Off-track skiing

Off-track skiing offers many more possibilities for satisfying tours, away from the noise and congestion of resorts. Generally, undertaking progressively more remote and demanding trips will enhance your skills without exposure to unnecessary or undue risks. Initially planning day or half-day tours allows you to choose the weather and snow conditions you prefer, rather than risking inclement weather and more difficult snow conditions during a multi-day tour. As skills and confidence increase, you can progressively spend more time off-track, and tackle more difficult terrain.

Day tours present less risk by staying closer to resorts and hence provide refuge in the event of emergency or bad weather. Day touring allows you to experience skiing in varying snow conditions and weather for short periods. Also, lighter packs and less equipment allow more freedom of movement and energy to practice your skiing techniques. As you gain confidence and progress to longer trips, you will need to rely on your own judgement and develop some solid skills to ensure that you can handle all snow and weather conditions which you may encounter.

The kick turn, side step, traverse, side slip, herringbone, snowplough and direct descent methods are the basic skills used in ascent and descent. Telemark and parallel turns are often not appropriate when carrying a heavy pack on snow of variable consistency. No matter what your level of skiing skill, you will always be relying on a combination of these basic skills to get you out of a difficult position. The methods described below offer a guide to skiing in difficult conditions, but are not intended as step-by-step instructions.