exclude off piste all together (in which case that policy is useless as 1 metre outside the piste marker is off piste) but will almost certainly exclude off piste outside the controlled area.
Unless i missed it from a quick read of your insurance document, you didnt differentiate between off piste within or outside of the controlled area.
feedback and opinion would be appreciated.
great website, great advice – thanks
Kind regards
Mart & Clair Andrews
Peak Ski Holidays Limited
0121 288 1542
Hi Mart
In France (and all Europe) the piste patrol only secure the pisted runs. So just the bit between the poles. If you cross between pistes it is your responsibility to decide if it is safe or not
If the insurance does not cover off piste without a guide then in theory you are not covered in between the pistes.
In Europe, there is not a controlled area. There are just secured runs. Everywhere else is off piste. The resort boundaries are not at all well defined. This is why my article does not refer to controlled areas. It is also why we favour policies that do try to define a difference between offpiste and on piste. e.g. MPI brokers. On the whole I think the chepeast policies on price comparison websites are a waste of money. Go specialist. Bit like your holidays. Should people travel with a specialist or should they go with a generalist?
The idea of a controlled area exists in the USA and elsewhere but not in Europe
Hope this helps