Or how Michael “bird” Shaffer, JT Holmes and Valentin Delluc are showing skiers/snowboarders a new style of getting out of runs without dicking around with ropes or sidestepping shit snow.
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
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.
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.
Not finding what i need in Cham i escaped once again to middle earth, the center of the world: La Grave. My first time there. La Grave feels isolated, a small french village surrounded by gigantic jagged peaks. The world capital of soul-skiing. I surfed Joe Vallone ‘s couch. Joe Vallone is pretty much a local. His flat is an ode to skiing with past memorabilia , hundreds stories. I am a thousands light years from holly-cham, back to the source maybe. Finding skiing. Him and Ptor Spricenieks take me on a stroll without using the postcard lift to a corner of their playground along the flank of the Tabuchet. In a couloir where no one ever goes. A lost couloir . A possible first descent? How could that be? It has everything of a classic. We skied it leisurely with a sunset light. Apres ski at the skier lodge K2 bar, a Place filled with ski history. This was a classic ski day, reminiscing those days i had in the eastern sierra california , reminding me why i am a skier.
Back in Chamonix , My friend from San Fransisco was at my flat for another day so i took him down the cosmique back to cham via the junction. The cosmic had been tracked and was OK but the junction was all time …what a beautiful way to come back and a memorable last day for my friend.
next day 10 of us took a heli up the petit mont blanc to ski the super classic bonatti couloir to celebrate our friend lionel hatchemi aka so-connard birthday . A classic day. so-local. next morning was hang over day.
we went with tof henry to try to shoot something nice but it wasn’t in the way we wanted.
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. .
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.