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Skiing or snowboarding off-piste is becoming far more popular. Whether it’s to escape the big flock of skiers on the piste, or to explore the beautiful mountains out of the resort, there are many benefits to making that extra bit of effort to head deep into the mountain.​

1. It’s beautiful! – True off-piste skiing and snowboarding takes place in the backcountry, here you can enjoy the beauty of nature in an untouched, non-commercialised way.

2. There are fewer crowds – Spending time almost alone in the mountains can give a more immersive experience. Away from the crowds of the pisted slopes, you are free to choose your own speed as well as the direction and pace of your decent. 

3. It is often more challenging – Skiing or snowboarding off-piste is a true test of skill, talent, and ability. It is physically demanding to move through ungroomed pistes, and as you choose where and how fast you go, it can be a very physical day out on the slopes!

4. Perfect for those who love adventure – There is no doubt that getting out in the wild of the backcountry away from the crowds feels like an adventure, making fresh tracks amongst huge mountains is an experience you just can’t find on normal pistes.

Top tips for going off-piste…

1. Never ski alone — Especially if it’s your first time going off-piste, always make sure to go with a couple of experienced friends or an instructor or guide.

2. Make sure you have the correct equipment  —  Every off-piste skier should have a few basic tools with them in case something happens. As well as some food, water and additional layers, you will also need an avalanche transceiver, a shovel and a probe. Ideally, you should use an avalanche specific backpack, one of the most popular is the ABS avalanche pack, this should help reduce your chances of being buried, in the event you are caught in an avalanche. 

3. Insurance — Off-piste is not usually included in most ski or snowboard insurance policies. Although you will be able to find some companies which cover you for skiing/boarding off-piste, you often need to upgrade to receive the cover, so it’s best to go through what you’re planning with your insurer.

4. Always check the snow conditions  —  Skiing or snowboarding off-piste is more dangerous than skiing on piste, as you are exposed to different terrain, snow conditions and are further from help. Avalanches are a skier’s worst nightmare, these can often be avoided by looking at the surrounding snow conditions prior to going off-piste, reviewing the local avalanche bulletin and recent weather patterns. That being said, it is always best to head out with a local, fully qualified ski instructor or mountain guide who is familiar with the area and trained in mountain safety. 

5. Speed is your friend – You will naturally go a little slower when skiing in fresh powder, so make sure you don’t over turn, as going too slowly will likely make you lose balance! Ease into it by picking some small sections of powder on easy terrain, which is near to or in between pistes. 

6. Book an off-piste lesson —  On Maison Sport, you can choose from hundreds of ski and snowboard instructors across the Alps offering off-piste lessons. There are inherent dangers associated to off-piste skiing and snowboarding, however, with an instructor you can leave the safety to them and enjoy some beautiful days out in the mountains in great powder.