The Backcountry Coaching Course
New for 2020, All at Ski, Floss Cockle and Dave Meyer are introducing our Backcountry Coaching Course, a week of Off-piste Coaching and Ski Touring skills exploring the Backcountry of the Tarentaise.
Floss and Dave are two of the most experienced off-piste coaches in the Tarentaise area. With over 45 years experience between them they have a unique understanding of the off-piste opportunities available in the resorts of Ste Foy, Tignes, Val D’Isere, Les Arcs and La Rosiere/La Thuile. Dave and Floss are both BASI Level 4 Diploma instructors, the highest level in the British system and both have full French Equivalence. In addition Dave holds the International Mountain Leader Award, Floss the Mountain Leader. They both have a huge understanding of the skills required and a passion for off-piste and ski touring. There will be plenty of practical training, supplemented by theory to add to the experience. The course will also include a night in a local refuge*! This is a backcountry course not too be missed.
The course is for skiers who have experience in off-piste terrain. You may be new to ski touring or want to further your backcountry skills. With group sizes being a maximum of 6, you will all have access to individual support as well as enjoying the camaraderie experience of the group. Individual and group support will help all to improve skiing levels, and so get maximum enjoyment from the backcountry experience.
The course will include:
6 nights half board accommodation in The Auberge sur la Montagne
1 night accommodation and dinner in a backcountry refuge*
Daily transfers to resorts chosen by the coaching team
6 days ski touring instruction to include:
Avalanche awareness and training
Route planning and decision making
Touring skills and analysis
Weather awareness and navigation training
Understanding the kit required for successful ski touring
*Should the weather or conditions not allow an overnight stay in a refuge, there would be an extra night stay at the Auberge with a meal in a local restaurant included in the course cost.
The cost for the week is 1390 Euros based on a twin or double room. Limited single rooms available. Please ask for supplement cost.
Extras to budget for:
Lift passes and carte de neige
Lunch and snacks
Equipment rental if required
Flights and transfers
For more detailed information on the course instructors and accommodation please click here
Saturday – arrival pm. Welcome meeting with the Auberge team and Floss and Dave. We will ensure that you have all necessary kit for the following day. Dinner
Sunday – On our first day we will ski in Ste Foy, the closest resort to The Auberge. This is what we call a ‘shake down day’. This involves an introduction to the course, getting your ski legs back under the guidance of the coaches, familiarisation with kit and an opportunity to make any adjustments of equipment for the rest of the week.
Monday to Friday – We will explore the best Backcounty areas of the Tarentaise, learning and improving our off piste and touring skills as we go. We will choose the location and night of the refuge adventure based on the prevailing conditions and ability of the group.
Saturday – morning departure
We are delighted to offer this unique opportunity to join us on a brand new adventure. We have created an immersive 6 days learning the fundamental skills required to explore deep into the backcountry and take your off piste skiing to new heights.
You will be expertly coached by Jocelyn Cockle aka ‘Floss’ and Dave Meyer, 2 of the UK’s leading off piste coaches. They have an accumulative 45 years experience of ski instruction and are both passionate backcountry adventurers. They spend their winters delivering Off-Piste Coaching Courses and have teamed together to create this Backcountry Coaching Course offered for the first time with the Auberge…..
Backcountry skiing allows you to quickly leave the busy resort pistes behind and explore the pristine mountainscapes in the magic of winter. Days in the backcountry are always unforgettable and afford the chance to find what is otherwise often elusive untracked powder.
The course will focus on the three main pillars required to develop your skills and understanding of skiing far from the pistes.
First off your ability level and aspirations - 2 coaches means we can offer 2 groups allowing us to work with a range of experience levels with an absolute maximum of 6 clients per group.
We expect for this course that all participants will be strong on piste skiers with off piste experience. We will always tailor our coaching to our clients ability.
This course will be suitable for a range of levels from off piste skiers currently happy when terrain is gentle and snow conditions are good to more advanced off piste skiers who may have been on several off piste instructional courses and looking to move into ski touring whilst advancing their technique.
We also invite those skiers who have already done some ski touring but would like more focussed improvement of their uphill skills as well as off piste technique.
You can expect:
- An analysis of your present skiing and coaching to provide a solid foundation for improvement in your off piste technique
- We will ensure you have a solid basis of off piste technique – how we evolve our skiing to the off piste environment
- A toolbox of technical and tactical skills to cope with different snow and terrain
- Learning through experience – we will absolutely spend as much time in the backcountry as possible skiing the very best snow and lines available
You will not always be skiing in your comfort zone. We will give you the support and skills to ski well whilst being tested and ensuring that you remain safe and enjoy the course.
Ski Touring Skills
We will break down the techniques required to move uphill with confidence and efficiency.
This will include:
Understanding and developing smooth and efficient movement uphill on skis to conserve energy
Developing a transition process that you will be able to rely on even when faced with freezing conditions on a windswept col.
Develop skills to cope with steeper and firmer snow whilst moving uphill, including the use of ski crampons
Not just learn but nail kick turns and introduce a series of options to adapt to different snow conditions and terrain
We will of course cover how to look after your equipment whilst on and off the mountain, how to deal with kit issues and we can also offer advise on the myriad of equipment options available and what is most appropriate for your level and aspirations.
Planning and Safety
Well before arriving on the hill a lot goes on! We will cover what we do to information gather, how we plan a day ski touring on the mountain and what external resources we have available to ensure a successful day in the backcountry.
We want you to understand the risks of skiing off piste, what further risks we might find in the backcountry and how we manage that risk to provide a safe and fun experience whilst on the mountain. This is often seen as a black art and responsibility is often handed over to your guide.
That’s not how we see it! As a team we need to be aware of the decisions that are being made. We will create a tool box of understanding and skills for you to begin your education in avalanche awareness. You will build an understanding of terrain, slope and snow to create a clear picture of the environment that we are moving through.
We will also ensure that you have the necessary skills and importantly practice to effectively use your avalanche safety equipment through scenario based education.
That’s not all…
What makes this course very different is not only gaining the insight and cumulative knowledge of our elite backcountry coaches to develop your skills.
We have teamed with The Auberge because quite simply they offer the best location in the French Tarrentaise region for Backcountry skiing. The Auberge sur la Montagne is a spacious, catered chalet decorated in a harmonious mix of contemporary and traditional design. The large lounge, with its 200 year old wooden beams, has comfy sofas, a fully stocked bar and a huge fireplace. It has been styled in colours that reflect the local scenery – slate grey, sky blue and snowy white. Our candle-lit dining room has been decorated in tones of cool grey with contemporary bright accent colours. Complete with hot tub and sauna it complements the course superbly.
From our base for the week we can easily quickly access 4 incredible and vast ski areas, the hidden gem that is Ste Foy, the immense high altitude areas of Tignes and Val d’Isere, the linked resorts of Les Arcs and La Plagne with the magestic Bellecotte and Grand Col only accessible to ski tourers and the cross border area of La Rossiere and La Thuile where of course we can also discover the best coffee in the world!!
The Auberge also has its own fleet of vans to transport us to our starting point for the day and as you will find out they can pick us up from pretty much anywhere! This provides a flexibility to our backcountry adventures that is simply not otherwise possible. Finally the Auberge has its very own in-house ski hire with an array of touring rental equipment.
We are also offering the unique opportunity to tour to a refuge where we will spend the night in the backcountry. The Tarentaise has multiple hut options and we will take you to the best option that week given the prevailing conditions – its one of the main reasons we chose early April for this course (the huts are open!!!!). This opportunity is fully included within the course cost. This is a perfect chance to experience the awesome serenity of staying in an alpine hut after travelling under your own steam by skis through the backcountry. We will guide you in what extra equipment you will need, what to expect from your stay and hopefully instil our passion for truly getting adventurous with your skiing
Because your coaches and the Auberge have formed a unique partnership to offer this course, we have full flexibility in the night that we can head off to our refuge to maximise best snow and weather conditions. So hopefully we can wake up to blue skies and fresh powder immediately outside our door!
Training for the trip:
Fitness is paramount for this ski adventure. Good fitness will make the trip more fun and you will get more out of your week. Although the course will be tailored to the group’s ability, it is highly recommended for you to get as fit as possible before you start. You must be able to ski all day, from the first lift to the last lift, with a couple of breaks.
Getting specialist travel insurance that covers cancellation, medical and mountain rescue is highly recommended. FREEFLO, All at Ski and Dave Meyer will not be liable for injuries or accidents on the mountain. Ensure that your insurance covers you skiing off piste beyond the ski boundary with a guide or an instructor. Buying a Carte de Neige with your lift pass in resort or online is strongly recommended as it will cover any mountain rescue without payment. You can purchase the carte de Neige in resort with your lift pass for around €2 euros a day or you can purchase it on line to beat the queues for a year at http://www2.ffs.fr/carteneige Insurance information should always be carried on the mountains. Please let us know in advance of any medical history, current medication or injuries.
Ideally an all mountain ski with a ski touring binding that is 85-95cm under foot. The length of the ski shouldn’t be too long (as it makes kick turns harder) and the ski tips of the skis should be between your chin and your eyes when standing.
There are two main categories of touring bindings on the market:
1) Frame bindings
2) Pin Bindings
Diamir and Marker are the most common manufacturers of frame bindings (where you can use a regular downhill ski boot with walk mode Pin bindings and boots are lighter and easier to use for kick turns and going uphill. There have been significant advancements in these over the last few years. We highly recommend pin bindings with a lateral release such as the Salomon Shift.
Ideally skins should be a mixture of mohair and nylon and must have a nose and tail clip. The skins should cover the whole ski and be only 2mm free from the edges.
Skins should be hung to dry after use but not over extreme heat as this could damage them.
If you haven’t got your own ski touring boots you can rent them or use your downhill boots if they have a walk mode. Ski touring boots are highly recommended as they are light and have a ski touring mode.
Telescopic ski poles with a powder basket are essential.
- Wear thin light breathable layers with a Gore tex shell
- Ski Trousers should have a zip on the outside of the leg for ventilation.
- Light synthetic mid layer for the summit or a light weight down layer.
- A neck buff
For Winter Touring add warm breathable layers and a down mid layer jacket.
Light fleece type gloves for the ascent along with regular warm ski gloves.
Suncream 50+, buff, googles with good and bad weather lenses, sunglasses, light beanie, headband (optional), cap to protect you from the sun, camera, cash, insurance cards, credit card, charged telephone, spare batteries for transceiver, battery charging pack, duck tape, penknife. Helmet is optional but advised.
Ski Touring rental:
All at ski has its own ski touring kit for rental and are offering a 10% discount for kit pre booked. They also have Ortovox avalanche equipment and bag available to hire.
First Aid Kit:
Ensure that you have a small first aid kit which includes; paracetamol, ibuprofen, plasters, bandages, compeed etc, so you can deal with first aid if you have to.
Purchasing a blizzard blanket is recommended www.blizzardblanket.com
Transceiver with three antenna and multiple search victim mode is recommended, 2m probe or longer and a steel shovel.
Water bottle, flask and snacks, packed lunch:
For day tours please make sure you have a minimum of 1litre of water and a packed lunch. Nuts, dried fruit, energy bars and energy drinks for slow release energy instead of chocolate (but chocolate is always nice too!) Jelly babies for the guide.
30 litre backpack ideally a top loader which sits comfortably on your back.
Map, Compass, GPS:(optional but good to have)
A silva expedition compass and maps are optional but very good to have, especially if you want to improve on your navigation skills. (Maps: Carte de Randonnee 3633T and 3532T for Val D’Isere, Tignes and St Foy. You can purchase the maps at the Tabac in Tignes.)
Overnight stay in a mountain refuge:
Dependant on weather and abilities there may be the opportunity to stay in a overnight mountain hut for one night. This allows us to begin much earlier in the day and to have a true mountain experience. From mid march the huts are manned and provide food (evening meal and snacks).
For an overnight stay we recommend you take more snacks for the next day, spare socks, toothbrush, head torch, wet wipes, bacteria gel, thin thermals to sleep in.
Depending on conditions you will be advised which pass to get the day before the course. It may be that passes are bought on a daily basis.
Please connect with us and keep in touch on:
All at ski can be followed on Facebook and Instagram. If you do have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.
We will look forward to skiing with you and giving you the best Ski Touring Adventure possible.
Floss, Dave and the Auberge Team