Ski Performance for Mountaineers
Run in conjunction with BASS Chamonix this course has been running since 2007 with increasing popularity every season. It aims to bring together like-minded people to develop their off-piste performance. Originally it was aimed at mountaineers who already have a good understanding of the mountains and the hazards they can present, and just need to get their skiing dialled. There will be no avalanche awareness training or skinning uphill during this course - it is purely about developing ski performance in the off-piste. More recently we have found this course has appealed to everyone from guides to mountaineers to ski tourers to non mountaineers - anyone that wants to be part of this like-minded group is welcome.
You will be given simple yet effective tools to ski ice, bumps, powder, chopped up powder and whatever other snow we come across in the off-piste. You will come away with tactics to ski smoothly through the trees and tight spaces, and feel more confident on the steep and icy. Skiing crust will become fun as you’ll be able to be effective in it. And not forgetting gaining the skills to float effortlessly through the powder.
To develop all these skills we will need to spend time on the piste to acquire the techniques but we will quickly put it into practice in the off-piste.
The course is broken down into 4 half day sessions, with a day off in the middle for rest or consolidation. Your session will either run from 9am - 12, or from 1pm - 4pm, depending on which group you are in. This will leave the other half of the day free to practice and digest the infomation you have been given so that you are ready to move on in the next session.
The instructor's enthusiasm and patience will ensure you get the most from this course and go away with plenty of new ideas to play around with on skis.
The most important pre-requisite for this course is that you are keen to try new things and prepared to have a go. You will be a competent red run skier and have skied some blacks. Ideally you will have put in some mileage in the off-piste and be able to "cope" in the majority of conditions (but in no particular style!).
To help us to match you with skiers of a similar level, we ask you to sign up to either level 1 or 2.
"I am a competent red run skier and have experience of skiing blacks. I have skied some off-piste and can “cope” in the majority of conditions. I never feel like I am particularly efficient and my legs can tire quickly. I struggle in deep powder and look forward to the day when I can get the enjoyment from this snow that everyone else seems too. I sometimes use a stem when I don't need too."
"I am an experienced off-piste skier and feel competent in the majority of off-piste terrain. I can maintain balance and control when the snow is deep. I’d like to become more efficient, refine my technique and have tactics for dealing with challenging snow conditions. I do not feel nervous or put off when the snow conditions change and like the challenge of deeper snow and firmer icy conditions."
If you are not sure if it's the course for you, or you are unsure which group to sign up for, email giving more details of what you have done. You need to have a transceiver, shovel and probe for this course. These can be hired in Chamonix.
£240 per person
4 x half days
Maximum 6 people
Timings and Meeting Point
The course meeting point on the first day for morning groups (9am till 12) is usually Les Marmottons cafe at the bottom of Les Grands Montets, above Grands Montets Sports. Afternoon groups (1pm till 4pm) are normally asked to meet at the mid-station, Lognan, of Les Grands Montets. We will confirm the meeting point the week before the course as it will depend on the prevailing snow and weather conditions.
Throughout the week we may choose to ski at the other resorts in the Chamonix valley; Le Tour, Flégère and Brévent. In the event of bad weather, we may also use Les Houches.
What should I do on Wednesday?
The Wednesday has been left as a free day on this course. Over the years we have found this works well as it allows time for consolidation (or a rest). Frequently we have had requests for a day with an IFMGA Guide to explore further afield. If you'd like to do this you can book onto a Chamonix Guided Ski Day with High Mountain Guides.
To download the kit list for this course click here.
- 4 x 3 hour sessions of ski instruction with BASI ISTD Level 4
What's not included?
- Lift Pass
- Insurance (all clients must have their own insurance for skiing off-piste)
- Equipment Hire (transceiver, shovel and probe are required for this course)
Find out more about the Off Piste Performance team. This course was designed by Alison Thacker née Culshaw. The courses are run by Alison, Derek and Shona Tate, Fred Dibblee and Dee O'Neill.
If none of our dates are suitable and you have 4 people we may be able to arrange dates specifically for you. Email to ask.
I had a wonderful week with a great set of people.... And to Alison.........well, what can I say? Maybe best summed up by hoping you are not too modest to realise what an amazing gift you have. Hernan and I spoke at length over Dinner on Thursday night about your strengths and there are many. In short, you have it all; great technical skills, brilliantly succinct communication, an eye for helpful detail and a positive approach to improving our skiing. Mike Brough
Alison, The last 2 days have been fabulous. I feel I've had the best start to the season I've ever had: a combination of working on my pre-ski fitness, progress with my skiing, but much more importantly your amazing ability to tailor feedback to the skier has really helped me progress more in the last 2 days than I could have imagined. Peter Devlin
The Ski Performance course with Alison's exceptional instruction has been a huge boost to my confidence off-piste after I suffered a knee injury a few years ago. Despite there being no snow in Chamonix the course ran in Verbier for two full days of tuition. The instruction was fantastic and Alison's teaching was always targeted with individual feedback for all members of the group. I could see a clear improvement in my off-piste skiing and look forward to using these skills in the rest of the season. We could not have asked for more. Thank you. Rachel
I have done Alison's off-piste course twice now and am definitely not a hard core guidey type! I first did the course four years ago; at the time I could ski red and black slopes without much style and not always parallel.I had done some skiing off piste before which resulted in me acquiring some gruesome coping mechanisms. I was really nervous before the course as I was convinced that I was going to be left struggling in the wilderness but that is simply not Ali's style. Ali is very careful about grouping people of similar ability and I was in a group of six and we spent much of the week looking at fundamental skills of balance and acquiring technique to adapt to changes in snow. We did quite a bit on piste which then resulted in real progress off piste when we transferred back off piste. Two years later, I had done quite a bit of ski touring but wanted to gain some more skills so I did the course again. This time, we focused a bit more on skiing steeper ground and bumpy terrain and, following Ali's teaching I can now manage to ski powder and make those cool turns in fresh snow. Several of her clients may well be cutting edge climbers and guidey types, but there is definitely not any machismo going on. It is really fun to spend time with other people who are so passionate about the mountains. Ali's teaching is excellent, very clear and she thinks carefully about what you need as an individual. Liz Bedford
Skiing courses are often very expensive, but this course represents excellent value for money. For about the same price as my five day ski pass I enjoyed superb lessons every day. Each day was well structured, and focused on our individual needs. I would recommend this course to anyone Pete Rowlands
Ski Performance for Mountaineers was the perfect course for me. With distant aims to become a guide I am aware that skiing is often the discipline that British Mountain Guides need most work on. The course with Alison was absolutely excellent from the first run she began drip feeding us small nuggets of gold from her extensive experience as a ski instructor. Even by the end of the first day I felt I had learnt so much, but with out being overloading. With the mornings to ourselves I managed to get some practice in and try and piece together the advice we had been given the day before. Towards the end of the week everyone in the group had come on so much, confidence in everyone was sky high and 'that' short steep slope was no longer a threat. The course has given me the confidence to venture deeper into the world of off piste and enjoy the opportunities for exploration and fresh lines. I am by no means finished and feel my skiing could do with further instruction, so just to warn you - I expect I will be back for more! Jon Gupta
- Off-Piste Ski Ability
- Newbie, Effective but not efficient, Experienced
- Ski Instruction
- Ski Instructor