No Siesta

The week started with a full throttle powder day with Mikko, Jesper and Nikolina at Pavillion. After 8 laps there we moved across the road to Val Veni and did a few laps of the cable face. It was riding pretty sweet and I was psyched to get to ride this face again this season. For once the Scandos wanted to stop before it got dark and go eat pizza which was good too. From the comfort of my sofa that night with throbbing legs I felt pretty sorry for Nikolina who was working until 2 am!

The next day was sunny and a chance to get high. I hit Helbronner with Mikko and Jesper and we found the most amazing stable powder on the mountain. By lunch we had skied the classic cables line, Tassoti, straight line 3 times and Chesso twice, in total 7 x 1000m laps. Although it was still cool we decided to go back to darker Cham side and have a run on the Rond but once we got through the tunnel the light was flat and we called it at that not wanting to spoil what had been the best cables day for me for a few years.  These days were fast, furious, and focused on skiing so no photos! The only downside was hitting a rock at full speed on the Toula glacier that had me tomahawking to a standstill. It felt like my knee would explode as the tail bit on each rotation but I luckily got away with only strained medial ligament. I did exactly the same thing before going to Baffin so knew I could manage it.

After resting my knee all the next morning I got the code red from De Masi that it was apocalyptic in Italy. We arrived over there to find it snowing at 20 cm an hour with 50 cm of fresh on the ground. With 115 underfoot it was still chest deep. There was a ridiculous amount of snow coming out of the sky and continuous face shots of cold champagne powder. Well, we skied until the liftie asked if we had homes to go to! I haven’t seen it snow that intensity since ’99 when we got a few metres in 3 days and the avalanches were blasting through the towns in the Alps, something no one wants to see a repeat of. Only a half day but 5 laps in the bag.

Pavillion freeride was the order of the day for Saturday and Michelle met up with her friend Ian from UEFA who was psyched for sport with the Cham lifts shut with the Foehn storm. During the morning it continued to snow and cover the tracks then the sun made an appearance giving us the visibility to jump on the spines and have a laugh. The main problem was avoiding white rooming yourself while launching over the pillows and fish mouths on the aprons. It was supposed to be an active rest day but in the end 7 laps dont really qualify as active rest! By now the Border control cops at the Mont Blanc tunnel were only stopping the car to ask where the good skiing was.

Eat, sleep, repeat. Too good to stop. U guessed it we were at Pavillion on Sunday, joined by Black Crows team mate Minna. We had fun there there until the sun came out at which point we decided to put some distance between ourselves and those big faces above  that were loaded with powder after days of storm. Switching to Val Veni, the trees were still providing awesome skiing, so much so that we had to have one last run and went to the Church spine face. The approach through the trees was incredible with 3 deep foot sluff runnels between the spines in the steep terrain of the forest – WTF? Then we popped out on the spine face and wait a minute, whats this heavy wet mank? Not cool. I’m guessing there was enough reflected infra red radiation off the Helbronner side onto our north facing slope to warm the snow. Time to go home. 6 laps.

Monday dawned fine. Can’t stop, won’t stop. Oli Herren said ‘yeah skiing, its a lifelong addiction.’ I wanted more, and the more I got, the more I wanted. Helbronner uppers. Michelle, Minna and myself ride the bin with Capozzi, Rolli, Civra Dano,Wallace, Hachemi, Husted. The cable face looked loaded and wind effected so we started the day on the more sheltered lines. The lower approaches into Pavillion were skiing amazingly but my legs were  tired. 4 laps and coffee. 40 laps over 6 days.

The weather for Tuesday was perfect…time to go touring use different leg muscles!

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Was I Winning or Loosing Today?

Today I definitely did not feel I was winning. I woke up and wasn’t feeling it, I knew about a dozen people wanted to go to the same area, the question do I go, don’t I was running in my head. One of the routes we were talking about requires ropes and I couldn’t be bothered with any rope faff either with more than one other person so that made my choice of line easy, the South side of Tour Ronde from the summit. All was going well on the approach and we soon left the crowds behind but then the day started to go pair shaped for me. While I was at the bergshrund putting my crampons on, one of my skis that I had placed tail down into the snow suddenly slipped through the pow and took off down the glacier. I’m stilling getting used to rockered tails and should have embedded it deeper. We watched in vane hoping it might flip over but a 130-140 wide ski is pretty stable and it disappeared out of site leaving a trail in the pow. I said cheerio to De Masi and Miss Daily and headed off down the glacier on one skis thinking I’d be going back to helbronner to download minus a ski and binding. About a km down there was a 50 m wide crevasse with a snowbridge 30 m down and on it nothing else but my lost ski. A quick abseil off my other ski and I was back in the game with 2 skis! I just had to catch up with Davide and Liz who were climbing up the normal route on Tour Ronde and after an hour of hard work I joined them on the summit.

The start of the South West couloir was full of sharks and after moving about 50 cm my ski grabbed and high sided me. As I barrel rolled I knew there would only be one chance to arrest the fall before I was going too fast but as I came round onto my feet I found my binding had released at the rear and I glanced off the snow and flipped again. I just had time to think that it would hurt a lot ragging over the sharks teeth when I landed on my feet. Assessing the damage I found the spike of my axe had shredded my ski pants down one thigh. Then I felt a bit of pain in my knee and inspecting through the gash in my pants I found a cut right on the soft tissue between femur and tibia, somehow my axe or the rock had glanced off rather than imbedding into the joint. Lucky. Liz and Dave hadn’t seen my flip and were some way below so it was time to get going and catch up (again). After about 100 m of sharks teeth the couloir opens up and the snow was perfect to let rip. (short video below). The final twist to the day was to find the the pocket on my pants had been shredded and with it the car key lost. Thanks to Michelle for coming to Italy with the spare key. Win!

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Italy Delivers

Its going to be good. Col d'EntreveCol d'Entreve-2Happy daysCol d'Entreve-7

Nate Wallace filming as Seth Morrison opens the face.Col d'Entreve-3Seth about to open up.

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Straightline exit over the slabs.Col d'Entreve-5

Davide de Masi

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Italia

We went over to Italy without high hopes but it cleared and we got up high on the Helbronner lift. Seth, Nate, Oli, Tof and Ced went to the right entry of the Marbree so we went left. When I put the first turn in while opening the left entry I knew the next 800 m vert was going to be gone in 60 seconds.Marbree-2 Marbree-3 Marbree-4 Marbree-5 Marbree-6 Marbree-7 Marbree-8 Marbree

Italy

The fog prematurely shut us down today, but it was still fun in the trees and plenty of entertainment from coffee fuelled banter in the cafe.
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Testing Berghaus’s Frendo kit. Helbronner

The Good and the Bad

Its been a crazy 6 weeks. After some preseason skiing on grass and rocks in November I left for my final trip on construction job in Brazil. Expecting summer it was a let down with 2 weeks continuous monsoon rain that caused widespread flooding and multiple fatalities. We were on standby for about 10 days and I was able to train every day in the gym, eat well and sleep a lot. I was pretty psyched that this time round I might return from  work in better shape than I started in. Christmas and my birthday were non events away from family and friends on the other side of the world and I felt pretty lonely. Then I got the unexpected news that my Dad had died suddenly and 2 days long days of travel alone got me back to Scotland. The short dark mid winter days of Scotland pretty much reflected the mood in the family and I found it really oppressive after Brazil. I was really close to my Dad, he pretty much taught me everything I know and having had so many adventures in the hills together it was so sad to see him go. That said I was happy for all he achieved in his life, but for my Mother it will be hard to come to terms with after 50 years of marriage.

Finally I am back home in Chamonix. The last few days have been good to be back on the hill and skiing fast is a welcome distraction from my crazy mind. I feel pretty introverted but spending time with close friends has been amazing and slowly I’m starting to feel grounded. As it turns out my arrival home coincided with the end of a 7 week drought and we have been lapping up the powder.

White room

 

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Night Sail from Vitoria Brazil

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