Verbier is an amazing ski resort with a reputation for its off-piste terrain. In Verbier we are fortunate to have a large team of experienced and highly qualified off-piste instructors and mountain guides and they can help you to enjoy some great skiing in this famous resort. In 2014/15, changes to the law have impacted on how instructors can teach off-piste. If you are looking to book an off-piste lesson or to be guided around in Verbier, it’s important to understand these changes to the Swiss law to enable you to make the best decision on booking off-piste guiding or instruction.
Off piste law changes in force for 2014-2015
The new law regarding teaching off-piste is now much more black and white than in previous years. Please read the following steps carefully:
1. The angle of the off-piste run
Previously there were no limitations regarding the slopes that could be skied with clients. Now instructors are limited to hiking a maximum of 34 Degree slopes and skiing maximum of 39 Degree slopes.
2. What qualifications are required to take clients off-piste?
To take clients off-piste up to 39 Degrees Instructors must now be Federal qualified (top level Swiss) or hold an equivalent qualification.
Mountain Guide or Federal Qualified Instructor?
We offer you a helpful guide to choose whether you should book a UIAGM mountain guide or a Federal Qualified instructor. If you answer ‘Yes’ to any of the following then we would advise you to choose an Off-Piste Lesson or Guiding with a Federal Ski Instructor:
- I would like to improve my technique and learn how to enjoy skiing powder. I’m happy to do this on the sides of the pistes and on itinerary runs. I may or may not have avalanche equipment.
- I wish to be guided around on some gentle off-piste runs and have some tips on my skiing and learn about how to use avalanche equipment.
- I am happy to ski some gentle off-piste runs, such as Creblet and frontside of Savoleyres, I will have m avalanche equipment and I hope to ski some powder.
- I am happy to do some short walks and skinning on gentle off piste to find some fresh snow and I don’t want any tips on my skiing.
- If there is no fresh snow I am still happy to work on my technique, improve my bumps technique and also explore the itinerary runs.
- I don’t wish to ski slopes such as frontside of Mont Gele, Rocky Garden, Attelas couloirs and prefer to stay on slopes less than 39 Degrees.
- Safety equipment including Avalanche Transceiver, Shovel and Probe is compulsory when skiing off piste. I understand that if I don’t have this then I must stay on the pistes and itinerary slopes and work on technique.
- I would like to practice skinning and learn how to use the equipment on gentle slopes.
If answering ‘Yes’ to any of the following then we would advise you to choose a UIAGM Mountain Guide*:
*Please note, if you are choosing Yes to any of the below, to avoid disappointment always verify if your guide is a UIAGM High Mountain guide and not an instructor who prefers to use the title of ‘Off-Piste Guide’!
- I don’t want any tips on my skiing and wish to explore steep off-piste around Verbier, such as Backside Mont Fort, Stairway and Frontside of Mont Gele
- I wish to do some ski touring and also ski on glaciated terrain.
- I only ski with an UIAGM off-piste guide, I don’t need any tips on my skiing and I always carry an avalanche kit.
- I wish to ski tour outside of the ski area and hope to ski some steep slopes and steep narrow couloirs.
- I would like you to take me Heli-skiing.
The good news is that for the majority of clients who wish to improve their technique in off-piste conditions, or be guided around without any tips, the law will have little impact on their experience of Swiss off-piste terrain. Final thoughts for those venturing off-piste this year:
- When going off-piste always use the advised avalanche equipment, know how to use it and check that it is working correctly. (transceiver, probe, shovel all in a backpack. Airbags are recommended)
- We strongly recommend you to wear a helmet when skiing on- and off-piste.
- Never go off-piste without first getting advice from an expert.
We hope the above has been helpful and informative for yourself or your clients, and can be used positively when making a decision on the type of lessons you require when skiing in Verbier.