Snow safety in the Portes du Soleil

There has been some absolutely fantastic conditions all across the Alps lately – thanks to the heaps and heaps of snow that just keeps on coming. Whilst this is a holiday maker’s and seasonnaire’s idea of paradise alike, heavy snow comes with associated dangers and logistical problems.

Seeing Morzine covered in a thick blanket of the white stuff is a daily reminder of what a beautiful and magical place it is to live and work in. Snow however plays havoc with the transportation of goods and people. The snow ploughs and gritters work their magic almost constantly during the peak winter months, but the need for snow chains, and careful driving is always on the mind. It also means getting up that bit earlier to make sure the vehicle is road worthy and not a snowy mess before setting off in the morning.

This however is nothing compared to the ever present danger that a mountain range covered in snow presents. Sadly there have already been multiple deaths caused by avalanches in 2016 already. Because there was very little snow for a long time, and now too much snow, there was very little base present. This means that there is nothing for the fresh snow to bind to, making the risk of avalanche very high. We have all seen that perfect untouched powder bowl with one or two tracks rhythmically snaking their way down, and thought “I want to be in that right now!”. And of course skiing in fresh snow off piste is an exhilarating experience, and can be done safely when the conditions permit.

Even if it hasn’t snowed recently, I now never head up the hill without my avalanche safety equipment. I wear my transceiver, which is acts as a beacon should I be buried in an avalanche, and also as a searching tool, in case someone else is caught up in a slide. I also take my shovel and probe out, which will help me locate and then rescue a buried skier. Next on my wish list is an air bag, which when activated releases to balloons of air which help to keep you floating near the surface of an avalanche.


Having the equipment is one thing, but knowing when it is safe to do something, and knowing how to use it are another. Ski resorts publish avalanche warnings for a reason, and this is my bible when I consider going off piste. Also the local terrain and weather play an important role, and can dictate what is safe and what isn’t. Now I know this all sounds like doom and gloom, however the rewards for skiing off piste safely are many. That feeling of gliding over fresh snow, and leaving a perfect track behind is unbeatable. I also love picking out new and exciting lines in and amongst the trees, and the intoxicating silence when you stop and are surrounded by seemingly endless forest. Ski and board safely everyone, and enjoy the gifts that the mountain provides.

Trip Advisor Simply Morzine
Atout France
Portes du Soleil
Morzine Avoriaz
Simply Morzine Multi Pass
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