Showing posts with label Chamonix. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chamonix. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Giving Back- Amazing Climbs, Exceptional Climbers

Climbers descending from the Parrot with the Dufourspitze in the background
Some guiding seasons are punctuated by epic conditions others by extraordinary routes. 2015's guiding season was marked by exceptional clientele for me.

Friday, December 4, 2015

A Chamonix Flashback

Rising above the thick clouds of Chamonix Valley. Photo by Holly Walker
Holly Walker brings her BC bootpack style to Glacier Mort in Chamonix. 

Last January I had the opportunity to jump on a plane and cruise into Chamonix to meet up with fellow Mammut athlete Erin Smart. Weather was mixed and snow conditions were variable, so each day we looked at various options before leaving the breakfast table full of croissants with a side of café. One morning in particular, Erin had the opportunity to work with Smart Mountain Guides off of the Aiguille du Midi and ski the Vallée Blanche. So I contacted Whistler friends Kate Covello and Tyler Collins to see what ski adventure they had lined up for the day. The couple had moved to Chamonix for a season to ski everyday and avoid the rain that plagued Whistler.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Smart Pack: Skiing off the Aiguille du Midi

The Aiguille du Midi in Chamonix, France is one of the most famous lifts in the world. It holds the record as the highest vertical ascent cable car in the world, as it brings you up to 3842m (12,605ft). After passing through the famous ice tunnel, and making it down the arête, you can ski a variety of big mountain descents through heavily crevassed and unmarked terrain. Unless you are 100 percent confident in your glacier and ski mountaineering skills, it is wise to hire a local guide. When you ski down to Chamonix, it is a 2807m (9,200ft) descent. The access gives you the ability to explore high mountain terrain with incredible ease that is hard to replicate anywhere else in the world. However, the access needs to be respected because in Chamonix you can go from drinking an espresso to almost killing yourself in less than 5 minutes. Be sure you are prepared. Here is a look at what I carry with me down a ski run off the Aiguille du Midi.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

"Oh la!" Chamonix

Erin Smart on the Arête des Cosmiques with the glaciers of Mont Blanc in the background.
Photo: David Moscowitz

“Erin, it’s supposed to be hard, it's a hard climb. As you get better, it remains hard, the only difference is you are able to get up it.” My friend Mike told me this at the beginning of my climbing season this summer. Surprisingly simple to some, yet I had always believed that natural born climbers had an easy time on harder grades. Probably because they just make it look so easy.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Beginning Again—Rediscovering My Ski Roots in the Alps

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring 
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
--T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

Back on the boards--skiing down the Vallee Blanche in Chamonix.
Skiing set my first roots in the outdoor world. Middle-through-high school Saturdays I'd wake at an ungodly hour for the ski bus trek across Puget Sound to the Cascades. Later, as my ski buddies and I progressed, we'd sometimes tackle a bit of our “backyard backcountry” on the Olympic Peninsula's Hurricane Ridge. Notching things up for an overnight tour, we had a forced shiver-bivvy on the Mt. Tahoma Ski Trail when the hut we'd planned to stay at was either a lot longer away than we thought or we were lost. In the morning we followed our tracks back to the car, with our tails between our ski boots.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Climbing in Mammut's Motherland

Coming in from Chamonix the drizzling day before my wife Alysse and I were bombarded by images of “it” everywhere. But for the whole of that damp day we had to be contented with six dollar cups of Zermatt coffee and seeing “it” only on kitchen spoons, jigsaw puzzles, envelope openers, and other kitsch—the real “it” remained lost in the clouds. Now gazing out of our tent in the clear blue morning, we were greeted by the signature lines of the mountain that made Switzerland synonymous with climbing—the Matterhorn. And though the weather in combination with our travel schedule put the kabosh on a climb of its fine lines, Alysse and I managed to salvage the day with some rock climbing on the Riffelhorn, enjoying an excellent vantage point on this Swiss icon, and an impeccable wrap-up to two weeks of summertime ice, rock, and alpine climbing blended up in the way that only the European Alps can provide.

Looking out the tent in the evening...

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Summer in the Alps: Part 1

It has been a fantastic summer for climbing in the Alps. A big winter and continued spring snowstorms put the glaciers in good shape, and unusually long periods of high pressure during July and the start of August have allowed for fantastic climbing conditions.