Posted on February 11, 2012 with 1 Comment
I know, I know, pretty poor pun–but still. My new year began at 3am on the 1st of January with a taxi to the SLC airport after a wonderful New Year’s with Adam at Alta. I was heading to Chamonix for my first time ever skiing there for a Volkl photo shoot, so the early awakening didn’t bother me one bit. Following a long flight and a quick croissant and cafe au lait, Stian Hagen and Andrea Binning, two skiing legends and Chamonix locals, took myself and Walter Wood (ripping pipe and freeskier from Colorado) to the Grand Montets for what would be the first of 12 days in a row of skiing. Talk about starting 2012 out right with powder every day and amazing people. I couldn’t have had a better time. My legs might still be recovering….but those days were something special and I can’t thank enough: Volkl, Stian, Andrea, Dave, Rosanna, Adam, Giulia, Chris, Christian, the Hotel Le Vert, and of course Arne and Kip for always telling me about the amazing Chamonix for so many years.
One of the reasons Chamonix is so mind-bottling is that in ten minutes you are literally up in HUGE MOUNTAINS, and then you click in and just ski many thousands of vertical feet, past ibex, through chutes and forests, over creeks, around icefalls, back down into town. And then have a coffee and a sandwich like it’s nothing.
The nice thing is that it’s not really all the mega-gnar there, either. I guess from hearing so many stories over the years I thought it was all crampons and ice axes–but there is plenty of fun, safe, lift skiing in the valley as well. Especially if you have Andrea to follow around in the trees–and as long as you can keep her in your sights. She freaking rips.
I was hoping to get to make a trip up the Aiguille at some point, but was deferring to the locals for safety and conditions–we are not into forcing anything and only wanted to go if it was safe and right. Lucky for us, we got our chance one afternoon. What a legendary place!
We shot some photos–Stian is one of the most ripping, powerful skiers as you can see here, and he nails the shot every time. He is also an amazing host and mountain guide but you have to be on it and paying attention. This includes: excellent tram placement so you can get out first and run and jump into your skis, boots already buckled, ready to go so no one beats you to the goods. I am considering wearing diapers next time I follow him around there because you do not even think of stopping to pee if he is on a mission!
We skied a run one day that Stian and Andrea had never even skied in their 25 combined years of living in Chamonix. It was awesome, way out in the middle of nowhere, finishing with some pillows and a creekbed, followed by a railroad crossing and then a mini footbridge over a river through a forest. Standing on the other side of the footbridge was none other than Candide Thovex. Seriously, FRANCE IS AMAZING.
We stayed at Hotel Le Vert, just south of Chamonix, and it was incredible. Clean, awesome rooms, great breakfast, really nice and helpful people, and the free bus stop is right across the street. They will pick you up or drop you off at the Geneva airport for 30 Euro, and a room for two including breakfast was very reasonable. Highly recommend! (photo by Adam Clark)