Top Ski is a specilaist ski school offering tuition and guiding off-piste, ski touring and heliskiing in Val d’isere as well as technical lessons in skiing, snowboarding and telemarking on piste. The Top Ski – Val Evasion team of highly skilled professional mountain guides and instructors are among the best in the business.
Top Ski founder Patrick Zimmer
In 1976, after a brilliant racing career, Patrick Zimmer started the first breakaway French Ski School, Top Ski, specialising in taking clients to the best off-piste terrain in Espace Killy. Today Zimmer knows these richly varied and exhilarating off-piste areas like no-one else.
"When I arrived in Val d'Isère in 1973 after my racing career I was immediately fascinated by the fabulous mountains and the endless off-piste possibilities they offered" he says. "More than 25,000 hours of off-piste skiing later I still feel the same. Why?"
"What makes the off piste skiing so special for me in Val d'Isère and Tignes is the endless options, the variety of terrain and exposures. It is very rare that all the options are in good and safe condition on the same day. Therefore as soon as I started guiding off-piste in the region, I understood that I needed to have a perfect and very precise knowledge of the terrain in order to find the best snow and safest run, hour after hour, for my clients."
"Since my debut, every day of off-piste skiing is a new and challenging experience, because to make the right decisions on the mountain I have to be aware of the slightest change in the weather system, temperature, wind density and direction and quantity of snow fall."
"Even when the skiing day is over, I want to keep in touch with the mountain and what is actually happening to it. With this information, I can 'see' how it is changing, and where I have a good chance to find the best run the next day." "Two different weather systems - the classic North West fronts coming from the Atlantic, or the East fronts called "retour d'est" coming from the Genova gulf bring the snow to Val d'Isère and Tignes. Val d'Isère, being closer to the east, profits more from the "retour d'est" than the other resorts of the Haute Tarentaise. We can get 50cm of fresh snow in the Pisallais and Fornet area, very little at La Daille, and none at the bottom of les Brévières."
"Unfortunately both systems are generally followed by winds which can be quite high, and build accordingly high wind slab, creating avalanche danger. The danger can be quite high, and just a few degrees difference in the exposure can make the difference between a safe run or a dangerous one. It is essential to be aware of these points in order to trigger the avalanche with the weight of the body if necessary."
"All the off-piste guides at Top Ski meet every morning before going out with clients, and exchange information about these vital points. During my first years in Val d'Isère, I had three friends who helped me learn the finesse of all the parameters required to be a good off-piste guide. One was Bill Jevne, my ice-hockey coach, and the two others were Albert Bozon and Jacques Dupont, the leading off-piste guides in town at the time. Even with his great experience, Albert died in an avalanche. I lost a great friend and guru. I always think of him, and I never ski a slope without making my personal check list. And I always remember that the best off-piste run is always the safest. If all the parameters to ski a slope are not perfectly clear in my head I prefer not ski it, remembering the slope will be there another day and will certainly survive me."
Top Ski Safety & equipment
An avalanche transceiver is provided to each client.
Guides in long range radio contact with office, emergency services and fellow guides.
Experienced at finding best snow and most sheltered skiing in bad weather.
Guides carry a backpack containing first aid equipment.
A second security backpack is issued to each group.
Off-piste groups limited to a maximum of 6 skiers or 4 if skiing couloirs / steeps.
Avalanche and mountain safety courses available
Top Ski Private Lessons & Skills Training
Skills clinics for moguls, carving, free ride, steep slopes, slalom and boarding.
Dedicated telemark school offering tuition from beginner to expert level
Top Ski Off-Piste Day Tours
Top Ski off-piste day tours include some of the best off-piste itineraries in the Alps - Tarentaise, La Rosière - La Thuile, Sainte Foy, Villaroger, Montchavin - La Plagne and Bonneval, the latter involving a helicopter ride back to Val d'Isère. Heli-skiing is not allowed in France, but typically from mid-January, when weather and snow conditions permit, Top Ski offers heli-skiing day trips across the Italian border for intermediates and experts with long descents amid spectacular mountain scenery.
Top Ski Off-Piste Academy Ski Clinics & Packages
5-day week and 3-day weekend full package courses available December, January, March and April for enthusiastic off-piste skiers of all levels aged 18 and over. Accommodation by VIP is in the centrally situated 5-star luxury Aspen Lodges or Bellevarde Lodges at the foot of Solaise www.vip-chalets.com for more information.
Top Ski Val Evasion
Avenue Olympique - Les Andes BP8
73152 Val d'Isere, France
Tel: +33 (0)4 79 06 14 80
Visit the Top Ski website or for more information and prices please call us or send us an enquiry using the form below:
Top Ski Val d'isere
Avenue Olympique – Les Andes BP8, Val d'Isere
Tel: +33 (0)4 79 06 14 80