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Off Piste "level" guide

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I have put together an What's My Off-Piste Level Guide that is meant to compliment and work in conjunction with our established What's my Level Guide

Any comments would be gladly received to help tweak things... snowHead
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Not sure if the wording is intentional but I find it harder to get up in deep snow on flat terrain than on steep terrain Embarassed


Last edited by Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person on Wed 4-09-19 17:29; edited 1 time in total
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All levels of off piste skier, except aspirers, must have some level of competence in search and rescue techniques and mountaincraft knowledge. That may be from a single search within 15 mins on the flat and can understand an avalanche bulletin for an intermediate to a multiple search on a steep slope with extensive snowpack knowledge for the top level.
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@Arno, fair point me too !! might have to amend that one ...
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This might be useful:

https://www.eagleskiclub.org.uk/tours/tour-grading
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@altis, thanks, I used to be an Eagles club member and completely forgot they had guidelines... will have a look cheers
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Would be helpful if everyone used the same grading system too Wink
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@altis, yeah I hear you on that but our general level guide is pretty well established, suited to what we teach and more detailed than most others out there, plus and our clients understand and relate to it Wink

The Eagles stuff for instance has mountaineering and touring elements that aren't really applicable to the type of things we do.. SCGB has a certain slant for fresh track holidays, other schools talk about backcountry etc..
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@chocksaway, will have a think about that... I was planning on putting equipment requirements and training within course content rather than as part of the levels guide but you make a good point..
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@chocksaway, not necessarily, if they had done the majority of their skiing in North America then they could be extremely competent in a wide variety of snow conditions but never had to think about avalanches
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I would be level 8 developer, while I have skied deep snow red/black, obstacles are not my forte, I tend to cringe with narrow gullys and jumps,
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@rambotion, and therefore not fit to ski off piste in any off piste area out of the US.
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I think that the Eagle grading system is more appropriate. I don't think that putting touring and mountain-craft in with skiing ability is helpful. It depends what you are trying to get from the grading though? Eg. I could ski down most things, on-or-off-piste, but I don't know much about snow stability or search and rescue techniques. Likewise, I have never done any touring/skinning. I like the sound of touring and love skiing away from marked pistes but I've always limited my excursions because of the risks associated with getting in to difficulty in remote places (and not having the knowledge and/or skills to get help).
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
A bit too much conflation of skills, fitness and other physical limitations e.g. you could be a confident skier in all terrain & surface conditions yet still suffer in poor vis. Plus probably not specific enough on ability in really shiity conditions e.g. proper breakable crust means you need to be a bit of a rockstar or on a snowboard to ski it well.

Generally though seems about right assuming you are targetting it at earn your turns types.
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Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
A bit too much conflation of skills, fitness and other physical limitations e.g. you could be a confident skier in all terrain & surface conditions yet still suffer in poor vis. Plus probably not specific enough on ability in really shiity conditions e.g. proper breakable crust means you need to be a bit of a rockstar or on a snowboard to ski it well.

Agree on the conflating of skills, fitness and knowledge.

Some may have the skill but not the fitness. Others may have both but not the mountain craft knowledge.

What exactly is the intended purpose of the guide? For group of student in a off-piste clinic? Or for weeding out skiers who can handle an off-piste day?

Or this?
Quote:

Generally though seems about right assuming you are targetting it at earn your turns types
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
chocksaway wrote:
@rambotion, and therefore not fit to ski off piste in any off piste area out of the US.


There are plenty of other places where lift served, patrolled and controlled are available.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
sbooker wrote:
chocksaway wrote:
@rambotion, and therefore not fit to ski off piste in any off piste area out of the US.


There are plenty of other places where lift served, patrolled and controlled are available.


Well ok Canada, maybe Oz (dunno there). But not really in Yurp. I know ski routes and all that jazz but they are usually skied out and skier packed ( or not open on a big day) so while technically off piste you'd feel shortchanged on a lesson that only went there.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Looks good to me.

I’d put myself in the developer group, and would say “may struggle to make consistent and even turns in deep snow or heavy/sticky snow conditions.”

Probably I’d include something about trees and being confident skiing in well spaced or tightly spaced trees, ability to turn when needed. Again a developer or below may struggle in more tricky snow conditions.

Shouldn’t there be one more group that is expert or professional at everything?
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@skimottaret, I think it's probably helpful for your target audience, but if I put my critical hat on, I think you may be trying to capture too many variables?

Maybe this comes under the conflation points above...
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@under a new name, (and others) you could be right on trying to be achieve too many things. but.... fitness and ability to recover after a crash for instance are quite important in setting groups and suitability to courses..similar situation with knowledge and experience with rescue equipment...

will work on an amendment and post up..
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skimottaret wrote:
@under a new name, (and others) you could be right on trying to be achieve too many things. but.... fitness and ability to recover after a crash for instance are quite important in setting groups and suitability to courses..similar situation with knowledge and experience with rescue equipment...

OK, so it's for grouping of students into courses.

Fitness is more important in a course because students are expected to push a bit beyond their normal comfort zone. So they will be more tired than just skiing around (even following a guide) for a day. And of course, they'll probably crash a few more times during the course, whilst in a normal day of skiing, a competent skier may not crash even once.

The combination requirement of skills & fitness can actually be justified. I'm not sure about the knowledge part. But then, I'm one who's deficient in mountain craft knowledge.
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Off - Piste Skiing Levels rev 2
===
Please use these guidelines in conjunction with our “What’s My Level” guide to determine which Courses are most suitable for you.
===
Aspirer - Confident level 7 and higher skiers who are willing to venture into un-groomed snow on slopes offering a swift re-entry to pisted conditions.

Limited off-piste experience, from none to a few days with a desire to improve while skiing tougher conditions such as icy slopes, steeps, bumps and chopped up snow. Relatively fit with the attitude and aptitude to progress.

Improver - Level 8 and higher skiers with at least a weeks experience skiing moderate off-piste slopes (blue-red) confidently and comfortably.

Able to link multiple turns in light, above boot height, powder snow on a uniform base. Able to manage easy untracked terrain without obstacles in good chalky snow. May struggle to link turns in poor lighting or variable snow conditions. Has the fitness to ski off piste for a few hours and can get up unassisted after a fall in deep snow.

Developer - Level 8 and higher skiers who confidently enjoy skiing off piste on steeper slopes (red-black) away from pistes

Will have several weeks spent skiing off-piste terrain and has had training on the use of avalanche safety equipment. Skis confidently and enjoys powder, able to ski with consistent speed and turn shape in all but the most challenging conditions. Able to handle a variety of conditions including lightly crusted and wind affected snow. Possibly skied with guides and may have ski toured. Has the fitness to ski off piste all day and would be happy to skin uphill on easy gradients for up to an hour at a time and can get up unassisted after a fall in deep snow.

Explorer - Level 9 and higher skiers who are confidently able to ski steeper slopes (steep red+) off-piste in all types of snow including breakable crust.

Able to control speed and follow a precise line in restricted terrain with obstacles (rocks, trees, couloirs). Flat light may not pose too much of a problem for this skier. A basic understanding of snow stability, mountain craft, search & rescue techniques and the fundamentals of how to ski safely in mountain terrain. Will probably have some experience of backcountry skiing and touring. Has the fitness to ski off piste all day, would be happy to skin uphill for a few hours on terrain that would require kick turns and is able get up unassisted after a fall in deep snow in difficult terrain.

Expert - Level 10 and higher skiers who can handle most skiable off piste terrain, with obstacles, in the widest variety of difficult snow conditions in a controlled, confident manner.

Considerably experienced in skiing off piste in many ski areas and resorts over several years and throughout the ski season and in all types of snow. Excellent knowledge of mountain craft and how to ski safely in mountain terrain. Will probably have some experience of touring. Skis with fluidity and confidence in almost any condition. Actively seeks challenging terrain and snow. Flat light may not pose too much of a problem for this skier. Can safely and confidently negotiate any conditions they may encounter including breakable crust and deep snow.
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I'd like to think I could self-rate myself as 10, but then I read this...

skimottaret wrote:
. Actively seeks challenging terrain and snow. .


...and I think "no, just give me the light powder all day long!" Laughing
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@horizon, Laughing
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@horizon, Laughing
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Like it, any video coming?
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
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Quote:

fitness and ability to recover after a crash for instance are quite important in setting groups and suitability to courses


exceptionally good point, yes, very much see what you mean!
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@skimottaret, Like it.
I see too many disparate characteristics falling within a single ranking. Three basic characteristics assessed to see where a skier falls:
1) Skiing ability
2) Mountain safety competence
3) Fitness level

A horribly unfit, totally expert off-piste skier who has always been led around the mountain by a non-communicative pro is impossible to place in this guide.

One could strip out the fitness level entirely as an assessment characteristic. If you are not fit, then your skiing ability will reflect this so just rank against your 1) skiing ability scale... Aspirer, Improver, Developer, Explorer, Expert

Then, rate experience, knowledge and competence in mountain safety as the other arm of what makes someone a decent and safe back-country skier who can lead a group out and back safely - so an UIAGM, say, would be top of that scale and someone who’d never troubled themselves with an avalanche course at the other end of the scale. The 2) Mountain safety competence could signalled as Student / Experienced / Pro.

Eg1: the Expert who is a great skier and has always been led around the mountains by a professional like a sheep but never had to make a decision on the mountain is an Expert-Student, whereas an UIAGM could be at Explorer-level skiing-wise (they are not all skiing gods) but a definite Pro for travelling around the mountains - an Explorer-Pro.

An interesting exercise!
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Quote:
And that, in a nutshell, is the reason I'm not going to try any more off-piste. Wish I'd started earlier. Sad
I meant fitness and ability to get up after a crash.


Last edited by You know it makes sense. on Thu 5-09-19 19:12; edited 1 time in total
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@skimottaret, that's better. Must digest properly.

Not sure about the flat light thing Happy I won't ski in flat light if I can avoid it, neither will many/most of my buds, some of whom ski pretty well.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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That said, skiing tummy deep heli powder in totally flat light, as long as you can stay upright, is not an issue.
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^ ^ sorry, got in a muddle posting
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I was doing well until fitness was mentioned Embarassed
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Is this a "level" for people to feel good at themselves?

If I read it as a guide for student choosing the level of off-piste classes, I think the guide is reasonable to lump fitness in with skill. But then I'm a bit confused as to the level of "Expert". Would such "expert" be taking any courses, especially general purpose courses?

If this is for guiding group, I agree with @Grinning, that skill/fitness/knowledge should be ranked separately. Throwing touring/skinning into the mix confuses the heck out of most off-piste skiers.

I can ski a lot of challenging terrain and tricky snow up to the Explorer level. But although I've skinned a bit, my SKINNING technique (or rather, muscles used for skinning) needs more practice. I can do kick turns fluidly. But if I had to do many hour of it, it will get progressively less fluid. Sad

So, unless this guide is really about skiers taking courses learning to ultimately go touring, I too have trouble understanding the co-mingling of abilities.

But for those who see the "level" as a ego boosting guide, I see no reason to not just focus only on the aspect best suit you snowHead
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As someone sitting somewhere around the improver level, one issue could be the opportunity to ski in good snow. I've done a bit more than 2 weeks' off piste skiing in the past 3 years, and only had a couple of days with significant fresh snow - even that wouldn't be described as light or chalky. The bulk has been old, refrozen, compacted crud and concrete. I suspect this isn't hugely unusual. I definitely don't handle bad snow well, but I also don't know if I can link turns smoothly in decent powder.
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mgrolf wrote:
As someone sitting somewhere around the improver level, one issue could be the opportunity to ski in good snow. I've done a bit more than 2 weeks' off piste skiing in the past 3 years, and only had a couple of days with significant fresh snow - even that wouldn't be described as light or chalky. The bulk has been old, refrozen, compacted crud and concrete. I suspect this isn't hugely unusual. I definitely don't handle bad snow well, but I also don't know if I can link turns smoothly in decent powder.


I resemble that remark....
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@horizon, have removed the "and snow" bit snowHead

Kitenski video would be great but would take me days and days to compile and/or getting releases from everyone so probably not...

made a few tweaks and have added an extra "expert" category, similar to our 13 levels guides this is to show that there are levels of off piste well beyond where we teach and there is always further to go. Guide/FreeRider or similar would be beyond Expert..

Rev 2 is up on our site along with the original for reference.

As all skiing level guides this is about identifying on the skiing spectrum roughly where you are at and isn't meant to be an exact binary bullseye but rather a fuzzy set guidelines to assist you in selecting appropriate courses. We don't hand out badges after an exam Wink
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"Flat light may not pose too much of a problem for this skier".

This reads to me as "may or may not" which doesn't quantify anything.

Do you mean the skier can still ski difficult terrain in flat light or is only affected marginally by flat light or is unaffected by flat light?
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DB wrote:
"Flat light may not pose too much of a problem for this skier".

This reads to me as "may or may not" which doesn't quantify anything.

Do you mean the skier can still ski difficult terrain in flat light or is only affected marginally by flat light or is unaffected by flat light?


Flat light? in other words visibility is ok but it is a bit gloomy ? or there is no visibility because you are in cloud/fog/mist ?
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good points how about

Explorer Able to control speed and follow a precise line in restricted terrain with obstacles (rocks, trees, couloirs). Has some experience skiing breakable crust and can tactically cope with poor snow and light conditions. A basic understanding of snow stability, mountain craft, search & rescue techniques and the fundamentals of how to ski safely in mountain terrain. Will probably have some experience of backcountry skiing and touring. Has the fitness to ski off piste all day, would be happy to skin uphill for a few hours on terrain that would require kick turns and is able get up unassisted after a fall in poor snow in difficult terrain.



@davidof, ok but gloomy... flat is different to none imv..
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