The Pros And Cons Of Off-Piste Skiing

Skiing offers the perfect chance to get away from it all, and for those advanced skiers, going off-piste is the ultimate escape from the crowds.

To maximise your enjoyment of the slopes make sure that you prepare thoroughly for every eventuality before leaving the chalet. So when you’re in search of fresh powder, bear in mind these pros and cons of off-piste skiing.

Pros – A thrill like no other

Off-piste skiing is like a private club – those who do it understand the thrills and challenges it brings. Getting out of sight of the chairlifts gives you a huge sense of accomplishment when you finally make it back to normality.

Cons – Off-piste skiing is dangerous

A case of stating the obvious here, but you only have to look at the recent unfortunate accident of Michael Schumacher to know the risks involved. Off-piste skiers are at greater risk of unseen dangers such as tree wells and crevasses, and they’re also likelier to be victims of avalanches.

Pros – Versatility

When going off-piste you can choose a lot of different types of skis according to your ability level and the terrain you plan to encounter. There are short skis which allow you to navigate tighter, steeper couloirs, or there are fatter, longer skis that work at their best in vast fields of powder where high speed cruising is the order of the day.

Cons – You need specialist equipment

Not all skis work well in deep snow. Therefore thick skis are particularly popular as they offer greater buoyancy by allowing the skier to spread the load. Furthermore, skiing off-piste puts a lot of stress on your boots so if they don’t fit well you will pay the price sooner rather than later. Look for a boot that’s flexible and allows you to walk where necessary.

 Pros – Get off the beaten track

When you go off-piste you can push your skiing ability to the limits, but the reward for that bit of extra effort is getting totally unspoilt views with no people, lifts, cable cars or noise other than the wind and the sound of your skis cutting through the fresh powder.

Cons – Avalanche packs can go off at inopportune moments

The avalanche pack, which inflates a protective airbag around you in case of a slide, is becoming an essential piece of skiing kit. But if you don’t know which toggle to pull they can be activated inside a ski lift which is embarrassing, but more importantly renders the pack useless for when you most need it.

Pros – More control over the experience

Hiring a guide will give you a greater access to local knowledge and all the best routes and runs. With their help you can do your research to know the terrain and be aware of any hazards that you might encounter.

Cons – Costs

Guides don’t come cheap and represent an extra cost on top of what you might normally pay to visit a resort. However, if you’re willing to fork out a bit extra for the experience, you can have lifelong memories which represent the ultimate value for money.