Category Archives: Freeride

Freeride Ski Tour above Verbier

You’ve got to love these Alpine ski areas in Switzerland, France and Italy for the super quick access to the wonderful Freeride Skiing terrain! Using the lifts and modern freeride skis, mounted with light ski touring bindings, one is quickly into the virgin powder.

Yesterday, we took the lift to Attelas, then toured on from there, quickly getting into some real nice powder for a couple of good runs. It’s still relatively thin, so one needs to be real careful not whack into the rocks hidden below. I put the 3-axis gimbal on again to get a little video of Gilles floating…

Early December Snow Conditions Update

We have good snow coverage now here in Verbier. At 1500 meters in town, we have 30 cm of compact snow. At 2000 meters we have 65cm of various layers. Above that, the wind and warm temperatures have filled couloirs and faces with snow. Because of these high temperatures, these layers of snow are bonding very quickly, which is unusual for this time of year. The avalanche risk should descend to level 2 out of 5 by tomorrow. The forecast is calling for bluebird weather for the next two days, and the two week forecast shows a depresion sitting over northern Europe, bringing a humid, westerly flow through to mid-December.

Verbier is now open all week, having opened for weekends a month ago. Here’s a 1 minute video showing what freeride conditions are like at present.

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…

Ultimate Ski Safari

Skiing 2000 meters down wild couloirs to bowls to more couloirs into a tiny primitive village in the middle of their annual celebration with everyone wearing outlandish costumes, was our last day of a 7 day ski Safari.

Staying flexible to location, route and lodging was key again to our excellent little adventure. Not knowing which valley, which town or which isolated village we would arrive in the next day made it all that much more stimulating.

Starting just across the Rhone Valley from Verbier, at Montana Crans, we headed up the wind scoured Wildstrubel, only to get blown off 200 m from the summit. With our tails between our legs, we headed south back into the Valais rather than our intended descent north into the Bernese Oberland. It was obvious the wind was hammering the high peaks, so we decided to had a fun day riding a little lift and skiing beautiful power through the forest on the other side of the Rhone valley. Then into the Loetschental next day, over the north ridge for an all-day-run down a lovely valley surrounded by huge rock walls to Wengen, where we met up with team Telluride who joined us for an epic descent the next day, after skinning then skiing then skinning then skiing then skinning into another remote valley, sliding up to the front door of a four-star hotel, served cheese fondue and then, them, team Telluride, skiing down and away in the dark full of white wine and cheese to make the train back to Zürich. Us three, we woke up to hot expresso and a delicious buffet breakfast, slapped on our skins, and headed to the pass 1’400 m above us. The descent down the other side to Kandersteg was the “valley of cliff bands” needing good route fighting or several hundred meter rappels if you got it wrong. With no rope in my backpack we opted for solid route finding. Not another soul in site, just us and the chamois, skiing powder through the last cliff band onto the Oeschinensee, surrounded by hundred-meter-tall-frozen-waterfalls and then sausage and soup in the restaurant on the other side. We found another cozy hotel in Kandersteg, then hopped on the train the next morning right behind the hotel, taking us back to our car in Loetschental and that fabulous last run into the valley celebration.

My first ski Safari of the season and I want to go again tomorrow!