Ski touring

Do you want to be able to ski or board in the terrain where there are no lifts anymore? Enjoy the silence, the beautiful views, walk up on your own in a desolate mountain landscape and then whiz down through the fresh and untracked snow? Then the NSAC ski touring courses are for you. There are a total of 3 levels of ski touring courses. In the Hike-to-ride basic/T1 you learn the basics of ski touring or splitboarding. You will become acquainted with walking with skins, planning and navigating at light and clear tours and working with avalanche beacon, shovel and probe. In the Hike-to-ride advanced/T2 the focus is more on independent touring. The instructor will play a more guiding role and will provide the group with tips and tricks throughout the process. With the Hike-to-ride pro/T3 you improve your skills, find more challenging terrain and go on a lot of tours. This course can, for example, be a preparation for the instructor training or for people who already have a lot of experience but want to optimise there technique. For an overview of the different courses, see the course overview and the website of the winter program of the NSAC.

What exactly is ski touring?

Most people can form an image of skiing or snowboarding, but what is ski touring? Ski touring has been around for a long time. Before lifts, snow sports enthusiasts were already walking on touring skis to get from place to place, both uphill and downhill. With the advent of the ski lift, that need is no longer there. But with touring skis you can now reach places where the ski lifts do not come. Beautiful deserted mountain valleys with miles of fresh powder snow for example.
Isn't that very heavy? Ski touring is more difficult than piste skiing. First, you walk up instead of taking the lift. However, you do have special skis or a special snowboard for this. You use touring skis for skiing. These are skis with special bindings that allow you to lift your heels while walking. You also use climbing skins: skins that you stick under your skis so that you do not slide down when you walk up. Finally, you have special touring ski boots: they are lighter, more flexible and have a sole with more grip, which makes it easier to walk on rock when you leave your skis behind for the last bit to the top. You use a splitboard for snowboarding. This is a snowboard that can be split in two before going uphill so that you kind of have skis. You also use climbing skins for this, so that you do not slide down when walking up. You are walking for most of a ski touring trip. A good condition is therefore a requirement. However, the reward of a beautiful deserted white mountain world and a long descent through the fresh snow makes it more than worth it.
Ski touring is more difficult than skiing or snowboarding on piste because the snow is not prepared like on piste. Sometimes the snow can be deeper than your knees and that's harder skiing than on a smooth, groomed slope. You can also encounter many different types of snow, and each type of snow skis differently. Finally, obstacles such as rocks and trees are not neatly removed or shielded, as is the case on the slopes.
Isn't ski touring dangerous? That is a frequently asked and valid question. After all, in the ski areas there is always a warning that you can get caught in an avalanche if you go off the slopes. The pistes are checked every day and closed if the avalanche danger is too high. There is no such control outside the piste. When ski touring you must therefore be aware that you are doing a risk sport. Never go ski touring without knowledge about avalanches, without having read and correctly interpreted the avalanche report and without having an avalanche set (avalanche beacon, probe and shovel) with you, so that you can act correctly and quickly when someone comes in an avalanche. Knowledge of orientation is also important, because you cannot just follow the piste signs down. You learn these skills in a course (for example from the NSAC). Once you've gained enough experience to be able to go on your own, however, endless off-piste adventures in the fresh snow are within your reach ;)