Monday, 24 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

Its been a busy start to the season here at Offpisteskiing - off piste coaching in Chamonix and Val D'Isere last week with some fantastic early season snow conditions, but also high avalanche risk needing careful and considered management - more on this later.

I am currently enjoying a few days downtime before work kicks off again after Christmas - though sadly rain to a high level put paid to a lot of powdery plans for today...

Here are a couple of videos from Bjarne Sahlen of Endlessflow featuring Andreas Fransson - I had the pleisure of introducing these guys along with Mike Douglas at the Kendal Mountain Festival Snowsports Session this November when they were presenting the film 'Tempting Fear'. These 2 videos are from Andreas and Bjarne's adventures this summer in Patagonia, and feature one of the most exposed steep lines I have ever seen - respect!

Reaching My Limit Episode 1 from Bjarne Salén on Vimeo.

Reaching My Limit Eisode 2 from Bjarne Salén on Vimeo.

But back to avalanches - there have been an awful lot of incidents this winter so far - despite the snowpack being quite clearly unstable on many aspects skiers have been venturing onto steep slopes regardless. It is always easy to look back with hindsight and say "Yes, of course you wouldn't have caught me going in there today" but it does seem like a lot of 'red flag' warning signs are being ignored. There has been a lot of research done on 'Heuristic Traps' - the social factors which can influence our decision making and make us ignore obvious warning signs - I am a firm believer that this plays a huge part in the creation of avalanche incidents and will try to summarise the main points in the next week or so... stay tuned.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

More snow!

To say there is a fair bit of snow here would be an understatement. Meteofrance are now talking about record early season snow depths for low altitude. Here in Bozel are 'back garden snow-o-meter is almost up to last winter's end of January record already - all in the space of one week!

Dec 2nd:

Dec 5th

Dec 6th

Dec 8th

And for comparison last year's record at Jan 21:

Anyway, enough shovelling, time to go skiing!

Sunday, 2 December 2012


I have been back in Bozel for the weekend after 6 days work in Zermatt running a BASI Mountain Safety course - we had lots of new snow through the week, not great for navigating & getting out skinning but great for illustrating avalanche dangers with lots of small slabs, some skier triggered, in the last 2 days.

There was approx 50/60cm of fresh snow through the middle of the week & it seems it was much the same in the Vanoise, with plenty of folks out touring including a fine early season descent of the SW face of the Pointe Matthews - a tasty 5.2 descent more often skied in spring conditions!

There is about 10cm of snow on the ground here in Bozel at 840m, and with a fair bit of snow forecast for this week it looks like a great start to the season.