All-Terrain Courses – What Do They Involve?

Phil Smith from Snoworks Ski Courses discusses what you can expect if you book on an All-Terrain Ski Course.

Oh the nightmare of organising ski holidays. Who’s coming, who will you ski with, will you be fast enough, what happens if you can’t see, it snows, you end up going onto a slope too difficult or you hit some ice? Skiing holidays are often make or break and occasionally it can be a lottery. How about going on a holiday with all your friends, learning how to cope with all the conditions, be taken to the best and most suitable slopes for your level, ski with people of the same ability and still be able to enjoy socializing with all your ski buddies? You can on a Snoworks All-Terrain Ski Course.

WHAT’S INVOLVED ON AN ALL-TERRAIN COURSE?
All-Terrain ski courses are about learning the skills that will enable you to ski different terrain with control and confidence. The courses are dependent upon your ski level and experience so the structure of each All-Terrain course varies. To give you an idea of what’s involved for what level read on.

LEVEL 3 BLUE / RED RUNS

You may have never skied a black run, or bumps let alone ventured off-piste unless by mistake. You are happy on all blues and can tackle easy reds so at this level it’s all about gaining confidence and learning the skills to get around the pistes with control. You can learn to ski reds with more confidence, learn the skills to begin tackling easy blacks, start coping with the piste as it begins to narrow or get steeper and deal with crowded slopes. You can have your first taster at mastering easy bumps and if it snows and the pistes have not been groomed by the snow cats you’ll learn how to cope with fresh snow. We’ll certainly give you the skills to cope with dreaded ice and bad visibility. You may even take your first steps into easy off-piste but that depends on how you are progressing and what the conditions are like. To begin the All-Terrain journey you will learn the skills of skiing in an environment that you are comfortable with. Click to find out more about the skills of skiing.

LEVEL 4: RED / BLACK RUNS

You tend to be more adventurous. You can ski all Reds and easy blacks but when the Blacks get steeper, icier, narrower, bumpier or the slope has not been posted from a fresh snow fall your skiing may begin to come unstuck. Welcome to the world of what we call the ‘Open Environment’. This is where the common intermediate plateau occurs and it’s to do with the snow and terrain becoming more varied. Learning to cope with the mountain as it becomes more varied is your gateway to a whole new world of skiing. You may have previously tackled a few bumps and may have even ventured off-piste a little, the desire is there. You want to start learning how to cope when the slopes or conditions get trickier so your journey into true All-Terrain begins here. You can learn to tackle all black runs with confidence, start skiing bumps and begin your journey into off-piste. You’ll be learning the skills of skiing and putting them into practice in all the different types of terrain. We’ll aim to split the week into equal measures:
• Piste skiing
• Bumps
• Steeper Terrain
• Intro to Off-Piste
You will also learn to cope with mountain issues like poor visibility and ice.
We don’t expect anyone to be an expert, at this level you are probably what we call ‘an adventurous intermediate’. A good attitude and an adventurous spirit is helpful. If you’re nervous then Red Runs (level 3) may be the place to start and begin within your comfort zone.

LEVEL 4/5: FRONTSIDE OFF-PISTE

This is the stepping stone between a skier that is happy to ski the Blacks with some off-piste but not totally competent and experienced at skiing off-piste away from the resort boundaries. We call it Frontside Off-Piste. You’ve got some experience off-piste and are happy at tackling the off-piste between runs in marked areas. At this level standing at the top of the mountain looking over the back where there are no lifts just endless off-piste, you no doubt have the desire to ski it but probably feel you need more experience and training. An All-Terrain course will help develop many of the skills you already have. We’ll aim to split the week into equal measures:
• Piste skiing
• Bumps
• Steeper Terrain
• Off-Piste
You’ll learn to be come much more experienced at dealing with the mountain as it becomes more varied and working towards being a competent off-piste skier.

LEVEL 5 BACKSIDE OFF-PISTE

You can ski most places and are are happy tackling bumps, steep slopes and off piste. You may begin to struggle when the bumps get difficult or the off-piste gets deep, heavy or you find yourself in a couloir! Level 5’s often come with us for different reasons other than to just learn:
• To ski with other skiers the same level.
• To ski off-piste in places you would not want to or do not feel is responsible to ski by yourself.
• To explore.
• To improve and cope with the conditions as they become more demanding.
We’ve found these reasons are often in equal measure. Level 5’s  get just as much buzz out of being taken somewhere ‘special’ and finding the best powder, as they do learning a new skill so the week is very much a balance of great skiing experiences as well as learning and developing.
We’ll split the All-Terrain course into equal measures to include:
• Developing skills on piste
• Bumps
• Steeper Terrain
• Off-Piste
The balance of what we ski and work on very much depends on the group and the conditions at the time. If there’s loads of fresh powder you may not want to be skiing bumps or practicing carving so we’ll build the week around the group, the conditions and the prevailing snow.

LEVEL 6: STEEP & DEEP

Level 6’s can ski everywhere competently on and off-piste whatever the conditions. Why come on a Snoworks All-Terrain Ski Course? We get hundreds of level 6’s coming with us for different reasons including:

• Skiing with other skiers of the same level
• Skiing amazing places you would not ski by yourself or did not know existed
At this level it’s more about great skiing experiences and learning through experience. We know the mountain like the back of our hand so we know where the best powder will be, the best bumps and some great couloirs. Level 6’s also enjoy learning so the course is a balance between learning new skills and developing existing ones, tweaking along with great skiing experiences. Level 6’s may still have an achilles heel. This may be when those slopes get beyond a certain pitch or the texture of the off-piste varies, or the bumps just get a little tighter than you like so there’s still lots of learning that can take place. We’ll aim to split the week into equal measures.
• Developing skills on piste
• Bumps
• Steeper Terrain
• Off-Piste
Similar to level 5’s the week depends on the group and the conditions at the time. If there’s loads of fresh powder you may not want to be skiing bumps or practicing carving so again we’ll build the week around the group, the conditions and the prevailing snow.

LEVEL 7: EXTREME OFF-PISTE

Level 7’s can literally ski all over mountain whatever the conditions, whatever the terrain. Level 7’s ski fast and have the fitness to ski all day, every day. It’s normally first lift out, last lift back. The problem is you may struggle to find people to ski with at your level. So where do you go? Snoworks All-Terrain level 7 is here. Level 7’s are few and far between so it’s difficult for you guys to meet other skiers of a similar level. Let us do it for you. We’ll get all the level 7’s together on the same week in the same resort. Voila, the recipe of an outstanding week. We don’t run level 7’s every week just on certain dates so you’ll need to check the website for details. We also have a big ‘Pro Programme’ so you may find yourself interested in joining Eurotest, Test Technique or Pro Instructor Training. We also have Level 7 Backcountry Courses and Backcountry Access Courses along with our Adventure programme.
On an All-Terrain course we’ll aim to split the week into equal measures the same as the other levels.
• Developing skills on piste
• Bumps
• Steeper Terrain
• Off-Piste
We’re also very aware for level 7’s it’s about skiing with skiers of the same level and getting great skiing experiences but Level 7’s still like to learn so it’s more about coaching at this level. We will intersperse great skiing experiences with drills and skills but we promise not a lot of standing around. We know how hungry you are to ski!

SAFETY KIT
On all All-Terrain courses appropriate safety equipment is included in the price. Level 3’s require no off-piste safety equipment due to the nature of the course. For level 4’s it depends what you are working on during the course and the prevailing conditions at the time so we may or may not issue safety kit. Level 5’s, 6’s and 7’s will definitely require safety equipment. Safety equipment includes, backpack, transceiver, probe and shovel.

OFF-PISTE SAFETY
If you’re level 4, 5, 6 or 7 there will be elements of off-piste so safety is paramount. You will need to know how to use a transceiver and how to operate it when skiing off-piste. Safety training is all part of the course and the amount of time devoted to training in safety procedures will be dependent upon your level, previous experience and the prevailing conditions.

OFF-SNOW
As part of the All-Terrain course we also include some off-snow activities which often takes the form of an informal chat early in the week, safety stuff and a video session mid week. These are however, dependent on conditions, group levels and goals.

OTHER FAQ’S
HOW LONG ARE ALL-TERRAIN COURSES FOR?
During the winter All-Terrain courses are for half days for 5 days, Monday to Friday so if you’re coming on a ski course with partners or friends who are different levels you can all go into separate groups and ski at your level. All-Terrain courses are for half days so you’ll also have time to ski with your friends or partners outside the course if their course is at the same time as yours. During the summer and autumn All-Terrain courses are for all day with a break for lunch.

Q WILL MY ALL-TERRAIN COURSE BE IN THE MORNING OR THE AFTERNOON DURING THE WINTER?
During the winter we run All-Terrain courses in the mornings and the afternoons and we cannot guarantee which part of the day your All-Terrain course will be. Most of the time we aim to run the groups to include 3 mornings and 2 afternoons or 2 mornings and 3 afternoons but it does depend on the levels and the weather.

Q MY PARTNER / FRIEND ARE DIFFERENT LEVELS. IF WE ARE IN DIFFERENT GROUPS CAN WE HAVE OUR COURSE AT THE SAME TIME OF DAY?
We’ll do our best to organise your courses at the same time of day but we cannot guarantee it. We will switch groups around to enable you to be at the same time for some of the week. When the sessions are at different times of the day there may also be the possibility of dropping into a lower level group to be at the same time as your partner or friend. We will do our best to achieve this request but it needs a little compromise.

Q WHAT HAPPENS IF I AM INBETWEEN LEVELS?
Everyone’s different and our job is to get everyone into suitable groups and as long as we have a rough idea of your level we can chat to you more at the welcome meeting.

Q WHAT IF I UNDER ESTIMATE OR OVER ESTIMATE MY LEVEL?
No problem, there will be scope to move between groups during the week.

Q WHICH INSTRUCTOR WILL BE TEACHING ME?
We have a whole team of instructors that have been specifically selected to work on Snoworks courses. You can take a look at the whole team by clicking this link. The team varies depending on the resort, the time of year and the number of guests that have signed up for courses.

Q HOW DOES A SNOWORKS SKI COURSE DIFFER FROM SKI SCHOOL?
It depends on your previous experience with ski school and your previous experience with instruction and coaching. To give you an idea how a Snoworks course may differ from ski school we have written a specific blog on the differences. Click here.

Q CAN I ARRANGE FLIGHTS, TRANSFERS AND ACCOMMODATION WITH SNOWORKS ALONG WITH MY COURSE?
In conjunction with every ski course we have also arranged accommodation packages. We have reserved accommodation and negotiated rates specifically for skiers coming on Snoworks courses. This is a great way to engage with other skiers on the course and to get the most from your skiing holiday both on and off the slopes. It’s a great way to meet other skiers and if you’re traveling by yourself we can also organise shares, subject to availability. Please check each specific week for details of the accommodation. On many weeks the accommodation is also packaged with flights and transfers but some weeks it may just be accommodation only. In this case you can organise a transfer with Snoworks and book your own flights. Again please check each week for details.

Q CAN I JOIN THE COURSE AND ARRANGE MY OWN FLIGHTS, TRANSFERS AND ACCOMMODATION
Absolutely. We have lots of guests doing exactly this. This gives you the flexibility of arranging accommodation to suit your own needs. Check on the location and meeting points for the course before organising your own accommodation.

Q I’VE HEARD SNOWORKS PHILOSOPHIES ARE QUITE DIFFERENT TO WHAT I MAY HAVE EXPERIENCED IN THE PAST. HOW DO THEY DIFFER?
Because of the nature of Snoworks courses our philosophies may be quite or even very different to what you have experienced in the past. In a nutshell Snoworks courses are about enjoying the mountain and coping with all the different conditions that come with a mountain environment. This will often seem to conflict with what you may have learnt in the past. Snoworks is not concerned with ‘how you look’ or your ‘style’ of skiing. To us it’s about enjoying your skiing and to do this you need to have confidence that you can manage all the different snow, terrain and weather. If it’s icy or bumpy or the slope gets steeper or the snow deeper, or the visibility goes, you will have the skills and the confidence to cope. We have written lots and lots of blogs on this subject. For a more detailed insight take a look at some of them.
Twist, Push, Edge
Why are some skiers great at skiing bumps but not at skiing fast? Others great at skiing fast but not at bumps? Others great in powder but not on ice? It’s simple to explain and it’s to do with what we call the skills of ‘STEERING’. read more
Ski School Versus Ski Course
Ski Schools are often involved with instruction. They cater predominantly for skiers on holiday and may only see the skiers this one time so lessons can be short and to the point. There’s not much time. Ski Courses often attract skiers who are more interested in taking a journey. They may come back time and time again so they develop a relationship with the person working with them. read more
10 Steps To Skiing Nirvana

10 Snoworks philosophies with a very brief synopsis of each. These 10 philosophies will improve your skiing faster than you ever thought possible. read more
The Secret Of Snoworks Revealed

Are you an ‘open’ or ‘closed’ skier and could this be the answer to why thousands of skiers develop learning plateaus? read more
Technique or Skill
Maybe it’s just semantics but the more I teach the greater confusion appears to exist between these words technique and skill or skills or so it appears. read more
It’s All In The Goal
After years of frustration in watching and listening to the many conflicts that appear in how skiing is taught I’ve finally been able to put my concerns at rest. I’ve now accepted that there are two sports of skiing. ‘Demonstration Skiing’ and ‘All-Mountain Skiing’. You may ask is there a difference? Yes! read more
Go Open – Video
In this 1st episode Emma Carrick-Anderson talks about ‘Going Open’. go to video
Connect With The Mountain – Video
In this 2nd episode of Snoworks philosophies Emma Carrick-Anderson talks about ‘Connecting With The Mountain’. go to video
Move Snow – Video
In this 3rd episode of Snoworks philosophies Emma Carrick-Anderson talks about ‘Moving Snow’. go to video
The Complete Blog Index
For the full listing of all Snoworks Blogs click here.

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