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Ski Safely on the Mountain – Top Safety Tips

Mountain Safety – Enjoy the Pistes Safely

Skiing and snowboarding are exhilarating and exciting activities – the incredible thrills come with an element of risk though. Just as the highway code helps reduce the risks of the road, there are steps that you can take on the pistes to help keep you safe up the mountain.

A snowboarder surveys the mountains

We want all of our guests and other mountain lovers to enjoy the mountains safely so in this blog post we’re sharing some top safety tips. Enjoy…

Respect the Skiers (and Boarders!) Code

Even on the quietest days (and we get some fantastic empty pistes here in the Grand Massif!), you should always behave in a way that shows consideration to other users of the mountain. There are a number of practices that you can and should observe to make the mountain a safer place for you and everybody else.

  • Control your speed – you should always be in control of your speed and be in a position to stop or turn if necessary.
  • People down the mountain have right of way – skiing downhill means looking downhill and for that reason people below you/in front of you have right of way (regardless of how slow or erratic their turns are!).
  • Do not obstruct the piste – when stopped, you should not obstruct the piste, nor should you stop anywhere where you may not be easily seen (e.g. under the crest of a hill).
  • Look above before moving off – if you have stopped, you should check uphill before setting off again and give way to any traffic above.
  • Avoid loose equipment – devices to stop runaway equipment should be used wherever possible. Ski bindings typically have these fitted as standard but snowboard leashes are recommended.
  • Observe warnings and closures – piste closures tend to be for good reasons (e.g. avalanche risk, piste bashing) so signs, restrictions and warnings should be observed.
  • Know how to use the lifts – be sure that you know how to get on, ride and dismount the lift types that you are likely to use. Techniques differ on some lifts for boarders and skiers (e.g. drag lifts) and you should be familiar with the relevant lift techniques. The lift staff are pretty willing to offer help or advice if you need it.

Ski safely

Respect Others… Whatever they have strapped to their feet!

The differing styles of boarders and skiers is the source of much debate. We often hear complaints about those ‘nuisance boarders’ and we also hear frustrations towards ‘inconsiderate skiers’. In reality a bit of understanding about each discipline can improve tolerance and ultimately safety on the mountain.

Here are a couple of tips:

Be aware of the scary snowboard noises

Snowboards can make a real racket as they scrape down the piste. Given the size and shape of the board, the noise is far louder to those below it than it seems to the rider. It can be pretty intimidating to hear this noise coming up behind you and is often the cause of tension that results in inconsistent or erratic turning by those downhill.

Give a little more distance if you are passing somebody on a board especially if it’s a hard and particularly noisy piste.

Keep the lift exits clear

Snowboarders are particularly vulnerable at slow speeds. Skiers can side step or skate to propel themselves at low speeds whilst boarders, with both feet fixed in position, risk falling over if the board is anything but flat.

With one foot released from the snowboard binding (e.g. when joining or exiting a lift), boarders have even less control. Worse still, as board bindings don’t release the boot under pressure like ski bindings, boarders are extremely exposed to knee injuries when exiting lifts.

Congregating at lift exits can leave boarders with insufficient space to turn or stop in what is already a tricky situation. Rather than hitting the deck and risking a twisted knee, the preferred option may be a low speed collision with a group of stationary skiers.

Keeping lift exits clear will help everybody!

Sitting around with consideration

Boarders can’t always stand very easily when stopping for a breather on the pistes and kneeling or sitting can often be the only way to rest whilst waiting for a group to catch up. Having boarders ‘just sitting around’ can seem a real nuisance for skiers and other boarders, especially if they spread out whilst seemingly lounging around.

The tip here is to make sure that you keep to the sides of the pistes when stopping on a board recognising that you’re less visible sitting or kneeling than a skier standing on the piste.

Secondly, please congregate tightly taking as little space as practical rather than spreading out across and/or up and down the piste.

Our Incredible Season Continues

This season has truly been an amazing one with snow depths that we haven’t seen in years (there’s 460cm at 2500m as I write this!) Bookings have been very good this season and we are continuing to fill the last few remaining places. Why not take a look at our Samoëns accommodation here.

Until next time…

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