Chamonix Off Piste & Mountain Skills
A ski instruction course designed to improve both your technical off-piste skiing and mountain safety awareness and skills whilst doing lots of good skiing in the process. The course programme has been thoughtfully designed by Alison Thacker (BASI ISTD Ski Instructor) and Rob Jarvis (IFMGA International Mountain Guide) and has been running since 2012. The courses are run by Alison and Rob, and our small team of instructors and guides.
To develop competence and confidence skiing in variable off-piste terrain and to ensure it is something you look forward to rather than fear. To achieve this there are two skill sets that need to be developed; ski technique and safe travel skills. You will come away from this course feeling that you have both.
Alison will work with you to make the downhill become something you look forward to whatever the snow type. She will give you the tools to float effortlessly through the powder, embrace the bumps, control the hard pack, manage the ice and even enjoy the crust! You will gain tactics to ski smoothly through the trees, feel more confident on the steeps and have a strategy for when snow conditions are so poor you just need to get down the mountain safely.
Alison has experience of delivering these skills to skiers from beginner to mountain guide and other ski instructors. She will analyse your own skiing style and coach the improvements accordingly.
Safe Ski Travel in the Mountains
The skier who ventures beyond the marked runs and on to the open mountain is in adventurous terrain. By ascending on skis, using skins, untracked slopes can be reached or a quiet summit view enjoyed away from the crowded pistes. The pleasures are great but the hazards are real.
During 2 active days skiing Rob will guide you through the mountain practicalities of backcountry ski travel.
- How to use skins and bindings effectively so that ski ascents become an aesthetic and efficient pleasure.
- How to interpret avalanche and weather forecasts alongside actual mountain snow conditions and decide where to ski safe and good terrain accordingly.
- How to become highly skilled in the use of your essential avalanche equipment (shovel, probe and transceiver) and be able to manage an avalanche scenario should one arise.
- How to ski on a glacier, including roped ski travel, will also be covered, ideally during a descent of the Chamonix classic ‘Vallee Blanche’.
As an IFMGA Mountain Guide, Rob will not only deliver these practical skill sessions but constantly ‘drip-feed’ information about the constant decision making processes involved in off-piste skiing and ski touring.
£675 per person
Maximum 6 people
- 2 full days ski instruction and off-piste skiing with a ski instructor.
- 2 full days instruction & off-piste skiing with a Mountain Guide.
- 1 full day with both Alison and Rob to help you combine the skills.
- Avalanche Transceiver (Pulse 4.0), Shovel and Probe if required.
What’s not included?
- Accommodation. We recommend that you stay at Ski Breezy in Chamonix. If they are full or you would like an alternative style of accommodation please see our recommended list for places to stay in Chamonix.
- Lift passes. For this course you will need the Mont Blanc Unlimited ski pass
- Flights and transfer from the airport to Chamonix.
- Food or drink during the course.
- Insurance (all clients must have their own insurance for skiing off-piste and ski touring)
- Kit. Check our course kit list.
To get the most from this course you will be a strong piste skier and be able to get down all groomed slopes with confidence. You should have skied off-piste before (but not necessarily succeeded!) even if this is just "side country" beside the pistes.
We have also found that people really enjoy this course when they have done lots of off-piste mileage but never really got the hang of it. Or if you are able to rip it up in the powder but feel you only have “one skill set in your tool box” so struggle to make changes to adapt to the changes the off-piste environment throw at you.
You’ll need to be able to cope with full days out on the mountain and have the fitness to skin steadily uphill for a few hours at an approximate rate of 250m per hour (including stops and transitions) for 2 to 3 hours. This will feel like hill-walking uphill not running uphill.
These are group courses and you will need to embrace the important team aspect of off piste skiing and touring. If you are keen to maximise your time in terms of individual ski coaching, or completing longer / more physical tours then private hire is recommended.
‘Chamonix Off-Piste Ski & Mountain Skills' is a joint venture between ‘High Mountain Guides’ and ‘Off-Piste Performance’ aimed at giving you expert advice and coaching in all aspects of mountain skiing.
Alison Thacker runs ‘Off-Piste Performance' and holds the BASI International Ski Teacher Award. She has delivered Continuing Professional Development (CPD) to the British Mountain Guides and works as a trainer on the BASI Mountain Safety Courses training aspiring instructors. When not teaching skiing she'll be off ski touring somewhere. Her most recent trip took her to the Lyngen Alps in Norway.
Rob Jarvis runs ‘High Mountain Guides’ and is a full time Mountain Guide based in the French Alps near Chamonix. He has led mountaineering and ski expeditions around the world including skiing to the South Pole and, a bit steeper (!), Mount Vinson, the highest peak in Antarctica.
Thanks very much for everything you've done this week, I've thoroughly enjoyed the course and it's been a pleasure to get to know both you and Rob. It really has been a trip to remember for me. Carl Rouse
Great week, superb teaching and coaching... The course delivered everything I had hoped for, had a fantastic experience. I would certainly recommend the course as an immensely enjoyable slice of off-piste and high mountain fun- if very tiring! Thank you Andy Baird
Thanks to everyone for a great team week, it helped me a lot to be in a group with a similar skill level, a good sharing attitude and an exceptional capacity for fun. I feel that I gained the foundation skills for getting safely around the mountain. The course took me to the edge of my comfort zone at times and fully into my fun zone throughout. Thanks to Rob & Alison for another great course which employs your complimentary specialities to create a harmonious package. Adam Firth
The difference in my confidence on a mixture of snow types between the start and end of the week was astounding, and absolutely what I wanted to achieve. The coaching from you was by far the best I have ever experienced - the focus on a few specific drills and techniques rather than endless minor changes was highly effective for me. I'll definitely be back and plan to bring my daughter out for some beginner lessons! I'd also highly commend Ski Breezy, which you recommend for accommodation - easily the best ski chalet I've stayed in and it was great to socialise with others from the course. The logistics of being together also made life a lot more simple on days out of the valley - definitely one to continue recommending to your clients, in my opinion! Calum Carruthers
Thanks Alison for a fantastic and fun week of ski coaching, your enthusiasm & intuitive teaching were just perfect.... You had me skiing down things I wouldn't have thought I could get down. They all said you were GOOD...and they were right!! Many thanks from a very happy skier ;-). Julia Tucker
Just to say a huge thanks for a great course last week. Lots learned and refreshed and some terrific days in the mountains. The last day capped it! David Monteith
Great week with the both of you bursting with the confidence to drag us in and out of stuff that's just scary enough for us to feel like real 'mountain men' without really having to come close to it ourselves...That's a very good recipe. Can I have some more? Robert Wine
Alison and Rob you have given me skills and knowledge to go see places that a year so ago I never thought I'd get to. Thanks. Mervyn Trease
Absolutely brilliant course and you cleverly engineered a great bunch of like minded fellow skiers. Rob stretched my uphill considerably more than I expected and I found I quite enjoyed using the ice-axe, even more than actually getting there - just glad it wasn't another 100m! The latest 2 weeks have given me a chance to practise what you taught...Alison's clear and deceptively simple message in my ears, or better still hands and feet, guiding me comfortably down a number of 40+ degree slopes whilst trying to emulate her effortless style. The course has made me much more aware of the slopes around me and to take more personal responsibility for security even when following a guide. I have had quite a bit of tuition in the past and yet no other course has made such a difference; definately 5 stars, so long as you don't get so busy that I cannot come back." Norman Haacke
- Off-Piste Ski Ability
- Newbie, Effective but not efficient
- Instruction and Ski Touring
- Ski Instructor & Mountain Guide