January was as hectic as December if not more. Massive amount of precep, rain, wind, snow . 100 of chalets evacuated, avalanche’s wind blowing chalet out, 2 lifts broken, some buried, road broken. Chamonix mostly closed, twice under avi level 5. We spent most of that time skiing Pavillon in italy , in the lowers hellbroner (skyway) feeling somewhat safe or not (it just happened to be open), eating pizza, drinking beers, enjoying the sun the few time it was around. I was mostly in the dark, sometime under heavy snow falling, testing the limitations of my cameras/lens and my abilities… I had One day only up the aiguille du midi skiing a valley blanche. The other few good sunny days, i was working. I also took pictures of the new marker binding release event …… some images are redundant with previous post. Photos in total disorder. During a couple of sunny windows, a lot of the argentiere basin steep runs got skied. I had to work shuttling people around most those days but that is hope.
This pre season started better than the last 4 years, we got hit by a few big storms. Yet we are now dealing with abnormal temp fluctuation bringing the iso 0 from 800M to 2000M back and forth with a lot of precipitations. Which makes it hard to ski anything. It is forecasted for the next 10 days so we have to be patient. I am pretty sure , when the weather will calm down , it will be sick skiing, top to bottom. I had to work most of that time so skiing at lunch break mostly , alone more often than not. I got some epic forrest skiing sometime meeting with fun crews….
A nice early season scenic training hike with Davide De masi and Dyane Dvy
On a lunch break i met with Ross Hewitt, johanna smilla stalnacke and Michelle Blaydon for an epic plan de l aiguille session
A day under the super classic Val Veny cable line with Luca Rolli and Luca Pandolfi.It was new to me and despite seeing that run from the lift as we go up, it is very intimidating and not so straight forward, steep and very exposed. I was happy to be with Rolli who is conservative in the way he approaches this kind of run…
A day at the montenvert forrest delight with Ross Hewitt and Michelle Blaydon
An epic lunch brake with Glenn Plake his wife Kimberley and the son of Remy Lecluse at the plan de l ‘aiguille…
As i am writing this , we have a 5/5 avalanche risk which i have never seen in the 12 years here in cham….or maybe once. Mostly due to heavy snow fall over 2000 meters and heavy snow and rain under 2000 meters
I grew up watching Jacques Cousteau video, swimming with whales was always a dream of mine. I took the excuse of a needed photography course to do so. Editing and Taking pictures of orcas underwater in the darkness of the arctic winter sounds technically challenging enough. One of the best in marine photography Darren Jew was the host as well as a marine biologist who gave us a lot of betas, science and datas. It took me 2 days to get used to the underwater gear and I’m still learning the tricks of pushing the technical limits of my sensor as well as the do’s and don’t in post editing. This week was absolutely stellar, visually brilliant , and very cold…swimming with whales and orcas is spiritually enriching.
The orcas for the past 7 years had been in around Tromso, in the ervfjord. However, they follow the herrings. The water in ervfjord was 10c too warm, the salmond farm are depleting the water of oxygen and the herrings usually change location every 10 years or so, which one had them to move up north east to skervoy this year is unclear, but we had to move camp to Havness. we spent most our days on a boat, it took us 1 hour to go from Havnnes to Skervoy, once around skervoy, we were hoping to find them feeding on a ball bait of herring which makes it easy to take photos. When they are chasing salmond or just socializing, it is very difficult to get in the water on time before they vanish especially when they are not in the mood. Most the time we end up jumping in, maybe take a shot, back on boat, cold as hell, find a few other, jump in…and so on…
But on the 3rd day freezing our asses off , jumping on and off , getting blurry shots, we found a fish net full of herrings with a dozens mostly adults male orcas roaming around. It was epic, special. We swam in the warmth of the water for 2 hours and all got pretty rad shots…
Of course, The arctic offers us an exploding sky which adds to the dreamy unreal trip i am on
a few facts
there are about 50 -100 K orcas worldwide. 3 types with 3 different diets including transients orcas eating mostly marine mammals like in antartica and residents orcas eating mostly fish like in norway or canada. In canada , the wild chinook salmond is vanishing due to salmond farms, orcas don’t eat farmed salmond and are found dead, starvation. In ersfjord near tromso , salmond farm sucked the oxygen out of the water, the water temp raised, herrings moved north so did the orcas and us. In the world, there are still some moronic idiotic humans who think those animals belong in a pool, they are still captured worldwide. Each pods speak a complete different languages, 2 different pods can’t understand each other, when they capture orcas, very often , they mix different Types (transient, residents, off shore) which have different diet but also from different pods so they can’t communicate. Those morons try to give fish to transient orcas and they die…they are called killer whales, they are big and dark but they have a big heart. they are closer to the dolphin than anything else. Catch 22: in norway, fishermans want to bring the whale and orcas quota up because, they say, they eat all the fish. The whale watching tourism bring more money than fishing. So it was refused. But, there are some abuse and more and more people harass those animals, chasing them, trying to touch them….it is bad ethic. I saw it.
I spent 1 month volunteering in Namibia-naankuse, south-Africa-Kevin Richardson and Zambia. I found volunteering is the best way to go for countries in southern Africa. The money goes straight into conservation effort, working and spending time with local is very enriching, i get a better understanding of the conservation work and limitations , and I get a more intimate experience with wild species..
Black crows ski have been hosting this festival for many years now. It used to be an intimate home made 3 days bacchanal called the black week end with sweet DJs and crowd. This is now a full blown (mostly) electronic music festival with cutting edge sound designers and huge crowd. As usual, my procrastinating punished me, i didn’t get that “black bracelet” on time allowing drinks and entry to all events for cheaper…i had to choose which and what without costing my arms and legs. Luckily, my wish was on heavy , dark industrial techno berliner Berghain resident Marcel Dettman, playing 3 times with 2 free events. It is easy to find good house music or dance music in any event but techno is far harder. Marcel dettman is a sure thing. Under the same MDR/Ostgut-Ton label, answer code request was playing as well. the cherry on the cake. (on the techno ostgut-ton label, ben Klock was here as well but i missed him)
For me the festival started at the aiguille du midi. Which happened to be my first time up there this season. Yes, kinda unreal but a mix of bad season leading to work a lot and my bad attitude had this happen …what a treat to be partying up there…
The most defining moment was at the refuge de lognan , me and Nate at a table when answer code request (Patrick Gräser) started with playing that song. The scenic, clouds, the song . This is where i fell in love. What followed was pretty amazing . Precise bass in an outstanding setting in the privacy of a mountain refuge…priceless.
powerful Humans skiing. It is such strong skiing down a gnarly face. Very impressive. I was posted at the very top of a mountain across the face so i couldn’t hear who was going and which start. Getting a shot was alike posting myself in the Zambian bush to wait for an animal to cross path. When it happened , i wasn’t sure who and sometime the time to get my camera at the right spot was too late. Oh well.