This is a video my friend Ben edited with footage we shot while traveling around iceland….A little skiing and lots of fun …
Iceland from Ben Briggs on Vimeo.
All the way to 2016. NYE at Berghain–wopwoop
Despite the immense lack of snow, we managed to get a descent amount of good skiing and good fun. Nate Wallace was often my motivator…he is always up for something…
Dusan benes on the entreve
a wing suiter off brevent
Black crows ski entertainment apres ski party at grand monte
I also had a memorable christmas celebration night with amazing friends— ending at 12 noon the next day…
and then the epic new years 3 days party marathon at Berghain club in Berlin
Back when i was introduced to freeriding , it was all a punk rock-death metal-greg stump-blizzard of ahh’s ode to hedonism sung by all sort of interesting human-characters-mutant-animals. Today, the “incorporated” idea of alpinism sort of took over (ruined it all), trading the emotionally heretic disordered poetic expression for the technical cold ultra light gear-carbon-time A to B-how many verts/day -angles/airbag and whowhat blah blah- orderly talk , mostly conservative boy scouts on a very expensive pee contest in an exotic location…boring. SO, I miss the wilderness…where is Greg Stump? take me back to the zoo !. I haven’t been to a hedonist party with a proper sound system, fascinating freaks and tribal tekno since november moontribe 2011. The idea of being in a dark room in the middle of a 4 corners Funktion-one stacks of bass and the legendary industrial dark and dirty tekno berghain is known for, makes me horny. seriously. i would trade a night with Charlize Theron-johnny depp for a night at Berghain. Berghain’s door policy is almost as famous as its A-list roster of DJs. The club’s main bouncer, Sven Marquardt <-link to brilliant sven photography, a bearish East German photographer with a face covered in barbed-wire tattoos, is a celebrity in Germany and referred to in newspaper headlines as “the lord of the night.” resisting gentrification is awesome but I am not into that 2 hours line to -maybe- not get in -thing….
My old time socal-desert party debauchery friend Francis kirigin -HERO_ who is currently working on a phd in computational biology in Berlin told me she could get me on Alessandro Cortini (Nine Inch Nails music designer playing berghain as SONOIO for NYE ) guest list. I booked my ticket in the next minute.
I knew i was gonna get good sound and good tekno in a dark room. I was not expecting the full religious experience i got. i was immersed in a concrete nave of darkness, brutal techno holds you by the throat , parties tangles over several days .
In the past two decades, the city’s tradition of sexual permissiveness, lax drug policing and left-wing, anarchist politics blended together to create the most sexually adventurous, unconventional party scene in Europe.The city’s historical poverty meant high unemployment and large numbers of people with no reason to wake up early on Monday, fueling the appetite for marathon-length parties and a dislike of closing times. “It’s a fuck-off to the rigid capitalist version of time that is enforced in any other city in the world , They’re truly saying that money is of secondary importance, that it’s the experience that matters.”
This stands in contrast to the big-business barcelona /ibiza/vegas/miami EDM scene and events, which have introduced a new generation of young (or not) people to electronic music, albeit without the sense of danger and edginess that characterized the rave scene of the Nineties.
By contrast, Berlin is scrappy, grimy and chaotic. Cover charges and drinks are still cheap, the venues look run-down and authentic, and you’re less likely to see a celebrity than you are two people fucking at the bar. For people hungry for a taste of underground tekno culture, the lure of this seemingly unspoiled scene can be hard to resist. “There’s the legend of Berghain,” DJ Harvey says. “It’s a cross between The Lord of the Rings and the Stonewall Riots, and then there’s the stories about the guy who turns up with frozen shit and uses it as a dildo.”
the club is located in a former power plant near the Berlin Ostbahnhof railway station. The building is distinguished by its enormous dimensions, and accommodates an 18-meter high ceiling dance floor The interior’s minimalist design is dominated by steel and concrete.
The construction is similar to that of a cathedral of the Middle Ages
There’s something almost spiritual about the atmosphere.
The club contains a “cavernous” main room, as well as a smaller upstairs space called the “Panorama Bar”, which is decorated with large-scale Wolfgang Tillmans photographs
the décor is spare, the walls are mostly empty. the slightly less Dante’s Inferno-esque upstairs space, makes use of cages that formerly housed electrical equipment.
It has the look and feel of an abandoned building.The building is so large and maze-like, you can discover new stairways and rooms even after spending a few days in the club.
first absorbed in the cloakroom ,a huge room where stands a huge mural of Polish artist Piotr Nathan called “Rituals disappearance “.
On top of the grand iron staircase to the dancefloor , i was struck by the onslaught of tekno escaping the huge function speakers as by the beauty of the place: in its 18 meter ceiling , the club of the cathedral-style concrete, in which throng around 3000 clubbers every weekend . Shrouded by darkness , there is a choice between melt into the sweaty body waves rippling on the dancefloor Berghain tekno or join the Panorama Bar, mostly playing tek-house.
Photography is strictly forbidden inside Berghain, and no mirrors or reflecting surfaces can be found anywhere in the club.As many leathermen chaps strutting in the aisles of the club as hipsters chewing imaginary gum , kissing couples in the corners, ravers licking on ice creams , girls sprawled on swings, dready Erasmus students stuck closer to the speaker, and even at certain times, old coked up bankers at the bar.
Everything happening at berghain stays at berghain “. This tacit rule let you flow into the party without fear of tomorrow, the absolute prohibition of taking pictures and no mirrors inside the club is the promise of an enclave cut off from the outside world and its standards. .In the shallows of the building is home to a third club : the Lab.Oratory, a maze of narrow rooms reserved for men. Lab.Oratory, is known as Berlin’s most extreme sex club. The club hosts regular nights called “Yellow Facts,” ” Sewer System” faustparty ….
Anyway…i had a blast. A real routine breaker, an absolute trip challanging my daily normalcy….the only pictures i have are the one of Fran taken fast on the 2nd while going to catch my train and plane after I exit the club where i was since the 31st…very standard almost dull pictures in contrast with the Lynch-Felliniesque place i was in for 35 hours. but this is why i like them……
worth noting: Sven, the door curator at berghain is a brilliant photographer. You can see his work and maybe a little of berghain…http://marquardtfotografie.com/galerie/
Summer/cosmojazz-autumn/USA – – -r
My night shift job took out most of my summer. Enjoying simple walk in the mountain making cairns some yoga, peace and music.
The heat wave aiguille du midi
Andre Manoukian a notorious french jazz man created the cosmojazz festival in chamonix. Every year He brings a very eclectic selection of talented musicians from around the world to play music-jazz outdoor in altitude and in town . I dont know much about jazz but every year my preconceived idea of what jazz is has been baffled. Manoukian makes sure his selection includes a very wide -multi cultural- all embracing type of what could be defined as jazz music. from listening to voodoo at 2000 meters in a natural amphitheater with view on the mont blanc massif to a hanging pianist in the middle of town, it has always been peculiar, mystical and stunning.
my work schedule didn’t allow me to see most of it. Here are some pictures of what i enjoyed…
The gangbe brass band from Benin…
A band called Moriarty near the ending tongue of the argentiere basin , once again i was astound. Moriarty is the lead character in “on the road” kerouac. her voice is folkish redolent of joan baez, they play xylophone, tambourine, double bass, guitar, harmonica, suitcase drum, music box, etc…the sound is a little of folk, country, blues, jazz…in a natural amphitheatre at 2000 m on the edge of a crumbling glacier that would add some sounds,sometimes. With 4000 people who walked an hour to get there , some soap bubbles and the sun. It was free, poetic, innocent and magnificent .
The road trip took us to palestine. With the 3 palestinans brother the joubran and the iranian percussioniste yousef hbeisch. They play the oud. The oud is a sort of guitar with an oriental psychedelic sound. It was invented somewhere around syria, iraq, palestine,egypt. The legend say it was invented by lamech the sixth grand son of adam . The joudrans brothers are virtuose with it. Their father is the most renowned stringed-instruments maker in palestine and in the arab world. Their mother sang the muwashahat. 3000 years of history and culture seemed to emanate from each notes. They took us on a voyage to palestine and thru the arab culture. It was rich, peacefull and dreamy. A guy called jimi hendrix said “if there is something to be changed in the world, then it can only happen through music” .the weather being unstable it wasnt up high in the sky but in town.
walking, making cairns for my fallen friends and enjoying food and company.
Back to california. surf. bike. meditation . yoga. climbing and all around peaceful enjoyable simple time.
back in europe with a race course, family time and a avi-crevasse rescue refresher and some walking around
Chamonix being the bastard child which sprungout from a gang rape by british, french and scandinavians, it is only logical for me to go visit some of the origins. Norway. That is beside the constant social media bragging about that ski paradise somwhere far up north. Minna Riihimaki’s plan of going late may was working with my schedule so i jumped on the occasion despite being somewhat late for skiing even for the arctic. Upon our arrival we were taken by local crow Thor Falkanger deep in a melancholic forrest somewhere around moody tamok in his parents’s completely off the grid cabin. A 1965 nothern california hippy dream come true: grass roofed no electicity, none of that electronic air pollution such as wifi or tv, no running water. The water, house and sauna are heated with local wood. The water is taken from the close by river, the food can be fished or hunted around. A very comfortable , soothing and quiet situation. Skiing was not hapenning locally due to weather so We went skiing in the chamonix finish mafia’s birth land : Finland, Kilpisjarvi With skipe Oivo and Mikko Juntunen. We then Travelled back to tomok, tried to ski and almost all got taken down by an avalanche like bowling pins. skipe lost one ski , all his stuffed wached down hill . Decidely too hot. We Travelled up north to Lyngen,Lyngseidet… try to ski ended up fishing instead.
We then drove back to tomok. We Tried to ski again… We Scored some midnight sun runs which are a photographer dream come true, from 9 pm to 5 am is a constant magic light sunset sunrise moonrise moonset. Outsanding. My [#no filter] pictures look like they are photoshoped. Trip Done. it was More of a fishing/ road trip than a ski trip . Nothern norway at this season is very unusual: A forever day still life painting of an arctic jungle with jagged snowy peaks of sort . And well, truly a (potential) ski paradise . That is not a lie. I didnt see the night for 10 days, i couldnt wait for that darkness again. ….
BACK TO TAMOK
Magic mountain lodge, Lyngseidet fishing dinner and other wandering
back to Tamok. midnight sun riding #no filter
Easyjet 140 euros return ticket geneva -Reykjavik could not be ignored. I mean…Bjork… . My skiing social networks feeds are filled with Norwegian imageries and other exorbitant Svalbard dream trips. Iceland wins. This mysterious snowy volcano-island in the middle of nowhere way up north with unpronounceable words fascinates. The people seem to be very liberal not so narrow minded religious or sexists: not douchebags land. They came out of the economic crisis with pride bailing out the people and kicking out the banks: I appreciate that and happy to spend my money there. I talk to Ben Briggs who seems very enthusiastic. So much that he takes control of the entire organization. I end up in a RV with 3 funky Britts i don’t know and one crazy Czech guy. We didn’t have goals or objectives. We just heard tales of a big skiable volcano in the south west, legends of road side couloir descent to the ocean in the north and some vague descriptions about good stuff in the east. The RV is the best cheapest option we could think of for this type of trip. Iceland is a 1400 Km circle we can drive around and stop when we please. The best idea really: Iceland has natural wonders and curiosity at every turn of the road: water falls, hot rivers, fartsmoke machines, hot tubs and roadside ski lines. The highest mountains is a volcano in the south west , we were shut down by poor snow coverage and cold wind. After a long road and a blizzard we stick around the northern troll peninsula a few days hoping for a window to ski which never came. We managed a few descents but nothing great. The best was on our way back to Reyk thru the east where we found a pyramidal mountain filled with powdery couloirs. The trip was officially a ski trip but really ended up being a nice sometime hectic drive around a beautiful country with fun new friends, joking/goofing around, playing poker wilst discovering an enchanting island filled with geological oddities, dreamy landscapes, inter winded elements water fire ice earth all in one place. soothing energy. It felt like being in a pre-holocene time travel …I surely want to go back, the skiing looks promising there, nothing to bragg about just simple good fun skiing, ski in ski out from the RV in an very breathless landscape all around the island. People told me iceland was expensive however it wasn’t anymore expensive than chamonix for restaurants/bars or any supermarket in france, the rv was 2000 euro for 10 days rented at geyser rental at the airport. And well, i was happy to give my money given their political stance. The people are awesome and very helpful very happy to see you sometime with a zest of burly humorous cynicism . ….
Waking up in the south west desert at the foot of the highest volcano we want to ski with the unspeakable name: Hvannadalshnúkur
The line we wanted to ski, half in the shade. High cold winds and poor snow lower down shut us down
Back on the road, pee/food stops.
fartsmoke machine along the way up north
Random water falls on the road
In the troll peninsula where we heard of roadside skiing to ocean and other splendid ski descent more inland. Unfortunately the snow coverage wasn’t optimum and we were there during a winter storm. It made it hard to move around with the RV. we still scored what we could. We didn’t have time to stick around and wait for weather to clear but I’m sure the skiing got pretty good there…
At the boarder of the south east and the troll peninsula, we finally found this mountain. It had about 10, 6-700 meters 40 degree couloirs all filled with powder. A very good finish to our trip.
there isn’t a bar or clubs in every town in iceland, but there are town outdoor swimming pool and tubs, naturally heated which makes it easier to roll around in a RV. There are also countless natural tubs and hot rivers…
These past 2 month haven’t been so good in cham. Probably the worst season so far, in the past 15 years probably (for me at least) . This is the first time i haven’t seen hundred post on social media about a deep cosmique or rond on “the best day ever” at this period . The Pro-hos “do” ski sometime talking more about the performances and “some” good spring skiing which i am sure felt like a sip of blue gatorade after a 20 miles run in death valley to those who skied . Between my night job , the bad condition and my motivation low (a zest of bad attitude maybe too) i haven’t been this much out and about Some good moments however like a stormy brevent with nicklas Hansen and Anne May Slinning
followed by a huge wind storm which took the snow away
wind buff brevent with nicklas hansen
For a few days i watched wingsuiters and speed riders flying around brevent. The speed riders uses a very small canopy as well as a big pouch of water so he can get at the same speed as the wingsuiter and touch their hands, sit on their wing or stand up on them . Very impressive to watch. Very precise moves. I am baffled. The speed flier then flush the water for soft landing.
Watched other kind of birds
Skied the last Bellin of the season with Niklas Ferin and Henrik Lodin
And i took My friends the Boyer’s from Mammoth California down the valley blanche. The kids were very young , 8 and 11, but Ryan Boyer being an ex-sponsored and still a big mountain rider as well as a strong climber (the yosemite valley kind) , his kids were very strong and very well trained for that type of adventure. However, the perspective changes a lot-everything seems so much bigger with big consequences with such little kids. We skied one lap first to make sure everything was good and then took them down. the weather being dry for the past 15 days was actually better and easier and that day warm weather made it very nice and enjoyable outing.
Today i made it to the sunny side. Namely brevent/ flegere. To shoot pictures with Chad Sayers. That is perfect, i watched Chad ski in all the Jordan Manley short artsy films which i highly recommend.argentina-link is sweet. So it was great for me to meet the guy. Amazing skier all around. Ha makes it pretty hard to miss the shot…here a little banger shot i took…
i lost my north. David Rosenbarger, Andreas Fransson. Instagram.
I lost my North
In the past week i finally plunged into instagram. I always thought it was too hip/a poor support for images. I am fine in the underground. Damnit. The past months tragic events left a bitter taste . Well. Skiing. . .that bitch. 3 years ago i was officially labeled ced ” the photographer” . in cham that is. Since then i watched friends go down for ever, survived one accident , lost 7 good friends. I made some of the most beautiful powder turns ever, went heliskiing and travelled in a few ski paradise, scored a few timeless beautiful shots. .. Skiing bitter sweet. Cabanilla, Fransson , Daley, Rosenbarger were my first and only door into the “paid photographer” zone . Per say. i am not skiing these days. Absolutely unmotivated, working night shift , sketchy conditions, uninspired. i am using instagram as an exuse to rewiew my old photos and maybe sooth that heavy bitterness. Search and rescue that motivation and go ski. Because skiing is beautiful. Or at least it is photogenic. Most of my bomber shots are of dave rosenbarger which sums up perfectly who he was to me in my 10 years skiing chamonix. He was one of my engine. All i had to do was enjoy apres ski with him and he would tell me about the 5 runs he just skied , the conditions . I had my plans for the next 5 days wether with him or following his path. A true inspiration. Andreas Fransson was the turbo, he would come back from huge heavy and rarely skied runs and tell me in his strong swedish accent” it is a beautiful run, i highly recommend it, you must go tomorrow. ” and there i was on the top of my game, at the limit of what i thought i could ski , gutted. All the runs of my life. Dave and andreas influenced my skiing 1009%. Loosing those 2 feels like i lost my North. I am desoriented. The end of an era. Chamonix goes thru eras. The boivin era, the Siffredi era and for me there is definitLy the fransson/ rosenbarger era. I dont know what is coming next. I shall see. Find the north again? I miss those 2. Happy b day Mr Rosenbarger…
Black friday-David rosenbarger-Brendan O Sullivan
I first met Dave 10 years ago, he was in turn fast talking dave or dave the brave depending on the days. We connected after we randomly -surprisingly stumbled on each other on the streets of the black rock city in 2007 (*maybe) . We had that in common. Dave was really strict on whom he was skiing with and at the beginning i probably did not fit his standard. We were not skiing together. I would just hear or see the stories of his impressive everyday skiing.. He was out every day, tagging big heavy lines every other days . His nose for powder patch was unrivaled . I followed his boot pack many times. He called that bad etiquette. Following boot pack gave me confidence and strenght. I became stronger so later i was skiing with him every now and then . This is how i realized how smooth and stylish of a skier he was no matter what type of slopes he was on. He could ski the steeps and exposed the same way he would ski grand montet. I bought a proper lens camera to document skibuming in the cham valley. His skiing and lifestyle fitted perfectly my vision. I thought he was a good rep for skibuming. His style and comitments deserved stories and covers in magazines. He landed a few sponsors so we spent a season skiing and shooting together. My pictures were not good enough to make it anywhere…Later i got into my share of mountains hell meanwhile Dave surrounded himself with the most bankable photographers friends and well…. pretty much the same day he died he scored an article in powder magazine.
the la Palud lift takes you on the best lift access terrain on the planet. This is why we go there. There is also a nice small family village atmosphere feeling that is completely lost in the industrial disneycham junkfest . This is why we keep on going there.
The marbree is arguably the most beautiful lift accessed run i have skied. It just doesn’t get any better than that if you like freeriding.
Skiing south facing huge powder face is “extremely crazy” by any standard. Many people never go there on powder days. NEVER. I used to not go until i started seeing my friends numerous posts on social medias bragging about the best powder day ever with no crowds around. So i started going feeling i was doing something very crazy . I met with many “not so crazy” regulars there including guides and pros. The “extremely crazy” became just “crazy” . I started going regularly on powder days. You can’t beat the atmosphere and the terrain on the ” italian side” . I could see guided group dropping into the marbree on big days, all kind of people, pros , guides and punters dropping into the exposed Cable runs on huge days or stormy days . Into the entreve. So the “crazy” slowly became “normal” . David loved the marbree . Every thing was normal that day, he took the first lift he could. People skied the run the day before, guided group were ahead of him and guided group were behind him. when he dropped in , he triggered the weak point and the entire face went down on him. Bad luck. Some say it was too late. Maybe so they feel better next time they drop in at 9.30 . No, it is “extremely crazy “ to ski south face powder. period. It is not “normal” . I could stop going there. But in this “instagram-facebook” era we are in , how many posts about the good uncrowded time there from friends-pros and guides is it gonna take me to go back? “another spectacular day in the best terrain of the world with friends and no one around” …1000 times. It is a little like trying to quit heroin whilst doctors are sending you videos on how good it is…
And then again, this type of layers also happens on north facing slopes.
powder Skiing is extremely crazy then. It is not normal. We tend to forget about it in this “dolce cabbana” type advertising ski universe we are in…
That same black friday, brendan o sullivan died sliding down the north face of tour ronde. I didn’t know him well, i just skied a few good runs with him. His resume of achievement in cham and the world can rival any of the big “pro” guys, he was at the top of our game. His list of lines skied is nothing less but impressive. Yet he was not sponsored and people barely knew who he was. He was a true gentleman, discreet and a real skibum . He always told me he would rather work , buy his own gear than bend over to get gear he didn’t choose and have to lie about it. He would rather work and buy his own trips than have to deal with cameras ,instagram, hashtags . I liked that. One of the most underrated snowboarder around.
Dicks, pussies and blasphemy. Charlie Hebdo
it is a sweet delicacy to dive neck deep in fluffy snow after such a dark and heavy period where the French were hit at the very heart of their laic culture of blasphemy and irreverence towards the rich-powerful sacred and not , they were hit deep in the altar giving us corrosive and offensive humour targeting the absurdities of our world. The leftists French laic will remain impertinent and insolent against power , tyranny and intolerance sacred or not …hopefully.
One classic grand montet storm day followed by one classic la palud blue bird day were perfect to forget this absurd world. Powder all the way.
A shameless storm day At Grand Montet
Irreverent face shots
An Offensive day in la Palud, Italy
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…
La Palud , once more.
A lot of good skiing to be had up there. Big and steep or not. We chose not. Wandering.
La Palud Opening
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!
Col du grand St Bernard
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…