Off-Season, Off-Piste: Reaching New Mountain Heights

Off-Season, Off-Piste: Reaching New Mountain Heights

Looking for a new all-time mountain high? In partnership with TAG Heuer, we’re showcasing three of the world’s most challenging winter sports, with a hat-trick of action- packed itineraries that are as testing as they are rewarding.

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This article appears in Vol.36: Discovery.

snow powdering your face, granite rocks ripping past, the drifts blowing all
around as you race down a perilous vertical in G-force- inducing
switchbacks: what could be more of a rush than testing your
high-altitude endurance amid some of the world’s most
breathtakingly beautiful scenery? We’ve explored Austria’s icy wild
west, flown higher than a Canadian chairlift ever could and braved
the terrain beyond Colorado’s black runs, going off-piste,
off-season, to inspire you to do the same.

These are challenges for the fearless. Heliskiing in remote
British Columbia, backcountry climbs across the Elk Mountains and
scaling frozen waterfalls in Austrian Tyrol all require skill,
perseverance and precision. Forget what you thought you knew about
snow days. Our action-packed itineraries will see you giving it
everything you’ve got as you tackle extreme conditions and test
your own limits – with the right kit, of course. And, when you’re
up against it, a timepiece that won’t let you down is vital. Our
preferred wrist candy? The Swiss-engineered TAG Heuer Aquaracer
Professional 200 – a hard-wearing, heavy-duty tool watch that does
so much more than just keep time.

Ready to unshackle yourself from the everyday and embark on an
unforgettable adventure of a lifetime? We thought so. Grab your
TAG Heuer Aquaracer and let’s go.

Heliskiing in Revelstoke, Canada


Welcome to “Revy”. Home to big-mountain terrain, deep snow and
the continent’s highest vertical slope, this isolated Selkirk ski
town is an extreme-sports mecca. Ease yourself in and learn the lay
of the land with a top- to-bottom lap of the resort. If it’s a
fresh-powder day, make tracks to the rope drop above the Ripper
Chair for a spellbinding descent through the pristine blanket of
white. Getting in a few post-sunset runs is a tradition up here
and, thanks to the pioneering Super-LumiNova® technology
illuminating your Aquaracer’s hour and minute hands, you won’t have
to worry about missing your dinner reservation at the Quartermaster Eatery. Housed within the dinky,
nine-room Explorer’s Society hotel, the restaurant is a hit with
locals and visitors alike.


It’s time to get serious. Transfer your kit to the helipad-
equipped Eagle Pass Lodge, meet your guide and grab a pair of
high-performance powder skis. After swinging by La Baguette for an
almond-milk chai latte and some trail-mix cookies, your attention
will turn to clocking your timings for tomorrow’s drop. Weather
forecasts are regarded as the holy grail in heliskiing, and
conditions change fast. You’ll need to keep a close eye on the hour
up there.

DAYS 3-4

Swooping over jagged mountain silhouettes, skimming icy ridges
and traversing high above snowy bowls, the helicopter ride is a
rush in itself, but things only get better when you land and find
yourself in the thick of the Rogers Pass powder stashes – a
landscape synonymous with deep snow and prolonged descents.

Heliskiing is all about catching the ultimate run. You won’t
have encountered inclines like this anywhere before. It takes focus
to track the terrain’s natural features, handle the lengthy
descents and master the steep, unexpected drops into challenging
wooded areas. As you slalom between 700-year-old hemlocks and
western red cedars, fresh snow swirling, you really will feel on
top of the world. Tumbles are part and parcel of this fast and
furious discipline, but, rest assured, double safety gaskets in the
Aquaracer design prevent water penetration during the inevitable
white outs.


Muscles burning? Linger over an indulgent breakfast of brie and
apple French toast at Main Street Café, before making the 90-minute drive
to the forest-cloistered Halfway Hot Springs for a therapeutic soak
in the steaming natural pool. Spend the afternoon exploring the
Victorian architecture of downtown Revelstoke, stopping at the
clapboard-clad Modern Bakeshop for a hot Ginger Elixir,
guaranteed to warm chilly fingers. Don’t leave without savouring a
sophisticated “appies” session (local slang for après-ski). Feast
on poutine and cheese curds washed down with local craft brews at
Village Idiot
. You’ve earned it.

Backcountry skiing in Colorado, US


The first rule of backcountry skiing? Be prepared. From the
moment you touch down in Aspen, you’ll be gearing up for a
mountaineering exploit that’s as much about the journey as it is
hitting the hot-ticket slopes. Spring signals the close of the ski
town proper, but, for backcountry bunnies, warmer weather spells
the opportunity for some spectacular off-trail adventures. This
snow sport is a masterclass in understanding the landscape you’re
hiking across, pre-planned timings and quick decision- making on
fast, short mountainsides.

With that in mind, you’ll need to prep hard on day one. Pick up
your crampons, ice axe, ski skins and avalanche kit, then grab a
table at the sunny Spring Café to plot your routes for the
following day. Take in the rugged southern Rockies with a ride up
the Silver
Queen Gondola
, or simply enjoy a stroll through this former
mining town- turned-A-lister magnet. Take the weight off at quirky,
art-filled Independence Square hotel, located just a block
from Aspen Mountain.



Early alarms, please. After fuelling up on banana chocolate-chip
muffins (picked up the day before from South Galena Street’s
Paradise Bakery), it’s full-steam ahead to the
northern face of the 4,059m Hayden Peak. Exit Highway 82 for the
trailhead, and it’s time to clip your crampons on. After an
invigorating hike through the atmospheric forest above Castle
Creek, you’ll arrive at the mountain’s lower elevations. Break out
of the dark woods into the dazzling daylight, swerve around

Face, then grit your teeth and begin skinning up the demanding,
snow-packed slope.

Be wary of time. Past 12, the sun warms the snow, making the
wide bowl ahead unstable. Because your Aquaracer fits comfortably
over a ski glove – using a clever extension system on the
stainless-steel bracelet – you won’t have to worry about fumbling
to read the time and, instead, can concentrate fully on the task at
hand. Stop, survey the open curve of the glittering bowl, then let
it rip, slicing through the untouched snow at speed.


Ready for the big one? Rise at 3am for your drive to the Maroon
Lake trailhead. You can’t afford to get your timings wrong for this
particular mountaineering challenge. If you’re an hour late on
descent, you’ll hit wet snow, which is seriously bad news. Expect a
steep climb to the notorious North Maroon Peak: ski skins on,
you’ll need buckets of determination to edge your way up.

Serious skills are required to manoeuvre between the jutting red
rocks on your descent. White outs come with the terrain – hit the
cliff hard and fast for a heart- rocketing speed run, then glide
through the exit chute onto an expansive apron, floating across
unsullied snow. Back in town, celebrate your triumph with expertly
crafted cocktails at Hooch. Our order? The Scholar – a maple-infused
bourbon and vermouth number with a dangerous absinthe finish – an
apt end to your extreme Colorado adventure.

Ice climbing in Tyrol, Austria


Keen to cling to an inaccessible wall of slippery, unforgiving,
crystalline ice? Let us introduce you to ice climbing. Forget all
you’ve learnt on the piste: this is going to call for real inner
strength and grit. Austria’s Ötztal Valley benefits from
high-altitude temperatures, so when the rest of Europe’s
three-month Jäger hangover dissipates, hardliners test their
endurance by scaling the valley’s 39 frozen waterfalls.

Start out in Innsbruck, making a beeline for the moody Altstadthotel
Weisses Kreuz
(design-wise, think Tyrolean baroque ‘n’ roll).
Post-check in, you’ll want to look up current ice conditions and
organise your kit – sharp crampons, ice axes, helmet and harness
are all non-negotiable. Pause to breathe in the invigorating alpine
air, then head to the rustic Gasthaus Anich for simple, traditional
plates served up in a homely, wood- panelled dining room.



Time to embrace the cold. Get into gear with an ascent of the
glorious Taschachschlucht gorge, an hour’s drive from Innsbruck.
Ice climbing is not for the faint-hearted (or the inexperienced).
After reaching the summit of the frozen falls, you’ll refasten your
harness and push off from the icy edge, abseiling in parallel to
the glimmering cliff you’ve just scaled. There’s no need to fear
denting your TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 200, though. A
robust, durable watchcase and athlete-tested double-

lock safety strap means it will still be in place, and still
looking box-fresh, at the end of your adventure. Unwind and bed
down at the Pitztal Valley’s Hotel Wildspitze, whose alpine herb
sauna is a godsend.


Ready to step it up? For guaranteed ice beyond the winter
season, head up into the neighbouring Kaunertal Valley, set on the
upper course of the Inn River, around an hour’s drive away. This is
the place to scale magnificent frozen waterfalls, including the
jaw-dropping Der Zwirn and the infamously vast Angst vor Lust.
You’ll stretch your perseverance to the extreme as you make your
way along rugged ice walls, breaking at regular intervals to take
in the heart-stopping vistas. Back on terra firma, drop into the
luxurious Hotel Zhero for a five-star finale to your trip.
Featuring local wood, jewel-like accents and floor- to-ceiling
windows in every suite, this mountain retreat offers an opulent end
to your Austrian experience – as sleek, well-designed and
functional as your trusty TAG Heuer Aquaracer.

The Lowdown

The TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 200 is the ultimate tool
watch. Constructed with heavy- duty materials, it pushes the
boundaries of luxury timekeeping. To find your fit, visit

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