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Tarantaise resort with the most patrolled ‘itineraries’.

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
So a relatively low angle slope coupled with a ‘low risk’ day means relative safety even for a family of dumb (experience in mountains) Aussies who spend under 20 days anywhere near snow each year?

I suppose if the factors are anything different to the above (you want ski the steeper sections) then hiring a pro guide is the way to go.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
sbooker wrote:
So a relatively low angle slope coupled with a ‘low risk’ day means relative safety even for a family of dumb (experience in mountains) Aussies who spend under 20 days anywhere near snow each year?

I suppose if the factors are anything different to the above (you want ski the steeper sections) then hiring a pro guide is the way to go.

Sorry if it sounds a bit harsh but if you are asking the question then you probably need to do some learning and/or use a guide. For me the thing about using a guide is you won't necessarily learn much. If you tell them that you want to learn how to assess risk, assess terrain and how to find the best snow them will spend the time to do that. But that will be detrimental to going out and just having a good time on the slopes. And, on the one hand the wife and kids might find it tiresome, although on the other hand they might find it interesting and enlightening. Whenever I've used a guide (which is 3 times) it's all been about finding the best snow and slopes. I did a weeks ski touring with a guide which was probably more educational.

But anyway there is a lot you can learn online or from books, regardless... which you can then put into practice.

Another thing to bear in mind is that you can have a lot of fun on slopes that are incredibly safe. So for example as I know them very well... between mont blanc and dos rond above Les Coches or off the side of Inversen in the same area. Yeah, they'll largely be skied out. But you can get a feel for the different kind of off piste conditions and there are a couple of minor hazards (like a little cliff drop off - should be easily seen but wouldn't be fatal anyhow) or short stiff pitches (that can be avoided if you wish). It's all part of the learning experience. You develop an eye for it after a while and start to develop an understanding of snow conditions and when things are good, mediocre or not worth it just by trial and error. We put a lot of emphasis on avalanches/safety but there is a lot aspect of just knowing what will be good and what won't be.

Back to the ava risk. Yes as stated above the lowest angled slopes even on generally risky days will be safe. The closer to the sweet spot statistically of slope aspect then the more the ava risk, slope aspect, etc. naturally comes into play.

Afterthought: the group/family dynamic plays a part. My missus is as good a skier as I am but more risk averse. Plus I have done a lot more reading on the subject. So I tend to take the lead. I do consult but invariably don't get much guidance! And there has now become a bit of a standing joke that... I'll ask for opinions and/or offer them an out... but in the end I/we just do it anyway. Although on occasion I've skied down off piste only to turn round and see the other three head down the piste!

Afterthought 2: Everyone loves something gnarly but when you get a good dump, it's hard to go wrong. And even though there is a lot of talk of slopes getting "skied out" in half hour it's actually surprising how easy it is to still be able to lay down some fresh tracks.

Another late night ramble...
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Layne wrote:

MMmm... that would suggest you would take yourself into terrain that could avalanche?


yes I do.
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davidof wrote:
Layne wrote:

MMmm... that would suggest you would take yourself into terrain that could avalanche?


yes I do.

It was a bit of a loaded question I admit. And I guess it's really just interpretation/subjective at base anyway. I guess what we are saying is with kids or indeed anyone who is unable or unwilling to evaluate the risks you (figuratively as someone evaluating on their behalf) would want to be play it safer. Whilst accepting that nothing is 100% guaranteed safe and that equally riskier doesn't necessarily mean high risk or unnecessary risk.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Another thought on the guide thing. Guide's are not inherently safe. I think there is statistical and anecdotal evidence that they build up a sense of invincibility and/or a need to deliver for their clients. I seem to recall the season before last a guide and his group getting caught about Tignes Le Lavachet and afterwards there was a lot of talk of it being a risky slope and people surprised that such an experienced guide was there.

Sorry @sbooker, for probably pulling your mind in one direction and then the other.
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@Layne,
All good. I’ve got plenty of research to do.
Should be fun while I go through the tedious wait of being on snow again.
(Which by the way is in about 6 weeks time - albeit the gnarly terrain and epic snowfall of the Australian Alps). Laughing
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Layne wrote:
I seem to recall the season before last a guide and his group getting caught about Tignes Le Lavachet and afterwards there was a lot of talk of it being a risky slope and people surprised that such an experienced guide was there.



he was a ski instructor, but a very experienced local one. It is hard to judge pros, they've got to go out or they won't eat and there are not enough relatively safe days in the average season to make a living out of guiding / off piste if you don't. Pros feature all too regularly in the statistics.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
^ Being there at the time I remember a lot of comment regarding this incident. A lot of it was misinformed and some was blatantly disrespectful (including comments from associates of a British Ski School). After a suitable time for grieving had passed I asked some of the local off piste community about their views and the overall conclusion was it was one of those things and could have happened to any of them on that day and in those conditions.
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
davidof wrote:
Layne wrote:
I seem to recall the season before last a guide and his group getting caught about Tignes Le Lavachet and afterwards there was a lot of talk of it being a risky slope and people surprised that such an experienced guide was there.



he was a ski instructor, but a very experienced local one. It is hard to judge pros, they've got to go out or they won't eat and there are not enough relatively safe days in the average season to make a living out of guiding / off piste if you don't.

Not sure if I agree with that. There aren't many days when nothing is safe and they have to give up their fee. And surely the vast majority of clients are paying in part exactly for the guide or instructors knowledge to keep them safe. There may be a small number of clients who push them to take more risks but if you the job is only viable by putting your life at risk then...

davidof wrote:
Pros feature all too regularly in the statistics.

So I guess there are a few factors aren't there. #1 is that there are doing it day in day out through the whole season. Everything else being equal they are statistically for more likely that a two week punter like me! But I think the bigger factor is familiarity breeds contempt. It's understandable.

HAT ponders 4 heuristic traps:

#1 Over-commitment to a goal:. Knowing when to turn back no matter how far you've hiked out is the key factor. If it's taking longer than you thought, or if the weather looks like it could turn, don't just press on because you feel you have to. "Pursuing a goal because of timing issues, such as approaching darkness, or other constraints, which they gave precedence".

#2 Familiarity with the terrain: "This is another shortcut that again saved skiers going through the time-consuming process of assessing the risk, on the grounds that if they had done it several times before it must be okay."

#3 Scarcity: You're on holiday for a week, and it has just had the snowfall of the season, but just because the opportunity doesn't arise often, it doesn't mean you should ignore warning signs. "[Great conditions] would lead skiers to throw caution to the wind", says Schneiwind.

#4 Social proof: Just because someone has hiked or skied a line before, doesn't mean the route is safe. "Seeing that other people had done a run, with its very limited value in reducing risk, is probably the greatest danger."

I think #2 applies particularly to instructors/guides.
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Ski the Net with snowHeads
chocksaway wrote:
^ Being there at the time I remember a lot of comment regarding this incident. A lot of it was misinformed and some was blatantly disrespectful (including comments from associates of a British Ski School). After a suitable time for grieving had passed I asked some of the local off piste community about their views and the overall conclusion was it was one of those things and could have happened to any of them on that day and in those conditions.

Let me be clear my bringing up of the Lavachet incident was merely an illustration that guides are not magic men or woman that can guarantee safe passage. It wasn't to disrespect the profession or individuals.

That said here is davidof's report written on the day of the tragedy
http://pistehors.com/24783257/serious-avalanche-at-tignes

This seems to concur with other reports and undoubtedly raises questions and not just ones in hindsight.

Anyone as I say it was just an example to build into the equation... an offset to the often stated "get yourself a guide". Guides offer a great service and I wouldn't/don't have a problem using them but I think skiing without one can work pretty well too.
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
@Layne, I hope I did not give the impression that I thought you were being disrespectful, I was referring to certain other people at the time, who frankly should have known better.

In the end the mountain is always right - a bit like the weather.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
I'm going back 40+ years . . . but at that time on a couple of quite serious summer romps around BsM, our guide said that all the GR map routes are avalanche cleared and patrolled in winter as part of the Gendamerie training area. OK, that's a bit out of date, but Bourg still has a training garrison so contact the local guides and or the Gendamerie and find out if any of the GR tracks are patrolled or AV cleared.

As an addendum guys, don't let yer GF or significant other skier past a platoon of stripped down gendarmes skinning up the Haute-Savoie. . . Unless you like feeling completely inadequate Sad
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
@Masque, The Garrison at BSM closed about 4 years ago - its now a demolition site (its demise plunged BSM into recession). There is still a small site in Tignes 1800 where other battallions of Chasseurs Alpins come for training on a temporary basis (as I understand it), so you can still feel inadequate when they hurtle past (uphill) carrying their own body weight.

I have never seen avi control on the GR that comes over the Col du Palet where I go touring regularly.
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