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HOW TO TRAIN TO FREERIDE SKIING SECURITY?

When ski touring and freeride skiing, there are more security rules than when you ski on the ski slopes within the limits of the ski domain. It is paramount to know them in order to prevent accidents, even if you can never be 100% safe.
Les conseils sécurité ski freeride de wedze
MEET OCEANE VIBERT

Director of La Chamoniarde, Mountain Rescue and Prevention Society of Chamonix (Haute-Savoie / France) 

Les conseils sécurité ski freeride de wedze
DO YOU KNOW LA CHAMONIARDE?

Founded in 1948, la Chamoniarde was initially the Chamoniarde Mountain Rescue Society (Société Chamoniarde de Secours en Montagne - SCSM), before the PGHM (Peloton de Gendarmerie de Haute Montagne - French National Mountain Rescue Service) was created. It merges in 2001 with the "Office de Haute Montagne", the High Moutain Bureau, and its action is about prevention, raising awareness, a little bit of rescue stilml, and last but not least the training of skiers and snowboarders to freeriding security, to create more safety in the mountains, with mountain security training courses open to all. 

You can find at the reception of La Chamoniarde all information necessary to prep for your mountain trips: weather forecast, snow conditions, routes... All this information is also available on their website.

Les conseils sécurité ski freeride de wedze

WHAT IS FREERIDE SKIING?

Freeride skiing is skiing outside the limits of the secured and defined slopes of the ski area.

"From the moment you go beyond the markers and the milstones of the ski area, you enter a domain that is not secured, not groomed and not maintained. Which offers an incredible playground, but one that requires a certain degree of experience, the proper safety equipment and preparation."

You can't just follow some tracks in the snow, pass under the rope that defines the limits of the ski area, and head down a virgin slope. Yes, there may be a perfect descent, but there may also be cliffs, rocks, avalanche danger. So this requires some skills as you are not in a secured, maintained, marked, and overwatched ski area anymore.

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WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO LEARN MOUNTAIN SECURITY WHEN YOU GO FREERIDE SKIING?

Mountain is dangerouse place, however a beautiful playground for ski touring and freeride skiing passionates it is. Mountain safety training teaches you to anticipate and minimise the risks, as well as the right attitude and responses in case of an accident. Being prepared for the field you are about go in and always be alert are the keys to staying safe in the mountain.

For a freeride skiing or a ski touring trip, you need to know the basics of mountain safety, of how to ride in powder snow, how to move along. This means you need to be able to check and understand the weather forecast and above all the avalanche danger evaluation bulletin, which requires some learning.

"Just like you learn skiing, you learn freeride skiing. Bearing in mind that you can never be 100% safe, you know that you take responsibility when freeriding."

A good freeride skier, when he goes outside the ski area, he wears an avalanche victim detector (AVD) and a backpack that contains a snow shovel, a probe, and a communicaiton device like a smartphone or a mobile phone for example. He is accompanied, as you never go freeride skiing on your own, by people who are like him, with a sufficient degree of experience. They must be able to handle an emergency, to move along off piste safely, knowing and observing the safety rules, which are completely different from the safety rules on the pistes, inside the ski area.

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WHAT DO THE TRAINING COURSES TO MOUNTAIN SAFETY OF LA CHAMONIARDE CONSIST OF?

We organise training days to mountain safety supervised by Mountain Guides of the Chamonix Valley, who are themselves trained to mountain rescue.

Our training courses are split in 3 categories according to the sport: ski touring, off-piste skiing and glacier skiing. You learn how to use an AVD (avalanche victim detector) and the safety equipment on avalanche area, but also how to read and understand a weather forecast bulletin, an avalanche bulletin, which equipment to take for a freeride trip, how to move along safely, how to ski in a group... 

 

We also set up every winter 5 AVD parks in the ski resorts of the Chamonix Valley, where you can train to search for avalanche victims. The access to the parks is free, open to all every day. For those who have no experience at all, a Mountain Guide is on site some sundays to explain the basics of avalanche rescue.

"You shouldn't hesitate to ask for help, get informed, get training so you can then enjoy this unique playground to the fullest."

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WHO CAN COME TO THESE TRAINING COURSES TO MOUNTAIN SAFETY?

Every skier and snowboader going off-piste on a regular basis or accsionnally is welcome.

We propose different levels of experience for our training courses in order to reach the maximum of riders and enhance their level of security when they go freeriding.

 

We have level 1 basic off piste training courses which consist of teaching the basics the beginner freeriders.
Then there are level 2 training courses where you can acquire more experience to be able to deal with more complicated situations, manage a group progressing off piste.
We also have ski touring training courses where you learn the preparation and progression of a group ascending and descending. 

 

Only 4 to 6 people per session.
Free training days are organised for teenagers from 13 to 17 years old.

 

The tourist office of each ski resort might be able to give you information on local training courses. Snow patrol services inform and sometimes also organise little training courses. And, of course, ski schools and Mountain Guides also organise training days and supervised ski trips where they teach you the basics of off piste progression.

GOOD TO KNOW

If you ever come by Chamonix, don't hesitate to pay a visit to la Chamoniarde information desk at  the "Office de Haute Montagne". And while you're on site, make a little detour by the "Pôle Montagne Risk" where a permanent exhibition offers an approach to individual risks in the mountain, major natural dangers of the Chamonix Valley,  specific weather of the valley, the influence of climate change on the glacier world... with numerous photos and explanatory diagrams.

Find all the information about the training courses of Chamoniarde on
se former à la sécurité en hors piste, toutes les infos avec wed'ze
se former à la sécurité en hors piste, toutes les infos avec wed'ze

** OCEANE VIBERT **

Director of La Chamoniarde

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