High Season in the Alps – Part 1
There have been a number of warnings about safety off-piste this winter due to the unstable snow pack but with our busiest part of the season just around the corner, I thought a few reminders of how to stay safe ON piste here in Les Gets would not go amiss.
And no, this is not yet another debate about wearing helmets. You must decide on this for yourself. However there are many other factors relating to safety which, if adhered to, could significantly reduce any perceived need for hard head-gear. Sadly most recreational skiers appear to be unaware of these or simply choose to ignore them:
It is your responsibility to avoid anyone on the slope below you. Skiers, boarders, walkers and everyone else. They do not have indicators or rear view mirrors so it is down to you. If you cannot avoid them you are probably out of control. However exhilarating this might feel to you, it is dangerous for others.
Everyone got that? OK now let’s look at a few ways we can make life easier for each other & avoid a collision.
Those who think you are good enough to avoid others, show a bit of consideration for the more nervous ones:
- If you are overtaking someone slower, aim to go around the back of them. That way if you make a mistake you are less likely to collide.
- Try and stay outside of pole touching distance of others. Any closer you are invading their space.
- Snowboarders we know you like jibbing on the sides of the runs, some skiers really enjoy it too. But don’t forget this is where folk expect to stop in safety. Send a spotter down first to check the coast is clear and wave when it is ok to go.
- It doesn’t matter how confident you are, always stop on the downside of others. Similarly stop to one side of the lift line, not in it!
If you are a timid skier, here are a few pointers to help you help others stay out of your hair:
- Nervous skiers tend to turn randomly. Try and turn to a regular rhythm. This helps others anticipate your line and thus turn around/away from you if they are moving faster.
- If the only way you can descend a slope comfortably is by zig zagging all the way across try your best to leave a little room either side for people to nip around you. By the way this is a symptom of being over challenged by the steepness of the run. Either stick to easier terrain or go get a ski lesson!
- Stop at the side of the piste, not in the middle, and never in a group sprawled across the run.
- If stopping check up the hill over your shoulder to ensure you are not cutting into someone else’s line. Do the same when you set off again.
- Do not stop under a hump which can obscure you from oncoming traffic.
If you think about it, these are all common sense habits you would apply if in a similar situation in your car – who pulls out of a turning without first checking, or parks on a blind bend? And considerate slow drivers will give others the opportunity to overtake safely.
And a final point for everyone regarding going uphill. Lifts. When dismounting from a lift, instead of making a beeline to wherever you are headed (and cutting across someone else) fan out and stop well away from the dismounting area.
Be Safe! Be Happy!