Category Archives: Ski Mountaineering

Greenland Heliskiing

We’ve just finished another outrageous season of heliskiing in west Greenland. Yikes! What a trip. The skiing here is just so outstanding, that after 13 years, I understand now that it’s an addiction. Obviously, having a heli at our disposal adds a lot to the experience, but while I’m floating through the powder towards the water’s edge, my sense of touch, directing my attention to my skis, is so distracted by my sense of sight to the water and islands below, that skiing here adds another whole new dimension to the experience. It’s a privilege to spend this time in this little village of Kangaamiut, getting to know these people and skiing down some of the most memorable runs of my winter. And a privilege it is, to ski with my clients, who every year, reflect what I see and feel about this place: the best skiing in the world. Come join us next year: April 18-24, April 25- May 1, and May 2-8, 2016.

Here are a few shots of our runs and time in Kangaamiut.

Haute Route- Chamonix to Zermatt

Back to back Haute Routes! On day one, Marnie and I went from the Grand Montets, over the Col du Passon, across the Tour Glacier, through the col superior du Tour, down the Trient Glacier, up through the Col des Ecandies, then down the Arpette valley to Champex. We spent the night in Verbier, then skied corn the next morning on the Marlene, corn off the SE face of Mont Fort, then on to the Prafleuri Hut. Then we did Dix, Pigne d’Arolla, Arolla, Bertol and down to Zermatt. What perfect conditions we had! The snow was brand new, super white crystals, laid down from the previous four day’s snow storm.  Living in Whistler certainly prepared Marnie for some of the hight gain each day, but I was happy to see her impressed with the vastness we live in here. Seeing the steep couloirs and faces to climb, her untrained eye was at first intimidated, but she soon felt comfortable once she had crampons on her feet and was in the thick of it. Hut life was super pleasant, meeting only a handful of people each evening, sharing the same desire to relax and travel up over these peaks and passes. Then I did a fun variant the past 4 days, traveling from the Valsorey Hut to Chanrion and then up and down to Arolla. The wildness of our own upper Val du Bagnes always impresses me and feeds that yearning to discover more of its nooks and crannies. Here are a few shots from the last few days…

Spring Steeps in Verbier

After lots of snow and high winds, these Alps are coated with a new white blanket of sparkling cream. It had gotten real dry, going from great spring skiing mid-April, to blackening snow and opening crevasses.

We skied off the summit of the other Bec yesterday, in strong NW winds. The north face was filled in like 20 years ago with spongey, grippy snow, making the steep and exposed upper slopes real playful. Alex and Roman started to grin ear to ear after they’d come to terms with the 300 meters of exposure, letting the skis ride over the fresh snow.

This is high time in the Alps for ski touring, safari, and haute route, and conditions are primed for some of the best in quite some time. The forecast is for beautiful blue skies and cool north east air for the next 2 weeks! I have one trip with space still available April 18-23. We will go to where conditions are best. The cost is 1’080.00 including guide fees and hut costs. Then Greenland again, April 28 – May 14 for the best skiing on the planet!

Here’s a few shots of yesterday’s two steep lines…

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?)