One Excellent Day…

Last night I could barely stand, barely keep my eyes open on the drive to the supermarket to by food for my 3000 calorie meal. I was destroyed.  Yesterday was the first “bell to bell” skiing day I’ve had for a while and we skied over 8000 vertical meters of pow.  We started at the Grand Montets and opened the Couloir Rectiligne in perfect knee deep snow just in front of some Chamonards that kicked a wind slab onto me! Grrrrrr. I’ve not skied it before but it was the perfect first run down with face shots, Hi5s and smiles. After this we headed to the Midi for a fast, super fun Grande Envers with Petter and Karl. Me and Ross still wanted more from the day and after a brief stop for some food we headed up for the Glacier Rond. My legs were feeling the burn and I could barely ski but I had to try and keep up with Ross as best I could.  We made it back to town with very little hiking and without being devoured by the treacherous hoard of blood thirsty hounds that normally linger in the forest at the base. Big thanks to Ross, Bjarne Salen, Jon, Karl and Petter Wallberg for super fun day!

Bjarnes Website

Tour Ronde South Face

I woke with a start and checked my phone which told me it was 0742. I was supposed to be at the entrance to the Mont Blanc tunnel at 0745.  I thought I’d lost out on a good day and I was angry with myself for sleeping past my alarm.  I jumped out of bed and started to get ready even though I knew it was too late to get a ride through the tunnel I was still keen to get out and have a good day in the mountains.  I calculated in my head wondering if I took the Aiguille du Midi lift up if I would be able to meet up with my friends on the other side of the Vallee Blanche before they dropped into the south face of the Tour Ronde.  Luckily my house mate Ally Hurst was going to the midi to traverse to the Italian side to ski with Ally Fulton and Andy Dines.  I joined up with them and we headed up to the Mothership. On the way over I manged to convince them that the Tour Ronde south face would be the place to go and manged to (hopefully not too selfishly!) steer the group to my preferred objective. Everyone was psyched with the day despite the dangerous and generally awful exit of the glacier that they would have avoided had they stuck to their main objective.  It was still an awesome ski by all accounts and a simple well rounded day out…. Start in France, traverse to the Italian side via the Vallee Blanche, climb the Normal route on the Tour Ronde and ski 3000 odd meters to the valley floor. Simples….

Chamonix Alpine Information Service.

I quite often find myself answering questions about climbing and skiing in the mountains of Chamonix.  I love helping people out with information or advice so I’ve decided to offer my knowledge and experience in the form of informal consultations.  The idea is to meet up somewhere in Chamonix for a drink and a chat or talk over the phone to help with any questions you might have.  Please help me to promote this service by sharing this post or the poster below on facebook/twitter or by simply emailing it to someone who you think might be interested. Thank you!

Chamonix Alpine information Service

Email me here.

Italy Days…

In the last week I have mostly been skiing in Italy either off the Funive Monte Bianco (helbroner lift) or in the resort of Courmayeur. I also had a super fun day off the Aiguille du Midi on Wednesday.  Today, however was particularly fun skiing some awesome pow right underneath the cable car at Helbronner.   Fast laps on good snow (about 40cm fresh) with reasonable stability was the order of the day.  We were the first to ski the couloir directly underneath the cables which was pretty intimidating at first but turned out to be really good, and as far as we could tell, reasonably stable. Not quite enough coffee drinking or pizza eating today but we had 6 laps before the light went completely flat and before the legs totally gave out. A good fun day all in all and great to be back ripping about with Ross .  Cheers buddy!

The coffee shop in La Palud is a magical place and with some of the best coffee I have ever had...

The coffee shop in La Palud is a magical place and with some of the best coffee I have ever had…

Scarpa Freedom SL Initial Thoughts.

I've got the Freedoms on my feet in this one honest! courtesy Alasdair Fulton

I’ve got the Freedoms on my feet in this one honest! courtesy Alasdair Fulton

I might have done it here… I might have found one boot to do everything I need…. maybe. Without a doubt I could do with some lighter touring boots for climbing/training purposes but for what I mostly do in Chamonix in the winter these babies are, from what I can tell, perfect.  I can remember quite a few days last winter heading out in my Dynafit Titans to find that I needed a downhill boot or vice versa. I hoped and prayed that this, the newest, top-end boot from Scarpa might be able to cut charging the resort and touring in the mountains, thus reducing my boot quiver by half to one.  So far so good everyone! For me (150lbs) they are plenty stiff enough for fast charging, drops and bumps.  I didn’t need to mold the liners and they are still really comfortable and I have plenty of space for my toes.  Which is good for me but, yeah, we all have different feet so it might not be the same for you.  They felt good in the shop and they still feel good now a month down the line, I might need a heal cup to lock me in at the back as the liner packs down more but that’s normal for me as I have really narrow heals.

The walk mode is awesome with a good range of motion, so much so that it’s almost impossible to ski them in walk mode, which isn’t something I would have said about my titans.  The stock liner is the best liner I’ve ever had, period.  They have a lot of backward stiffness which is good for when you land stuff in the backseat by mistake or when you need to put more power to the back of the ski.  Light enough but not superlight but I’m still happy with the trade off to have stiffer boots. I’m just really enjoying not having to choose which boots to wear out.  One boot and a few pairs of skis is fine for me at the moment.  Happy customer (yes I bought them at full whack) so far and I hope to write some more words as the season progresses …

Dear Chamonix

Dear The mountains of Chamonix,

It’s been nice to meet up with you again after such a long time and I’m sorry it’s been so long.  I’m sad you’re going through some tough times at the moment with your low, unstable snowpack and generally grey weather.  I don’t like to see you down and it makes me a bit sad to see you like this.  I’m hoping things pick up for you soon and you start to have the winter you deserve. The crowds are all but gone for a while and well let’s be honest it’s normally a good time of the year now hey?

Anyway, I’m sorry it’s been so long I had to be away all summer working.  The life of riley caught up with me a bit and well you know, sometimes you just have to pull your finger out and work.   I’m looking forward to some good days with you soon.  Do you remember the days up in the Argentiere basin? So many good memories of fun days with laughs and sunshine.  How about that time I skied the Y Couloir with Liz. That was great! Or the times out on the Courtes, or on the Dent du Geant with Ross. So many fond memories and I’m looking forward to creating more with you soon.

Like I said I hope you feel better soon and I hope we can enjoy some good days out together like the good old days.

See you soon!