the good stuff of 2016
I bought 3 music albums.
Le trio Joubran-as fâr and Majâz. Amazing music from palestine!
radiohead a moon shaped pool.
ben milstein-untitled EP : sweet intricate electro
I bought one ski movie: Sam favret : backyard: sweet film showing the chamonix backyard and sam’s crew. Amazing imagery and editing.
Manley is still my favorite .
and also: la liste where jeremy heitz show us how to ski steep today.
2016 started at the infamous berghain
All kind of Chamonix happened.
no damn snow so i beheaded a donkey.
The Alps under high pressure, we can’t breath in Chamonix. Skiing can still be fun , sometime finding pockets of ancestral cold powder, some fun days out here and there with good company…
At the top of a powder face , binding broke. Luckily the snowboarder Davide Capozzi comes to the rescue with a spare toe binding in his pocket and a screwdriver . pretty unusual-random. saved the day.
It is currently very dry in chamonix and the Alps in general. Although the high mountains are skiable, anything under 2500M is grass. It is of course not necessarily due to the global warming trend but if you add it to the arctic being 20c warmer than it should be.Over 61 millions americans voted trump and believe global warming is a chinese hoax-we should keep drilling everywhere-keep using as much fossil fuel as possible and fuck the research for better energy sources. This is worrisome . Meanwhile in chamonix , we breath the most polluted air in France, we have no snow in december. Oh well!
In my 20 years in the US west coast i have never been up the 101 freeway past eureka. I took advantage of a 10 days vacation to go on road trip from eureka to port angeles at the end of the 101. From there I took the 20 east and the scenic north cascade freeway . Then the 5 freeway fast down back to California. In 1500 miles I encountered only one city-portland, absolute amazing wilderness, whales, many sunsets , full moon and the bird. It was a spectacular road trip. I have a few shots taken on the way…Next is carry on to Canada …
To get away from it all i opted to volunteer and work toward conservation , rehabilitation and research at the N/a’an ku sê foundation in Namibia. Go on their site at http://naankuse.com , they describe their mission and goal, very impressive. I was introduced to it via the great projects who specialize in volunteering trips around the world
I spent a little time at the sanctuary a 3200 hectare property sanctuary for animals in need of rescue, rehabilitation and sometimes relocation. Food prep, animal walk, game count , set up camera trap, animal feed, are a few of the the thing to do there.
Then i went to the very scenic and impressive Kanaan Desert location , 33000 hectares to establish there an unfenced wildlife reserve, which is based on scientific and sustainable management practices and which provides refuge for a suite of endangered species such as cheetah and hyena. The work there are taking down fences, game count, camera trap management, data processing, locate hyaenas , cheetahs or leopard tracks, poop or marking in order to define a pattern , install a camera trap and connect the dots…the project there is mostly on assessing the population of spotted hyaenas outside of game park.
after that i went to the neuras conservation and wine estate, 14,500 hectare. A sort of oasis in the desert with a vineyard , the longest canyon in the world. The work there was mostly like at kanaan, walk a lot and figure out the hyaenas. Study that hasn’t been done since the 90’s…how many hyaenas outside of game park?
It was an amazing and fulfilling time with amazing people, animals and scenics. A much better option, i think, than expensive safaris or backpacking in that region. It is also sending a positive sign to the tourist industry in regions where there is still wild life and must be protected.
My experience in namibia with locals as well as participating in conservation was far more enriching than any backpacking trip i did anywhere in the world. Tourism and backpacking is to me so passè and overrated . Participating is much better than just being a consumer…the great projects organizations has many trips around the world where you can participate and mix it up with locals as well as learn and have an over all good time. Visit them…
this was probably the last valley blanche/grand enver of the season and it was damn good. !
the refuge des grand mulets is one of my favorite refuge. Sitting on a rock at 3000 meters in an ocean of chaos. It is on the original itinerary of Mont blanc summit and now is used mostly by skiers in spring. I may do a trip there this year. most likely.
This past 20 days i haven’t skied at all but the conditions were all time and i watched the history of steep skiing unfold …it was very entertaining. The cult of self providing 3 min bad video footages and mostly bad pictures of everyone’s steep descents all over the social medias. While it was all bad quality it was showing a nice view of the steep skiing phenomena …I was baffled by the amount of good alpinists and skiers tackling 5.4 and 5.5 runs all over the mont blanc massif. I lived in chamonix for 10 years , not an alpinist, it took me 4 years before i could get on the north faces of the midi or runs on the argentiere basin north faces. I never heard of anyone skiing the north faces of the midi or the col de la verte within my first 4 years. Today with the new gear technology, every alpinists can ski and every skier is better. It takes less than a season learning skiing for an alpinist to tackle a 5.4 run which on an alpinist point of view is just a easy descent they usually run down on crampons. I saw young skiers skiing the mallory on their first season in chamonix (with a friend alpinist or guide) . So, anytime things are good (global warming helping), people line up on every run. This past 20 days was the biggest so far with every ski runs in the argentiere basin north face skied by minimum 10 people, sometime 20 people or more , the aiguille du plan north faces , pain de sucre, frendo, all the runs on the aiguille du midi skied by many. Most with huge G.S turns at mack2. Amazing. If, people were less competitive, less self centered, the medias/industry more unifying, interested and honest, the best ski movie of all time could have been made this steep season including rock star pros as well as struggling sponsored dirt bags and all the other passionate freaks. Instead, we will hear about some privileged prefabricated super hero athletes skiing whatever something in the alps or exotic location in a fabricated story with all sort of superlatives and logos claiming first decent of a 30 meters variations … I randomly stumbled on the descent of the Nant blanc by Alex Pittin, tony Lamiche and Hélias Millerioux. The nant blanc face is the most impressive, intimidating , steep and exposed face visible from the valley. The climbing is a D+ the skiing a 5.5. It was first skied by J.M Boivin in june 1989, repeated on snowboard by Marco Siffredi in june 1999. repeated again by Pierre Tardivel and Stephane Brosse in june 2009 and then by 2 of the T-crew and more (?). This mid April, Pittin (ex world cup skier) with tony Lamiche (guide, 9A rock climber , alpinist, skier) and Hélias Millerioux (guide, top alpinist, hangs out on Nupse with colin haley and ueli steck) were the first on this face, arguably the most beautiful face visible from the valley. I enjoyed the descent with Alex pittin’s father who was a little stressed and I took some photos. It was very nice. A very clean descent from first bin grand montet on sight. I’ve never been interested in skiing that face myself. I would need an alpinist for partner on that one. But you never know, 5 years from now, that face might get good from january on, until then , this face will get skied a lot more in the next month or so…
This is the argentiere basin north faces , All those approximate red lines show the ski runs, in the past 20 days , each one of those receive between 10 to 30 skiers.
this is the top of the aiguille verte, on the top left you can see 3 skiers going up. they skied down the couturier (i saw 9 skiers that day going that way). on the right of the calotte, you can see helias millerious,tony lamiche, alex pittin getting involved in the Nant blanc face.
this is Alex father watching the descent a little stressed.