Early Winter Steep Skiing

After weeks of beautiful autumn weather, interspersed with periods of heavy precipitation from the south, the main alpine ridge splitting these Alps from the Italian south side to the Swiss north side, has a snow pack that has matured into a seemingly end-of-the-winter stable snow pack. Gilles and I had a look at Hannibal’s Couloir on the Mont Velan, and found it to be in perfect condition! And this is one of those typical late spring itineraries too. It was steepish, firm, chalkey snow in the SW couloir, then primo powder on the lower moraines back to the car.

Snow: Skiing: What is it that attracts us to this idea, this lifestyle, this culture of skiing? I do love winter so. Why is that? The excitement of what is to come? Snow? It changes, therefore is always different, leading to the unexpected. It’s really never the same. It’s so incredibly playful.  You never know what you’re going to get. Full of surprises. Always wonderful in bright light, completely blind in a white out. Now that’s uncomfortable!

It’s a funny start to the winter. But then again, I guess they all are. At any rate, the more season starts I do, the more I realise every season start is “funny” (interesting- tantalising- refreshing- new- unpredictable) and for me, it’s the skiing over this 3D surface, which truly keeps life interesting. It’s like flying, yet so much more, because one is constantly refreshing Earth’s contact with each turn. One is re-checking-in with each turn and with the weightlessness between turns. It’s this perpetual touch and go with the ground, requiring continuous monitoring of one’s place on Earth, coupled with the knowledge that I could blow it at any moment and fall into the pillow I’m floating on, that keeps me young.

You? (comment below the photos?)

2 thoughts on “Early Winter Steep Skiing

  1. Jim Sweitzer

    Well said Hans. The play with gravity, cushioned by the snowpack, across an undulating surface. Flying down the mountain geomorphology, playing with the shapes and aspects, carving the snow crystal blanket. Here we got again. Happy Winter!

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