Family freeriding: It’s all about the adventure!

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Family freeriding: When is the right time to introduce your kids to off-piste skiing and what’s the best way to go about it?

Family freeriding is all about the adventure – discovering new landscapes, new skiing techniques and new dangers.

Nick Parks, mountain guide and director of Mountain Tracks, says, “Off-piste skiing is great for families because it keeps them skiing together once the pistes start to become too restrictive and gives parents reassurance that their children are learning essential skills that will keep them safe when skiing off-piste.”

Of course, even if you feel your kids are ready for the world of off-piste, mountain guides have their own set of criteria – many stipulate children must be aged 12 and competent on red or black runs, so be sure to check when booking.

Robert Lindebner, mountain guide and director of Freeride-Gastein, thinks children are natural born freeriders. He says, “It’s in the nature of children that they want to find their own way. When they are small and able to snowplough, most children are searching for their own adventures. They want to jump, try moguls and ski outside the prepared pistes.”

If the family budget stretches to hiring a private guide – great, if not consider a group off-piste tour suited to your family’s skill level. Either way, you’ll be skiing with a professional guide who will inspire, educate and keep the family safe.

Safety is an important part of the family freeriding experience – expect to learn about avalanche equipment, navigation, route-finding, and snowpack/slope analysis.

Family freeriding destinations

Italy: La Thuile, Gressoney, Alagna

France: Les Arcs, Chamonix, Flaine, Tignes, Val d’Isere, La Grave, Sainte Foy, Serre Chevalier, Val Thorens

Switzerland: Wengen, Les Diablerets, Engelberg, Grimentz, Andermatt, Davos, Zermatt, Zinal, Verbier

Austria: St. Anton am Arlberg, Damuls, Ischgl

Whichever destination you choose, you’ll be able to find a family freeriding tour to fit your skills.

Guides and packages

Here’s our pick of mountain guides and off-piste packages for the family:

1. Mountain Tracks

Contact: Tel: +44 (0)208-410-3949;

Based in London, Mountain Tracks run private and group off-piste tours suitable for families. Tours take place in various locations across the Alps, including Chamonix, Sainte Foy, Zinal, Gressoney and Serre Chevalier. Off-piste tours are divided into two levels: Performance courses which are led by ski instructors (BASI 4 or International equivalent) and Adventure courses which are led by IFMGA Mountain Guides. Mountain Tracks also run bespoke camps for private groups anywhere in the Alps.

Mountain Tracks’ packages include seven nights’ chalet board accommodation, six evening meals, five full days’ ski instruction and in-resort transfers. The price does not include lift pass, lunch, personal insurance, ski/snowboard gear, safety equipment hire, travel to/from the resort.

Sample packages:

Off-Piste Pres season warm-up, Chamonix (maximum six people)
Duration: Eight days (five full days of off-piste instruction)
Call for current pricing.

Off-Piste Adventure, advanced, at St. Foy (maximum six people)
Duration: Seven days (five full days of off-piste guiding, airport transfers)
Call for current pricing.

2. Piste to Powder

Contact: Tel +43 (0)664-1746-282;

Based in St Anton am Arlberg, Austria, Piste to Powder runs private and group off-piste tours suitable for families. They divide their courses into several skill levels, ranging from a gentle introduction to off-piste skiing to challenging adventures on steep slopes, couloirs and deep powder.

Piste to Powder’s packages can be a single or multi-day (five days) trip. All include safety equipment (safety equipment rucksack, avalanche transceivers, shovel, probe). You must bring your own skis/snowboard, poles, hemlets, goggles and sunblock.

Sample packages:

Group off-piste tour (maximum seven people)
Duration: A full day

Private off-piste tour  (maximum seven people) 
Duration: A full day
Call for current pricing.

3. Freeride-Gastein Ski School

Contact: Tel +43(0)664-750-24600;

Based in Bad Gastein, Austria, Freeride-Gastein run private family freeride days. The guide decides in the morning where the best snow and weather conditions, checks the abilities of the members on an easier run, and decides which route to take. Most family off-piste tours are on the Stubnerkogel or Schloßalm region.

Freeride-Gastein’s Family Freeride Day includes safety equipment (avalanche transceivers, shovel, probe), but you must bring your own skis/snowboard, poles, helmet, goggles, backpack and sunblock.

Sample package:

Family Freeride Day (maximum six people)
Duration: A full or half-day
Call for current pricing.


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