As a ski tour operator we can obviously see the appeal of going off piste. But we would always advocate you take the correct precautions.

You should always have adequate ski insurance that covers you for off piste skiing, have the correct kit with you and at all times we would always recommend you go under the supervision of a guide.

While off piste skiing can offer some superb fresh tracks, it comes with its own dangers – mainly the fear of an avalanche. While reports are fortunately few in number, there are instances when serious injury or worse can come from going off piste without being properly prepared.

Some people are lucky. British skier Miss Rhianna Shaw from Chichester, West Sussex survived after she was buried alive in an avalanche and declared clinically dead.

The accident happened on Thursday last week when Miss Shaw, who is spending the ski season working in Austria, was skiing off piste near St Anton with five friends. She had been out on the same slopes several times before.

She said: ‘We hadn’t had snow for a couple of weeks then lots came down and it was a lovely sunny day so we decided to go out.

There is only a six per cent chance of resuscitation once someone has been buried in deep snow for eight minutes.

Miss Shaw, from Chichester, West Sussex, said yesterday it was ‘absolutely terrifying’ as she could not move and her friends could not hear her screams for help.

She said: ‘There was several feet of snow on top of me. You usually think snow will move but it just sets like concrete around you.

‘I was absolutely frozen and  I couldn’t move an inch. I could just about make out which way was up as a little bit of light was coming through and I could hear faint sounds.

‘All I could do was scream for help, but no one could hear me.

‘They thought I might have skied off and I could hear my mobile ringing in my pocket but I couldn’t answer it. It was absolutely terrifying.’

‘I was completely buried alive and no part of me was above the surface. I would rather have not been conscious but I was.

After 11 minutes buried under the snow, most skiers die. Miss Shaw was taken to hospital by helicopter and put on a drip. A week on, she is ‘doing well’ but still haunted by the accident.

She said: ‘It hits me at strange times. It’s like a weird bad  dream. I won’t be going off piste again in a hurry.’

The Mountaineering Council of Scotland has some very good safety advice and information on avalanches.