chamonix

The Guardian publish article on AMP

Learn to ski off piste

One of the Guardians top travel writers Gwyn Topham came to Chamonix to ski with All Mountain Performance on our 5 day Intermediate off piste ski course. Despite going home with weary  legs, Gwyn made massive progress with his skiing over the course run by Mark Gear.

Here is the article that tells his story of how he conquered the slopes of Chamonix.

Learning to ski off-piste in Chamonix

Chamonix is one of the world's best off-piste resorts, a great place for intermediates to take a course in skiing powder

Off piste at Chamonix

Two skiers go off piste at Chamonix. Photograph: Alamy

'What we're looking for," says Mark Gear, head coach of All Mountain Performance, "is skiing without boundaries". Mark embodies ambition: he started his skiing career handing out boots at Beckton Alps, east London's old dry slope, before becoming a giant slalom racer in Chamonix. His business card pictures him skiing a turn so fast I thought it was someone falling over.

Over five days, his intensive course promises to hone the technique of intermediate skiers, to give us the confidence to handle all runs, and to teach the basics of skiing off piste with a view to mountain safety.

Chamonix is one of the world's most challenging and best off-piste resorts, and a great place for intermediates to learn to ski powder. We start on blue runs above Le Tour, the least vertiginous of Chamonix's four ski areas, focussing on elements of turning: pressure, edge, rotation. Basic, but a proper understanding of these fundamentals is, Mark says, crucial to progress off piste. And he quickly identifies how one thing I had thought essential – thoroughly bending your knees – is overdone to the point of unnecessary pain and loss of control.

The deficiencies in my technique are made woefully clear at the end of each day, when we watch videos Mark has shot of us skiing. The others look good: Beth apparently needs to angulate her body more, while Ishbel has a technique so graceful that Mark struggles to find fault. And then comes a figure in a bulky jacket, hunched over with legs splaying out, like a badly erected wigwam battered by a storm.

My illusions of speed and finesse are dead; I don't know what I can do to improve, bar ditch the bobble hat. But Mark has kind words: the worst skiers can make the biggest improvements. I need to begin by straightening up, standing taller and keeping my errant legs together.

And it starts to work. With only three students (the maximum is six) we get a lot of individual attention. By the second day we are skiing some off piste and doing a tricky black run home from Le Brévent; on the third morning we manage a high and steep ungroomed black run on Les Grands Montets, turning over moguls and deeper snow.

It's a good course to do if you're alone, mixing daytime sociability with relaxed evenings: back in the resort, I want to do little other than eat and crash at the chalet, run by Collineige, whose chefs are plucked from some of Australia and London's top restaurants – even a banana cake at afternoon tea comes with a personalised flourish of, I was told, "an Earl Grey-infused crème anglaise". By Wednesday, when I reluctantly leave chef James's cooking for one of Collineige's central self-catered apartments, après ski has become nothing more than a quest for food, a hot bath, and an 11-hour sleep.

In Chamonix, a notoriously steep resort that draws experts in, it is sometimes hard to feel sure of my progress. Yet I'm feeling comfortable on terrain I would never have ventured on before, and the video evidence is encouraging: still no Ski Sunday, but the gap between my imagined appearance and reality is narrowing. Mark replays one of my turns in slow motion, and cries "Stylish!" Nothing could have made me prouder. By the penultimate day, alas missed by the cameras, I produce a deft, slaloming run through deep snow and trees. All I need, it seems, is an immovable object ahead to make me learn to turn quickly.

On the final afternoon we ski gullies, untracked snow, moguls, steep and bumpy off-piste narrow black runs, and long, soaring, carving turns down broader pistes. "Relax, play around!" Mark shouts. Despite legs so tight and weary that they no longer do my head's bidding, I feel I'm finally getting there. Then, on the very last run of the week, our brilliant instructor is taken out by a snowboarder who careers wildly into the back of him, on an empty slope. It's a chance for Mark to deliver a final, rueful lesson: "Sometimes, off piste is the safest place to be."

To view the article on the Guardian website, please follow the link below

http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2009/nov/07/skiing-off-piste-course-cha...

 

 

 

 

 

Learn to ski off piste

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Our all mountain ski courses run throughout the season in Chamonix for intermediate, advanced & expert skiers. Try a five day intensive ski course, or a shorter 2 day weekend course.

 

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Ski tips for skiing powder

 

Off piste ski tips for skiing deep powder by top level off piste ski instructor Mark Gear.

Learning how to ski off piste in deep powder snow can make fairly accomplished groomed run skiers feel somewhat like beginers again. 

The following off piste skiing tips will help you cut through the frustration quicker and help you on your way to skiing deep powder snow with the flow and comfort you would like to feel.

 

 

Off Piste Ski Tip # 1 - Deep Powder Snow

Use a two footed platform of pressure

Aim to push both skis into the snow when intitiating your turns, this will help distribute pressure onto both skis which provides a more predictable feeling with the skis when deep in the snow.  This is because snow creates resistance around the skis.  The deeper the skis are in the snow, the more snow resistance is felt by the skier around the skis. By pushing both skis into the snow with a more equal distribution of pressure, the snow resistance around each ski also becomes more equal, thus making it much easier for the skier to make both skis do the same thing at the same time.

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Off Piste Ski Tip # 2 - Deep Powder Snow

Make smooth shaped turns

Go for smooth fluid movements and turns with a smooth, curved shape.  This will encourage a more fluid off piste skiing run.  Any abrupt movements or turns will have an abrupt effect on your balance.  Smooth turns and a good rhythm are essential for a fluid powder skiing run.

 

Off Piste Ski Tip # 3 - Deep Powder Snow

Push the heels downwards

Not to be confused with leaning back!  Dont lean back!

In very deep snow, we should aim to push the heels downwards a little to help keep the ski tips up out of the snow.  This movement is very subtle, but very effective.  It WILL stop the feeling of the ski tips wanting to dive deep into the powder snow which is oftern followed by the well known forward face plant.  This movement of pushing the heels down also allows the skier to maintain a relativley centered balance point along the skis length, which is far more comfortable than leaning back.

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Off Piste Ski Tip # 4 - Deep Powder Snow

Remember to pole plant

Smooth, coordinated and well timed pole plants are a very important part to off piste and powder skiing. This will help you to build fluidity and rhythm into your run.  The pole plant also helps for commiting to the turn and helps the skier move the body forwards and in the direction of the new turn.

 

 

Off piste ski tips by elite ski instructor Mark Gear.

 

Join Mark on an off piste ski course!

 

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Ski Instructor Chamonix

 

Meet Mark Gear

 

  • Director / Head Coach For AMP        
  • BASI  Highest Level 4 (ISTD)
  • Level 3 Mountain Saftey       
  • Alpine Performance Coach    
  • Full French Equivalence
  • European Speed Test Holder (Eurotest)
  • Euro Ski Pro Card Holder (GB)           

Mark spent his youth skiing and working as a ski instructor on a dry ski slope in Essex.  In 1996 he decided that Chamonix, in the French alps would be his new home.  After long, intensive training he became the first British qualified ski instructor to work for a French ski school in Chamonix. 

He is one of the few holders of the highly regarded French equivalence and is one of the UK’s most elite ski instructors (BASI 4 ISTD). 

Mark founded All Mountain Performance in Chamonix in 2004 to offer skiers a fresh approach to modern ski teaching.  Specialising in off piste performance courses, he has opened the world of all mountain skiing to thousands.  As well as coaching the recreational public, he has also been involved in training professional ski instructors, competitors and high mountain guides.  His fun and innovative ski teaching focus's on the individual client's needs and has earned him a renowned reputation for acheiving excellent results.

Book your ski instructor in Chamonix now!

 

 Find Your Ski Level

 

Book Courses

 

Make Enquiry

 

Book Private Lessons

 

 

Get the best quality ski instuction in Chamonix with elite British ski instructor Mark Gear

Book an off piste ski instructor in Chamonix

Meet Mark Gear

  • Director / Head Coach For AMP        
  • BASI  Highest Level 4 (ISTD)
  • Level 3 Mountain Saftey       
  • Alpine Performance Coach    
  • Full French Equivalence
  • European Speed Test Holder (Eurotest)
  • Euro Ski Pro Card Holder (GB)           

Mark spent his teens skiing and teaching on a dry ski slope in Essex.  He moved on pretty quickly and in 1996 he decided that Chamonix, in the French alps would be his new home.  After long, intensive training he became the first British qualified ski instructor to work for a French ski school in Chamonix. 

He is also one of the few holders of the highly regarded French equivalence and is one of the UK’s most elite ski instructors (BASI 4 ISTD).  Mark founded All Mountain Performance in Chamonix in 2004 to offer skiers a fresh approach to modern ski teaching.  Specialising in off piste performance courses, he has opened the world of all mountain skiing to thousands. 

As well as coaching the recreational public, he has also been involved in training professional ski instructors, competitors and high mountain guides.  His fun and innovative ski teaching focus's on the individual client's needs and has earned him a renowned reputation for acheiving excellent results.

 

Book your off piste ski instructor in Chamonix now!

 

Find Your Ski Level

 

Book Courses

 

Make Enquiry

 

Book Private Lessons

 

off piste instructor chamonix

richard-loving-the-powder

Book an off piste ski instructor in Chamonix with All Mountain Performance.

Off piste ski courses run in Chamonix for various levels and private ski lessons are available all season.

Our off piste ski instructors are qualified to the highest international level and have a wealth of experience teaching off piste in the Chamonix valley. Learn to ski off piste for the first time or develop your technique on some of Chamonix's world famous off piste ski descents.

 

Find Your Ski Level

 

Book Courses

 

Make Enquiry

 

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AMP Recommendations

 

Airport Transfers

Haute Pursuit Transfers - http://www.hautetransfer.com/

Haute Transfer are the leading transport specialists in Chamonix and the Northern Alps for airport transfers, ski away days, taxis, concierge driving and music and sporting event trips.

 
 

Ski Hire

The Concept Pro Shop  - http://www.conceptproshopchamonix.com/

Situated behind the Aiguille du Midi lift station in Chamonix Sud.   They are a great ski hire shop with new skis and all the latest kit.  They will also give a 10% discount if you say you are skiing with All Mountain Performance.

 

Here are some accommodation websites in and around Chamonix.

 

Hotels in Chamonix

Hotel Des Aiglons - A nice hotel in Chamonix town  - http://www.aiglons.com/fr/hotel/index.html

Hotel Pointe Isabelle - Great hotel in the centre of town. http://www.pointe-isabelle.com/fr/#/hotel.php

Hotel Morgane - A nice hotel in Chamonix centre - http://www.morgane-hotel-chamonix.com/en/hotel/index.html

Hotel le Vert  - 15 minutes walk from the town. This hotel is ideal if you are looking for something comfortable and on a budget.  http://www.verthotel.com/

Hotel Vallee Blanches - Chamonix centre  http://www.vallee-blanche.com/fr/hotel.html

Hotel Gustavia - Centre of Chamonix http://www.hotelgustavia.eu/

 

 

Chalets

Ski Breezy - Independent Catered Ski Chalet accommodation Chamonix. Our emphasis is on a relaxed chalet, home from home style. Excellent home cooking and flowing wine.  www.skibreezy.com

Cold Fusion Chalets

If you are looking for a holiday where you will be recognised as an individual but would like the company of a group of fun, like-minded people, please allow us to introduce ourselves and tell you a bit more about what we do best.

Click here to visit the Cold Fusion website

Valley Fever Ski Chalet – nestled in the Argentiere hillside and right on the ski bus stop the chalet is ideally located for access to the ski domains. They offer fully catered holidays, including food from a pro chef and great service from the team. http://www.valleyfever.co.uk/

Chalet les Pelerins – a stylish, comfortable chalet for you to relax and use as a base for winter or summer adventures, whether you are looking for a fully catered luxury break, or would like the flexibility of a self catered stay. http://www.chalet-in-chamonix.co.uk/

Chalet Portia -  Chalet Portia, is a quirky 1940’s French ski chalet located on the scenic Route de Pecles in central Chamonix.  chaletportia.com

 

Bunkhouse

Le Vagabond – is the famous, friendly, relaxed and atmospheric alpine bunkhouse with a fully licensed bar & restaurant in the centre of Chamonix Mont-Blanc. http://www.gitevagabond.com/

 

Self catered apartments and Chalets

Snostation - apartments to rent in Chamonix. http://www.snostation.com/

 

JK Chamonix - affordable, fully equipped and comfortable holiday appartments in the centre of Chamonix. http://www.jkchamonix.com/

 

Chamonix Self Catered - Charming sister chalets offering self catering for groups up to between 8 and 16 people with great views of the Mont Blanc range. http://www.chamonixselfcatered.com/

 
Chic chalets - Offering independant luxury chalets in the Chamonix valley.
 

Valley Fever Ski Chalet – nestled in the Argentiere hillside and right on the ski bus stop the chalet is ideally located for access to the ski domains. They offer fully catered holidays, including food from a pro chef and great service from the team. http://www.valleyfever.co.uk/

 

Chalet Narnia - Very nice luxury chalet in Vaudagne near Les Houches. (Better to have a car) www.chalet-narnia.com

 

Snowboarding

For snowboard lessons, courses and coaching we recommend Paul Mckeen at Horse Mouth Snowboarding. http://www.horsemouthsnowboarding.com/

 

Restaurants and Bars

 

Munchies restaurant Chamonix , Rue de Moulins

Alain Peru restaurant- Avenue Aiguille du Midi, Chamonix

Bistro des Sports - Rue Joseph Vallot, Chamonix

Elevation 1904 - Avenue Michel Croz, Chamonix

Le Pub - Rue Dr Paccard, Chamonix

Office Bar - Argentière. http://www.the-office-bar.eu/english/home.htm

Le Jekyll - Chamonix Sud, Chamonix. http://www.thejekyll.com/

Le Delice – Les Houches. http://www.le-delice.eu/

Le Mix Bar - Chamonix, rue de Moulins

 

 

 

 

 

Online Ski Tips from AMP

amp-logoEvery month this season AMP will be giving 4 top tips on chaletsdirect.com for better skiing.

4 top tips from  AMP for tuning your skiing back in at the start of the season.

It's always best to start on an easy piste, greens or blues are sufficient –even pros don’t hit the blacks until dialled back in!

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1)Look ahead, just like driving a car, look beyond the bonnet/ski. Try to feel your skis against the snow rather than looking at the tips. Get into the habit of reading the ground ahead of you. It’s better to feel what your skis are doing, encouraging you to work from the ground up for more natural skiing.

4176679374_6d346bc8f5_b4175919131_4496480761_bforward lean

2) Be centered Work on centralising the weight down through the middle of the foot. Try to become aware of where the weight is being transmitted onto the sole of the boot. Standing with your weight centered on the skis gets the skis working as they are designed.Being too far back or too far forwards on the skis does not work as well.

3) Go for smooth, linked turns. Try not to have any abrupt movements. This will help to keep you in balance and allow your skiing to flow.

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4) Get the outside ski working in the turn to have more pressure than the inside one. Pressing early on the outside ski makes a good start to your turns. Do this by stretching the leg slightly to push down through the sole of the foot.

 Mark Gear  All Mountain Performance in Chamonix

 

 

 

Big snow Falls in Chamonix

The 4th of December and already 40cm of snow in Argentiere. We are all looking forward to skiing this weekend at the Grands Montets.  We look forward to see you all there soon.

Ski Improvement Courses in Chamonix

ski improvement courses

Improve your skiing level in Chamonix with elite British ski instructor Mark Gear.

There are 3 course levels to choose from for all mountain & off piste skiing.  Intermediate, advanced and expert ski courses run all season long. Improve your skiing over a full 5 day course, or choose to do a weekend improvement ski course. 

Mark Gear is qualified to the highest International level with many years of experience teaching all mountain & off piste skiing in Chamonix & across Europe. His innovative, fun and professional approach focuses on client's personal goals whilst encouraging control, versatility and individual skier expression. . Ski improvement courses include helpful video feedback, lift priority & private transport for skiing the best terrain in Chamonix.

 

 

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Ski improvement courses in Chamonix with elite ski instructor Mark Gear.

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