You can barely feel the fresh snow under your skis as you glide, as though through clouds, down the slope, making long and even tracks in the deep snow. As soon as fresh snow lies on the mountains in SalzburgerLand there’s just no stopping winter sports enthusiasts, as everyone wants the honour of carving those first marks in the new virgin powder.
Putting the beauty of that feeling aside, it’s especially important in that situation to keep a cool head and think of Alpine security, keeping the avalanche risk level in mind, if the snow cover has built up and whether your own capabilities are enough not to do yourself or anybody else any damage.
Much too often a perfect snow day can end in an avalanche disaster and accidents can easily be avoided if you stick to certain rules. Even on the secured slopes, you can’t just switch off as you must think of how to avoid ploughing into other (sometimes less experienced skiers). Even though only children have to wear helmets by law in SalzburgerLand, it’s a good idea to also protect your own head with one.
FIS, the International Ski Federation, has devised 10 rules that must be observed all over the world.
FIS Rules of the Slopes
1. Consideration for other skiers
Every skier must behave in such a way as to not endanger fellow skiers.
2. Control of Speed and Skiing Style
Don’t ski faster than visibility allows. You must adjust your speed and style to your personal ability levels and the terrain, snow and weather conditions, as well as to how busy the slopes are.
3. Choosing the right line
The skier approaching from behind must choose a line that does not endanger the skier in front of him.
Skiers can pass from above or below, from the right or left, but always leaving sufficient distance that the skier being passed has plenty of room to complete his own motion.
5. Entering and Re-entering
Every skier who is either entering or re-entering the slope must first look up and down the hill to ensure that he can do so without endangering himself or others.
Every skier should avoid unnecessarily stopping their run at narrow points or where visibility is restricted. If you have fallen in such a place, you must vacate the area as quickly as possible.
7. Ascending/Descending the Mountain
Skiers ascending the mountain or descending on foot must use the edge of the ski slope.
8. Paying Attention to Signs
Every skier must obey all signs, markings and signals.
9. Emergency Assistance
If there is an accident, everyone is obliged to provide assistance as necessary.
10. Personal I.D.
Every skier, whether purely a witness or involved in the incident, is required to provide personal identification in the event of an accident.
A good route plan is essential if you wish to set out and about in the Alpine scenery and exactly the same goes for winter as it does for summer. In recent years an ever-increasing number of skiers and snowboarders have discovered ski touring for themselves, leaving the marked pistes and secured terrain, joining the hordes of freeriders who also head up into the hills. It’s important to weigh up appropriate risks and dangers, and evaluate what is acceptable. This should begin at home, and not just upon leaving the secured ski area.
Study the avalanche bulletin carefully (available, amongst others, on http://www.alpin.salzburg.at), as this will help you weigh up risks. The right choice of route is the main prerequisite for a successful and enjoyable tour. Get information from locals and at your accommodation, as they will know the area. Studying the map carefully will give you a good idea of the terrain.
Be aware that fluctuating weather and temperature conditions can change the consistency of snow, so you should be fully prepared with your emergency equipment – consisting of an avalanche transceiver, shovel, probe, first aid kit, bivouac sack and 2-way radio. Many freeriders wouldn’t be without an avalanche airbag, also called an ABS rucksack. The Avalanche airbag (ABS Avalanche Airbag System) is a reusable rescue device which improves the survival chances for those caught out by an avalanche.
General advice: Only those who are familiar with the terrain and fully prepped and knowledgeable of the avalanche risk should leave the pistes. It’s vital that you carry the appropriate security equipment and know how to use it. You can hire out suitable kit from sports shops and ski schools.
Mandatory helmets for children
Children under the age of 16 must wear a helmet at all times on the pistes of SalzburgerLand, and parents and guardians are responsible for reinforcing this. Children and young people who don’t possess their own helmets can very easily borrow them from ski schools and ski rental outlets in the region. Even though it’s only mandatory for children and young people to wear a helmet, it’s a very good idea for young and old alike to wear head protection, after all prevention is better than cure!