I lost my North
In the past week i finally plunged into instagram. I always thought it was too hip/a poor support for images. I am fine in the underground. Damnit. The past months tragic events left a bitter taste . Well. Skiing. . .that bitch. 3 years ago i was officially labeled ced ” the photographer” . in cham that is. Since then i watched friends go down for ever, survived one accident , lost 7 good friends. I made some of the most beautiful powder turns ever, went heliskiing and travelled in a few ski paradise, scored a few timeless beautiful shots. .. Skiing bitter sweet. Cabanilla, Fransson , Daley, Rosenbarger were my first and only door into the “paid photographer” zone . Per say. i am not skiing these days. Absolutely unmotivated, working night shift , sketchy conditions, uninspired. i am using instagram as an exuse to rewiew my old photos and maybe sooth that heavy bitterness. Search and rescue that motivation and go ski. Because skiing is beautiful. Or at least it is photogenic. Most of my bomber shots are of dave rosenbarger which sums up perfectly who he was to me in my 10 years skiing chamonix. He was one of my engine. All i had to do was enjoy apres ski with him and he would tell me about the 5 runs he just skied , the conditions . I had my plans for the next 5 days wether with him or following his path. A true inspiration. Andreas Fransson was the turbo, he would come back from huge heavy and rarely skied runs and tell me in his strong swedish accent” it is a beautiful run, i highly recommend it, you must go tomorrow. ” and there i was on the top of my game, at the limit of what i thought i could ski , gutted. All the runs of my life. Dave and andreas influenced my skiing 1009%. Loosing those 2 feels like i lost my North. I am desoriented. The end of an era. Chamonix goes thru eras. The boivin era, the Siffredi era and for me there is definitLy the fransson/ rosenbarger era. I dont know what is coming next. I shall see. Find the north again? I miss those 2. Happy b day Mr Rosenbarger…
I first met Dave 10 years ago, he was in turn fast talking dave or dave the brave depending on the days. We connected after we randomly -surprisingly stumbled on each other on the streets of the black rock city in 2007 (*maybe) . We had that in common. Dave was really strict on whom he was skiing with and at the beginning i probably did not fit his standard. We were not skiing together. I would just hear or see the stories of his impressive everyday skiing.. He was out every day, tagging big heavy lines every other days . His nose for powder patch was unrivaled . I followed his boot pack many times. He called that bad etiquette. Following boot pack gave me confidence and strenght. I became stronger so later i was skiing with him every now and then . This is how i realized how smooth and stylish of a skier he was no matter what type of slopes he was on. He could ski the steeps and exposed the same way he would ski grand montet. I bought a proper lens camera to document skibuming in the cham valley. His skiing and lifestyle fitted perfectly my vision. I thought he was a good rep for skibuming. His style and comitments deserved stories and covers in magazines. He landed a few sponsors so we spent a season skiing and shooting together. My pictures were not good enough to make it anywhere…Later i got into my share of mountains hell meanwhile Dave surrounded himself with the most bankable photographers friends and well…. pretty much the same day he died he scored an article in powder magazine.
the la Palud lift takes you on the best lift access terrain on the planet. This is why we go there. There is also a nice small family village atmosphere feeling that is completely lost in the industrial disneycham junkfest . This is why we keep on going there.
The marbree is arguably the most beautiful lift accessed run i have skied. It just doesn’t get any better than that if you like freeriding.
Skiing south facing huge powder face is “extremely crazy” by any standard. Many people never go there on powder days. NEVER. I used to not go until i started seeing my friends numerous posts on social medias bragging about the best powder day ever with no crowds around. So i started going feeling i was doing something very crazy . I met with many “not so crazy” regulars there including guides and pros. The “extremely crazy” became just “crazy” . I started going regularly on powder days. You can’t beat the atmosphere and the terrain on the ” italian side” . I could see guided group dropping into the marbree on big days, all kind of people, pros , guides and punters dropping into the exposed Cable runs on huge days or stormy days . Into the entreve. So the “crazy” slowly became “normal” . David loved the marbree . Every thing was normal that day, he took the first lift he could. People skied the run the day before, guided group were ahead of him and guided group were behind him. when he dropped in , he triggered the weak point and the entire face went down on him. Bad luck. Some say it was too late. Maybe so they feel better next time they drop in at 9.30 . No, it is “extremely crazy “ to ski south face powder. period. It is not “normal” . I could stop going there. But in this “instagram-facebook” era we are in , how many posts about the good uncrowded time there from friends-pros and guides is it gonna take me to go back? “another spectacular day in the best terrain of the world with friends and no one around” …1000 times. It is a little like trying to quit heroin whilst doctors are sending you videos on how good it is…
And then again, this type of layers also happens on north facing slopes.
powder Skiing is extremely crazy then. It is not normal. We tend to forget about it in this “dolce cabbana” type advertising ski universe we are in…
That same black friday, brendan o sullivan died sliding down the north face of tour ronde. I didn’t know him well, i just skied a few good runs with him. His resume of achievement in cham and the world can rival any of the big “pro” guys, he was at the top of our game. His list of lines skied is nothing less but impressive. Yet he was not sponsored and people barely knew who he was. He was a true gentleman, discreet and a real skibum . He always told me he would rather work , buy his own gear than bend over to get gear he didn’t choose and have to lie about it. He would rather work and buy his own trips than have to deal with cameras ,instagram, hashtags . I liked that. One of the most underrated snowboarder around.
La Palud is a 30 min drive from chamonix under a tunnel…And a very different atmosphere.
you start by having coffee and breakfast
and you you go for a run
and one more runs
you end the day with pizza and beer