THE BEST OFF PISTE GUIDEBOOK EVER?
14th December 2019 | Jane Peel, Tignes
Last modified on January 2nd, 2020
It’s the idea of a British skier & is published two years after he came up with the idea while nursing a broken leg.
The book is called Tignes Hors Piste: Le Guide Complet.
And that’s what it is: the complete guide to off-piste skiing in the high-altitude French Alps resort.
It’s in French and English.
And it is nothing like your average guidebook.
It’s had glowing reviews from those who’ve seen it.
“This truly is one of the very best guidebooks available,” says Emma Carrick-Anderson, the British 4-time Olympic ski racer and coach.
“Definitely the book to buy if you are thinking of heading off the beaten track.”
The British skier behind it is Simon Perry.
He has skied in Tignes since around 2004 and has spent five whole winter seasons here.
He is passionate about freeride skiing, ski mountaineering and climbing.
We featured one of his earlier ventures here on PlanetSKI:
To complete the guide Simon joined forces with three fellow backcountry enthusiasts, including a high mountain guide and a former pro freerider.
They have just launched the book at an event in Tignes.
Watch our interview with Simon Perry for the full story behind the book (with apologies for the occasional lack of focus)
As Simon explains, there are a couple of unique elements to this particular guidebook.
- It uses GPS tracks of the ski routes, combined with ‘aspect profile’ charts – a graphical way of showing elevation and aspect throughout a route, very useful when planning a day
- For each route, these charts have details of not just the descent but the whole route, including the approach
- There’s a QR code for each route which gives easy download of a KML file. This can be loaded into your own navigational app or device.
The guide also has full descriptions, topographical maps and photographs clearly showing the routes.
And there are some stunning photos of skiers and snowboarders, many taken by Tignes’ leading professional photographer, Andy Parant.
There are 275 off-piste routes that are graded, from the easy to the fall-and-you-die kind.
But the authors are most definitely not encouraging those who are not skilled or educated enough about the risks of the backcountry to venture out.
The inside cover of the book makes it quite clear:
“This book provides a comprehensive list of ways to get yourself killed in and around Tignes. Seasoned professionals have died on many of the routes in this book. Amateurs and especially over-enthusiastic tourists take a far greater risk………..
“If you don’t have significant knowledge and experience of mountain safety or the ability to scope out, verify and navigate the routes yourself you need a professional guide.”
There is also a lot of information on mountain safety.
And there’s some humour thrown in.
The description of the popular route Les Oreilles de Mickey (Mickey’s Ears) explains that there is the choice of a 20-minute or a 10-minute bootpack to reach the descent.
It describes the 20-minute climb, then adds “For the 10 minute approach, follow the same route as above but walk faster.”
And on the same theme, there’s a photo of Simon sitting on the snow reading his e-reader at the top of an ascent, with a caption that’s a dig as his slower snowboarding friend.
In a preface to the book, the high mountain guide and national ski instructor, Régis Picton, describes it as ‘a masterpiece’.
“As a mountain professional, I want to congratulate the authors for their excellent work and their precision in all the description of its itineraries.”
It is, without doubt, something special.
All 432 pages of it.
And it only covers Tignes.
Coming next, the definitive guide to off piste in neighbouring Val d’Isere.
Tignes Hors Piste: Le Guide Complet is on sale at several locations in Tignes and online from Backcountry Books.
All the publisher’s profits go to SOLEA, a Tignes-based charity supporting cancer research.
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