Showing posts with label Switzerland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Switzerland. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Back At It - Europe Part 1

by Chris Thomas

Sarah and I had a great climbing trip to Europe this fall.  Although I was fresh off the injured list (http://mammutathleteteam.blogspot.com/2012/10/blood-guts-and-gore.html), I was chomping at the bit to get back in shape and climb as much as possible!

 Approaching Hintisberg through the cow pasture. 
 Looking across the valley at the North Face of the Eiger!
 Picturesque Murren. 

Before the trip I was skeptical about via ferrata.  Sarah was super excited about it, but to me  It seemed like a contrived substitute for real climbing.  How wrong I was!  We used the via ferrata in Murren to approach the climbing a Gimmelwald and had a blast!  So much fun and so much exposure!
 
Making it even cooler was the base jumping event going on.  We watched dozens of wing suiters take off just a few feet away from us.

 Thanks for contributing to the construction Mammut!

 Gimmelwald.  Perhaps the most scenic sport climbing area I've ever been to


Our week in Switzerland flew by.  There's so much to do - it's like paradise for a climber.  I'll defintiely be back soon.
Next stop - Italy!
Chris Thomas

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Quick Chick in the Swiss Alps


This year was a tough season all around for winter sports.  In the Swiss Alps, which is my home base we had extremely warm weather into the beginning of December.  I was hiking in a T-shirt into the end of the year, even at high altitudes.  By New Year we had some of the biggest storms of the century, downing trees, blocking roads, trains, cars and the ski resorts were forced to close due to high winds.  For those of us who were motivated to be out there no matter what we found ways to skin up, but the conditions going back down were treacherous, making normal descents of a half hour, into 2 hour skis, on, skis off, hop over trees, crawl under trees, to get home in one piece.  An adventure it sure was.

Things calmed down a bit mid season, but high temps caused the abundance of snow to melt away quickly.  Leaving many of our speed ski tracks barren on top, with several race cancellations.  It was still possible to race, but only by climbing to the highest snow covered point on rocks wearing nothing but a rubber suit, carrying 8 foot long skis that weigh 15 kilos, speed helmet and poles.  At the race in Vars, France I unfortunately was influenced by the bad conditions and placed 5th

Last week we were inundated again with heavy snow in Verbier, Switzerland for the World Cup Finals.  During a one week race, we had 1 sunny day of racing, the rest of the race was cancelled because of thick fog and high winds.  


At the Speed Ski World Cup Final, I came in 3rd place.  It was great to share the podium with two other amazing women. Sanna Tidstrand (Swe) the women's world record holder took first, and Lisse-Anne Petterson (Nor) Olympic silver medalist came in 2nd, with me trailing in 3rd by .1 km/h. 


It was a beautiful race with sun and perfect track preparation.  At 3300 meters the air is very thin, and the acceleration on the piste is outrageous. In about 10 seconds the race was over.  It's a good thing I spent 3 hours waxing my skis!!!  I feel that I performed my best and I'm satisfied with my latest podium finish, which was my 40th World Cup Podium of my career!


Starting tomorrow I will be assisting in the organization of a World Record attempt in Verbier.  This is an invitational race in which the top 5 men and 2 women in the world will attempt to ski off the infamous ramp on the Mont Fort glacier.  Everyone is waiting with great anticipation to see what the speeds will be.  The first run tomorrow will start at around 200 km/h, and I’m betting the track record will be broken by the afternoon.  Stay tuned for more information about the ramp. 




Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hello From Geneva


VACATION FROM VACATION: 10 DAYS IN GENEVA AFTER 45 IN SOUTHERN FRANCE/ BIG CHANGES FOR BALAZY-POO



PREPARING TO DIVE INTO THE FIREY DEPTHS OF VERDON GORGE IN JULY

As the summer’s been rolling by, I’ve been undergoing a pretty major metamorphosis. Most normal-lifey/ high-ambitiony people might call it a “degeneration”. But just a few days ago, I decided that I would not return to Utah this fall; instead I will say to travel, climb, and write (wait, work?) full-time.

SUFFERING THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE FIREY DEPTHS OF VERDON GORGE IN JULY

Despite the fact that I’ve been in near paradise for the last six weeks, I’ve been processing all kinds of introspection –brought to me by many facets of Céüse life: the hike to and from the cliff (nearly an hour up if you take it nice ‘n’ slow), the intensity of the climbing… and to an extent, periods of relative loneliness –though I’ve been surrounded by people the entire time, it’s been a really transitive crowd of acquaintances and new friends. But, all told, it's been a great experience. OK.

ABOUT TO GO SKYDIVING WITH KEVIN

A few days ago, I decided to not return to Utah in the fall as I had previously planned. Though I’d always intended to go back at the end of August with my round-trip plane ticket, it struck me on the hike down from the crag that I wouldn’t be returning home.

A number of logistical factors, I realized, have aligned to facilitate this prospect and, despite the fact that I will forsake many figments of my Utah: Fall ’09 life by not returning (work, weddings, fall season at Indian Creek, Zion, Yosemite), the opportunity to stay in Europe most certainly outweighs the details I sacrifice by not boarding my August 31st Air India flight #127 FRA > ORD.

ABOUT TO JUMP OUT OF A PLANE: ARE YOU NERVOUS?

That said, I am attempting to experience a paradigm shift into vagabondness. It has to do with simple logistics like pace of climbing during the day and pace of climbing across a month. It is a mindset shift from Woo-hoo-fun! Land to Woah-this-is-going-to-be-my-life? Land. which is all good, but I feel like I'm the subject of my own experiment. I seem to like to stick myself into new and bizarre situations without much preparation.

So far, though, I must say the summer as a whole has been great, trials and lulls included. I feel that, though Céüse is a soul-crunching gravity knob, it has nonetheless facilitated my near physical recovery from some grim life changes and, even though I don’t feel necessarily in “good shape”, I now feel that I’ve returned to a normal baseline of climbing fitness. (Though I definitely realize I will need more patience with this recuperation that I might have a few years ago.)

THIS DONKEY THOUGHT HE WAS A SHEEP, TOP OF CEUSE

Most of my time in July and August have been in Céüse, but I’ve also gotten to climb a few days in Orpierre and one hot-as-Hell day in Verdon Gorge. I even learned that just 13 km down the road from Céüse is Europe’s largest skydiving center. So I jumped out of a plane. What’s up. Also, my friend, Tye and I hiked to the top of Ceuse via the via feratta. Which was illegal. What’s up.