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Off Piste: From Zero To Hero

More riders than ever are venturing beyond the boundaries of the piste markers.  So what has taken off piste skiing from the stuff of ski movie dreams and made it so easily accessible to the masses? 


Anyone who has tried skiing off piste knows it is trickier than the freeride movies might suggest.  Thankfully ski instruction has evolved from the ski school ‘train’ most of us are familiar with. Now there are companies like UCPA catering for off piste riders.  Riding off piste carries a number of real dangers, therefore even the more experienced backcountry riders should only explore these challenging areas with a qualified guide.  Their local knowledge also comes with the advantage of knowing where the best powder is! 

Borrowed from the world of snowboarding, advances in ski technology brought piste skiers the backcountry confidence they needed, the fat rockered ski that floats on powder like a dream.  Guy Willet, a Chamonix mountain guide with multiple first descents skiing in the Himalayas and Alaska explains “huge improvements in ski and boot technology have meant that getting off-piste is much less intimidating and easier to learn.  Last century skiing crud, deep powder and steeps was the realm of the seasoned expert.  Now with the typical underfoot ski-widths of 90+mm, rocker, easy turn initiation and a wealth of highly qualified guides and instructors available to get you there (and back) the off piste is your oyster, almost from the get go.”   

Skiing was once considered a middle class sport, skiers searched for the perfect vin chaud rather than the perfect line.  The introduction of budget accommodation in exclusive resorts encourages enthusiasts of all ages and backgrounds to travel and experience the best.  The internet age has also resulted in a shift in mentality.  Video sharing sites have not only brought freestyle and freeride to the mainstream but have helped break the boundaries of what is viewed as achievable by the non pro.  Everyone from first time riders to aspiring pros pushing limits, are sharing their achievements with the world, encouraging others to step up to their own next challenge.  

Off piste is where the adventure really begins! Discover your inner powder hound and join one of UCPA’s all inclusive off piste courses.  There are courses suitable for all levels, from the advanced piste skier starting out to courses aimed at pushing the expert’s limits with glacier skiing and steep couloirs.  So even if your friends aren't keen or are already off dropping cliffs, with UCPA you will meet a group at your level so you can explore the backcountry how best suits you.  As well as learning off piste skiing techniques, with UCPA courses you will also learn vital knowledge to become self reliant and safe in the mountains.  UCPA holidays are all inclusive so included in the price is all mountain safety equipment and of course a good pair of fat skis!

So with the help of great instruction and guiding, mountain safety education and the right equipment anyone can start on the road to becoming the next Shane McConkey.  Or at least you’ll have an awesome time trying!  And you can do it at a fraction of the price with UCPA.   Find the right course for you and all prices and availability for 2014/15 here.

 

 

Off piste snowboarder
Flaine UCPA Skiing

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  • The food offers great variety, choice (several options each night), quantity (as much as you want) and quality is decent (7/10). Cheese and yoghurts coming out of your ears, packed lunch option, afternoon...
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  • We all appreciate that we are inside one of those perfect moments, heightened by the expectation of another afternoon riding the perfect, untracked powder that our instructor...
    Matt J
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