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Skiing in a Whiteout

Skiing in a Whiteout
16 March 2015 No comments

The words 'white out' don't immediately conjure up the ideal skiing conditions. But some of my best days skiing have been in the middle of a white out. Sure, they don't match the glorious blue-bird powder days we all long for, but they come a close second and here's why...

1) Freshies

For want of stating the obviously, a blizzard or white out means that there is snow falling on the mountain. This means there's more fun stuff to play in and fresh tracks to be had. Ice and slush? No chance if it's snowing.

snowy trees

2) Fatties

There are precious few days of the year you can march up to the ski lifts with a pair of skis that are 110cm under foot. A white out is one of them (providing there's a decent enough base). And don't forget your avalanche kit.

ski tips

Big snow = BIG GIRL SKIS!

3) Empty Runs

While everyone else has taken one look out the curtains, seen a blizzard, and retreated back to bed, you'll be charging around the mountain having fresh tracks for breakfast. Yesterday I counted 3 people on the mountain before 10.30am. One was my boyfriend and 2 were lifties.


4) First Tracks

You get the fun jumps and tree lines before anyone else.


Cloudy? Check. Awesome tree skiing? Check. Empty powder field ?Check check check.
And not another person in sight...

5) Breaking through it

If you can make it to the top of the mountain (and the higher lifts are sometimes shut while avalanche cannons etc are set off and the area's made safe) then you're rewarded with a tiny patch of blue sky.

blue sky

If you make it to the top, you're rewarded with blue sky

Tips for skiing in a white out

  • Stick to runs that go through the trees. It is so much easier to see in a white out when you are in areas with trees or landmarks as they provide definition and improved spacial awareness.
  • Use the piste markers. If you are in an area away from trees, or in an area such as the Espace Killy where trees are few and far between, make sure you use the piste markers and follow them down the piste. This way you can be sure that you won't get lost. AND…the pole to the right hand side of the piste (looking downhill) always has an orange top. This way you always know if you are on-piste.
  • Ski in pairs. It is so much easier to ski behind someone, so splitting your group into pairs and putting better skiers at the front should make it easier and mean no one will get lost. If you are skiing in a group, stick together, and discuss the number of turns you are going to make before stopping, or the number of piste markers you plan to pass before you stop.
  • Always stay on piste unless you really know the run and exactly where you are. It can be disorientating and while on piste there is no risk of falling off a drop.