Freeride & Freetour
Freeriding is possible at all levels, whether you are a beginner, experienced or expert. Lift access freeriding is the easiest way to access beautiful, untracked descents. The emphasis is on making ‘first tracks’, or putting your own track. Attention is paid to your technique, tactics and safety.
Freetouring takes you further into the backcountry. Descents where rarely anyone goes. You use the elevators to get to the area as fast and as high as possible. With a short tour or hike, you get access to pristine powder snow and challenging slopes. After your powder descent you will immediately, or after a short tour, return to the lift.
Freeriding is classic off-piste skiing with a new look. Off the slopes, away from the crowds. With a pair of wide skis or powder board, safety equipment and a lift pass you are ready. From the lift, or from another high point, you can view beautiful interesting slopes and ‘sign in’ your own line or descent. With the lift and a small traverse you reach the top of the start of ‘your’ line and you start the descent. Once down, look back and see your signature on the mountain.
Freetouring is a combination of freeriding and ski touring. It offers the opportunity to venture further into the backcountry. From the mountain station you tour to the start of the descents that you cannot reach with lifts. Due to the arrival and development of wide and light skis, tour bindings and splitboards, freetouring is now the way to get the most out of your off-piste week.
A good freeride area?
Freeriding is all about the possibilities you have within reach of the lifts. A vast area, with many lifts and sufficient terrain around it. You always need a bit of luck for a pack of fresh powder snow. But there are areas that typically catch more snow. Areas such as Arlberg, Obertauern, Verbier and Tignes – Val d’Isere are known for snow security and great freeride terrain. Outside of the Alps, Canada’s Rocky Mountains or Japan’s North Island, Hokkaido, are great destinations.
When are you good at free touring?
Freetouring opens up a whole new world. The terrain around the popular freeride areas is just getting bigger. Smaller areas suddenly have an interesting number of off-piste runs. In addition, there are ‘exotic’ destinations, where the off-piste possibilities from the lift are nil. But with the possibility of touring, countries such as Iran, Kazakhstan or Georgia are great destinations for winter sports enthusiasts who want something different.
Which freeride gear do I need?
Of course you need safety equipment such as an avalanche transceiver and an (avalanche) backpack containing at least a shovel and probe. A pair of wide skis, with rocker, provide more buoyancy and make freeriding accessible and more fun. It’s starting to look like surfing. Be careful, too wide also has disadvantages. For the snowboarders, an ordinary board already has a lot of buoyancy. You usually ride a freeride board longer for extra buoyancy. Rocker in the nose and tail make a board extra manoeuvrable.
What do I need to free tour?
Actually, any freeride ski is suitable. If you want something lighter on the way up, go for a freetour ski. Wide enough, float enough, but as light as possible not to be a burden during the ascent. An alpine tour binding has the same descent properties as a regular ski binding, with the possibility to walk. A tech binding is the traditional tour ski binding. In recent years, low-tech bindings have been greatly improved and are now also suitable for firm descends. Snowboarders need a splitboard. This is a snowboard that is split lengthwise. The bindings are moved so that the snowboard becomes two “skis”. Climbing up on skis and splitboards also requires climbing skins, crampons and telescopic poles. You make these poles longer for walking, shorter for descent.