FAQ

Answers to frequently asked questions

We understand that many questions arise when choosing the perfect winter sports trip. We are ready to answer all your questions. Mail, telephone or chat, whichever suits you best. For those who would like to find out for themselves, we have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions below.

Business

Is Epique een geregistreerd bedrijf?
Epique was founded on November 1, 2006 under the name Ski-Madness. After a name change in September 2012, we are registered as Epique BV with the Chamber of Commerce in Utrecht from 1 January 2013 as a travel agency and ski, snowboard and mountain sports school.

Mogen de leraren en gidsen van Epique in landen als Oostenrijk, Frankijk en Zwitserland werken?
Our activities are seen by foreigners as visits and must be reported to authorities such as the municipality, province and/or snow sports association for teachers and ski schools. With this report, the company is tested on matters such as registration of the company, diplomas of the teachers and guides and the insurance. Epique has his affairs in order. This allows us to travel with our guests in and outside Europe.

Accompaniment

Wie begeleiden de activiteiten van Epique?
In guiding winter mountaineering, we make a distinction between teachers and guides. Traveling with a guide and/or teacher from Epique is a special experience. Our guides are experienced, certified and licensed. This means that they are not only trained but also qualified to train and guide skiers and snowboarders from the beginner to the expert range. In addition, all guides and teachers are avid and experienced terrain skiers and snowboarders themselves. Partly because of this, they know exactly what modern freeriding is all about.

Teachers are trained and teach in broadly three levels namely beginner, advanced and expert. Level one, two and three respectively. The International Ski Instructors Association (ISIA) accredits and licenses level two and three teacher training programs worldwide.

Guides can technically improve a beginner to expert ski alpinist and also guide you in the high alpine terrain with climbing/descent techniques and materials. Among guides, a distinction is made between the ski, snowboard and mountain guide. A mountain guide has been trained according to the standards of the International Federation of Mountain Guide Associations (IFMGA/UIAGM)


Wat is een Franse Carte Professionelle d'Educateur Sportif?
In France, just like Austria or Switzerland, you are not allowed to just teach or guide. In addition to a valid diploma, you also need permission from the (regional) government. Such permission in France takes the form of a licence. This license is mandatory for anyone who is a self-employed teacher or guide. So also for the French themselves. Our teachers and guides who work in France have a Carte Pro.

Welke verschillende niveaus in lesgeven of gidsen zijn er?

Teacher level 1 + 2 (Anwarter & Landes)
A certified level 1 + 2 teacher is authorized to teach beginners to advanced in the secured area on the marked slopes, trails and routes and is authorized to go with snow sports equipment outside the marked slopes leading into the ski area. The training consists of several certificates, depending on the country where the training is given. The content is about technique, teaching and safety on and off the slopes. An ISIA licensed level 2 teacher can be recognized by the ISIA seal on his or her teacher ID. In Austria, a level 2 teacher is called a Landeslehrer.

Teacher level 3 (Staatlich Diplom)
A level 3 ski or snowboard instructor is authorized to teach beginners to expert intermediates in the secured area on the marked slopes, trails and routes and is authorized to use snow sports equipment on terrain outside the marked slopes leading out in the ski area. However, he is not yet authorized to ascend and descend in the high mountains and on glaciers. After achieving level 2 and passing the entrance test, you may participate in level 3. This training is provided by the Austrian state and lasts 12 weeks and consists of theory and practice of teaching in the expert range. This is the highest attainable level in teaching. An ISIA licensed level 3 teacher can be recognized by an ISIA card. In Austria, a level 3 teacher is called a Staatlich Diplom ski and snowboard Lehrer.

Ski/snowboard guide (Ski & Snowboard Führer)
A ski and/or snowboard guide is an ideal combination of a teacher and a guide. He can technically improve beginner to expert freeriders as well as variants and back country guides for freeriding and touring in the high mountains. The Austrian name for this training is ski-snowboardführer. After achieving level 3, you can participate in the 24-day training to become a ski and/or snowboard guide. The content consists of the theory and practice of ‘führing’ groups of skiers or snowboarders in the high mountains and on glaciers. After successfully completing this training, the guide may ascend and descend independently in the high mountains with a group.

mountain guide (Bergfuhrer)
A mountain guide is perfect for guiding in the high alpine terrain. He can technically improve a beginner to expert ski alpinist as well as guide in high alpine terrain using alpine ascent/descent techniques and equipment. A mountain guide has been trained according to the standards of the International Federation of Mountain Guide Associations (IFMGA/UIAGM). In all Alpine countries, the basis is a two to three-year training as a mountain guide.

All Epique employees are at least a level 3 teacher, ski and snowboard guide and/or mountain guide. They are used depending on the program and activities.


Waarom met een ski- en/of snowboardführer op pad?

A ski and/or snowboard guide is an ideal combination of a teacher and a guide. He can technically improve beginner to expert freeriders as well as variants and back country guides for freeriding and touring.


Waarom met een bergführer op pad?

A mountain guide is perfect for guiding in the high alpine terrain. He can technically improve a beginner to expert ski alpinist as well as guide in high alpine terrain using alpine ascent/descent techniques and equipment.


Jullie werken in verschillende gebieden. Kennen jullie die gebieden wel goed genoeg?

We have been coming to the areas where we work for several years ourselves or with our guests. The routes and variants that we use for our programs are carefully planned and explored if necessary. In addition, we always work with local guides or pros to be as well informed as possible about the latest state of affairs regarding routes, weather, snow and avalanches. In our experience, guiding in different areas has many advantages in terms of safety and comfort.

Freeride routes are easy to find for a freerider and especially for a guide. Especially if you guide in many different areas. They are on a map, in a freeride guide and if you look beyond the marked ‘freeride slopes’ from the lift you often see many possibilities. In addition, we use extra information from, for example, a local guide from our network or we visit a guides office for an update. In a new area, we often go a day or two early to take pictures of interesting slopes. Then study the slope at home on the map or using Google Earth. Making a plan is the next step. By the time you get to the entrance of the route, it’s like you’ve been there before. Everything you have seen or card and in the photo is now recognizable around you. Because we plan carefully, we can choose the right slope for the level of our guests. Namely a challenging but comfortable climb and descent. This also applies to the avalanche danger. Steepest part of the slope determines the route. This can all be well planned and then reassessed in the run-up to the start and before the start.

A guide who carefully plans every day to find the best route for his guests is alert, well prepared and remains motivated to guide well. In addition, our guests enjoy visiting a new area with us and finding and driving new routes. The guide knows the group, the individual and vice versa. A friendly bond and good cooperation develop. You continue where your previous trip left off. A step further or step back is quickly made and communicating about this is easy. These kinds of properties characterize our working method and we see, in addition to safe and comfortable guiding, as one of the added values to our services.


Mag een ski- of snowboardführer in bijv. Frankrijk of Zwitserland ook off-piste gidsen?

A ski or snowboard fuhrer is allowed to guide outside Austria in the variant range and high alpine terrain except on glaciers and without using alpine climbing techniques.


Program

Ik heb zelf een idee voor een leuk programma. Kan Epique dat organiseren?

We are curious about your idea and will seriously consider the possibilities.


Er staat niet bij ieder programma een beschrijving per dag. Waarom is dat?

The day content of our programs is determined by several factors. Weather and snow conditions, the level of the group and the theme of the program. It is very difficult to make a fixed daily program.


Ik wil graag meedoen aan één van jullie programma's maar kom een dag later of ga een dag eerder weg. Kan dat en wordt de prijs dan aangepast?

Can be a day shorter. Adjusting the price depends on a number of factors. We do this in consultation.


Residence

Ik heb een speciaal dieet. Bij wie moet ik dat melden?

You can report diet or nutritional requirements to us. We will pass it on to the guest house or hotel.


Ik wil graag een eenpersoonskamer. Kan dat?

In most cases you can. There are additional costs associated with this.


trip

Reistoestemming (ETA) voor Canada

Are you going to Canada soon? Please note: the Canadian government has implemented the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). They also have a similar system in the United States. As of March 15, 2016, passengers from countries covered by the Visa Waiver Program (including the Netherlands) are required to apply for additional travel authorization before traveling to or via Canada. You can easily submit this ‘ETA’ application online. Do this no later than 72 hours before departure. It costs 7 CAD each time and is valid for 5 years. More information.


Ik heb alleen geboekt maar heb geen eigen vervoer. Kan ik met iemand meerijden?

We usually know how everyone travels and may be able to arrange a lift for you.


Ik kom met het vliegtuig. Kan ik mijn eigen materiaal ook meenemen?

Take into account the rules of the relevant airline and flight/destination.
Check how much luggage you are allowed to take and/or ski bags are included. Sometimes the permitted number of kilograms includes material. In that case you have to pay for the extra bag/kilos on the spot.


Kan mijn ABS rugzak mee in het vliegtuig?

An ABS backpack or another similar system can be taken on the plane as hand luggage. You do need a form for that. Check with the relevant company to be sure.


Ik rij 's nachts en sta om 09:00 bij de lift. Kan dat?

You can, but we advise you not to. Our programs are very intensive and for that you have to start well rested.


Heb ik een visum nodig?

For certain destinations such as Russia, Georgia and India you need a visa as a traveler. A visa is a permit to enter or leave a country or to stay there. You must apply for this visa yourself in the Netherlands at the consulate of the country concerned. In some cases this can also be done online. The processing of the visa application takes an average of two weeks and costs between €25 and €50. The following items are usually required to obtain a visa:

  • Invitation from the travel organization in the country concerned (Epique takes care of this)
  • Statement from the insurance company stating that the traveler has insurance with worldwide coverage or coverage in the relevant country.

Weather and snow

Er is al heel lang geen sneeuw meer gevallen. Kunnen we nog steeds goed off-piste?
As long as there is snow we can go off-piste. The radiation, wind and temperature keep the snow moving and so there is always something to be found undisturbed.

Wat is Firn sneeuw?

By heating up snow crystals, rain or solar radiation, a layer of water is formed on the surface of the snow cover. When the surface cools again, a hard ice layer is formed. This can be up to 20 cm thick. By freezing and thawing several times, large grain-like crystals are formed, also called ‘Sulz’ or Corn. This process occurs in the spring but also during a warm period in the other winter months. The so-called Firn can be found on the slopes where the sun shines but also in the other exhibits.

Firn is, after powder, the best snow for many off-piste enthusiasts for cruising down. However, when planning a nice Firn round, it comes down to timing. The frozen slope needs time to become nice and soft. After a cold clear night, the solar radiation will take care of this. Slopes exposed to the east come first. If you descend at the right time it looks like a slope with a thick layer of cream. If you arrive too early or too late, the top layer will break and you will fall through.

Making a Firn descent is not without risk. The cooled (stable) snow cover becomes warmer, heavier and more unstable during the day. Later in the day, the chance of spontaneous avalanches or of causing them is increasing. The rule of thumb for a Firn round is therefore; “No more off-piste after lunch”. If it has not been cold at night, for example due to clouds, the snow cover in the morning will still be just as unstable as the day before. In this situation, there is a direct risk of spontaneous avalanches or of causing them.

In old German, Firn means ‘old snow’. In Swiss ‘färn’ means spring.


Level

Hoe kan ik me goed voorbereiden op deelname aan programma's van Epique?

In mountain sports, among other things, sufficient oxygen uptake in the blood is very important. At altitude, the oxygen content in the air is less, so your body has to work extra hard when you exercise. Good stamina prevents many problems and makes recovery easier. You can train endurance in different ways. We recommend creating a good base and training a lot of intensive duration from there. Cycling, running, ATB or loose on the cross trainer are good ways to train or keep up with your endurance.

For skiing and snowboarding, among other things, strength and stability are very important. Train strength with your own weight first. For example, with floor exercises, with positions and movements that you use when skiing and boarding, you improve your balance and your body gets used to the load. If you go on the irons, train a lot with free weights and do exercises that strengthen your lower back, abdomen, shoulders and neck.

Do you have any questions or do you need help with the preparation? Please contact us.


Ik heb zelf geen veiligheidsmaterialen zoals pieper, schep en sonde. Kan ik dat ergens huren of lenen?

We have avalanche transceivers and backpacks fully equipped with shovel, probe and first aid. You can use these.


Ik wil graag een rugzak met ABS of een ander soortgelijk systeem kopen. Is dit aan te raden?

Wearing, but especially using an ABS or other similar system increases the chance of survival in an avalanche accident. An additional advantage is that you are also able to help others more quickly. Purchase is a good investment.


Ik wil een lawinepieper kopen. Waar moet ik rekening mee houden?

When it comes to your life, you shouldn’t make any compromises. We therefore recommend that you buy the best product on the market. There are several good brands and the differences between them are minimal.

Some important criteria are:

– Three antennas for optimal reception
– Marker function for searching for more than one person
– Digital and analog signal

If you have any questions about your own material or about purchasing the right materials? Please contact us.


Heb ik voor het stijgen met vellen tourschoenen nodig?

For short hikes with touring ski bindings and skins, you can also use alpine ski boots. For the ascent this may be less optimal, but for the descent this is great. And it’s all about the descent after all. Nowadays there are a number of brands that have developed a good freeride/touring shoe. These shoes offer a good solution.


Safety

Als we in een situatie terecht komen waar ik niet meer kan of wil. Hoe gaat dat dan?

Nothing should or is mandatory. We try to challenge everyone to push their limits. We try to avoid getting into situations like this. If you can’t or don’t want to do something, that’s no problem. We then look for a suitable solution.


Er is een verhoogd lawine gevaar. Gaan we nog steeds off-piste?

Each avalanche hazard level has limitations but also offers opportunities. With a high avalanche danger level there will in most cases be a lot of snow. That is beautiful. To minimize the risk of an avalanche accident, this will be taken into account when planning the tours.


Cost

Waar zijn de prijzen van Epique op gebaseerd?

The costs for our program are made up of, among other things, teacher/guide, accommodation, lift, and travel costs. These rates for teachers and guides correspond to an average of the rates of 10 major ski and mountain schools in Austria, France and Switzerland.


Een privé leraar of gids in de lokale skischool kost net zoveel. Waarom zal ik met Epique op pad gaan?

You are comparing apples to oranges. At a local ski school, only the price is the same. There is a chance that the private teacher of the local ski school is a novice teacher or a local grandpa. Epique guarantees quality by working with the most highly trained teachers and guides. Fit guests with passion and a desire to explode.


 

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Reviews

Based on 162 reviews

Fantastic new ski touring experience in the Silvretta

Under the guidance of Epique guide 4 days of touring the Silvrettagruppe has given me a lasting memory. What a fantastic area and super guidance. Epique does not go for good, but for the superlative. Just a special route, just that slightly more beautiful and steeper descent. Beaten tracks are abandoned and new ones are formed. Definitely recommended!

Jac

Interested?

Are you going on an adventure with us? We are happy to let you experience the beauty of the mountains, the feeling of the perfect turn and the thrill of surfing weightless on the snow.

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