In winter 2006, over 80 people were killed by avalanches in the Alps while skiing off piste. This is obviously an alarming statistic, but it should not put you off the amazing experience - with a few ski safety tips, and investment in avalanche safety equipment, you should have nothing to worry about. Of course, with our ski travel insurance, your avalanche safety equipment will be covered in the event of trouble, so your expenditure is protected. For more details, see our ski travel insurance page
The first thing to remember is that off-piste skiing is definitely not for beginners. Much of the safety equipment for avalanche protection will be wasted on a novice - it is no good concentrating on survival if you can barely balance on your skis! For that reason, off piste skiing is something that should only be attempted once comfortable with the standard ski runs
Stick together - skiing off piste alone is asking for trouble and means there will be no one to send for help if your skiing safety precautions fall through.
Make sure you go down the slopes one at a time, to prevent you all getting caught at the same time. If one of you go at a time, there will always be another to keep watch and perform a rescue if required.
Watch out for cornices. Do not ever walk up to the edge of a drop-off, as these are particularly unstable, and very likely to cause an avalanche.
Ski gently- you will find that wider skis are safer for off piste skiing, and a snowboards width is better still (though obviously not everyones choice of winter sport)
In terms of avalanche safety equipment, there are some things you should never be without when off piste skiing. Standard ski safety advice dictates that a compass and an inclinometer are essential, but in terms of avalanche safety equipment, a transceiver, a collapsible probe and a shovel could prove to be life saving if one of your party is unfortunate enough to get caught in an avalanche, despite following our skiing safety recommendations.
Of course, just having the avalanche safety equipment is not enough on its own - practice with it, and attend an avalanche protection class before you head for your winter holiday. And of course, make sure your ski travel insurance will cover you for off-piste adventures!