The mountains are an amazing place to have a holiday. In order that we can preserve the environment as much as possible, here are a few important rules to think about:
Equipment • Ski lifts
Protecting the environment • 10 rules
Accidents • Le freeride
Don’t worry – there is no lack of oxygen in our ski resorts! However the altitude can still affect us; the higher we get the air pressure decreases (note: it takes water longer to boil and you can never get a good cup of tea!!); and it can sometimes result in ear problems in very young children. Please ask the advice of a professional if you are planning on taking children under 12 months to high-altitude resorts; or on taking them up the mountain in a cable car.
Please also think carefully about how you dress your children for the mountains. The temperature can drop by 1°C every 200m. For example if your appartment in Vaujany is at 1250m where the temperature is +4°C, it could reach -6°C at 3000m, not accounting for windchill.
Obviously the temperatures varie with both altitude and wind. For example with a wind of 30km/hr the temperature can feel like -14°C whereas the air is only at 0°C. Frostbite can happen after a long exposure to freezing temperatures; however the first signs of frostbite are invisible and without pain. Wearing boots that are too tight and slightly damp doesn’t help; or indeed anything that prevents good blood circulation.
To help prevent exposure to frostbite remember to dry your inner boots each night (take them completely out of your boots); and wear suitable clothing to protect yourselves from the cold, the wind and the damp (a decent waterproof and windproof outer layer). Remember to eat well (more calories than usual !) and don’t forget to keep well hydrated with both cold and hot drinks. Drink alcohol in moderation (remember it can rapidly lower your body temperature in already cold conditions). Finally don’t forget to keep checking your extremities for signs of cold (noses, ears and toes are particularly susceptible!)
The higher the altitude the stronger the sun’s rays. If we compare it to being at sea-level (much of the UK!) the intensity of the sun is 1.5 times stronger at 2000m at 2 times stronger at 3000m. Also the snow is an excellent reflector of the sun’s rays too – don’t think that just because it is cloudy or foggy you won’t get sunburnt. We are very good at forgetting about the strength of the sun when we are skiing in freezing temperatures.
To avoid sunburn, remember to apply suncream before you leave your accommodation, and think about reapplying it during your day on the mountain. Also lip balm (with a sun protection index higher than 25) is highly recommended (even for the boys!). Good sunglasses (catergory 3 or 4) or goggles are a necessity.
For your safety, your equipment, whether old or brand new, must be in good condition, and suitably adapted for you personally. The bindings on your skis need to be set to a level which corresponds to both your weight and ability; they don’t need to be too loose that you pop out of them at every turn; but equally if you do have a fall you need your skis to come off to reduce the risk of knee injuries. We highly recommend that you have your skis checked by a professional ski-man before you hit the slopes.
In terms of equipment in general take the advice of the professionals. Particularly as there are new innovations all the time in skis, boots and snowboards. Before choosing your equipment think about the following :
WHAT IS MY LEVEL?
(Don’t overestimate your ability – there is no point hiring equipment that is too advanced, you run the risk of not being able to use it!)
WHERE DO I GO?
100% on piste
80% on piste – 20% off-piste
50% on piste – 50% off-piste
20% on piste – 80% off-piste
WHAT IS MY STYLE?
Mostly slow (blues and easy reds)
I like perfect turns
I spend most of my time in the snowparks
I go everywhere and try anything
WHAT IS MY BUDGET?
Helmets are not yet compulsory, but are highly recommended.
TÉLÉSKI – DRAG LIFT/BUTTON LIFT
1. Hold your poles in one hand and take the drag lift in the other.
2. Keep straight (don’t zig-zag – you risk derailing the cable!) and keep hold of the drag lift to the top.
3. If you fall over, let go of the drag lift immediately and move yourself to one side as fast as possible. You cannot get back on a moving drag lift, you need to ski down and start again.
4. At the top, let go of the drag lift as indicated, (if you hold on for too long the drag lift will automatically stop).
5. Ski away from the arrival zone as safely and quickly as possible.
TÉLÉSIÈGE – CHAIRLIFT
1. Put your rucsac in front of you (it could cause you to fall forward off the chair, or it could get caught on the cahir when you try to get off).
2. If you don’t get through the gates quickly enough, let one chair go in front of you and get the next one.
3. Let the chair come up behind you and simply sit down as it arrives. Once on the chair pull down the bar as quickly and safely as possible.
4. Never jump off a chair, even if it stops, just wait for instructions.
5. At the top, move the bar up when indicated, and prepare yourself to stand up and ski carefully away from the chair.
Protecting the environment
Unfortunately there is more and more litter in the mountains, because, unlike in our cities, noone comes to collect it! Please make every effort not to drop anything from a chairlift and take care when taking something out of your pocket – it is easy to drop a glove, a ski pole, a mobile phone, a tissue, etc.., and often it is impossible to retrieve them. Just be careful!
10 Rules of Good Conduct on the Mountain
1. Respect For Others.
All skiers/snowboarders must conduct themselves in such a way that they do not put others in danger, this includes both their behaviour and the use of their equipment.
2. Control Your Speed and Adapt Your Behaviour.
All skiers/snowboarders must adapt their speed and behaviour to their personal capabilities as well as to the general conditions, the weather, the snow conditions and the amount of people on the pistes.
3. Control Your Trajectory.
Skiers/snowboarders who are higher up the piste must give way to those below them. If you are above another skier/snowboarder, it is up to you to choose or change your trajectory in such a way that you do not endanger skiers below you.
Overtaking may take place uphill/downhill, to the left/to the right – but must always take place where there is sufficient space to anticipate the trajectory of the overtaken skier/snowboarder.
5. Starting to Ski or Crossing a Piste
All skiers/snowboarders starting to ski after stopping, turning onto a piste, or crossing a piste must check uphill and downhill before continuing.
Unless absolutely necessary everyone must avoid stopping in the middle of a piste, particularly in a narrow section or areas of restricted visibility (round a bend; or just over a rise in the piste). In the case of a fall, you must try to clear the piste as quickly as possible.
7. Ascending or Descending on foot.
All skiers/snowboarders cimbing up or going down a piste on foot must keep to the side of the piste, or preferably off-piste if conditions allow.
8. Respect for Information
All skiers/snowboarders must respect all signs and warnings with respect to weather, the state of the pistes and the snow conditions.
9. Giving Assistance in the Case of an Accident.
All skiers/snowboarders must offer assistance in the case of an accident. If you are the first on the scene of an accident you must stop and help.
10. Identify yourself in the Case of an Accident.
Any person who is involved in an accident or witness to it must identify themselves to piste security.
Accidents can and will happen. Make sure you have the right insurance before you come on holiday.Paying for a rescue is expensive!
What to do if you are witness to an accident:
1. Protect the victim(s) of the accident, to avoid further accidents – Plant your skis in a cross formation above the accident itself to warn oncoming skiers.
2. Call the piste security (the number is on the piste map – think about saving it in your phone before you go skiing) – tell them on which piste you are and if possible between which piste markers, explain briefly what has happened and what the problems are and how many people are involved.
3. Make sure the victim isn’t getting cold whilst waiting – however DO NOT move anyone who may have a fracture or has a back or neck problem.
Freeride / Be vigilant!
As soon as you leave a marked piste you are entering the unknown. The snow has not been prepared by a piste basher, there are no piste markers and it is easy to become disorientated, and piste security and any chance of rescue can be a long way away. The first piece of advice is to go off-piste with a qualified guide. If you decide to go without a guide, the following may help save you.
1. Never go alone – but also choose the right people to go with. Everyone needs to be capable.
2. Make sure everyone has a DVA, a shovel and a probe; and that they know how to use them. Take a lesson in how to use the equipment and practice!
Remember: a DVA can’t protect you from an avalanche!
3. Make sure you know where you are going.
4. Tell someone where you are going, and approximately how long you expect it to take.
5. Don’t head off-piste too late in the day – remember piste security don’t work at night!
6. Study the weather conditions.
7. Never follow tracks if you don’t know where they lead!
8. For your safety – come and see us.
Avalanche warning flags:
YELLOW: low risk of avalanche (but never no risk).
YELLOW & BLACK: significant risk of avalanche.
BLACK: high risk of avalanche.