Off-piste skiing has different modalities depending on the level of expertise and the distance of the location: here we explain each one of them.
Off-piste skiing is an otherworldly experience. It is a sport that has transformed a simple day of skiing into a journey through remote mountains. All its followers love the adrenaline of going down the slopes of virgin snow in areas outside the slopes delimited by ski resorts. But the off-piste skiing, as it is also known, is not just about venturing into the mountains with a pair of skis. It is an experience that can be very dangerous if you do not have the necessary knowledge.
There are different branches of this sport that depend on the distance to the ski center and the experience it requires. Here we tell you about the best known.
Off-piste skiing, slackcountry, and sidecountry
Off-piste skiing , slackcountry and sidecountry are practiced outside the bounded slopes but close to the ski resorts. There are three modalities defined because to access the starting point it is not necessary to make hard walks with skins or special footwear. Usually, these are places that can be accessed by lifts.
Both slackcountry and sidecountry require a good level of experience because skiing in powder snow is generally more difficult than skiing on the track that has been specially prepared for skiers.
Freeriding is a style of snowboarding or skiing that is practiced in virgin snow without a defined track and without any regulation. According to the account, it was born as a counter-response to highly regulated ski competitions.
The places where freeriding is practiced are accessible from ski lifts or from points where the car is parked and you walk a few meters up and then descend.
Equipment: Freeriders can use snowshoes or walking skins, as well as special skis. Unlike those who ski near ski resorts, freeriders must carry equipment for avalanches.
Experience: you need an important level of experience since you are skiing in places with more limited access.
Backcountry Skiing, Ski Touring and Splitboarding
Backcountry skiing (United States) and ski touring (Europe) describe the same concept: skiing in remote areas away from ski resorts.
Equipment: For this modality skins are applied under the skis which makes the climb lighter compared to the trekking. It is very important to carry avalanche equipment and in necessary cases, crampons.
Experience: The level of experience required is high since it is required to explore remote areas in the mountains where there are no rescue platforms or rescue teams. It is also necessary to be in very good physical condition because the climb with all the equipment on top is not exactly easy. Even if you have experience, it is advisable to hire a certified local backcountry guide to get the most out of the routes and avoid unnecessary accidents.
Splitboarding: is the same as backcountry and ski touring with the only difference that this word is used for snowboarding and not skiing. A Splitboard is a snowboard that can be separated into two equal parts and used to ascend the slopes of the mountain.
This is the most demanding and exciting discipline of all. It mixes mountain techniques such as climbing, ice climbing and hiking through cracks with skiing. Those who practice this sport enjoy both the ascent to the mountain and the descent and requires more experience than any other modality.
Equipment: in addition to the ski touring equipment and the avalanche equipment, mountaineering equipment is required, which may include crampons, ice axes or climbing equipment.
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