Saturday, December 04, 2010

Big Kids Mountain Ski Mountain Safety

I was approached by concerned parents who have children who are very good skiers, often much better than their parents. It is not long before these children want to charge off piste. They do not understand the dangers of doing this.

I was asked by parents if I would prepare a talk pointing out the risks.
So yesterday I spent the day at La Cote International School which is about 30 km out side Geneva.
My starting point was to accept that the children would want to ski off- piste and it is not my aim to stop them- but at least they should understand what they were getting into.

At the very least they will not have the excuse “Oh I didn’t know.”

Mountaineering and skiing accidents are on the increase and there is evidence that early exposure to safe practice will play a critical role in addressing this issue

I delivered a presentation to all the children in the school. I did this several times adjusting the talk for the different age groups

Piste signs and what they mean.

Avalanche warning signs . The flags and what they mean.

Difference between a Pisteur and a “lifty.” [A Pisteur is a highly trained professional. A lifty is what you become if you don’t work very hard at school.]

Reading the snow. How to tell what is safe and what is not. By the end of the talks most children understood how to identify avalanche prone slopes and where avalanches are most likely to start.

Essential equipment for skiing off piste. I brought a lot of my equipment to show the children.

What to do if it all goes wrong. How to conduct an avalanche search. In the afternoon we went out side and practiced hiding avalanche transceivers in the snow.

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