Swipe to the right

Discover Backcountry: Why You Should Hire An Off-Piste Ski Guide

19 December 2020
Discover Backcountry: Why You Should Hire An Off-Piste Ski Guide

Despite the current uncertainty around travel, many of us can't help but make some plans for the upcoming winter ski season. If exploring the world of backcountry skiing is on your radar, it's worth thinking about hiring an experienced off-piste guide, especially if you're new to the sport.

So, whether you're venturing out to the Scottish backcountry or chasing powder somewhere further afield, check out our thoughts below on why you should hire a guide for your off-piste adventures.

An introduction to off-piste skiing

Unbeaten tracks, new challenges and lack of crowds are what makes off-piste skiing highly appealing to thrill-seeking skiers (like us).

Picture the scene; part skiing, free-falling and gliding through untouched powder and forest runs, away from the crowds in mother nature’s untouched backcountry on a sunny day. That’s exactly what you can expect from getting off-piste.


Skiing off-piste with a guide

What is an off-piste ski guide?

An off-piste ski guide is a qualified professional with years of experience and local knowledge of the mountains. They’re fully equipped to show you the ropes - including the terrains to avoid and fresh powder waiting to be tracked.


Why should you hire a guide?

Hiring a qualified guide is beneficial for many reasons not only for beginners but for more experienced off-piste skiers as well especially if you're not familiar with the location.


They know the area

Going out with a guide can massively enhance your backcountry experience due to their knowledge of the local area and conditions. Whether it's to do with finding the best snow or the coolest route, a guide can save you time and effort compared to figuring it out yourself. As an added bonus, you don't have to worry about getting lost either! Your guide will also have insider information on the best hidden gem restaurants and pubs to relax in after a long day of skiing. 


Potential for quick improvement

Skiing with a guide offers a fantastic opportunity for expanding your off-piste knowledge and developing your skills further. The number of useful tips and tricks a guide can pass on to you in one trip would take a very long time for anyone to acquire without a helping hand. Remember to ask any questions you might have, your guide will undoubtedly have many interesting stories and bits of information to share.


Increased safety

This is the most important reason why hiring a guide is worth the money. Avalanche risks aren't something that many of us face every day but these professionals do. They are experts at recognising the signs and avoiding unnecessary risks.

Your guide will also be able to adapt the route to your group's experience level, preventing injuries as well as arguments. Qualified guides are also usually required to have an up-to-date first-aid certificate, ensuring that if any injuries do happen, they will be confident with taking control of the situation and knowing which steps to follow.


Backcountry powder lines

You heard it from the expert

We caught up with Luke Chitty, who shares his experience and advice on booking a ski guide for the first time:

“When organising my personal ski trips, I tend to pre-book an off-piste guide for the group at the same time as the holiday. If I am travelling with a large group of keen skiers, we book a few days of guiding and rotate who from our group skis with the guide on each day. It ensures everyone gets a chance to explore the backcountry and works out better value per person.

Luke Chitty Skiing

Luke enjoying some backcountry powder

If the group is small, we book one or two days of guiding in advance of the holiday on day 2 or 3. This gives us a day to get our ski-legs back and, if we have the money, we can try and squeeze another day guiding in before the holiday is over if the snow is good!

Whether it is a resort you have skied many times before or a completely new ski area to you, if you want to venture off-piste, hiring a qualified guide has many benefits. It ensures you find the best powder, explore more of the terrain and, most importantly, stay safe. The guide will also share their knowledge so you learn and improve, challenge yourself, and most importantly show you the best places to drink and eat on the mountain and in resort!”

If you're heading on a backcountry adventure to Scotland this year, don't forget to check out our equipment hire option that's available at the Aviemore and Fort William Ellis Brigham shops.

You May Also Be Interested In...