Tip of the week – click here

Learn how to get your timings right when skiing spring snow. See this blog post henrysavalanchetalk.com/ski-smooth-tips-spring-skiing-off-piste. Get it right, and you’ll find some lovely skiing conditions. You can even apply this to on-piste skiing!

Previous tips of the week

Get out there whatever the weather looks like first thing in the morning. There are bound to be some clear spells that you won’t want to miss! From our experience, there’s always lots of room on safe slopes when a sudden clearing appears… and if no clear spell happens… well, you can always go back down or ski in safe areas of the trees.

Watch out for steep N’ish facing slopes (NE through N to NW). These will be particularly unstable for the next few days.

Watch out on steep N facing slopes. This is where the best snow is to be found, but also where the most instability will be if we get much fresh on top of that weak layer of “sugar snow”.

If you intend to ski a steep pitch, ask yourself: “If this slope should avalanche, what will happen to us?”

Watch out for terrain traps (troughs, cliffs, holes, trees, lake….).  Holes and gullies or anywhere the snow could pile up; cliffs that you could fall off; lakes that you could end up in.  These hazards mean that the consequences of an avalanche will be much more severe.

See report on Tignes avalanche accident

Look out for slopes where there has been recent avalanche activity, and avoid similar slopes of a similar direction.

Play close attention to the official avalanche bulletins from Meteo France. They will give you a clue as to where the worst instability is in your area. Go to www.meteofrance.com/previsions-meteo-montagne/bulletin-avalanches, entering the mountain area of your choice.

Look out for barely covered hard wind blown snow (sastrugi) because it will trip you up. It is now just under a thin layer of fresh snow so you won’t see them. Lumps might be rocks, soft snow or lumps of ice. So be careful.

It looks like the possibility of triggering bigger avalanches is on its way with the large amounts of snow sitting on a snowpack that is unstable in many places… And, as Henry says “A little bigger avalanche is a lot badder”

As the avalanche danger diminishes we tend to get more complacent. So remember to apply our Off-Piste Checklist. This will reduce your chances of having an accident (and help you to have more fun): www.henrysavalanchetalk.com/off-piste-quick-reference.  Avalanche risk 2 means moderate with specific risks in specific places.  Read the bulletin to see where those risks exist.

Pay attention to the wind and where the wind has blown, this will show you where to find dangerous wind slab and where to locate the best snow.  The bulletin shows you where the wind has been blowing for the past 7 days.

There is still some lingering instability on steeper slopes, particularly above 35°. When you’re looking to make fresh tracks, be very careful on steep slopes and untracked slopes. Pay attention to where the wind has blown. This affects the quality and safety a lot.

After we’ve received all this fresh snow, because of the unpredictable nature of the snowpack, be very careful on steep slopes of 30° or more, or avoid them altogether!

The biggest hazards seem to be on piste at the moment. There have been an unusually large number of collisions and on piste accidents. Pay attention to other people and move consistently and steadily through any crowded pistes. Off piste, stay under control, watch your speed on the icy steep slopes, and stay on your guard for rocks lurking under the surface.

Beware of triggering windslab on high steep N facing slopes near the breezy French/Italian border. Lower altitude and S facing slopes are more stable, although the snow quality won’t be so good there!

Make sure you know your exit route and that it is safe. It can be a bit scratchy at lower altitudes, and you may find yourself having to climb over boulders or having to contend with very icy snow, like in the photo.

Make sure you know your exit route and that it is safe. It can be a bit scratchy at lower altitudes, and you may find yourself having to climb over boulders or having to contend with very icy snow, like in the photo.

Download the Meteo Ski app to your phone.  It will give you fast access to the Meteo France weather forecast for all French resorts and even more importantly, you will get immediate, easy access to the avalanche bulletins without having to fight with the Meteo France website.  The app is refreshingly lacking in adverts and seems to be focused on what the off piste skier needs.

Check your insurance covers you for off piste with or without a guide and without undue restrictions.  You can read more about how to be sure you are covered click here