Sales of off-piste safety equipment are booming but the knowledge and skills at using the gear do not always match the quality of the avalanche pack. In an effort to remedy this, Hemsedal Skisenter in Norway is now offering a free training arena for the use of avalanche search equipment.

Since the start of the year, snow has fallen steadily in Hemsedal by now measuring an impressive 170cm in the forests surrounding the ski area. Plenty of snow also invites new exciting ski experiences off the groomed slopes. The equipment suppliers’ outlets show a clear trend; more and more people want to explore the virgin powder snow away from the groomed pistes in the ski area.

- We have seen a strongly growing interest in off-piste safety equipment this season, says Steffen Gulbrandsen at SkiStar Sportshop Hemsedal. Sales of skis for off-piste and randonnée, transceivers and airbags surge every time we have fine powder conditions. Overall sales of alpine skis have grown by about 40% compared to last year and typical powder skis represent the majority of this increase.

Skiing in bottomless powder snow is a great experience but off-piste skiing is always conditional upon the skier assuming responsibility for her or his safety and the ability of the skier to assess the risks involved.

Practise avalanche search - Each person skiing off-piste should consider the avalanche danger. In an avalanche situation the first few minutes are critical meaning that everyone involved must be able to conduct a search quickly and efficiently. At that point it is not enough just to have the right equipment – it is essential also to have trained using the gear.

- If you opt to ski the steep backcountry slopes away from the groomed and marked pistes it is important to have practised using the transceiver, shovel and probe, says Per Ola Seim, member of the ski patrol in Hemsedal Skisenter.

The only way to learn how the transceiver works is through practical training and from now on, anyone with a transceiver can test it in the search course to the left of the unloading station of the Hollvin Express in Hemsedal Skisenter. The use of the course is free and very easy, on your own or in the company of your skiing friends.

Safe off-piste with SkiStar Experience  - If you are tempted to ski the backcountry in a safe context we always recommend that you do it in the company of a local guide. This applies to everyone unfamiliar with the area. The experienced guides at SkiStar Experience Hemsedal show you the way to the best snow, while making sure that you have a safe and great off-piste experience. All the participants in our off-piste tours can borrow transceivers, shovels and probes and before setting off everyone will be instructed in the use of the safety kit.

Read more about the avalanche search course and guided tours with SkiStar Experience at www.skistar.com/hemsedal.

For more information:
Kennet Larsen
marketing manager
Skistar Norge
E-mail: kenneth@skistar.com
Phone.: +47 928 44 640