If you ski, snowboard, hike or climb in the mountains, or if you’ve ever wanted to. This could change the way you do it forever.
Local knowledge. We’re not talking about between the pages of your glossy guidebook, regardless of which mountaineering-megastar wrote it. We’re talking about picking the brains of the people around you, in the here and now. The mountains are possibly the most changeable environment in the world, in terms of outdoor conditions, but you can apply this thinking to everything else you get up to as well.
A restaurant may have a good reputation, but the chef has gone down the mountain this week. The local bar has terrible music, but a new band is finally coming to town. A certain piste might usually be crusty, but it’s been impeccably groomed for a ski race next week. The après bar has over-ordered beer and is giving it away for free..! (OK, the last one is wishful thinking) but these are the things that the locals know.
Ongosa conducted a poll of the ski and snowboard instructors that they work with and surprise, surprise the number-one thing they love about their job, is being in the mountain environment… and we thought it was for the goggle tan! The second thing they loved the most was working with, and helping, new people all the time. This means they’re some of the most authentic, passionate professionals in the world!
By hiring an instructor or guide when you’re traveling in the mountains (A Mountain Guide is someone with the IFMGA carnet, the highest qualification in the world for leading people in the mountains, whether skiing, climbing or mountaineering), you are effectively paying for their local knowledge. It’s in their interest, just as much as yours, to find the shorter lift queues, the cheap(er) eats and the safest, most enjoyable conditions, that may have passed you by otherwise unnoticed.
If you don’t want to splash out on a guide on the hill – there’s plenty of other ways to glean local knowledge. We promise this: no one works in a ski resort for the money, they’re all there for the love of the sport, so everyone has an opinion on where’s best to go! For this reason, the guys who fit your boots, sell you your lift pass, serve your coffee, or check you into your hotel – heck, even the drunk guy in the bar – will all give you the best local knowledge on offer.
You might feel a little embarrassed, asking questions like the clueless foreigner (that you are!) but the reward comes when you’re not stuck in the same tourist traps as everybody else. It’s obvious that up-to-the-minute, local knowledge will always give you the best travel experience, and whether you hire someone passionate to share theirs with you, or just utilise enthusiastic residents, this is for certain in the mountains.
About the Author
Jenny works with Ongosa, who match travel enthusiasts with their perfect adventure-sports guides and instructors, so they know a thing or two about making the most of the mountains! You’ll find more articles like this, at Ongosa’s blog, full of ski and climb ideas, information and inspiration. Connect with Jenny on LinkedIn or Ongosa on Twitter and Facebook.