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.
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.
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…
Since I have skied the capucin couloir directly facing the angelique i wanted to ski it. The Angelique is very hard to get in good condition due to its aspect (south) and shape (narrow couloir). But this year , all the South faces are filled in and i thought i would give it a try with my friends Ryan Boyer , Brett Lotz visiting from California and Ross Hewitt a scottish chamonix local. WE decided to go first bin and to climb the NNE of les courtes and traverse to the Angelique on the other side. I didnt think much of that part since i have climbed and skied that face making big turns numerous times. I was wrong, it was definitely an alpine climb. The strong N wind have ripped the face of its snow and the face was almost entirely ice. Sometimes just a thin layers of not supportive snow would hide the ice which made it harder. The top 3 rd part was all dinner plate breakable which if you are not used to it is pretty scary. to be faster we all roped up on that part to Ryan who was just flying up it. Actually Ryan and Brett, the 2 californians with heavy alpine ski set up were much faster than the 2 locals. ouch! take that in your face. Oh well, i have a 3 kg cameras. that is my lame excuse. The skiing was “marginal”. the couloir is narrow with 2 banks facing west and south. each banks have different kind of snow , old hollow powder sometime , hard crust , icy bumps , rock steps and so on. and it is all pretty steep. Lower down as the angle soften, the snow was better, smooth powder or spring snow which allows us to make nice big turns. All of this made it an amazing ski-alpinism outing, very technical in an amazing setting, traversing from one basin to the other. The couloir is amazingly beautiful and is all worth it good or bad snow. Call me crazy but this is the kind of skiing I like. We were rewarded by a beautiful sunset skiing in smooth powder and corn down the talefre basin and the mer de glace and then the james bond to a fresh beer at the elevation. good day.