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.
Black crows ski have been hosting this festival for many years now. It used to be an intimate home made 3 days bacchanal called the black week end with sweet DJs and crowd. This is now a full blown (mostly) electronic music festival with cutting edge sound designers and huge crowd. As usual, my procrastinating punished me, i didn’t get that “black bracelet” on time allowing drinks and entry to all events for cheaper…i had to choose which and what without costing my arms and legs. Luckily, my wish was on heavy , dark industrial techno berliner Berghain resident Marcel Dettman, playing 3 times with 2 free events. It is easy to find good house music or dance music in any event but techno is far harder. Marcel dettman is a sure thing. Under the same MDR/Ostgut-Ton label, answer code request was playing as well. the cherry on the cake. (on the techno ostgut-ton label, ben Klock was here as well but i missed him)
For me the festival started at the aiguille du midi. Which happened to be my first time up there this season. Yes, kinda unreal but a mix of bad season leading to work a lot and my bad attitude had this happen …what a treat to be partying up there…
The most defining moment was at the refuge de lognan , me and Nate at a table when answer code request (Patrick Gräser) started with playing that song. The scenic, clouds, the song . This is where i fell in love. What followed was pretty amazing . Precise bass in an outstanding setting in the privacy of a mountain refuge…priceless.
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.
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!
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.
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
A lot of good skiing to be had up there. Big and steep or not. We chose not. Wandering.