Answers to all your questions
What is the company I am booking with?
Powder Guides is a French tour company and is affiliated with the Professional Tourism Mountain Association. All our trips are thus ensured and supervised by the French Ministry of Tourism.
Who books trips with Powder Guides?
Whoever a guest books his journey individually is naturally interested in who he/she is going with. Most of our guests are between 25 and 60. On off-piste and freeride trips, younger people sign up quite often as well. There is one common point between all our travelers: they all LOVE fresh snow and come for the magic of mountains in the winter. Most people come back every year, and this is something we work hard on achieving.
What is a mountain guide?
Professional mountain guide is a protected profession, internationally recognized by a UIAGM-IVBV-IFMGA certified diploma. Mountain guides are authorized to work in alpine terrain, at all altitudes and all around the world. For many, this is a lifestyle and a passion on top of being a job, so you are in good hands. A mountain guide is not just a good bet for safety, but also an extraordinary spring of experience and knowledge. In all Alpine countries (Austria, France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany…), the training takes 3 years before graduating.
Freeride! Do I need climbing skins or a splitboard?
In all our Freeride programs, you have to take into account that, if fresh snow is no longer close to the pistes, we might have to walk up for 10 to 60 minutes. In some cases, it can easily be done by foot, carrying your skis on the bag. If your guide suggests that we use climbing skins for a day and you don’t have it by your self, then you will get a notice beforehand. Eventually, ski’s with skins and tourbindings for normal alpine skiboots can be rented for that specific day. It will coast around 30,- euros.
For our SkiSafari and Skitraining courses or when the group like to go deeper into mountains, climbs last between 30 minutes and 2 hours. Therefore, skins are required. “Ski Safari” means that, although the trip is focused on descending, and ski lifts will be used, some climbs will be done with skins to go get the freshest possible powder.
Are you a snowboarder and are we skinning up during a skidream program or ski randonnée week, then q splitboard is required. You can rent a high quality snowboard with bindings, skins and grampons for around 50,- euros a day.
Before starting the activity, you are required to subscribe a specialized travel insurance that covers particular risks related to skiing off piste and mountaineering. Check with your insurance company whether you are adequately insured for your booked activity.
In order to avoid having too much of a technical or conditional difference within a group, the expected level is specified for each trip. For you own interest and safety, please take this very seriously into account, and try to define your own level as accurately as possible.
Except for the Off-piste courses, we ask everyone to be stable in all types of snow, and be able to keep up with a reasonable pace throughout the week. For ski touring programs and ice climbing, you’ll also have to be physically in shape before the trip. When in doubt, contact us.
Our level scale
Level A: You are stable on red and black pistes.
Level B: You are stable on all kinds of slopes. When the slope is not too steep (<30 degrees) and the snow not too uneven, you can descend off-piste without falling.
Level C: You are stable on all kinds of slopes. When the slope is not too steep (<30 degrees) and the snow not too uneven, you can descend off-piste with confidence.
Level D: You are stable in all conditions and on all types of tracks, including moguls. Off-piste, you can ski safely up to 45 degrees under good conditions. Traversing, couloirs and forests are fine for you as well. You still have trouble in some specific types of snow, such as “cardboard snow”.
Level E: You have a lot of technical knowledge and you feel at home in steep terrain, couloirs (45 degrees) and spicy walls and in every kind of snow.
Level A: You do not want to climb.
Level B: You can do short hikes near the lift via an existing track.
Level C: You have the ability to hike on terrain that is steeper than 25 degrees or have already used climbing skins or snowshoes.
Level D: You have specific techniques such as the kick-turn mastered.
Level E: You have excellent touring techniques and experience in the use of ice axes and crampons, and also know basic rope techniques.
Level A: It takes you some effort to be on piste and your thighs are dead after a day of skiing. Your condition is unfortunately insufficient for a PowderGuides trip.
Level B: You have enough condition to get through the whole week on the slopes, but riding off-piste is quite a different story. You have to stop quite often to catch your breath although you have enough fitness to walk for one hour in the snow.
Level C: You have enough condition to get through the whole week off-piste. In addition, you are also able to walk up for two hours in the snow.
Level D: You don’t feel tired at the end of the day. Tours of more than four hours are not a problem for you.
Level E: You have a very strong condition. Multi-day tours at a steady pace, and with a heavy backpack are not a problem.
Fresh snow guarantee
Although we all hope for the best snow quality, we are always dependent on nature. The experienced IFMGA mountain guides of Powder Guides are in the mountains full-time in the winter, and have developed good intuition to find good snow if it has not snowed for a while, but it can happen that fresh snow lacks everywhere in the area. In such a case, don’t panic: this gives opportunities for other learning, a challenging steep slope for instance. It doesn’t happen often, but if snow is definitely too poor in the area you have booked, we will try to move to a better place. Powder Guides will keep you updated beforehand for sure, and such a scenario can also apply in case of a huge avalanche risk. Be aware that many ski lifts remain closed during or shortly after an intense snowfall!
Avalanche Risk, Snow Conditions and Mountain Hazards
The IFMGA qualified mountain guide is your best bet to stay away from avalanches. However, we skiing remains a sport with risks and the guide, despite his dedication and skills, cannot completely eliminate the risk. All the participants in our groups carry an avalanche beacon, a shovel and a probe with him, regardless of the avalanche level of danger. During our off-piste and ski touring course, you will be intensively trained to find a fake victim under the snow, alone and with a group of people to help. It goes without saying that, before every course, your guide will remind you how to use an avalanche beacon, regardless of your experience. If you don’t have your own avalanche beacon, probe and shovel, PowderGuides will lend one to you for free.
Helmet and airbag
Helmet is mandatory on all our freeride trips. On ski touring trips, it is highly recommended.
For your own peace of mind, you can also carry an avalanche airbag backpack which you will activate if you get caught in an avalanche. This system helps decrease the risk of suffocation because it will make you stay on the surface of the avalanche in most cases. If you don’t have such a backpack, you can rent one from us.
- When will I know if my trip is confirmed?
Our trips actually happen when there is sufficient participation. The more difficult the terrain is, the less people per guide are planned. If the trip gets cancelled due to too few participants, you will get an email from us at least 28 days before the starting date. If you feel the need for more visibility, you can ask us or visit the Calendar Page with all the already confirmed trips.
You can also book a PowderGuide in Private for your own ready-made group of friends.