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.
to any astroman-niac climbers , the aiguilles rouges are just a pile of shiat. It is. However , this is also the best leisurely not committing- sunny side -with a view -sport climbing- alpine-cragg- in the world- that i know of. Also, a lot of the routes out there were open by Piola himself and the rock is at times surprisingly good. This round however, for my 2 days off, i had 2 goals: stay away from the crowd, get confident in placing gear without being scared of falling head first on a sharp flake . i chose to go on the tour des crochue and the aiguille de perseverance. 2 easy routes on nice looking pillars, almost un-equipped (a few 1920 charlet pitons here and there) . The route finding was fun and placing gear in grassy crack pretty entertaining. (does it work really, i dont know , i didnt fall) , but best of all, aside from a couple of chamois and marmottes , we didnt see anyone.
We wanted to climb the west face of the aiguille d’entreve but upon our arrival we realized it was more due North and being pretty cold and cloudy that day we opted for the leisurely traverse. Me and Pete had never being on it before and it was a nice surprise. It is a very esthetic ridge walk, very exposed. The surrounding being the Italian side of the mont blanc massif , it is obviously wild and beautiful …I highly recommend that traverse over the cosmique ridge on busy summer days…
If the words : slabs, traverse, roof are frightening to you. beyond reason: you should go there. It will be fun. 250 meter of slabs. open by Piola. and if it is too easy add some wet-ness into the equation . The rock is so good that if you can give it up, if you can balance your all life on that one little coffee spoon dish or crystal or what ever they call a hold then you will realize it is holding you and start to commit to the next move. and again and again and again …Of course i did not lead anything and i was cussing and puffing. i had fun. My next step is to find a tarantula and lick her ass.
That is all my job and the weather are allowing me to do these days. the patterns are as follow: days off= unsettled weather. work days=sunny and warm. I watched 3 seasons of “breaking bad” which I highly recommend. I drunk a few bottles of red wine. got fat , unfit and lazy. I went on nice short walks-climbs and witnessed radical climbing at the world cup, the chamois habitat, clouds and mountains, dog fight. I also took a co-worker on the cosmic ridge….
A nice morning walk before work. Taking Miguel on his first trip outside the cave.
world cup and dog fight
It is very luxurious to wake up-ride a train up 1000 meters and then walk on a sea of ice surrounded by huge mountains to the base of perfect granit crack and slab climbing. watch the moine crumble (hopefully noone was on the trail or climbing) and then walk back on the sea of ice, ride the train back to town and have a glass of wine at home.
And since some weirdo gave that name to the route we climbed i thought i would throw some related quotes from the Man himself : Bukowski.
“show me a man who lives alone and has a perpetually dirty kitchen, and 5 times out of 9 I’ll show you an exceptional man.” “show me a man who lives alone and has a perpetually clean kitchen, and 8 times out of 9 I’ll show you a man with detestable spiritual qualities.”
― Charles Bukowski, Tales of Ordinary Madness
“the free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it – basically because you feel good, very good, when you are near or with them.”
― Charles Bukowski, Tales of Ordinary Madness
“Forgive me, I guess I am off in the head, but I mean, except for a quickie piece of ass it wouldn’t matter to me if all the people in the world died. Yes, I know it’s not nice. But I’d be as contended as a snail; it was, after all, the people who had made me unhappy.”
― Charles Bukowski, Tales of Ordinary Madness
its summer. i have given up all my big ski projects. the global warming induced heratic weather patterns have transformed my ski dreams into mushy icy hell ski nightmares. I am a climber now. or at least for the next 3 months. A sort of a climber that is. the weak one. scared .
Thor chose one of those 100 Rebuffat finest route. the grutter ridge on the aiguille des pelerins. a fairly easy airy ridge line going to the summit of the aiguille des pelerins. First climbed in 1935 by r. aubert and M .grutter. 1935 means sandbagged and scary. And sandbagged and scary it is. But so magnificient and aerial. With splendid views on the aiguilles de chamonix . A classic!
I am back at work. night shift .in the past 2 weeks i have been trying to rea-just to those hours and the default world i am stuck with. It does not fit skiing. Especially when the high mountains are really good and screaming my name. Especially when the gerva is good. The gervasutti is the king of all couloir. standing there with a fun angle top to bottom. a skier dream. It is Guarded by a gigantic serac which in the past 5 years i have been in cham kept on breaking and taking all the snow away. This is the first year i see it that way. And i am working. Every time there is a window i am working. I tried to go after work at 7, the condition looked sketchy and i didnt feel like i could deal if things went wrong so i bailed.I watched my friends skiing it a little frustrated. i was off last night so me and ben went back up despite a week of precipitation and over a meter of snow. We got kicked out of the midi station in the storm . this is dysneyland up there now, those days are over, you have to go to hotel cosmique and spent 50 euros.we are not a refuge. the “compagnie du mont blanc” who celebrate alpinists from the past in a gallery doesnt want the present alpinits in its hallways.They kick them out like “mal propre” .how sad, they lost the spirit. The “aiguille du midi” is now an anesthetized ride that takes hordes of chinese and other indian who will stay 10 minute and buy souvenir made in china or india. they will soon forbid skis and ice axes.
. Anyway, we skied the ridge and the south side sled with just a touch. when we got to the slope before the perroux hut, it sled as well with barely a touch. the perroux hut needs some love, the door is broken, there are no blankets left and some trash . it is my mission for this summer. if you have blankets let me know. we climbed the first 100 meters of the triangle du tacul and heard a big deep womp followed with some movement. we bailed smoothly but fast. . no gerva. and tomorrow no partners. and then work. fuck. sweet obsession….
harvesting corn on the tour ronde was just perfect. fuck extreme skiing! and fuck that hair on my sensor.
I was hired as a photographer by elemental adventure
things didnt happen as planned due to a broken heli. nevertheless we scored 3 good days of skiing: swiss style . The villages and the people are beautiful and generous , the scenics are just breathtaking hense the amount of pictures. I tried to put just a few…i will just shut up then! I want to go back.
the spring weather patterns are making the weatherman look like a hysterical junky who took a bunch of acid before writing his forecast. However, we found a window big enough for a kaw-aw-wing crowmonkey, a growling goat, a punkviking a few frenchies some yankees ..later followed by more vikings and one south african.
My friend Kevin who I met riding in Mammoth lakes california is visiting cham for the first time. We havent seen each other since i moved to Chamonix and he moved to Montana (is there mountains there?). So what a better way to introduce him to cham and to what Ive been doing for the past 5 years than to take him in the heart of it all: Les jardins de talefre. Loaded with wiskey, pastis and cigarettes we go on his first ride up the aiguille du midi and on to the refuge du couvercle on a 2 days trip. My 2 rad friends Brendan and Magnus joined us for the first day. We skied the croulante and the col des droites. both in good conditions. The col des droites was perfect corn top to bottom and is a great run, i have being denying that run over the more aggressive runs around for a long time and it ended up being the best skiing i’ve had in that basin. Dumb me. Despite a crampon coming off his soft snowboard boots , kevin did great and came back in one piece. We would have stayed another week there, but we ran out of booze, cigarettes and snus…
our plan was the summit. but, considering the funky snow we were walking on we opted for the more direct B-line. It was a very esthetic ski and a great enjoyable descent despite that snow which i cant really describe. just funky, hard to read kind of snow. but edgeable. all good. and then the hot chick with a burger.
and here are pictures from my friend philipe Ebert taken another day but it gives a good sens of scale on the first lower section with skiers on it
There is something to say about being sea side and then waking up at the top of the rond. the rond and the cosmique were not so friendly today. . slabs and hidden ice and wind crust…we triggered about 4 slabs (some bigs) skiing down and i went on 2 front flips releasing my 2 skis each time with that crusty powder.in between those, it was fun. deep and face shot . the cosmique apparently had some big slabs as well. we all made it down. safe. good times. then we did another round down the valley blanche…just because.
We were enjoying a nice rest day drinking coffee under the sun at a chamonix terrace when at 2.30 greg called Olli saying he had just landed in town and would like to take a midi run. by 3.30 we were at the top of the cosmique ready to go for a very good sunset powder run…