However many times people are told not to go off-piste, the sheer excitement of skiing away from the main runs entices many people for the higher levels of exhilaration. Going off-piste in itself isn’t necessarily dangerous, though. If you ski with experienced people and understand all the necessary warnings it can be a wonderful alternative to the groomed runs.
If you are an expert skier and want to attempt an adventure off piste, before leaving your chalet La Tania safety experts suggest you pack a probe, a shovel and a transceiver. Of course you must be proficient in their use as well – learn their purposes properly, especially the methods of grid searching. It’s always best to ski or board with an expert to lead who knows precisely how to handle themselves and can guide your group down one at a time in marginal areas, remembering to wait for that person to move to a safe area before another enters. Pointers like this are invaluable in ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience.
Plumbers crack – no joke!
Just above the Col de Loze is one of the most famous off-piste runs in close proximity to your chalet. La Tania residents call it Plumbers Crack. The free-ride competition in Courchevel is held here. It’ll take you from 30 min to a full hour to walk up to the ridge on the right and you should be aware that avalanches are frequent here. If you go to the right of the Dou des Lauches chair, you will find at least three different ways down to the Col De Loze. The runs, Gasex 1,2 and 3 are named after the Gasex machines that you’ll see as large pipes pointing out from the mountain. These are used to blast compressed gas into the snow to begin controlled avalanches. You’ll be pleased to know this is all remotely controlled!
An early morning start
If you get to the gondola too early and find out that the four-man chair won’t be opening for a little while, you can head down the Folyeres in a straight line, especially if you’re providing the first tracks. This is another rollercoaster ride with many humps. The great news for adrenaline junkies is that you can achieve extremely high speeds if the run is covered in fresh snow – and there will be nobody else to get in your way!
Off piste – all good fun
Any responsible expert skier will know to wear a helmet if they’re into high-speed runs – when it comes to sports, safety always comes before fashion! Some slopes in the area have known to let skiers reach up to an incredible 100 km/h in the early morning [using GPS timing]. Unless you’re a world-class sportsperson you probably won’t reach those speeds, but it may feel like it!
There are many other options for going off-piste not too far from your chalet. La Tania has plenty of ‘local’s secret’ locations which are not generally known and are kept private by the select few. Don’t expect anyone to let you in on these secrets the minute you arrive, but if you can prove you are an excellent skier you might find someone who’s willing to spill the details.
If you do get the opportunity to experience some of these amazing off piste opportunities, take all the advice you can get, take all the safety precautions available – and get ready for the ride of your life!