Another beautiful Blue Bird morning and the first lift was another obvious choice. Today was a relaxed day with the Ski technicians whizzing around the resort again and the Run Technicians taking the opportunity to explore the resort on foot in some of our new Trail Shoes.
After skiing every run in the resort twice, we ended with some skiers, a snowboarder, a (just alive) beginner and some impressive goggle tan lines, and made our way into the pub, for a very happy happy-hour.
We caught up with Warren again on day 3, but this time having a go at off-piste. A few of the technicians rose to the challenge with the rest deciding to stick to the resort pistes and giving a couple of the Run technicians some guidance by sharing a few of Rob’s pointers.
A few warm-up runs in and it was time to break the fundamentals down again.
On-piste and off-piste skiing aren’t as different as people may think, as long as you, the skier, has control and understands the needs and demands of each part of the turn. However, where off-piste does differ is the exposure to more external and uncontrollable factors. The route can differ each day depending on the snow conditions and the time of day with sun exposure. If you are looking to explore off-piste beyond nipping the other-side of the piste poles, we highly recommend hiring a guide who knows their skill but more importantly who knows the resort.
We started learning about zero-speed turns, about how to submit to gravity and placing nearly 80-85% of your body weight through your pole to ‘fall’ into the next turn, leading from the upper body and the hips. Once acquired, these turns advanced into jump turns whilst also learning about touring equipment and their vital role.
Once confidence was gained in those skills we headed off down an itinerary route to Tortin where we were exposed to conditions closer to an off-piste experience without full commitment. A great way to start if you are looking to expand into off-piste. One-by-one we went down, listening to Warren as he explained to us his thought process of the route chosen whist also identifying individual factors that may be limiting us from efficient technical advancement, though it took us each a few falls, luckily in soft snow, for us to know the error of our ways.
Before long, we were traversing along from Col des Gentianes into the Highway. We were all aware of the unfortunate events that occurred a few weeks before our visit to Verbier, where lives were lost to a beastly avalanche, highlighting the importance of adequate off-piste equipment along with awareness and knowledge of off-piste skiing. Fortunately for us the conditions were reassuringly adequate if the correct approach is taken.
We started making our way down a steep Couloir that was the width of two ski lengths, putting the jump turns into good practice before descending all the way down to Tortin.
Practice makes perfect
Back up we went to hit the highway again, taking a different route and traversing further round into the cirque. Slowly but surely, the technical movements became more fluid as we felt more confident in the softer snow, using our hips to initiate the turns as we placed our body weight through the pole allowing the uphill foot to glide round through the turn.
A quick lunch stop to ease the leg cramps before we were back up and eager. Going all the way up to Mont Fort, veering off the right and going off-piste under the cable car, we followed tracks to descend down past Col des Gentianes and continued back to Tortin. At this point the quads were cramping like never before and the heart was pounding in the spring sun…but maybe another run and then we’ll call it.
Safe to say those few beers on the balcony as we watched the mountains turn from snow white to glistening golden to luminous pink as the sun set, went down a treat!