Italian authorities in the Piedmonte region have passed a law making it mandatory for off-piste skiers and snowboarders to carry avalanche safety gear. You now must be equipped with an avalanche beacon, shovel, and probe, if heading out of marked ski runs. The law also applies to ski mountaineering.
Fines are up to €250 if found without the required gear and insurance policies also may be declared invalid. Until now skiers only have been obliged to carry avalanche beacons if there was an obvious risk of avalanche (risk 3 or above) under the national law passed in 2003.
It is hoped the new law will significantly reduce the number of tragic accidents during the winter period. Rescuers found the bodies of five French ski-mountaineers swept away by an avalanche in Piedmont in May 2008. The bodies were found shortly after dawn following a suspension of the search overnight because of poor visibility and bad weather.
The mountains of Piedmont provided a unique backdrop for the Torino 2006 Winter Olympics. The region features 53 ski resorts, 1300 kilometres of runs, and 300 chair lifts and cableways. Some of the most popular ski resorts in the area include Valle di Susa, Sestriere, Vialattea, Claviere, Montagnedoc, Pragelato, Val Chisone, and Val Germanasca.