Up, up and away for fam­ily thrills

The Daily Telegraph - Travel - - SKIING -

‘Ski Sun­day’ presenter Gra­ham Bell gives his daugh­ter an in­tro­duc­tion to ski tour­ing in the Aus­trian back­coun­try

Once the pre­serve of leath­ery-faced old men who trudged off into the back­coun­try, ski tour­ing has boomed in pop­u­lar­ity in re­cent years. Many more peo­ple now ap­pre­ci­ate the free­dom and soli­tude of get­ting off the beaten track, po­ten­tially to ac­cess acres of un­tracked pow­der. As an old­ish, slightly weather-beaten man my­self, I can see the at­trac­tion of stick­ing climb­ing skins on the bases of my skis and hik­ing up for a cou­ple of hours, with a glo­ri­ous de­scent as pay­back. On a fam­ily trip to Lech am Arl­berg in Aus­tria last Easter, I wanted to see if I could per­suade my sporty, but tru­cu­lent, 17-year-old daugh­ter that up­hill can be fun.

Lot­tie was in­tro­duced to ski­ing at a very early age. She first took to the slopes when she was a year old, strapped on my back in a baby car­rier, then be­gan ski­ing be­tween my legs the sea­son af­ter. When she was 13, af­ter count­less ski hol­i­days, I took Lot­tie on an off-piste trip from Cham­poluc in Italy to Zer­matt in Switzer­land, which in­cluded a 4,500m he­liski drop on the Monte Rosa. So she can cope with chal­leng­ing ter­rain ski­ing down, but she’d never had to hike up.

My wife, Sarah, and son Louis, 20, are also strong skiers. But they made it clear from the out­set that they had no de­sire to give ski tour­ing a go, pre­fer­ring in­stead to ex­plore the pistes of Lech and the linked re­sort of Zürs and to en­joy the slope fa­cil­i­ties.

At the top of Zürs, I gave Lot­tie a quick re­fresher on how to use her avalanche safety gear. As with many re­sorts that of­fer great off-piste, Lech has its own trans­ceiver train­ing area with pre-buried de­vices on which to prac­tise. How­ever, I wanted to make the sim­u­la­tion a bit more re­al­is­tic, with some prob­ing and shov­el­ling, so I buried my trans­ceiver in my back­pack just off the edge of the piste and asked Lot­tie to find it.

As a prod­uct of the Game Boy gen­er­a­tion, she worked out how to use my BCA Tracker 3 trans­ceiver in a mat­ter of min­utes. She then pro­ceeded to con­duct a near-per­fect search, work­ing her way slowly to the tar­get, kick­ing off her skis to crawl in for the last few me­tres, mark­ing with her glove the spot where she thought the back­pack was buried. She then pulled out her probe and hit my back­pack on the first at­tempt. Of course, I was aware that she might re­act very dif­fer­ently un­der the pres­sure of a real-life res­cue, but it was com­fort­ing

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