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There will be many thousands of holidaymakers planning their ski holidays to resorts across the globe this winter, and if this blog makes even just one holidaymaker read this and take heed, then I know this will have been worth writing. I felt the need to write after tragic news that Rachel Ward, a Durham University student, aged just 20, had died whilst on holiday in Val d’Isere, a top French ski resort in the Alps. Rachel was enjoying a night out with her fellow students in a local bar, before deciding to return to the apartment alone whilst her friends headed to a club. When leaving the bar, she mistakenly took a left turn, instead of a right, and therefore ended up headed out of town rather than back to the accommodation. After realising she was now lost, it is thought that Rachel turned back and began walking in the direction she had come, but it is believed that she slipped down a 30ft snow bank and into the river Isere, where she died of hypothermia, despite being suitably clothed for the icy conditions and not being under the influence of alcohol (unlike many other revellers).

Take this advice to try and prevent a visit from these guys...the mountain patrollers.

Take this advice to try and prevent a visit from these guys…the mountain patrollers.

When on a ski holiday please, please carefully respect the unfamiliar surroundings – just one blink and circumstances can change very, very quickly. Although there is no magical protection available from accidents, when on holiday common sense is often easily forgotten about, and people don’t think about the consequences of their actions. Certain things that you take for granted back home (such as knowledge of an area) has to be learnt from scratch when in an unfamiliar place. Take the time, even if it is just half an hour, to familiarise yourself with your new surroundings before you venture out on a night. Everything looks different in the dark. Remember to always, always stick in parties of at least two, preferably more, and never split up. Ensure you have suitable clothing; layering is the best way to keep warm as you can always add or remove items of clothing as and when required. Keep up to date with the ski weather reports, and pay attention to any warnings (of avalanches etc) and avoid skiing in dangerous areas. Despite the cold, remember it is very important to stay hydrated and wear sunglasses and sunscreen as the sun is surprisingly bright and deceptively direct. Don’t over-exert yourself and know and keep within your limits on the slopes – don’t do anything you aren’t comfortable or confident with, or attempt anything too risky as you will more than likely come off worst. Also, make sure you have adequate ‘winter sports/ski’ upgraded travel insurance, just in case the worst should happen – an enormous hospital bill at the end of your trip isn’t what you need, especially in addition to injuries. Despite all of my advice, remember that a holiday is to enjoy, so have a good, fun time whilst skiing, but… Stay safe!

By Gary Anderson