Get Off-Piste with Avoriaz Alpine Ski School

Blog by Avoriaz Alpine Ski School trainee instructor George Treble (@trebleedit)
All photos copyright George Treble

Les Portes du Soleil is one of the largest and most beautiful ski areas in the world – but that’s just the lifts and pistes. This area has amazing natural beauty and is a practically unlimited mountain playground. The best way to explore and enjoy it is away from the almost theme park-like environment of the main trails and to explore the off-piste.

Avoriaz Alpine Ski School Instructors Amy Marwick (right) an Mark Mckellar (left)

For more advanced skiers and snowboarders, heading off-piste can be far more exciting, memorable and rewarding than lapping the same groomed and pre-prepared pistes. Find new areas, ski fresh powder or variable types of snow, escape to more quiet and peaceful zones and explore the mountain in its natural state. Exploring the backcountry is like heading on an adventure and can create far better and more rewarding memories.

However, there are many new dangers and challenges associated with leaving the groomed and patrolled runs and subsequently, there are new techniques, tactics, knowledge and equipment necessary to explore the off-piste safely. To address this, Avoriaz Alpine Ski School have set up a selection of off-piste introductions and coaching classes and courses.

The rewards of exploring off-piste can not only be the skiing & snowboarding but the peacefulness and beauty of the mountain environment

The Portes du Soleil ski area is vast and beautiful but the pistes and groomed trails cover only a small percentage of this huge playground. Developing your off-piste skills and safety knowledge allows you to explore far more of it

Part of being able to explore off-piste safely involves having relevant equipment and knowing how to use it, whilst not all of the above is always necessary this is a kit-list our instructors use and train with in their free time

Avoriaz Alpine Ski School is a British-run team of snowsports instructors which has been delivering lessons and guiding from the Avoriaz Plateau since 1992.

Check out these courses running this January.

Introduction to Mountain Safety and Avalanche Awareness Clinics

These 2-hour introduction sessions run regularly and target seasonaires & locals who wish to be introduced into the safety aspects of skiing and snowboarding off-piste and include tuition on the following:

  • Tips on forecasting and planning before you hit the slopes.
  • Theory on off-piste and backcountry dangers. The relevance of aspect, weather conditions and terrain shapes.
  • Snowpack analysis techniques.
  • Emergency procedures
  • Safety Equipment introduction, functions and procedures.

The first 2 hour block serves as an introduction. There are also follow on level 2 and level 3 sessions

For seasonaires and locals, 2 hour sessions are €25 each with a minimum group size of 5.


Private groups can be organised on demand, simply enquire via the website.

To find out about dates and times of courses, join the Mountain Safety Facebook group.

Access All Areas Weeks

This is a 4 day performance clinic for advanced skiers. You must be competent on black runs and have a minimum of 8-10 weeks of skiing experience and be in good physical condition.

During the course our instructors will guide you around the mountain whilst teaching mountain safety skills and avalanche awareness knowledge. Safety equipment can be provided and lessons will include tuition and practice of how it all works.

The course will also include (but is not limited to):

  • Techniques and tactics for skiing variable types of snow and terrain
  • An introduction to ski-touring equipment and techniques
  • Forecasting and planning
  • Group management
  • Snow pack analysis
  • Avalanche Bulletins
  • Navigation, line choice and route planning
  • Emergency procedures

Avoriaz Alpine Ski School Instructor Mark Mckellar using knowledge of snow conditions and the local area to find soft, reformed snow whilst off-piste in Avoriaz during the spring

Whilst much of the course will run on lift-accessed off-piste terrain, the course will include a ski touring or split boarding adventure. An introduction to ski touring equipment and skinning techniques is sure to get you well away from the crowds and have an unforgettable day exploring the untouched backcountry of the French & Swiss Alps.


22nd-26th January
5th – 9th March

Monday – Wednesday 12:15 – 16:15
Thursday  09:15 – 14:15 Minimum Group Size 4 Maximum Group Size 6

€390 per person


Enquire now on the Avoriaz Alpine Ski School website.

Women’s Specific Backcountry Ski Coaching

Sessions will be run by our instructor Amy Marwick, Black Crows and Scarpa team skier and British Freeride coach.

Avoriaz Alpine Ski School are offering sessions aimed at getting ladies off the piste and onto steeper terrain ready for the epic season ahead of us. Focusing on ski technique and tactics for a variety of snow conditions, snow safety and avalanche awareness, the sessions will enable women to explore new terrain and push their skill set in a fun and friendly environment with a female coach.

The course will take a look at the elements of freeride skiing including how to choose a line, how to link up natural features and how to make your skiing look and feel fluid and awesome!

You’ll need to be a confident red run skier and linking turns on blacks. You will need a backpack, transceiver, shovel and probe – please let us know if you don’t have this equipment and we can provide it for you.


Monday 8th 12:15 – 15:15
Tuesday 9th 12:15 – 15:15
Wednesday 10th 12:15 – 15:15

€60 per session or €160 for three sessions

Min. 4 Max. 6


Enquire now on the Avoriaz Alpine Ski School website.


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