WHAT IS THE OFF-PISTE MODULE?
THE OFF-PISTE MODULE.
WHAT DOES IT INVOLVE
AND IS IT RIGHT FOR YOU?
We get a lot of people who come to Verbier to take the BASI Level 1 and Level 2.
But whilst the qualifications are brilliant targets and give you a sense of real achievement, some trainees want to move their focus elsewhere and work on their technique outside of the exam criteria as well as learn more about off-piste safety.
That’s where the alternative Off-piste module comes in.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
First of all, the module isn’t available on all courses – in 2022/23 it’s currently only an option for trainees joining our January course.
But the course follows the normal format until you have taken the BASI Level 1 exam.
After that, instead of focussing on your BASI 2, you can follow a different pathway and explore more.
You will begin to learn more about off-piste technique and mountain safety, and at the end of the course you will take the BASI Level 3 Mountain Safety exam.
Usually this means the course has two weeks of training then the BASI 1 exam, followed by two weeks of technical development, a week of shadowing and then three weeks of pure off-piste training with ski touring.
WHAT DOES THE TRAINING LOOK LIKE?
The plan after your Level one exam is two weeks of technical coaching to prepare you for the off-piste part of the course. This will including bumps, perhaps freestyle and race training.
Then you will need to do a week of shadowing – this is a requirement for the BASI 1 and the BASI Mountain Safety Exam exam.
After that we move into off-piste skiing and mountain safety training.
Finally you finish the course with the BASI Mountain Safety exam – this is normally a part of the BASI Level 3 but BASI are happy for us to run it for our trainees as they will have been specifically prepared for the exam.
The off-piste course is an opportunity to learn more about avalanche safety, develop off-piste skills and knowledge whilst exploring the phenomenal Verbier terrain.
We will also cover ski touring to enable to trainees to explore further. You will need ski touring equipment for the exam and a lot of the training, so it’s really worth having our own kit.
The training is designed to help trainees develop as off-piste skiers whilst they also develop the skills and safety aspects of the backcountry.
This includes learning about avalanche forecasts, map work, learning about assessing slopes, digging snow pits to examine layers in the snow pack and, of course, becoming proficient with avalanche transceivers and organising searches.
IS IT EASIER THAN THE LEVEL 2 OPTION?
It’s not really easier – or harder – it’s just different.
You certainly need to be a strong all-round skier as, during the off-piste elements of the course, you will be skiing variable snow conditions that can be pretty challenging.
The technical goals are the same – after all good skiing is good skiing, with or without exams…
The off-piste exam is very much about your knowledge and understanding of off-piste safety and navigation – you just need good technique to get around…
Crucially though this section of the course does require off-piste equipment – so you would need an off-piste set of skis (almost certainly with touring bindings) as well as the off-piste equipment like a transceiver and probe.
This can be rented or we can advise you on what to buy.
DO I HAVE TO DECIDE NOW?
We ask trainees to make to decision when they book their course – that way we can plan the training schedules and know who is going forwards to Level 2 exams as well as who isn’t.
It’s not impossible to swap places with another trainee after you have started the course, but it’s best to commit when you book, as places are limited and it’s not always possible to change after the course starts.
WANT TO FIND OUT MORE?
If you like the idea of the Off-piste Module then just get in touch.
We’d be very happy to talk about the options and discuss if it’s the right option for you.