The Dangers of Skiing Off Piste In Europe

Jacob

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As illustrated by the Jerry of the day.


As you can see, he’s not far from the lift and there are other tracks in that area, but there are no warnings above the cliff he flies off.

Gotta scope your line before you ski it, bro.
 

fatbob

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Holds it together a bit too well in the air so it looks like its planned but the landing and the skis give it away.

Rather more soberly this:

 

Wilhelmson

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At least watch where you are going rather than looking at your selfie stick. Pretty cool video though and lucky landing surface
 

crgildart

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Sucker tracks.... Meh, he really seemed to know exactly what he was hitting.
 
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Jacob

Jacob

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Why is this called dangers in Europe?
Cliffs are dangerous in the US too.
In the US, natural hazards that are within resort boundaries are usually marked with warnings. In Europe, it’s not at all uncommon to have potentially deadly hazards right in the middle of a ski area that are completely unmarked.
 
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Jacob

Jacob

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I would like to have assessed my line anywhere.
That’s because you learned to ski in Europe. In the US, hazards within the resort boundaries are marked, so many people don’t feel the need to scope out their line to make sure it’s safe when they’re skiing inbounds.
 

AlpsSkidad

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As others have said, in Europe it's not marked. In the pic below, taken in Austria, I am standing on piste taking the photo. The ungroomed stuff a few feet away is all off piste, uncontrolled, unmarked and while you can't see it, has a large drop off behind those rocks. A little more snow and you wouldn't know of any impending hazard.

IMG_2412.jpg
 
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Jacob

Jacob

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As others have said, in Europe it's not marked. In the pic below, taken in Austria, I am standing on piste taking the photo. The ungroomed stuff a few feet away is all off piste, uncontrolled, unmarked and while you can't see it, has a large drop off behind those rocks. A little more snow and you wouldn't know of any impending hazard.

View attachment 121378
And it looks like, after the potentially deadly drop, there are marked pistes and a little village down in the valley.

Which ski area was that?
 

AlpsSkidad

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And it looks like, after the potentially deadly drop, there are marked pistes and a little village down in the valley.

Which ski area was that?
It's Kuhtai. My kids were there for a couple weeks doing racing camp. It was the quickest photo I could find to illustrate the point being made, but as the discussion points out, it could easily be almost anywhere in Europe.
 

crgildart

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IDK.. You really shouldn't ski past anything you can't see at a speed where you can't stop quickly, immediately without a spotter or at least scoping it out. Over that knoll, ya there could be a cliff.. There could also be someone on the ground hurt or any other number of hazards. Just because there isn't a sign doesn't mean you should go blasting over/around that blind spot at speed. I had one of the most painful accidents ever popping over a whale a little OB only to find a giant metal colvert in the ground that I didn't clear. And I was all by myself there with no buddy and no one at the resort could se me lying there in agony. One of the dumbest things I ever did at age 12..
 

James

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Holds it together a bit too well in the air so it looks like its planned but the landing and the skis give it away.

Rather more soberly this:

One of the incidents-
(Google translate)

Fatal fall in Verbier (VS)

In Verbier, a skiing accident claimed the life of a Swede living in the canton of Vaud on Sunday. This 46-year-old man was riding off the groomed slopes when he "clearly fell from a rock about six meters high when visibility was restricted", explains the Valais police.

The man had set off on an ungroomed route between two tracks in the "Lac des Vaux" sector. He was found approximately 80 meters below where he left the runway. Transported on a sledge, then helicoptered by Air-Glaciers to Sion hospital, the forty-year-old succumbed to his injuries in the evening.
——————————-

I’ve skied that area but not the side he was on. You’re right near the lift terminal. Last time I was there on a powder day I resisted following tracks that head off the back. It was snowing a bit and blowing, and it looked like a bad idea. Never mind I had no idea of the intimate topography. I knew where it ended up, but it’s a long way and deadly if you don’t know it. Went around the other way. At some point you have to make this little right turn. The entry to the turn required a little side stepping in rocks. As you make the turn you look over and it’s not pretty. Some serious rocks, couloirs down there. Eventually, after four runs in that spot I’m used to it, but if you went into that turn with speed because you couldn’t ski, you’d be screwed. There are no “Falaise”, Cliff, signs there per usual.
I’m pretty sure it’s the spot I marked on the photo from the article.

The thing is, you don’t see it from this angle. You see it from the other side, and everything just disappears. It’s a bad idea to go exploring with no very specific knowledge of the terrain.

The building here is the upper terminal for the lift “Funispace”, the place is Attelas
ACDD70F1-3AAD-4452-B226-E02D12858125.jpeg


View from the other side. The yellow arrow corresponds to one of those peaks above^.
The lift parallel to the top edge is Lac des Vaux 1.
B6905CE2-82D0-44FE-B062-FC4BB17A8EB0.jpeg


1653DDF3-2C44-4481-8AB5-CE9B6B8A10D9.jpeg

If you look above the lift bases you’ll see a traverse going off to the right. That’s a Route Itinéraire, shown in yellow, the Vallon d’Arbi that goes down to the town La Tsoumaz on the map. Those routes are semi controlled and gated. A few years ago 4 people were killed in an avalanche on that route, maybe two weeks after I was there. That time I didn’t ski it, conditions had been rain at that altitude and it had refrozen. Person I ski with went with a small group. One of them fell and slid a long way and had to go to a first aid clinic. One of their friends was killed in the slide a few weeks later.

The people killed in the current avalanche were on another Route Itinéraire, the Col des Gentianes. Where exactly, I can’t tell.
All these places are shown on the map of the ski area. Note in the description of the guy who fell off the rock, just past the lift terminal, that it was “outside the ski area”, but clearly on the map. That’s the big difference between North America and Europe.

AB836ADE-A987-4EB6-82D9-34DABFC1FBE4.jpeg
 
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OldJeep

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In the US, natural hazards that are within resort boundaries are usually marked with warnings. In Europe, it’s not at all uncommon to have potentially deadly hazards right in the middle of a ski area that are completely unmarked.
Been many many years, but the only marking I recall at the east rim on big mountain was a sign that said something to the effect - you might die, good luck.
 

Sibhusky

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There's a few cliff signs there now, but in the fog they could be missed. These days there's a chair there, so it shouldn't be quite so much of a surprise. Years ago someone went off a cliff in the fog, broke his back. He "thought he knew where he was".

But I've seen people jump those things while I've been riding on the chair and somehow not slam into the trees just in front of the base of it.
 

fatbob

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For the benefit of those that don't seem to be getting the title - it's pretty clear that the OP is referencing the many US skiers who ask where is the best inbounds powder skiing in Europe without thinking through what that question really entails. 8 deaths in 3 days in or near resorts and cliffs accidentally sent are part of the answer.
 
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Jacob

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Been many many years, but the only marking I recall at the east rim on big mountain was a sign that said something to the effect - you might die, good luck.
Still, it’s a warning sign that makes you aware that there’s a hazard.
 

James

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For the benefit of those that don't seem to be getting the title - it's pretty clear that the OP is referencing the many US skiers who ask where is the best inbounds powder skiing in Europe without thinking through what that question really entails.
Some have very unrealistic expectations. Like just because you’re with a guide, everything will be powder.
Last time I skied the Vallée Blanche there were two guys from Pennsylvania in the group. Conditions on piste in the valley were New Jersey like. Terrible. Up high it was mostly dense wind packed. In the first 10 minutes of skiing after the hike in, these guys were frequently skiing way outside the guide’s path, and he was very pissed.
I went over to talk to them, and the first thing they said was, “When is he going to take us to the powder fields?” As if it were a farm tour. So we had to go over that they were skiing on a glacier, people fall through snow bridges all the time, and wandering on their own path with no knowledge is a bad idea.

They ended up adjusting, were nice guys and we went to dinner together.
 
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