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Assessing your ski level & kit
Skiing Skills for Off Piste courses - your technique self assessment
All of our skiing courses are off piste. As a minimum level you will be able to ski anything on piste (competant on blacks / double blacks / black diamond runs), and have the following off piste skills at present. Examples of these courses include the Chamonix Off Piste and Vallee Blanche trips.
Off Piste Level 1 courses: If you are very new to off piste skiing, or perhaps have just skied a little between pistes or on their edges. You should be confident and competant on all pisted runs, but the key prerequisite is that you are very keen to move into the off piste world.
Off Piste Level 2 courses: For this level you have skied a little bit off piste in soft snow. Typically you will have managed to get down this terrain, but will probably have struggled a bit if there was a crust. Your key ambition is to improve and get some really good instruction.
By this stage you should be fairly confident of safely coping with most types of conditions off piste, but you are still a little bit unsure of steeper slopes and difficult off piste conditions. Again, you want to improve your techniques and skiing style. Typically you will have skied between two weeks and a season off piste for this level.
Now you are an experienced off piste skier and are ready for all kinds of conditions. At this level you will have all the following to cope with: breakable crust / crud, icy sections, very deep powder, spring snow and of course speed on your course!!! Several weeks off piste skiing will be the minimum experience for this level.
For this top level, you should be put off by no off piste conditions, and be keen to ski any route that the Guide judges safe, in a stylish and controlled fashion. Even at this level our Guiding team will be able to give you tips and advice to improve.
Skiing Skills for Ski Touring courses - your technique self assessment
If considering any of our ski touring courses, these symbols appear on the top of the course page, and it is imperative you must ensure that you meet the pre-requisites before you consider booking a touring course. Examples of these trips include the Chamonix Intro Touring, Haute Route & Silvretta Ski Tour courses.
You have skied a minimum of two weeks off piste, but your ambition is to improve and get good instruction. People should have skied at least a one week off piste course, and have another week of off piste experience. Previous touring experience is not required, as these courses teach the key skills, but sometimes people have a day or two of touring experience.
You should be fairly confident of safely coping with most types of conditions off piste, but you are still a little bit unsure of steeper slopes and difficult off piste conditions (but are happy to ski them!). You want to improve your techniques and skiing style. You will have skied between two weeks and a season off piste and touring experience should be of between a couple of days and a week minimum.
At this level you will cope with breakable crust / crud, icy sections, very deep powder, spring snow and of course speed! Several weeks off piste skiing will be the minimum experience for this level. Your touring experience should be at least two weeks of hut to hut ski tours, or one week of hut to hut tours and over ten day ski tours.
You should not be put off by any off piste conditions, and be keen to ski any route that the Guide judges safe, in a controlled and stylish fashion. Even at this level our Guiding team will be able to give you tips & advice to improve. Your off piste skiing skills should be as above, but touring should be greater than that required at level in the Improver paragraph above.
We don't offer any scheduled ski touring courses of this level, but if you think that your ski touring level is higher than the previous level, then we can provide bespoke ski touring guiding for you at this level. It is highly likely that this is only possible in small groups or one or two skiers per guide at this standard..
Ski Stamina - your endurance self assessment
We cannot emphasise enough the importance of good mountain fitness and off piste / ski touring stamina. Enjoying a 'hard day' of pisted skiing compares with about an hour of steep ski touring!
At this level, even though this is our least physical level of course, you still need a good basic level of fitness, as this will help you enjoy the course more and prevent any injuries. If your course is a week long, it will take quite a bit of effort to keep going.
For this grade course you will encounter a need to put in a reasonable amount of physical effort each day. Each day you will be skiing with a day sack, and the idea of hiking for up to an hour to get to the best off piste conditions should not deter you.
Every one of our ski tour and safaris are this level or above. You should be able to cope with up to four hours of ski touring up hill each day. On most of these tours, your rucksack will weigh between 10 and 15 kg, to carry kit for staying in mountain huts.
Very good fitness is required for these levels of courses, and you should expect up to eight hours a day of travelling through the mountains. In addition you should be prepared for several days at this level back to back, normally staying in huts.
This is the most demanding level of course, and requires excellent fitness as you will be skiing tough routes uphill and off piste with large bags that will be necessary for you to carry all the technical or camping equipment. Get into peak shape for this!
Choosing the course

It is essential for you to select the correct level of skiing course, both in terms of your safety and enjoyment, so we have developed the self rating system below for you to judge your Skiing Skills and Skiing Stamina levels. As with most sports, your skills get a little rusty if not practiced regularly, and this could not be truer for skiing. If you are planning on attending a course, you could consider arriving a day or two early to get you "ski legs" back, and for expert tuition and fine tuning why not hire a guide? From only £300 per day, split between up to six people, a day of guiding would really get you back in the swing of things before you start your course.
What does all this mean?

It is hard to assess your ski level, as unlike graded climbs, assessing your ski level is very subjective. Our course booking form asks people on ski courses to outline their previous experience in detail, and it asks a series of questions to help you explain your experience and competance. We have tried to judge the ski and stamina level of each course, to give you an idea of who it should appeal too, but we should point out that the conditions and weather are highly likely to influence the exact grade of the courses on each week. We make every effort to ensure that everyone on a course is of a similar stated level, and on a week will try to accommodate skiers of slightly different levels as long as everyone is of the minimum required stated level. In other words, as long as you are honest with us about your experience, we can ensure that you are pushed to your limits on the week. Equally at the other end of the scale, if you book on a course with far more than the required level of experience, do not for example expect that an Off Piste- Level 1 group can be expected to ski 48° couloirs or that an Intro Ski Tour group can undertake vertical ascents of 2000m in a day!
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Suggested reading and kit
To view the full course equipment list, with examples of kit, please click here.
Any further questions?
A key part of choosing a company is being able to come and talk about your plans with an experienced course advisor face to face. In an increasingly virtual world, we know our clients value speaking to real people, getting open and honest advice. The vast majority of our clients are British, and our office and outdoor store is based in Windermere in the English Lake District.



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