Verbier Late Season Ski Instructor Course – Week 5


This week the group was back training with European Snowsport’s secret weapon, Emma Cairns. The trainees were die to have a ‘full on’ week with 6 whole days on the snow. As week 5 is slap bang in the middle of the course it’s always an important time for the guys and girls to put in the extra hours on the hill. Not only on their individual skiing level but also to improve their teaching skills and their knowledge and demonstration of the BASI central theme. Fortunately Verbier was once again gifted with blue skies for the whole week so conditions were perfect for progression. The blazing sunshine also led to an impressive improvement in all of the trainee’s ‘professional ski-bum’ look (two words that are completely juxtaposed!) with all of them earning some serious Panada eyes (goggle marks).

Despite training being the main focus this week there’s always time to delve into the local Swiss culture and learn a little more about local specialities. A little wine tasting in a forest cottage after hard day of training was a welcome surprise for the group on As the sun began to fall behind the mountains and the light began to fade the trainees had the chance to try some White Wines from the Valais region. The classic local Fondue-wine, or ‘Fendant’, wasn’t a great hit with the team but the local ‘lady killer’, a sweet assomblage that is usually drunk quite cold, made it to the top of the ranking. Of course no wine degustation should happen without some nice cheese, dried meats and hearty bread…….so that all the senses have been satisfied!

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How very civilised

Friday marked the first day of the ‘ski safari’ a series of trips to some local ski resorts. As it was the group’s first trip outside of Verbier, Emma and Kaspar thought it only fitting that they should go to the legendary Les Grand Montets resort in the Chamonix Valley. This resort is well known for having some seriously challenging terrain, a lot of moguls in particular! Steep and bumpy might be the most fitting description of the pistes at Les Grand Montets, but this was a great opportunity for the trainees all of the trainees newly acquired skills to practice, and to get to know one oft the best resorts in the area.

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On top of the world

Grand Montet, Chamonix Valley, skiing, moguls, Peak Leaders ski course

Making light work of some of the most technical skiing in the Alps

After 5 hard days of training the trainees ended up in the Pub Mont Fort on Friday evening. ‘Most’ of the team didn’t go too crazy that night, so that they had was some energy left for a short and easy ski on Saturday, including a visit to the park where the infamous ‘Park 9’ freestyle competition was taking place. As spectators they got to see some impressive jumps, like double backflips, and were suitably inspired to work on their own freestyle skills.

The week ended with some avalanche awareness training delivered by Mountain Guide extraordinaire Martin Burrows Smith. Martin has been guiding around the Chamonix Valley for a long time and there is nobody that knows the science behind avalanches, or the local mountains, as well. While spending time with Martin the group learnt to use the essential safety equipment (transceiver, probes & shovel) effectively, as well as being given a brief understanding of how and why avalanches occur. During some off-piste skiing Martin also imparted some basic knowledge of judging avalanche danger and how to avoid dangerous situations……all very useful stuff!

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Martin showing the trainees how to use a transceiver

The last task of the day was to dig a large snowpit to analyse the different snow layers that have fallen through the winter. Although it doesn’t sound like a great deal of fun the guys really enjoyed getting stuck in… fairness they might have got a little carried away! Looking at the different layers was fascinating, the Saharan sand that had blown on to the slopes of Verbier on the back of the Sirocco wind 3 weeks ago could still be seen, as well as the critical bottom layer from December. After all their hard work the week ended with some well deserved happy hour drinks on the terrace of the Offshore Restaurant, where the trainees could show off their goggle marks to the ‘envious’ tourists.

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Now that’s what you call a snow pit!

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