The driest December in this area since measurements began in 1864 created new challenges for a mountain guide like myself. I could have behaved like Chicken Little and believed the end was near, or rather taken advantage of those conditions. The foehn episode that dried the northern Alps in November, coated the southern Alps with a lovely layer of fresh powder. Living close to that main divide here in Verbier, my clients and I profited from the situation, ski touring and heliskiing in the south, and hiking and climbing in the north.
For those who enjoy being outside no matter the weather and conditions, I’ve found it so rewarding to share these mini adventures with you. Thank you! The following 20 pictures show some of our days together on skis, skins and foot, enjoying what mother nature provides.
What a winter! There was so much to do I needed 36 hours in the 24 of each day. Hiring some of my favorite guides to look after the clients I couldn’t ski with did add some of those hours. But it still felt non-stop. We were lucky too this winter, with the bulk of the Alpine snow falling in this corner of Switzerland. Mid February showed us with 138% of norm snow depth.
This has meant a lack of updates from me. By then, my knee was strong enough to start guiding with confidence. There were so many fun trips in my backyard and further afield around the Valais and to Italy and France. One of my favorite powder shots was in late February, Nellie on her second run from the heli, super exhausted already…
Heliskiing Verbier 2016
Then Greenland again! What a pleasure it is to stay in the tiny village of Kangaamiut, our base for heliskiing on the west coast of Greenland. There was less snow than I’ve seen, yet the skiing was as good as ever. A few more days of bluebird weather would have been nice. But the glaciers were so well covered, it allowed us to again ski lines never skied before. We will be in Greenland again from April 17, 2017 to May 7, 2017. Come join us for the best heliskiing in the world.
Summer is almost here, and I’ll be traipsing around looking for fun rock to climb and waters to sail. Please drop me line to join in any adventure.
Fiona, rock climbing above the Rhone Valley- June 7,2016
Two weeks after our first snowfall, the skiing is still supreme. Conditions are rapidly changing though. The 50-70cm of snow at 2500 has squashed to 30-60, and is powdery only on the north aspects. Some of the wind blown couloirs are even showing fine spring snow. At 2000 meters, it’s been around +3. This has lead to a lot of melting on south aspects. The forecast is calling for fine weather for another 6 days, then some models show some snow… The opening of TeleVerbier last Friday offered super fun, lift serviced, freeriding. There was just enough snow on the ground to ski the front face of Attelas to Verbier, and conditions were not far from as-good-as-it-gets. Here are a few photos from the past few days. Hope it’s getting snowy now too, in your neck of the woods!
Wow! At the bottom of that first steep and deep pitch, I immediately texted Gilles, “OMG!” He was just behind me, savoring an expresso with his client, at the top, just before dropping in. Only in the Alps! We do aim to please, and pleasure it was. Franco had a grin from ear to ear as we carved our way through half a meter of light, cold smoke, toe to toe-side, ear to ear. Oh wow! The snow this morning was so light, the northerly system had arrived with no wind, gently placing many centimeters of fresh snow above 3000 meters. Lower down, that blanket of fresh snow had insulated the warm snow of yesterday, preserving that porridge for those low riders, seeking powder in the trees. But it cleared way faster than predicted, and by the time Franco had found a way back into his house, it was indeed blue bird. Timing, even if it means rolling up to the lift at 11:00AM, is what’s it’s all about, n’est-ce pas?
The forecast is threatening us with hot air from tomorrow, 0° @ 3000. Yikes! Oh well, one never knows what that will heat will create. Maybe a solid bridge over all these facets we’re dancing over right now. There sure were lots of spontaneous slides on NW to E faces between 2300 and 2800. Funky indeed! Have a blast whatever and wherever you are.