Preparing for an off-piste skiing excursion

Have you planned to have some off-piste fun tomorrow or go ski touring? Before you set off, it's important to obtain essential information about the conditions you'll encounter.

Preparing for an off-piste skiing excursion

the B.E.R.A
(Bulletin d’Estimation du Risque d’Avalanche - Avalanche Risk Assessment Bulletin)

What is it exactly?
It's a document that is produced every evening by Météo France for each mountain range. It assesses the risk of an avalanche based on the stability of the snow cover and the previous days' weather conditions.
The BERA contains 3 types of information:
- the type of risk: this is rated on a five-point scale
(1 = low risk, 5 = very high risk) and the types of possible avalanches (slab avalanche, wet snow etc.)
- the exact locations (altitude beyond which the risk increases, for example) and the slope orientation with the configurations where there is the greatest avalanche risk.
- observations about snow cover, this includes visible signs on the ground, conditions, quality and quantity of snow, etc.

Preparing for an off-piste skiing excursion
Preparing for an off-piste skiing excursion

the weather

Check the weather forecast!!!
Is it going to be fine? Are conditions going to deteriorate?
Are there going to be high winds on the summits? Is it going to get warmer?
You need to know all this information so you can set off with complete peace of mine and be able to anticipate potential changes in weather.

BERA contains some weather information but remember to check other websites and apps including météo france, météoblue and snowforecast which will provide more details about the weather.

Draw up a route!

You could use a piste map, IGN app or websites which mark off-piste or ski touring trails.
You need to look carefully at: the altitude, the elevation difference, the slopes and gradient so you can draw up a precise route.
For example, if it's going to snow and there's a strong avalanche risk, go skiing in the forest or avoid ridges if strong winds are forecast.

Preparing for an off-piste skiing excursion

never go out alone!

It's also important to know who you're going whether and everyone's level. Opt for a less challenging excursion rather than take someone on the slopes who may put everybody in danger! You are also advised not to go out skiing alone. If something happens, you won't be able to call the emergency services.

Be wary of social media!
Just because your friend has posted a fantastic trip doesn't mean you can just assume you're safe and set off too, oblivious to the risks!

Preparing for an off-piste skiing excursion


wedze communication team

Wintersports lover