Inside Out Skiing’s guide to off piste skiing levels

Please use these guidelines in conjunction with our “What’s My Level” guide to determine which Courses are most suitable for you.
Aspirer - Confident level 7 and higher skiers who are willing to venture into un-groomed snow on slopes offering a swift re-entry to pisted conditions.

Limited off-piste experience, from none to a few days with a desire to improve while skiing tougher conditions such as icy slopes, steeps, bumps and chopped up snow. Relatively fit with the attitude and aptitude to progress.
Improver - Level 8 and higher skiers with at least a weeks experience skiing moderate off-piste slopes (blue-red) confidently and comfortably.

Able to link multiple turns in light, above boot height, powder snow on a uniform base. May struggle to link turns in poor lighting or variable snow conditions. Can manage easy untracked terrain in fresh light snow, or, hard but chalky snow without any obstacles to contend with. Has the fitness to ski off piste for a few hours and can get up unassisted after a fall in light snow.
Developer - Level 8 and higher skiers who confidently enjoy skiing off piste on steeper slopes (red-black) away from pistes.

Will have several weeks spent skiing off-piste terrain and has had training on the use of avalanche safety equipment. Skis confidently and enjoys powder, able to link turns with consistent speed and rhythm in good snow conditions without falling. Able to handle a variety of conditions including lightly crusted and wind affected snow. Possibly skied with guides, perhaps ski toured, or have been down couloirs. Has the fitness to ski off piste all day and would be happy to skin uphill on easy gradients for up to an hour at a time and can get up unassisted after a fall in deep snow.
Explorer - Level 9 and higher skiers who are confidently able to ski steeper slopes (steep red+) off-piste in all types of snow.

Able to control speed and follow a precise line in restricted terrain with obstacles (rocks, trees, couloirs, deep moguls). Has some experience skiing breakable crust and can tactically cope with poor snow and light conditions. A basic understanding of snow stability, mountain craft, search & rescue techniques and the fundamentals of how to ski safely in mountain terrain. Will probably have some experience of backcountry skiing and touring. Has the fitness to ski off piste all day, would be happy to skin uphill for a few hours on terrain that would require kick turns and is able get up unassisted after a fall in poor snow in difficult terrain.
Expert - Level 10 and higher skiers who can handle most skiable off piste terrain, with obstacles, in the widest variety of difficult snow conditions in a controlled, confident manner.

Considerable experience with over several years of skiing off piste in numerous ski areas, throughout the ski season and in all types of snow. A practical and solid understanding of mountain craft and how to ski safely in back country un-patrolled terrain. Skis with fluidity and confidence in almost any condition. Actively seeks challenging terrain. Flat light does not pose too much of a problem for this skier. Will have done ski touring that required navigation skills and possibly some ski mountaineering. Can safely and confidently negotiate any conditions they may encounter including breakable crust and deep snow.
Professional - Trained professionals: Mountain Guides, Piste Patrollers; Free ride, Ski mountaineering and Extreme skiing competitors.