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Winter Haute Route on Skis

I'm just back from another fine Haute Route with a lovely group of folks from Australia. We had perfect, sunny weather for our 8 days together. It's been hot for 3 weeks, so the snow feels more like mid-May. It's not smooth everywhere, rather cupped and structured from the intense sun. But it's raining outside my window now in Verbier, at 1600 meters, so snowing high up, creating a clean slate for great adventures next week!

I'm off to Greenland, heading 400 kilometers north of Kangaamiut, to Qeqertarsuaq, another beautiful little village on the south end of Disco Island. The area is near one of the most popular tourist destinations, Ilulissat, known for the huge Sermeq Kujalleq Glacier, which is the source of most of the icebergs flowing down the Atlantic, finally melting at a latitude just north of New York. If you're tempted to ski the best terrain in the world, come join me next year, April 29 - May 12, 2019.

My feet will be super stoked to be out of ski boots when I get back in mid-May. I'm organising a few sailing/climbing adventures in Sicily, Greece and other islands in the Med this summer, land based and aboard a chartered catamaran. If you'd like to join, learn to kitesurf and climb, while visiting everything these islands have to offer, please send me a note to create your own trip together.

Another Ski Safari of Glaciers ‘n Couloirs

(Notes to self- Ski Safari X 2018)  Done. Stress flowing out now, as we ride the train home. We had the most amazing second day. And that, after a super fun, 2 heli drop 'round Verbier, starting high on the glaciers and finishing in the valley floor with the most superb couloir.

Marcus high on the Petit Combin, enjoying the second drop of the day.

Marcus high on the Petit Combin, enjoying the second drop of the day.

We started that second day directly off the chair lift at N#$%, no tracks anywhere, loving these little resorts, it was the left couloir, starting high on its right rib, dropping left into the little secondary couloir. I noticed Jane setting off a tiny slough, the crown @15cm, so not too much volume. 

Dark Couloir

It's dark in this couloir, so the shot isn't great, but the ambiance was.

Skiing to the valley floor.

Finishing in the valley floor.

We finished that run with a quick skin to gain a shoulder, then down through the alpage and back to the chair for our next ride. As the cloud lowers, feeding us a total whiteout, I find my way, gingerly, into that couloir under the high, north facing bowl, and yeehaw, what a ride!!! I’m a pin ball in the C machine, g-forces slapping me back and forth, up and down the sides of this couloir, caked with this deep winter’s snow. And our last couloir, which I thought would have too much southeast in it, =slight surface crust, was the best! That 15cm ripped out in big pockets, sending slough managment front and center, adding a whole new dimension to our last ripping run. It wasn't planned, this couloir safari, but it really has made my addiction to this free falling, pin balling, couloir skiing way too insatiable.

Lowering over the last little bit of waterfall ice...

Lowering over the last little bit of waterfall ice...

Rob and Jane all smiles...

Rob and Jane all smiles...

Yowzah!

Yowzah!

Powder Skiing

Such hard work this...

Skiing down.

See ya...

The Winter of 2017-18

It's been so silly good, for so long, with days blending into weeks, of storm after storm, filling in the upper mountain like I've never seen it before. I'm pushing my skis into lines and over cliffs that haven't been possible in my 35 years playing here. It is just so fat! Couloirs are becoming faces, cliffs disappeared 2 storms ago, and it goes on...

I've tried posting an update several times since returning from the waters of Brazil and Hawaii, but the story keeps changing. Maybe this one will be it? So many fun photos of fun faces, hovering over the fabulous snow surface, as we make our way to the valley floor. Thank you for the amazing days folks!

Bitchen Salbitschen

Layback, crystals crunching under foot like I'm the first person to have ever climbed this route, straight arms, feeling the opposition through my hips twisting, not knowing which appendage to move next. Will this smear on left foot hold, as I reach high with my right hand to grab this crack higher up? Maybe I should have set that piece better, 3 meters below, so it wouldn't have popped out, sliding down the rope 15 meters to my last piece of protection, causing my right foot to start bouncing up and down like a Singer sewing machine rattling out a new garment. And I ask myself, why do I do these things?
Climbing on "Excellent" Gemsplanggenstock

High on "Incredible" Gemsplanggenstock

Fi figuring out the last move on "Excellent"

Fi figuring out the last move on "Incredible"

I've climbed for years all around this area of central Switzerland, but have saved Salbitschen until today. What an amazing valley of perfect granite walls and ridges. Hans Berger has spent the last 34 years lifting this area into an alpinist's heaven, and with his wife Beatrice, running the Salbithutte, developing wonderful hiking itineraries and outrageous routes on pristine granite. Thank you both! It's mid-summer and things are really heating up. The steel colored glaciers were gushing enormous quantities of water last week, but the two snow falls and lower temperatures have eased that pressure and it's now looking fresh and white up high.
The lovely Riedbach below the Bordier Hut.

The lovely Riedbach below the Bordier Hut.

There's another 3 weeks of high season alpine climbing, then some fun trips for autumn. After this past month of May, powder and silky, spring snow skiing in Greenland, I completed my kite instructor's license in June and started a catamaran based kite trip through the Cyclades of Greece. We're looking to do the same, kitesurfing catamaran based trip this fall, in the Caribbean. Contact me if you're a beginner or confirmed kite surfer to enjoy this relaxed way of sailing.
The joy of sailing over the sea.

The joy of simply sailing over the sea.

And for winter 2017-2018, I'll be at it again, hopefully enjoying with you together, what these fine Alps have to offer.
  • Sailing Caribbean catamaran/kitesurfing adventures October 28- November 5 €1'900/person
  • ISTA Avalanche Education
  • Skiing India/Kashmir February 3-10 €2'100.00/person
  • Heli/Randonée Skiing Greenland April 23-29 €8'800.00/person
  • And private guiding, daily off-piste/back country all winter and spring in the various Alpine valleys of Valais, Bern, Chamonix and La Grave France and Italy and multi-day trips ski-safari for the ultimate in fine skiing adventure.