HAT Advice

Our HAT off-piste article is a short introduction to how to stay safe and have more fun off piste.  We have noticed that when people discover the off-piste they love their skiing even more.  But for many skiers the off-piste can seem like a scary and inaccessible place The article demystifies the knowledge held by off-piste guides and instructors. It is no substitute for real experience and training by professionals. But it is a great place to start your voyage of discovery. Armed with this knowledge you will be intelligently inquisitive about avalanche danger. You will begin to know what you don’t know and what you need to learn.     Just like our introduction talk, the article is divided into 4 sections Introduction to off-piste and avalanches Where you go and when How you go down or up Being well prepared [efsbutton style="" size="" color_class="" icon="fi-archive" align="left" type="link" target="false" title="Download the article" link="http://www.henrysavalanchetalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Off-piste-and-avalanches-free_1_0.pdf"]

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Henry Schniewind Off pIste

The regional avalanche forecast includes and avalanche danger rating.  It is issued by local meteorological experts and is there to provide you with specific indicators of likely risk.  Whereas the local forecast is created by the piste patrol based on their experience of the mountain.  There may be a difference.  I would be guided whichever is the highest level warning. The local forecast is created early in the morning and will be published on noticeboards around the ski area.  The regional forecast is created the prior evening and published on the web.  Links to the bulletins are here These avalanche forecasts tell you about snow stability:  reading the avalanche forecast and the avalanche danger rating is essential to understand the risks for the day.  It includes a danger rating.  To use the avalanche forecast, you must understand the definition for the ratings.   This table is carefully worded, read it in detail and this will help you to know how to conduct yourself off piste. Click on the sound buttons to hear Henry talk about each of the danger levels [efstable width ="100%"] [efstable_head] [efsth_column]Danger/Risk level[/efsth_column] [efsth_column]Listen[/efsth_column] [efsth_column]Snow Stability[/efsth_column] [efsth_column]Probability you can trigger an avalanche[/efsth_column] [/efstable_head] [efstable_body] [efstable_row] [efsrow_column]1) low[/efsrow_column] [efsrow_column] [audio mp3="http://www.henrysavalanchetalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/AvaRating1henry.mp3"][/audio] [/efsrow_column] [efsrow_column]Very few unstable slabs. The snow pack is well bonded and stable in most places [1].[/efsrow_column] [efsrow_column]Triggering is possible generally only with high additional loads[2] on a very few very steep slopes[4]. Only a few small natural[6] avalanches(sluffs) possible.[/efsrow_column] [/efstable_row] [efstable_row] [efsrow_column]2) moderate[/efsrow_column] [efsrow_column] [audio mp3="http://www.henrysavalanchetalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/AvaRating2henry.mp3"][/audio] [/efsrow_column] [efsrow_column]Unstable slabs possible on some steep[3] slopes[1][/efsrow_column] [efsrow_column]Triggering is possible with high additional loads[2], particularly on the steep[3] slopes indicated in the bulletin. Large natural[6] avalanches not likely.[/efsrow_column] [/efstable_row] [efstable_row] [efsrow_column]3) considerable[/efsrow_column] [efsrow_column] [audio mp3="http://www.henrysavalanchetalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/AvaRating3henry.mp3"][/audio] [/efsrow_column] [efsrow_column]Unstable slabs probable on some steep[3] slopes [1].[/efsrow_column] [efsrow_column]Triggering is possible, sometimes even with low additional loads[2]. The bulletin may indicate many slopes which are particularly affected. In certain conditions, medium and occasionally large sized natural[6] avalanches may occur.[/efsrow_column] [/efstable_row] [efstable_row] [efsrow_column]4) high[/efsrow_column] [efsrow_column] [audio mp3="http://www.henrysavalanchetalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/AvaRating4henry.mp3"][/audio] [/efsrow_column] [efsrow_column]Unstable slabs likely on many steep [3] slopes[/efsrow_column] [efsrow_column]Triggering is probable even with low additional loads[2] on many steep[3] slopes. In some conditions, frequent medium or large sized natural[6] avalanches are likely. Triggering and exposure to avalanches is possible on many lower angle slopes [1].[/efsrow_column] [/efstable_row] [efstable_row] [efsrow_column]5) very high[/efsrow_column] [efsrow_column] [audio mp3="http://www.henrysavalanchetalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/AvaRating5henry.mp3"][/audio] [/efsrow_column] [efsrow_column]The snowpack is weakly bonded and very unstable[/efsrow_column] [efsrow_column]Numerous large natural[6] avalanches are likely to reach low angle slopes. Extensive safety measures (closures and evacuation) are necessary. No off-piste or back country skiing or travel should be undertaken due to a high risk of exposure.[/efsrow_column] [/efstable_row] [/efstable_body] [/efstable] Notes These places or slopes are generally described in more detail in the avalanche bulletin (e.g. altitude, slope aspect, type of slope/terrain, etc.). High additional load is group of skiers, piste-machine, avalanche blasting.  Low additional load is a single skier, walker. Steep slopes are those with an incline of more than 30 degrees Steep extreme slope are those which are particularly unfavourable in terms of the incline, terrain profile, proximity to ridge, smoothness of underlying ground surface. Aspect is the direction the slope faces. e.g. if you have your back to the slope and you faces south,  the aspect is south facing Natural means without human assistance.

But I must explain to you how all this mistaken idea of denouncing pleasure and praising pain was born.

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The avalanche forecast and avalanche bulletins provide a wealth of detailed information, not only the overall avalanche danger rating but also details about where the instability is most acute in terms of which direction the slope faces, the aspect, and also at what altitude there is greater instability. Study these every day.  We do this every day before we go out. This page is to help you find the right information. Click here for more on interpreting the avalanche bulletins. European Avalanche Warning Services At www.avalanches.org there is a clickable map of Europe that will take you to each country that has an avalanche forecasting system so you can read their avalanche bulletins. The most popular links are below. France Northern Alps Haute Savoie  Savoie Isere Southern Alps & Corsica Hautes-Alpes Alpes Maritimes Alpes de Hautes-Provence Corsica Pyrenees Pyrénées Atlantiques Hautes Pyrénées Haute Garonne Ariège Andorra Pyrénées Orientales Rest of Europe Switzerland Italy - Aosta Valley Italy - Piemonte Italy - Alto Adige/Sud Tirol (Dolomites) Austria - Tyrol Austria - Voralberg  

But I must explain to you how all this mistaken idea of denouncing pleasure and praising pain was born.

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Off-piste ski insurance As off-piste skiers we need ski travel insurance that will pay for rescue, medical and repatriation costs following an accident.  This is an essential part of being safe and having more fun when we go off-piste.  The costs of rescue, medical and repatriation can amount to £30000 to £50000.  An accident is bad enough without receiving a bill of this magnitude. Specialist providers are a better bet Specialist providers understand the risks inherent in off-piste skiing and are more likely to support you in processing a claim. Our recommendation is that a provider should fulfil the following criteria if you want to secure effective cover for going off-piste. Specialist adventure/mountain/off-piste policy. This means the risks have definitely been specified and the underwriter has definitely accepted that off-piste cover is required. The retailer or administrator has a senior executive who is an off-piste skier who is able to evaluate claims and if necessary negotiate with the underwriter (who may not fully understand the situation). When you call the phone number or send an email to ask questions or seek clarification, you are able to obtain replies from someone who clearly understands your questions and is able to provide helpful clear answers, either over the phone or soon afterwards. Ensure that the wording does not restrict you to skiing off-piste only with a guide or ski instructor. Such a restriction creates many problems, especially given that you might unwittingly go off-piste. Here at HAT we recommend that you seek out specialist adventure/ski insurers. This is because our investigations have shown that many policies which are for general skiing holidays are unclear about or even specifically exclude offpiste skiing which could lead to major problems in the event of a claim. Suggested Providers These insurers provide the kind of cover which offpiste or backcountry skiers need. Please note we cannot recommend that any of these have the right policy for you. You have to seek advice from them directly or from a broker about your particular circumstances. [efsrow] [efscolumn lg="3" md="6" smoff="0" mdoff="0" lgoff="0" ] [/efscolumn] [efscolumn lg="9" md="6" smoff="0" mdoff="0" lgoff="0" ] MPI - We have a long relationship with MPI who understand what offpiste skiers need - you can get a quote from them using the box below This is set up by Michael Pettifer who is a keen off-piste skier and a long standing ski club leader and BASI member. His father set up Douglas Cox Tyrie, which was one of the earliest specialist wintersports providers. Michael does not permit a distinction between on or off-piste in his policies. He argues that this is a difficult distinction to enforce in practice. [/efscolumn] [/efsrow] [efsrow] [efscolumn lg="3" md="6" smoff="0" mdoff="0" lgoff="0" ] [/efscolumn] [efscolumn lg="9" md="6" smoff="0" mdoff="0" lgoff="0" ] BMC- The British Mountaineering Council have a range of policies to cover all sorts of mountain activities including adventures on skis. The 'Alpine & Ski' policy covers offpiste and back country skiing. [/efscolumn] [/efsrow] [efsrow] [efscolumn lg="3" md="6" smoff="0" mdoff="0" lgoff="0" ] [/efscolumn] [efscolumn lg="9" md="6" smoff="0" mdoff="0" lgoff="0" ] Snowcard - Snowcard are a specialist activity insurer and they also have a range of policies to cover various levels of ski exploration. [/efscolumn] [/efsrow] [efsrow] [efscolumn lg="3" md="6" smoff="0" mdoff="0" lgoff="0" ] [/efscolumn] [efscolumn lg="9" md="6" smoff="0" mdoff="0" lgoff="0" ] Dog Tag - Dog Tag provide sports travel insurance and their sports+ or extreme level of cover are likely to suit offpiste and back country skiers [/efscolumn] [/efsrow] [efsrow] [efscolumn lg="3" md="6" smoff="0" mdoff="0" lgoff="0" ] [/efscolumn] [efscolumn lg="9" md="6" smoff="0" mdoff="0" lgoff="0" ] ERV - ERV have very specific categories for their ski insurance so everyone should be able to find what they need. [/efscolumn] [/efsrow] [efsrow] [efscolumn lg="3" md="6" smoff="0" mdoff="0" lgoff="0" ] [/efscolumn] [efscolumn lg="9" md="6" smoff="0" mdoff="0" lgoff="0" ] Ski Club of Great Britain - The SCGB have recently upgraded their insurance and offer discounts for members. [/efscolumn] [/efsrow]

But I must explain to you how all this mistaken idea of denouncing pleasure and praising pain was born.

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Taking your avalanche airbag system onto an airline is becoming a lot less problematic than it used to be. However, it’s still not entirely hassle-free. We do still sometimes come across people who’ve had difficulties getting these things through the airport check-in, or have had their gas canisters confiscated or discharged. Here are some tips, which may help if you're intending to fly with an avalanche airbag system. E-mail your airline carrier at least 2 weeks before you fly, informing them that you will be travelling with an avalanche airbag system, as allowed in the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations 2.3A, paragraph 2.3. Ask them for written confirmation that this is in order. Be ready to print out your emails and relevant information to show airport and airline employees - most will not know their own website nor even their own regulations and they most likely will not even have a regulations manual handy. Bring the following paperwork with you to the airport, for both the inbound and outbound flight: Copy of your authorisation from the airline carrier, as above.2 print-offs of the current IATA Dangerous Goods Table. Here's a link to the part of the ABS website where you can download this PDF. Keep one copy with you, and put the other one 2 print-offs of the current IATA Dangerous Goods Table. Here's a link to the part of the ABS website where you can download this PDF. Keep one copy with you, and put the other one with the backpack, gas canister and activation handle in your hold luggage (as it may be checked again by staff loading the plane). Print-off of the technical data about your avalanche airbag backpack system. You can find this on the different manufacturers’ websites. Print-off of the technical data about your avalanche airbag backpack system. You can find this on the different manufacturers’ websites. Detach the canister and activation handle from the airbag so that nothing can Detach the canister and activation handle from the airbag so that nothing cannot be accidentally triggered. Also check the canister cap is on.Place the detached canister, handle, airbag and backpack in your hold luggage. ABS recommends that you keep all this equipment together so that its purpose is obvious to airport staff. (IATA regulations say that you can take it through as hand luggage, but as this is where people encounter the most difficulties, we don't recommend it.) Place the detached canister, handle, airbag and backpack in your hold luggage. ABS recommends that you keep all this equipment together so that its purpose is obvious to airport staff. (IATA regulations say that you can take it through as hand luggage, but as this is where people encounter the most difficulties, we don't recommend it.) If you do encounter problems at the airport, show the staff your paperwork and explain what the airbag system is all about. They may need to speak to their manager, but fingers-crossed, all should be resolved. But what do you do if the worst case scenario does happen, and, like the unlucky few we’ve encountered, you do have your gas canister taken away or emptied at the airport? Find out which retailers in your chosen resort can service your particular brand of airbag system. If you always go to a favourite resort, and are thinking of buying one, this could be a good reason for choosing one brand over another (as some resorts, regions and countries seem to favour one brand over another. For example, it would be a shame to show up in a resort in France with a product that is known only by local shops in North America)! In Val d’Isère, where we’re based, Jean Sports ski shop can exchange an empty ABS canister with a full one for €30, or sell you a new steel one for €100, carbon €200. It's worth researching to see which retailers in your resort offer a similar service. Another solution, definitely worth considering if you only ski a week or two a season and want to use an avalanche airbag system, would be to go down the rental route. Also, you might want bear in mind that carrying these systems as hold baggage will add quite a bit to your weight allowance! Jean Sports were renting full ABS backpacks for €23 a day last season, or the canister alone for €10 a day, rates decreasing for the more days you hire. Hopefully, though, by planning ahead and following our tips, all should be well and you won't end up having to deal with the 'worst case scenario'. We hope you’ve found this article helpful. Please feel welcome to comment if you have experienced any problems transporting these pieces of equipment, or have any other useful advice!

Taking your avalanche airbag system onto an airline is becoming a lot less problematic than it used to be. However, it’s still not entirely hassle-free. We do still sometimes come across people who’ve had difficulties getting these things through the airport check-in, or have had their gas canisters confiscated or discharged. Here are some tips, which may help if you’re intending to fly with an avalanche airbag system. E-mail your airline carrier at least 2 weeks before you fly, informing them t...

Ortovox ABS bag

http://youtu.be/3pmSWh2BQco Hangout with Henry, Sundays 5pm GMT Most Sundays 5pm GMT, Henry will be available to chat online He will update us on the latest conditions, discuss the current risks, and we will discuss a topic or issue in relation to off-piste safety and having more fun out there. We will do this using Google Hangouts on Air. It is open to anyone. If you are not familiar with Google Hangouts on Air and want to understand more, then look at this page on Google and the video below which shows what they can achieve. To find our next event, scroll to the bottom of the page. You can watch it on our website on that page. Or go to YouTube and go to the HenrysAvalancheTalk channel and view it in Feeds. click here for the link To ask questions or comment please use Twitter and tweet using the hashtag #hatoffpiste. We will see the questions and can answer them in the call. You can also ask questions by writing a comment in the YouTube feed, or send an email to hat@henrysavalanchetalk.com but we will be looking at the Twitter feed first and using that predominantly. After we have finished, the call will be recorded and visible here and in the HenrysAvalancheTalk Youtube channel Recent Hangouts How to find the best routes The people who have the most fun off piste find the best routes. This is about where the best snow is, away from the crowds, where the safe snow is and knowing the best way out and back home. Some of this is navigation, some is avalanche awareness, it always involves understanding the conditions, sometimes you need a map. You always need to know where you are. Finding a great guide to take you off piste

But I must explain to you how all this mistaken idea of denouncing pleasure and praising pain was born.

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