Top Tips for Staying Safe on the Slopes


The winter 2018/18 ski season is here, and we're off to a wonderful start - with heavy snowfall across our favourite Alpine destinations. Hordes of learner and improver skiers and boarders are taking to the slopes, but each winter we see not everyone is as aware of the rules as they could be.

So, here’s a timely reminder of steps to reduce the risk of accident or injury on the slopes this season. Obviously, taking out travel insurance and wearing a helmet is important, but there’s a lot more to mountain safety than that. (Seriously though, do wear a helmet…)


On piste


Priorité Aval. If you’re skiing down a slope, you have to give priority to everyone in front of you — you can see them, but they can’t see you. So give fellow skiers and boarders a wide berth on the slopes… it will help prevent collisions and give the blood wagons one less job each day.


Check yourself before you wreck yourself. Fact is, zooming down groomed slopes at high speeds is one of the best things about on-piste skiing and boarding, but speed control is key. There’s a fine line between skiing as fast as you can and skiing out of control. Best not to cross it.


Find the hard shoulder and pull over safely. Whether waiting for slow-coach pals, tightening a binding or just taking a breather, always head over to the side of the piste if you’re slowing down and stopping. It’s always worth a look uphill first to make sure nobody’s coming down, and whatever you do never stop beneath the brow of a lip or hill.


Off piste


Get the gear. If you’re slinking off into the backcountry, make sure you tell someone first, take a small team so you’re not alone and be sure to pack a shovel, transceiver, probe and phone. If the worst happens to you or your pals, you’ll have the gear you need to get through it.


Book a guide. Off-piste guides don’t come cheap, but they are worth their weight in gold. Not only will you stand a better chance of avoiding that gaping chasm or 80-foot cliff-drop, but you’ll be free to follow someone who already knows the best routes. Win / win.


Staying safe on the snow means more fun for all.
Image courtesy of Christine Rondeau on Flickr, under a Creative Commons license


In the park


What goes up must come down. Those kickers look tempting, but they’re wrought with potential dangers! Snowparks are popular places and they can get congested, so don’t start your run-in without making sure it’s all-clear below.


Don’t go too big too soon. Freestyle skiers and boarders hit the park because it offers unique thrills you don’t get elsewhere on the mountain, but it’s important not to run before you can walk. Progress slowly and steadily, and you’ll be the next James Woods before you know it — injury-free and all. If you are taking on a bigger booter than you’re used to, remember speed is your friend. There’s nothing funny about failing to reach the down-slope. Ooof.


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