Tag Archives: Ski Touring

Opportunities present in a dry December

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.

Winter!

October snows, leading to November snows, leading to December sun! Conditions are excellent at altitude, resembling prime alpine conditions of spring time. A stable snowpack in the high mountains has stuck to many of the icey faces that often don’t see snow until spring. Isolated areas, protected from the November Foehn winds, give rise to primo conditons for steep skiing in boot top powder.

For those of you who have heard about the ISTA method of avalanche training, I am a certified ISTA instructor, offering group and private avalanche courses. After spending a few days with me, talking about snow metamorphism and slope analysis, you will feel more capable to understand and analyse the untracked slopes you want ski.

This gorgeous weather is forecasted to be with us for another week, when this high pressure system should weaken, allowing more humidity to make its way onto the continent. Have fun skiing that boot top pow!

Antarctica Finale

It was the trip of a lifetime and I’m gonna come back. We are on the ship Clipper Adventure returning to Ushuaia and the 71 skiers have bonded in quite a unique way. I feel so lucky to have met so many aboard, to have seen see their slide shows and hear about the amazing things they have done.

Andrew McLean is a world renowned ski mountaineer who has done so many descents all over the world. His slide show was about as good as it gets. I was humbled to be able to hang out with Glen Poulsen and listen to some of the things he has done in the Sierra Nevada. I hope I get to see him on one of his trips through the Alps. I just traded back packs with Dana! How cool is that? Maybe he can come up with the ultimate ABS/ski mountaineers back pack I have been searching for these past few years. Tero Repo took some amazing photos. Look out for his soon to be published photos in every snowboard magazine known to mankind! Guido Perrini is the man behind the lens in many hot new ski/board films. There were so many other characters, that I can’t list them all. But it simply was the trip of a lifetime.

Doug Stoup and Karen Stanley worked for 2 years to put this together. Doug is THE polar guy who has gone more that a few times to both poles with clients from all over the world. That he and Karen were able to pull this off so well speaks volumes about the organization. With a few of his friends, amateur and professional mountain guides and a few extremely accomplished ski alpinists, he chartered this entire ship from Quark Expeditions, to take just over 70 skiers onto the wild and untouched slopes of the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula. I hope I get the chance to come back with a few of you to discover more of what Antarctic ski touring has to offer. And being able to spend a bit more time with Jeremy Jones and Xavier De Le Rue was a blast.

We are all aboard the ship Clipper Adventure heading back to Ushuaia after a more than memorable visit to Antarctica. Doug Stoup and Karen have worked for 2 years to put together this trip of a lifetime. With a few of his friends, amateur and professional mountain guides and a few extremely accomplished ski alpinists, he chartered this entire ship from Quark Expeditions to take just over 100 skiers onto the wild and untouched slopes of the South Shetland Islands and Antarctic Peninsula.

Supreme Skiing

The skiing quite simply does not get much better. With 120cm of snow coating these Alps at 2500 meters, and 40cm in the valley floors, skiing is supreme. Aside from the weekends, one has the mountain to ones self.

The foehn, which blew all weekend, has ceased this morning in Verbier. That certainly changed the snow pack. It is now snowing lightly. The forecast is calling for variable weather this week with a bit more snow towards the end of the week. But more strong winds from the SW are forecasted. The ice is getting thick!