Off Piste Performance Ltd provides ski instruction from Alison Culshaw (ISTD) and ski guiding by James Thacker (IFMGA Mountain Guide). We specialise in private tuition and ski guiding tailored to the needs of you, the skier. Based in Chamonix since 2005, Alison and James will help you achieve your skiing aspirations and beyond, whether it making your first turns, want to fine tune your off-piste skills, or join a trip to explore the backcountry.
Off Piste Performance also offers the renowned "Ski Performance Course for Mountaineers" which has been bringing together like-minded people to develop their off-piste skills since 2007.
As a dual discipline team, Alison and James also work together on a small number of trips to bring a unique blend of instructional and guiding input, sharing their knowledge of Arctic Norway.
I pride myself in being able to tailor my tuition to the needs of the clients, using simple yet effective instruction. My philosophy is that skiing is about going from A to B as efficiently as possible and having as much fun as possible on the way, whatever the conditions.
I was fortunate enough to be introduced to skiing when I was very young (age 2!) on the slopes of my local golf course then at The Lecht in Scotland. Right from the beginning I developed a passion for the sport which has grown and grown since that time.
Between the ages of 6 and 18 I was involved in ski racing winning National titles and representing the British Children's Team and then the Scottish Team at International races.
Following this my passion developed into ski mountaineering and off-piste skiing doing classic ski tours in Europe, skiing wilderness peaks in Patagonia, skiing on Chilean Volcanoes, a ski ascent of Mont Elbrus and most recently spring skiing in the Lyngen Alps in Norway.
I have been teaching skiing in the French alps for 12 years, working for New Generation in Meribel back in 2003 and having worked for BASS Chamonix for 6 seasons from 2005 until 2010. During that time I have gained substanial knowledge of the local ski terrain allowing me to find the most suitable place for your lessons. Whilst being in Chamonix I have delivered Continuing Professional Development (CPD) to the British Mountain Guides and work as a trainer on the BASI Mountain Safety Courses training aspiring instructors.
Not only am I passionate about skiing, but also about teaching and seeing my clients progress, something that I believe is an essential ingredient when I am delivering lessons.
In the summer months I can be found delivering expeditions for the Duke of Edinburgh's Award and leading people around the Tour du Mont Blanc.
Alison Culshaw's Qualifications
- BASI Level 4 International Ski Teacher Diploma
- International Mountain Leader Award
- Mountaineering Instructor's Award
- Winter Mountain Leader Award
I grew up on the edge of the Peak District and it's there that I realised I had a passion for the mountains. The "Peak", with it's gritstone edges and limestone dales has been the foundation for many people's climbing. Like many others, I have gone on to seek adventure in North Wales, the Scottish Highlands, The Alps and The Himalaya.
As a keen climber and mountaineer it was some years late that I stepped into skis in East Greenland. Nordic skis and sledges (pulks) being the obvious choice to achieve first ascents in the Lemon and Lindberg Ranges. With the desire to become a Mountain Guide it was inevitable that I would spend increasing time on skis.
Having completed my degree in Environmental Geoscience, I spent a brief spell working as a Civil Servant, before moving into Outdoor Education. My first position was at Derbyshire County Council's Local Education Authority Centre: White Hall OEC. Where I worked with a wide variety of people of all ages. This gave me an invaluable early apprenticeship in helping people to get the most from their time in the mountains. Work as a freelance Mountaineering Instructor (MIC) followed, alongside voluntary Mountain Rescue experience spanning 16 years, with 3 as a Deputy Team Leader.
After moving to Chamonix I qualified as an IFMGA Mountain Guide in 2012. My passion for wild and remote places underpins our trips to Arctic Norway, which appear alongside private guiding on the classic backcountry runs in Chamonix.
Outside the off-piste skiing and ski touring season I can be found working, from Chamonix, climbing and mountaineering on foot while waiting for the next snow fall.
In addition, James is a regular contributor to Trek and Mountain Magazine and the mainstream climbing press and is one of the Trustees of the Chris Walker Trust. He is also generously supported by Haglöfs and EDELRID.
James Thacker's Qualifications
- IFMGA Mountain Guide
- Mountaineering Instructor's Certificate