9am hellbroner on a mission with Luca Pandolfi , strong wind and cold at 3500M. I am delighted when i see Francois Thevenet and Arthus on their first beer at the bar up top. It is easy for me to call it off and start chillin’ . That is until we see Tof Henri, Seth Morrison and Nate Wallace annihilating the entreve face. Every body/Luca freaks out and in less than 5 mins all my cozy plans of hanging out at the bar by the fire place with cigs the cat and beers vanished. I am now braving the minus 50c (-1) wind and climbing M6 (M0) to get to that face. It is all great, i am dreaming of those big big turns in perfect champagne powder all the way… Well, those top gun riders made it look like perfect champagne snow , the reality was more variable than that and with sharks. SO those big 5 flawless turns turned into 15 maybe…im floating 98 underfoot these days. that is. Good fun. The rest of the descent to the mid station was on refrozen stuff mostly which made the all day seems/feel big…
A lot of good skiing to be had up there. Big and steep or not. We chose not. Wandering.
Back to La Palud , Coffee with luisa and straight into the little tin can. The only skiers are me , ben, francois and Casa…It is still summer on the entire lower part , chamois are happily getting fat and we hope the second half will have enough snow to get a few free ride turns. Not. It is thin , too thin to even try. There is surely 2 or 3 good turns. that is it. We go on a stroll to look at the higher world. It is white and red . Everything. beauty. If you enjoy ice axes, crampons and jump turns…it is your season!
For our first tour we were a little late for the forecasted good snow and a little too weak to get on those beautiful couloirs at the top. Sweet day skiing again with Nicklas and Anna…
As skiers we dream when we see those beautiful pictures in Svalbard or Baffin Island. The climate change and global warming is about to change everything about it. From oil rigs to world trade arctic new route is about to destroy all of it faster than we think. Sooner we will look at pictures of skiers skinning up black ice on baffin island with oil rigs as scenics. When we buy stuff made in “slave world” we agree with that status quo . BUY made in “local”
“”It’s not going to be me revoutionizing any new tech for lower emissions or sustainable energy. But I can be mindful of my own impact and do what I can to reduce it when possible and make smart decisions. But as a consumer I don’t know where I am allowed to stand. When I fill up my car and plug in my computer, or buy toxics clothes, I don’t feel like I am part of the solution. Everyone’s some part of the status quo. But that absolutely does not mean we forfeit our agency to change the situation. ”
When we buy stuff made in “slave world” we agree with that status quo .
this is the results of sending our dirty industries and toxic trash in china. because it is far and cheap “the age of stupid” …
BUY made in “local”
Si vous voulez voir la nature belle et vierge comme une fiancée, allez là par un jour de printemps ; si vous voulez calmer les plaies saignantes de votre cœur, revenez-y par les derniers jours de l’automne ; au printemps, l’amour y bat des ailes à plein ciel, en automne on y songe à ceux qui ne sont plus.
Le Lys dans la vallée de Honoré de Balzac
[ Balzac ]
Every autumn i go on a work/meditation retreat off the grid deep in the california woods. it is always a very good time to think and ponder. After a couple of weeks my friend Huevos rushed to me with what he could get from a one bar connection on his phone about a very bad news concerning my friends JP Auclair, Andreas Fransson and Bjarne Sahlen. We couldn’t get more than a random page announcing briefly the confirmed death of Andreas and JP. Frustration was high as we couldn’t get anymore info than that. what happened? Bjarne? what the fuck. A month prior i was at a bbq at Fransson with Bjarne and they talked about their chilean project. There was no immediate plans to get down to connections so i just swallowed the news , deep. From deep , there is a howling of sadness… the tears… The tears have not yet been on the outside. I am around people, and I don’t want to be comforted. They don’t know them . Not letting them out. They might come later, the tears. But for now they stop inside, leaving my eyes glossy. Moments come in my mind, those times spent with fransson at the top of the aiguille du midi waiting for windows, remembering his advises and betas on huge runs then rarely skied, remembering the west face of mont blanc and the eugster i would not have skied had he not told /encourage me “you should go you can do it” .
It is so unfair.
Fransson is known as a punk ass skier for his descent of denali or other “no future” type endeavor. Since he started his guide program and met his girlfriend Ali he was tamed. Cautious. Extremely experienced.Focused on details. safe. more conservative in his choices.
i remember meeting jp 5 years ago in cham during the shoot of “ordinary skier” . He was the most unusual pro skier/park head jibber i met. Not looking the part: discreet, smart, well travelled, intelligent, artsy, well read, creative , humble. I remember him telling me how scared he was of alaska and powder, avalanches. I saw him many times after: cragging in cham , I was there on his first descent of the mallory…Later I waited for him when he skied the frendo with fransson in a white out whilst we skied the eugster that day and we all met at the bottom drinking beer.
he just had a baby.
Later, My friend Huevos said it looks like something happened to a “liz “ as well. We couldn’t get more on the short connection. just someone posted ” bye Liz” on Facebook. I immediately thought of Liz Daley but i knew she wasn’t with Fransson. she is in cham climbing “spliiiitttttters” with her newly fiance and good friend of mine Davide Demasi AKA Diamond. I saw them 20 days ago, at a welcome to cham Liz BBQ.
We all decided to go eat pizza in town. Alleluya, connection. I couldn’t wait any longer. The first post i see is the one from Diamond announcing Liz daley’s death. I couldn’t hold it anymore and bursted in tears for a minute in the rough neck scene i am in. pretty. …fuckin hell.
Liz Daley. really?
This is beyond fucked up.
She was so conservative in her choices , she was so safe. I always enjoyed the contrast with her girly manners in a brutal environment, she was always so pro. I was angry when she told me she had to switch from patagonia to Eddie Bauer because patagonia wouldn’t put her on payroll. Why?. She was so good at advertising , her numerous post on TGR were brilliant LINK, full of life, fun. Her few videos were so lively and funny. She was no Peterson but heck, most of us can identify with doing our toe nails at the base of denali more than G-s-ing massive faces in AK. Anyways.
It doesn’t matter. She is dead now.
I am crushed.
3 good people are gone. Again. it is redundant . too many. The usual “ he died doing what he loved” gets me pissed off. it doesn’t mean anything anymore. Andreas said” there are no good reason to die for but the mountains gives me a reason to live for” Ok, fine. My parents who see the numerous dead people post on Facebook dont understand at all. They are worried. I am confused. It is snowing now in cham . I am not excited . whatever. yes . it is snowing. The only thing that keep me skiing isn’t skiing anymore .per say. It is just the people i meet. Without skiing i would not have met such unique characters like JP, Andreas and Liz. This is about the people, those moments. What i remember most are those times spent with people before and after skiing. the skiing is always good, it is just skiing. I am pissed off at skiing right now. …
In La Kesh
A FEW PICTS
I don’t have pictures of JP but here a video he made whilst skiing the frendo/ eugster. It shows his creativity and what he could do with just some go pro footage. So much richer and elaborate than what you usually see coming from the usual ski hipster- pro-park-freeride-facebook-instagram crowd nowadays …
i build more cairns at the signal every time we loose someone…
Luca Pandolfi called me up in the midst of a hot humid rainy mid summer period telling me we should go ski Lyskam. It is an amazing face in a zone i havent been so I dug out what i could find of my ski kit under- way- under the summer junks. Upon our arrival to the refuge, a picture of the face got me somewhat pessimistic, it looked like the rain had crusted the bottom half of the face. This is the type of face you want to ski with good big powdery turns, fluidly (or else you didn’t really ski it) … not really a jump turn- sideway skiing type thing. That said because of that: (what some would call) “snobbism” , i still havent skied the Couturier or the Gervasutti. On our way, we met with friends-ski world -movers and shakers joe vallone, PTOR and glen Plake who shared the same dreams . awesome!. At the summit , we made a few turns down the benedetti line on the N.face until we realized it was really gonna be miserable another 200 meters down. So we climbed back up and skied the other side. Oh well. im glad i saw that zone, a must do. I enjoy that kind of summer ski mission
The rest of August was unstable and rainy and crowded.I barely had windows to take my bike out on my days off. Dreaming i am getting dusted on the black rock desert celebrating hedonism. .
Every year Andre Manoukian brings us the cosmojazz festival, A massive amount of amazing musicians from everywhere playing a wide very wide variety of jazz. Here some pictures of the Ethiopians ESTER RADA and the band from chicago who killed it in the center of cham : HYPNOTIC BRASS ENSEMBLE from Chicago
between the rain and the job; Some climbing, biking…
I am working night shift so I am waking up to this everyday…
Conditions in cham havent been very inviting so I’ve watched a lot of movies. After going thru my usual classic like “natural born killer” or “american beauty” and other “usual suspect” …i went back to the outdoor world and re watched All the Jordan Manley films. Those are still, by far, the best ski movies i have seen EVER. Well, to be fair, It is not your usual ski porn however they always take me somewhere with a well build atmosphere, good storyline and perfect imagery and most of all no bragging. They inspire me. To travel, go ski but also to maybe get into filming. More of a documentary/ski/poetic type stuff.
Unfortunately jordan is injured at the moment so nothing is new…but so good.
It is spring , i am not working. My list of proud “tik” off that dream bucket should be huge by now. Not. I didn’t do shit. I tried a few time. Waited for a window, 8 hours at the top of the midi. I skied absolutely nothing worth writing about. But i hung out a lot , talked to a lot beautiful people. Partied a little. I had a spectacular last run down grand montet face on acid at sunset over a multicolored cloud. Hung out more. Good times really. The current conditions are not easy to read if you are on the lazy side of things…I am. it is good. Maybe i will score before it is too late. Or not. It is Ok.
I got another side job, this time as a sherpa on a Corey Rich -marmot-polartec shoot. Being around another successful outdoor director was interesting. Especially Corey who was a bad ass climber/photographer bum living in a van back in those glorious yosemite days. His path is very unusual. Talented and hard worker his resume now goes from shooting gnarly climb up trango towers to apple ads and other nikon ads…impressive. check his website: coreyrich.com.
This time we had a drone which was fun to see those operate up in the alpines…not so practical but if you know what you are doing the footage from it are sick! To operate them isn’t all what you need , sean the pilot is a full on engineer able to trouble shoot and fix whatever bug there is on the drone or connections or fix the liaison between the drone and the monitor and so on. full job. Remote control operator could be a good idea for a lucrative career if you are into that. it is going to blow up…
I was invited to follow Seth Morrison, Tim petrick, Heather Paul Featherman, Tom Day, Matty Moo herriger , Mike hattrup on a warren miller film segment shoot here around cham. The guide was Miles smart and the sherpa oli herren. The weather forecast was the typical spring unpredictable crap but Miles was able to make the best out of that, taking the crew to
where we were able to skin up to the refuge des vignettes ski a bunch of cool stuff. Next days heli ski the local classic couloirs with local young gun Gille Sierro. Back to cham on a very hot spring high pressure we went with helis back to swiss land ski some other classics . I managed to forget my ski boots on one of those epic heli days, ah , i will put it on my tiredness after working round the clock between that shoot and my nightshift desk job . It was all good times and pretty fun for me( ordinary ski bum) , to hang with people who have been shakers and movers in the ski world for quite sometimes now… We met with 1 swiss legend André Anzévui , the first to ski the north face of cervin among other beautiful swiss summit…I love flying with choppers, i won’t deny that. I should get my pilot license. 70 000$ -anyone?
Luca had the brilliant idea to go back to the Miage glacier and ski the domenech couloir. A couloir barely visible on the picture which was intriguing to me.
It was skied a week before so we could ski it on sight and take the leisure to go from the refuge, have a nice late start, sweet skin to summit and drop in. Mika , a Finn came with us. Finns like to rush so i had to tell him to breath in breath out at time whilst waiting for luca dealing with heinous crusty traverses on split board .
To start from the top was brilliant. This couloir sorts of zig zags thru the rocks and i was in awe at every corners as we were diving deeper and deeper within the mountains. Rocky faces, spires, gullies: A gigantic gothic cathedral. The snow was variable but skiing almost became secondary or just a tool to access this corridor in a ludic fashion. Half way in the run i was amazed we were only half down. Once i could finally see the end, i was pleased. At The bottom, the release of focus felt like after sex and we all high fived each other squirting the jeez of stoke into the universe.
My plan was to link that to the black week end, a 3 days yearly bacchanal organized by black crows ski. I realized one party was 40 euros the other 30 not including the various party flavors. Pretty much costing my monthly salary. I decided to go ski instead. That is free. With Eva and my alaskan friend Gabe new in town. We thought after all that sun the y couloir on argentiere basin would be spring snow. Wrong, the snow barely transformed and it was a pretty shitty challenging descent. Once again in a gorgeous couloir with rock spires. Sometime slow skiing makes you look around and enjoy the place …
Back to grand montet, the black week end was still going. Finally A free party! I looked around see if i could score free Lsd or 2cb or something. But people were mostly charging on booze. Oh well! i stayed there enjoying some minimal tech house in a unusual environment until the dj started playing some poppy vocal house stuff which is when i bailed…
Since i came down from the west face of mont blanc and ski thru this glacier (miage) i always wanted to come back. My idea was to get one of those domes tent and post up there for a few day skiing couloirs everyday. there is such a concentration of awesome couloirs…It never happened of course.The only people skiing regularly there is the italians crew. They scored some of the most beautiful couloirs around. (check snowhow.it) link. Until today when finns and scottish were stoked on skiing the uber classic Bonatti in one day. The conditions were top: amazing powder and long day.
some of the awesome couloirs which never get skied