HOW TO TRAIN IN OFF-PISTE SAFETY

In ski touring and freeriding, there are more safety rules than when the terrain is marked out. It is very important to know them in order to avoid accidents, even though there is no such thing as zero risk.

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Off-piste safety: how to be trained in off-piste safety

Interview with Océane Vibert, Director of La Chamoniarde

DO YOU KNOW LA CHAMONIARDE?
Created in 1948, la Chamoniarde was initially called the “Société Chamoniarde de Secours en Montagne” (Chamionarde Society for Mountain Rescue, SCSM), before the creation of the High Mountain Rescuers (PGHM). It merged in 2001 with the Office de Haute Montagne (High Mountain Office), and it focusses on prevention and awareness, whilst still doing some rescuing, and especially it trains practitioners to provide greater safety in the mountains, with training days on mountain safety open to all. Océane Vibert, Director of La Chamoniarde, tells us how to be trained in off-piste safety.

WHAT IS FREERIDE SKIING?

Freeride skiing is skiing off the marked and safe slopes of the ski area. AS SOON AS YOU CROSS THE BEARINGS AND THE MARKINGS OF THIS SKI AREA, YOU ENTER AN AREA THAT IS UNSECURED, UNATTENDED AND UNMAINTAINED. WHICH OFFERS A PLACE TO EXPLORE THAT CAN BE BEAUTIFUL, BUT ALSO REQUIRES EXPERIENCE, ADAPTED SAFETY EQUIPMENT AND PREPARATION.
It's not enough just to follow the tracks, to go under the rope around the tracks, and to go down a blank slope. It's true that there can be steep descents, as well as rocky outcrops and avalanche risks. These therefore requires skills, because it is no longer a secure, maintained, monitored, marked-out area.

Off-piste safety: how to be trained in off-piste safety
Off-piste safety: how to be trained in off-piste safety

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO BE TRAINED?

Despite being a magnificent place for lovers of ski touring and off-piste skiing to explore, the mountain involves many risks. Training teaches how to anticipate and minimise these risks, as well what to do and how to react in the event of an accident. The keys to mountain safety are being well prepared for the terrain you are venturing into and staying alert.

For a freeride or ski touring outing, it is necessary to know the basics of safety, evolution and progression. So firstly being able to read the weather report and especially the avalanche risk assessment bulletin, which requires some learning.
Just as you have to learn to ski, you also have to learn to freeride. Knowing that there is no such thing as zero risk, you still have to be responsible."

WHAT ARE THE MOUNTAIN SAFETY TRAINING COURSES ORGANISED BY LA CHAMONIARDE?

We offer mountain safety training days supervised by high mountain guides from the Chamonix valley, who are themselves trained in mountain rescue.
They are divided into three categories according to their discipline: ski touring, off-piste skiing and glacier skiing. You learn how to use an Avalanche Victim Detector and safety equipment in an avalanche zone, as well as how to read and understand a map, a weather report and an avalanche bulletin, how to equip yourself for a mountain outing, how to manage safety when travelling, how to ski in a group, etc.
We also set up five AVD parks in the resorts of Chamonix each winter to train for avalanche victims.Access is free and open to all, every day. For the less expert, a mountain guide is present on site on certain Sundays to explain the basic techniques of avalanche rescue.

"YOU SHOULD NOT HESITATE TO ASK FOR HELP, TO GET INFORMATION, TO TRAIN YOURSELF TO BE ABLE TO MAKE THE MOST OF THIS UNIQUE PLACE TO EXPLORE."

HOW TO TRAIN IN OFF-PISTE SAFETY

WHO IS INVOLVED?

All occasional or regular skiers and snowboarders, practicing off-piste skiing in freeride or ski touring.
Our training sessions are set up in several levels in order to reach as many skiers as possible and to improve their safety during their outings outside of the marked out and secured sections.

Off-piste safety: how to be trained in off-piste safety

where to get training

As well as La Chamoniarde, there are many other organisations that offer off-piste safety training and help you become more independent.

Off-piste safety: how to be trained in off-piste safety

cedric piatek

digital leader

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