Get your terrain-tackling off-piste ski insurance
Off-piste, or backcountry skiing opens the door to some more challenging terrain which you can’t find on groomed pistes. Therefore, it’s vitally important that you have appropriate ski insurance which includes off-piste skiing and snowboarding to ensure you’ll be suitably covered if things go awry. The risks in skiing off-piste are far greater than sticking to them, so you should only explore beyond the pistes if you’re competent enough in your skiing ability. Purchasing our winter sports travel insurance will cover your ski holiday, so you can enjoy it the way you want. If you’ve not tackled much off-piste skiing before, you may want to seek the help of a ski instructor. You may be used to making quick, sharp turns, but in the thicker snow, you need to keep as much speed and momentum as you can, and you do this by making your turns longer and more sweeping, or be faced with burying your skis and slowly coming to a stop. Your skis will float the faster you go, so speed is vital when navigating powder.
Winter Sports specific insurance is vital
Whether you travel for a ski holiday annually, or if you ski more infrequently, everyone needs specific winter ski travel insurance. Sticking to the pistes can be quite monotonous, so being able to dive into the deep stuff will keep your trip entertaining. With our ski insurance, you can discover the resort’s off-piste offerings without a guide – although if you’re new to the resort and the world of off-piste skiing, it may be wise to go with a guide for half a day as they will show you the ropes. When you’re confident enough that you know the ins and outs of your resorts’ off-piste offering after following advice from your guide, you can explore all that’s on offer - though we would advise never skiing past those marked slopes without a buddy or two. As they say, two’s company but three’s a crowd, which suits off-piste skiing to a tee. In the event of an injury to one of your group, you should have suitable provisions between you to call for help, and keep the injured person as comfortable as possible until that help arrives.
Things to consider packing in your backpack for a day off-piste skiing would be things like:
- Collapsible Shovel
- Transceiver (to emit your location in an emergency) & Radio
- Head Torch
- Sun Cream & Lip Balm
- Piste Map & Compass
- First Aid Kit
- Emergency Blanket
- Water & Snacks
- Spare Clothes & Gloves
If not all of your group are exploring the back country, let them know where you plan on heading, and set a rough estimate of a time you’ll be back (If this changes during the day, keep them updated via a mobile phone).
Where is best to ski off-piste?
There are plenty of resorts across the globe that offer exciting off-piste runs, and our ski insurance will be with you at every turn - from France to Japan and all things in between. Resorts at higher altitudes are usually the best places to find untouched, inviting powder, such as the Val Thorens resort in France, where 99% of their skiable runs are above 2,000m, and Furano in Japan which receives around 9m of light, fluffy snow each season – the good stuff. However, in some resorts worldwide, backcountry skiing is forbidden and participating in it could mean having your lift pass confiscated, or you could even find yourself spending the night in the local cell. Some resorts only post warnings before heading off the beaten track, which you can choose to heed or not. When you’re skiing off-piste, hazards aren’t usually marked out (unless you’re on a well-trodden route), and the thick snow can sometimes hide rocks and other risks. Spending a couple of hours with a guide will help you understand what to look out for, and places you should steer clear of. If you do find yourself having a fall in thick snow, naturally you may want to get back up by pushing off your hands. Firstly, you’ll find this very difficult as they will sink deep into the snow, but secondly, in doing this you could find yourself even more stuck, which isn’t ideal. You should use your ski poles in an X formation, and use the junction in the middle of the X as your leverage.
Always check the weather report
When embarking on your next ski holiday and the call of the fresh powder which lies beyond the marked pistes beckons, make sure you’re prepared before you head off the beaten path. Off-piste ski insurance is available when you purchase our winter sports activities add-on, but only if you remain within the resort boundaries. It’s also important to check the weather conditions for the day. While fresh powder is a skier or snowboarders dream, it can build up very quickly, and potentially become dangerous and at risk of avalanche. However, avalanches aren’t just a threat when you’re exploring the backcountry; a full day of heavy snowfall on the mountains will result in a build-up of the white stuff, and could be dislodged at any time. Every ski resort should show the risk of avalanche, and you should follow advice from the mountain safety teams before heading out to the slopes for the day - if the pistes are closed due adverse weather conditions (or the opposite through lack of snow), you’ll be able to claim this back on your travel insurance with Columbus. Another pro of off-piste skiing is the fact that it’s less crowded than sticking to the groomed runs. After completing a thigh-burning slalom through the trees, you can find yourself surrounded by calm and serenity. Take a minute to get your breath back, and soak up the incredible scenery untouched by other skiiers.