Jacob Wester
Jacob Wester
Jacob Wester
Jacob Wester
Jacob Wester

Blog

Heliskiing photos!

And I’m back to civilisation! After three weeks in Riksgränsen on shaky 4G internet (the winds have to be just right for my phone to work I think), Daniel and I made the drive back to Luleå, Daniel’s hometown, from where I caught a flight to Stockholm yesterday. Still having a hard time sleeping from the midnight sun, as it’s way past midnight and I’m not even close to tired. The arctic circle plays some crazy tricks on you.

This trip marks the end of yet another ski season in this crazy life of mine, and I survived, again. So was it a good one? Obviously it wasn’t the best winter of my “career”, since I did manage to break some bones and had to take two months completely off skiing, and another one basically just making turns. Even still, I feel like it was a good one! I think finishing off with a fun park trip, and a trip up north to what I consider to be the most beautiful place on earth, made the winter come together in a way that at least made it feel like I had a great year. I didn’t get as much footage together as I would have hoped for, but at least I am back skiing at the top of my game, something I had a very hard time believing earlier this spring. I also got to ski some big, exposed terrain, learning more steepskiing skills, and I definitely feel like I grew as a skier. As soon as I got injured I decided the rest of the winter was going to be all about recovering, and then skiing as much as possible, not worrying about filming or competing, just getting back into the groove. These last few weeks we set out to collect some video material, and despite battling some weird weather (slush one day, solid ice the next, lots of rain and hard-to-find powder), we did get some great footage together, which I am more than excited to show you all later this year…been putting all the clips together over the last few days and I don’t think I’ve ever been this stoked on the Swedish mountains. They may seem small at first, but up close they are absolutely breathtaking.

Oh well, time for me to shut my rambling, sleep-deprived mind, and show you some photos. As some of you know, my buddy Alric Ljunghager joined the Riksgränsen trip to shoot video for Unfiltered. In between rec-ing, he also took some amazing photos, in his trademark, arty style. Go check out his webpage, www.alric.se and get lost in some out of this world imagery. Enjoy the photos!

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Reflection of the bird.

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The majestic Pyramid mountain. Unfortunately the wind got to these couloirs before we got to ski them. Next year…

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Some amazing snow formations on Sweden’s tallest peak Kebnekaise. Upon further inspection it turned out this was a lot bigger than it looked from the heli. Biggest crash of the year for Jacob, although no broken bones this time.

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Scoping lines with Olympic mogul skier Per Spett

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The light!

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Daniel and Corey getting ready to get the shot from the heli.

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Amazing landscapes around these parts.

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I love the way this double exposure turned out. We drove into Norway with nothing special in mind, and this was the result of a portrait shot in a parking garage, and some waterfalls. I look covered in spider webs!

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The men behind the lenses, Alric and Corey.

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Corey taking cover.

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An excited Jacob after the final ski day of the winter. Summer time!

Well, what about the skiing? I don’t want to reveal too much, but of course I’ll give you a little sneaky peek of some raw footy. Been shooting with my hacked 5D mkIII (Magic Lantern), and I must say I am absolutely blown away by how good footage this little guy can capture if you know what you’re doing. I haven’t had much time to work with these files yet so they’re a bit inconsistent color-wise, but you get the idea. The shots look on par with some much, much more expensive cameras:

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fun air into a fun line

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further down the line

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amazing snow on may 16th

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huck time

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scenery

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Oscar and I getting dropped off.

So right now I have a few more days in Stockholm before wrapping up the ski season completely (still some stuff left to manage, paying bills and organizing receipts), before I am off to my summer home – you guessed it – Indonesia. Going to spend a month down there solo, before meeting up with Sofia in Perth. It’s been 3 months since I saw the girl and I can’t wait to get up to some crazy adventures with her this summer! Make sure to follow us around here, on instagram, and on her blog, www.sofiasjoeberg.com!

Stay tuned

Jacob

Riksgränsen part 2

It’s day 10 in Riksgränsen! Feels like we’ve been up here for weeks already, but I think that’s because of the 20+ hours of light that really messes with your head. So the last few days we (me, Alric the filmer, Daniel, Josh Bishop and Corey Stanton from Armada, Kim Boberg and Flage) have been staying in a cabin a few kilometres east of Riks, in the neighbouring ski resort of Björkliden. It’s a nice break from all the partying that inevitably happens over in Riksgränsen, especially during the big mountain contest, Scandinavian Big Mountain Championships, that is going down right now. Today we watched the semifinals and I was blown away by the level, as almost a hundred skiers and snowboarders threw down huge airs, 360s, backies and straight-up wild lines in some punchy spring conditions. Pretty sure I’ll never join that party, since I value my life too much…good show though!

So what’s going on? Well, to be honest, this trip hasn’t been a repeat of our success from last year. High winds and warm temperatures have messed up the conditions and the sun hasn’t been coming out much, making for some pretty grey scenery. We have been getting in the heli a few nights and some footage for Unfiltered is being captured, but I really wish we could have just one more refill of powder. The end of this week is looking like our best option, and it’s also when we are wrapping up the shoot, so let’s hold our thumbs and pray for better luck!

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Getting back in the heli has been pretty awesome. It’s been way too long and there’s really nothing in the world like heliskiing. Especially at 9:30pm. Scoping lines behind our amazing heli pilot Mats, with Mountain Guide Travel. Make sure to hit them up if you visit Riksgränsen!

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Daniel and I buzzing to shred some lines.

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After stepping out of the helicopter and everything goes silent, you realise how tiny you are and how big the face below you really is.

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Golden hour

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Tricky entrance to this massive couloir that went all the way down into the dark. Insane how you can ski solid 1000 meters of vert in Sweden!

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Letting go on the big face, fast but rippable snow.

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Seconds before I overshot a 50 foot cliff and tumbled down a good portion of Sweden’s highest peak Kebnekaise. Happy to have made it out of this one in one piece! Check my instagram feed for the whole video!

On our downdays I have been working a little on my photo skills, as I have realised it sucks trying to stay on top of your photography, creating content for the blog etc, when all the media is created by people around you. Having Daniel, Alric, Josh and Corey around is amazing since it allows me to focus on my skiing, but at the same time I find myself trying to post a blog and I don’t have anything to post. Here’s a few photos by me the last few days:

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The iconic Lapporten, or in english, Door to Laplandia. This is literally just outside of our house.

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Norway scenery, Rombaksfjorden. Even on a grey day there’s so much color here.

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Big waterfall

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Close-up of the waterfall

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Even closer (not the same waterfall however, I can’t afford a lens that big…)

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Double exposure fun with Alric. Really fun technique that I am just getting into!

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Photos by Josh Bishop

Tonight my brother Oscar arrives for a few days of slushy resort shredding and hopefully a couple of heli hours (fingers crossed). It’s going to be his first time in a heli so it’s all very exciting!

Stay tuned for more, I promise the wait will be shorter :)

Jacob

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Riksgränsen and the JP Memorial day 1

Hey everyone, we are in Riksgränsen, 200km north of the arctic circle and just on the border of Norway. Last year I went here for three weeks and absolutely fell in love with the place, the mountain, the light, the views and the good vibes that seem to create themselves in this mystical area of the world. Last year I filmed my RealSki segment here, but this year the program is a little different, with Armada putting on the event JP Memorial in memory of our great late friend JP Auclair who tragically passed away last fall. Back in 1998, Chris O’Connell shot JP doing a massive mutegrab on a hand-dug quarterpipe here in Riksgränsen, and we are back 17 years later to hit the same feature and spend a few days with friends. So far it’s going well!

Yesterday the sun came out in the morning and decided to stick around all day under a clear blue sky. In the afternoon the quarterpipe started getting slushy and we had a great session with all the amazing skiers that are here. Besides the Armada representation, consisting of me, Riley Leboe and Kim Boberg, we have a good showing from underground videomakers The Bunch, as well as some sick local skiers. Legend Julien Regnier even flew in from France to celebrate our old friend. Check out some assorted photos from the day:

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So much fun sessioning a proper quarterpipe after all these years. Photos by Daniel Rönnbäck and Henrik Lampert/Freeskier. These things are never really built anymore, which is a shame. In the background you can see Vassitjåkka’s 1361m northwest face, and after the QP session I put my skins on and walked up it:

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Photo from the approach

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My old buddy from highschool, Emil, getting some beta shots of the face. Good times hanging out with old friends!

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Emil’s friend Jakob working his way up the middle section.

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Alluring spine walls in the distance…no heli or sled access over there though, since it’s in Norway…

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Gopro view from the top, Riksgränsen is the little bump in the back where the train tracks bend.

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The best beer I’ve had all week.

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The lower part of the top section had some fun airs in really good snow.

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Opening up on the lower section

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Perfect May powder, Emil having a blast.

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Stoke factor 10

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Looking back at the face, with our line marked in red.

Today the weather has taken a turn for the worse, so we are slowroasting it hoping for a break in the clouds. With a little luck we can get in the helicopter soon!

Jacob

 

 

Spring Mayhem!

After spending one night in Stockholm, Daniel and I jumped into our Mazda and drove towards Kläppen, a small ski resort a few hours northwest. On the way we picked up Armada Skis filmer Corey Stanton, and joined up with the huge crew, consisting of great friends and skiers like Kim Boberg (our host), Oscar Harlaut, Jens and Leo from The Bunch, Matt Walker and many others. Here we are posted for the week, filming for various projects and enjoying a private terrain park, designed by Kim and the good people at Kläppen Ski Resort. Keeping content a little on the quiet side so I don’t spoil everything we are shooting for but here’s a couple of raw stills from my Dji Phantom:

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Kim waiting to drop while I’m getting the drone in position

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Main setup

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Park overview, Morten Grape on the inrun.

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Oscar Harlaut about to land with Andreas Olofsson getting the shot

 

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Shot of me, by Martin Axell. So good to be back in a slushy spring park again! I thought my ankle would be bothering me a lot more, but it feels good except the metal on my fibula definitely hurts when I land too heavy or spin too hard. Going to have it removed later this year I think, does anyone have any experience with recovery time after removing metal from an ankle? I have 8 screws and a plate on my lateral malleole.

Weather day today, time to rest up our bodies before we get our final shots tomorrow. Then we are off on a 15 hour drive north, to the mythical place of Riksgränsen. Big things coming up!

Jacob

Bye for now, Chamonix!

Hi everyone, sorry for letting the blog suffer over the last week and a half. It’s just been too nice of a summer time down in Chamonix to sit in front of the computer (and, our wifi stopped working, so neither Daniel or I have been able to get much “work” done). Anyways, now I’m sitting in my mother’s kitchen in Sweden typing this down, while trying to give you an accurate recap of what’s been happening as of late.

After my mom and sister returned home to Sweden, Armada Skis had a shoot planned in Chamonix for next year’s apparel. Riley Leboe was in town, and Daniel returned from his trip to Alaska. Unfortunately winter had decided to call it quits on us, and we were left to work with mostly spring snow, except for a few days up high when we were handed a couple of centimeters of powder on top of hardpack. Not the easiest conditions to work in, and partly the reason I haven’t been bothered with updating the blog. Here’s a little photo update:

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Riley and I, assessing conditions on a white-out Vallée Blanche. Not much work was done this day.

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Not this one either, although no drugs were consumed in this photo. 4/20!

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Gopro screenshot from one of our few pow days, Vallée Blanche.

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Team portrait

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Walking a sketchy ridge on Aiguille Petite Verte with Tof and Riley

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Shot by Daniel while waiting to drop.

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On the way down, 5 cms of pow on black ice. Exciting!

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Roadtrip home begins. Switzerland looking beautiful from Col de Grands-Montets.

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Somewhere in Northern Germany.

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Crossing the bridge to Sweden at 3am

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In Malmö, southern Sweden we stopped at the Thule Concept store who are helping us out with a sweet ski box for the coming roadtrip through Sweden. Thanks guys!

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Time to head north! Fully packed car and 3 weeks of park shoots and heliskiing to look forward to!

In other news, of course I want you all to see what happened last week in video, so I’m working on another Unfiltered video blog, dropping as soon as there’s time to finish it! It’s a fun one!

See you in Kläppen ski resort, Sweden!

Jacob

Family vacation

Hey everyone, and sorry for the radio silence the last few days. High pressure hit, and since the last big outing I haven’t really skied much of value for the blog. Freezing limit has crept up into the 3000s (m), and it’s been some seriously beautiful summer days in town. Friday my mother and sister came down to visit so it’s safe to say they scored a good time for some spring skiing! Here’s some photos:

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Looking back at Mer de Glace after skiing the Vallée Blanche. Spring is in full effect.

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Exploring Grands-Montets

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Top of Aiguille du Midi

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Been slowly easing into some jumping over the last few days. Ankle feels good and it’s promising for our upcoming Unfiltered trip to Riksgränsen, Sweden!

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Mom shredding the Vallée Blanche crevasse maze.

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The ice caves

Their shuttle just left and now starts a regular work week, as Armada team mate Riley Leboe rolls into town for a product shoot. Some new snow in the forecast for this weekend (we need it, it’s been 12 dry days), so hopefully we’ll find the stashes! Off to Sweden on the 23rd for park shoots and helitrips! Life is exciting!

Jacob

 

 

Couloir Trappier

After milking out the last of the easter powder at Grands-Montets in the beginning of the week, and going for a failed walk up Aiguille de la Tête Plat (needed a rope for a passage we thought would be fine), it was time to start looking elsewhere for snow. Two days ago we (George Rodney and I) drove up to the other side of the valley and shot some hi-res photos of the northwest flanks of the Mt Blanc, including the beautiful triangular Aiguille du Gouter. One of the first lines I saw when I first came to Cham was the big couloir below it, a steep sustained face measuring over 800 vertical meters. I didn’t know its name then, but after seeing tracks in it on the photos I sat down and learned everything I could about the run. In 2008, the couple Pierre and Marie-Jo Trappier, whose last name was given to the run as they skied it every year, were caught in a slab avalanche on their way up the mountain. I knew I wanted to ski it and the snow looked good.

Last night it was decided I’d link up with George and his american friend Trevor in the morning, and try to beat the hot afternoon sun. Unfortunately we lost George due to a missed alarm clock so we were just a duo driving down to Les Houches at 8:30. In hindsight, George wouldn’t have enjoyed the 4 hour walk on his alpine trekkers anyway so maybe he was better off sleeping.

Photos:

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Line overview. Steep bootpack up the little couloir, and semi-sketchy traverse across the big snowfield. Snow feels solid so we weren’t too nervous. Once in the couloir, the snow turned into really rippable cold windblown snow. Total ascent is 1200 meters, descent 2000 meters.

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9:30, Les Houches. Just stepped off the cablecar and put my skins on, then the walk begins.

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 The first bit is mellow, as you follow the old tramway track.

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Unknown mountain face to mind-ski on the way up. So many crazy possibilities here. Is there a way down?

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The ten o’clock cablecar taking steepskiers and tourists up the Aiguille du Midi. This is such a cool angle of the Glacier Rond, Cunningham Couloir, and West Couloir. One of the sickest mountain faces I have ever stared at.

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Trevor past the first traverse, crossing an ugly refrozen wetslide from yesterday afternoon. At this time, the snow was concrete and difficult to walk up.

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About halfway up and I was well reminded of how little touring I have done this winter. Oh and btw, how do you like the hair? Sure feels good on the mountain.

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Trevor, with a spring-time Chamonix in the background.

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Looking back down our first stage. Still a long ways to go.

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Climbing up the ladder at the top of the couloir where the Trappier couple was killed in a slab avalanche. Using the ladder, you bypass the top convex section where snow usually loads.

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A reminder of the realities out here.

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Looking forward to our final climb, across the big snow face and end up on the sunlit ridge lookers left, right under the black triangle, Aiguille du Gouter.

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Trevor, with Aiguille de Bionnassay in the back.

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Halfway across the exposed traverse.

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Trevor finishing the walk.

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Time to ski! View down the couloir, with some old tracks in soft snow.

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Mountain-selfie!

The skiing in the actual run was better than most of the snow around here after these last days of hot spring weather and high winds. After the latest dump the windspeeds went up to over 100 km/h and blew most of the powder off the mountain. On these north aspects it had stayed really nice and rippable, sometimes with a thin crust but 90% of the couloir was enjoyable!

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Trevor getting after it

Thanks to Trevor for snapping some photos of me:

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The top part was the most wind-affected.

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Absolutely surreal environments to ski in. The view of the Midi! This snow was all time.

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Towards the bottom of the run we were reminded it’s almost summer and conditions got, well, interesting:

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Trevor managing a tricky section. So Chamonix!

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Contrasts

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The long walk back to Les Houches

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Life down there still went on, as if we hadn’t even been up that mountain in the background.

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Back at the parking lot where the adventure begun 8 hours earlier. What a day!

Guess who will sleep well tonight. Literally falling asleep as I’m writing this…See you all soon.

Jacob

 

 

April 5 – Rond Revisited

Life as a skier in Chamonix is something that’s very easy getting used to. In its very foundation, your entire schedule is dominated and determined by one force – weather. If there’s snow, get up early in the morning and go skiing. Sunny? Get up even earlier and get the first tracks from last night. High pressure for more than 3 days? Get depressed, sleep in, walk around town drinking beer. The skiing here can go from best in the world, to sort-of shit, and back in a matter of days. After a week of small storms blanketing the mountains little by little, the motherload hit last night and dumped a total of 50 cms on us. Late last night we made the plan to revisit the homerun – Rond.

It seems like it’s just the run to do here when you have fresh snow and don’t want to walk, and it seemed like we weren’t the only ones with the same plan today. Walked over to the ticket counter to grab some reservations at 7:15, the Easter crowd is definitely getting up early in Cham. Went back inside for a coffee and some food, before meeting up with today’s crew. Tof and Lea had invited FWT #1 and #2 skiers George Rodney and Jeremie Heitz, two people I respect a lot for their skiing. The 5 of us managed to once again get in the first bin, and was greeted by perfect feathery powder at 3700 meters. This mountain is unbelievable.

The skiing? Well…I’ll let the photos speak:

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Stoked to ski with some FWT stars!

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Tof and Lea getting ready to run out the cablecar

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Coming around the mountain and looking into oblivion again

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To me, this photo is what Chamonix skiing is about. Feeling small, perched on the side of a steep patch of snow on a giant mountain, with no one else but your crew around.

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3rd time down the Rond in three days (did it twice on friday). No tracks this time either!

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Looking down this inviting face you’re very aware what’s below that edge in the clouds. No mistakes allowed here.

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George and Jeremie looking down from the entrance

A couple of frames from Tof Henry’s gopro:

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Lea and I, inspecting from the top

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Slowly traversing across the icy sections at the top, where the angle is around 50° with blue glacier ice below you.

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Lea and Tof on their way to the shoulder.

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3 2 1 dropping.

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Chasing Tof down the knee-deep freshies at the bottom.

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Jeremie at the exit couloir

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Snow depth still A+

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Time to go into the clouds

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Tof going down the Rond exit for at least the hundredth time of his Chamonix life. He has a pretty wild backyard.

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In the top of the couloir the snow was fast but forgiving, towards the end it got real deep. It didn’t allow us to go as fast as friday’s perfect sheet of snow, but it invited for some playing around and appreciating the views all around.

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Coming out of the exit couloir, a strange, moon-like landscape greeted us, softly luminated by the clouds. The temperature dropped and the snow was the lightest I’ve skied this winter.

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Jeremie after some fast turns down the exit

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The remaining 1000 vertical meters were covered in thick cloud, so not much media was produced. Tof and Lea disappearing in the fog.

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After enjoying another 700 vert meter traverse and tree skiing run, the snowline suddenly came. We were reminded that it’s the 5th of April, and on 3000 meters of vert you go through many climates.  A 20 minute trail walk later and we were back where we started.

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After checking the webcams and concluding that the mountain was now covered in clouds, we called it a day. Not many places in the world where I can be fully content with one run, but this place is one of them.

Thanks for reading!

Jacob

 

 

 

 

 

 

ROND – UFS02 Videoblog #2

So since the Unfiltered Skiing project has been halted this season due to my injury, I decided to make the most out of what happens and release little mini episodes during the spring. Over the next few weeks I will be filming for what will come out later in the fall. Anyways, here’s videoblog #2, from our magical day skiing the Glacier Rond yesterday!

Thanks for watching!

Jacob

Glacier Rond

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The Aiguille du Midi, with Glacier Rond shown in red, the exit couloir out of view to the right.

Ever since the first time I ever laid eyes on the Aiguille du Midi, towering proudly over the Chamonix valley, I have wanted to ski Glacier Rond in good conditions. From a distance it looks like just a slab of ice hanging on the northwest wall of the mountain, but when you understand the scale, you realize it’s an enormous snowfield, with a giant exit couloir, bringing you safely around the abrupt 300 meter glacier wall below. A thousand vertical meters of untracked, perfect, compact powder!

Early in the morning we got first in line to reserve tickets for the cablecar, and managed to score the first one. I guess living just across the street from this legendary lift has its perks. Beating the crowds who probably ripped Grand-Montets to shreds along with thousands of other weekend visitors, it was decided to go for Rond. Tof, who has also been injured for the better part of this weekend, just got his scans back and has clearance to start skiing hard again. With a blanket of 30 cms of fresh, Rond seemed like the best option, and it didn’t seem like anyone were going to race us for it either. Mati Imbert joined the excited crew and we were back in the mountains! (Mati was with me when I broke my ankle so you can say this was our revenge-run).

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An excited crowd waiting for the cablecar to shuttle them 3000 meters above the clouds, onto a near vertical mountain peak surrounded by uncontrolled glacier terrain…

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Tof stoked he snagged some first bin tickets.

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Its beauty strikes me every time. The north face of the Aiguille du Midi is the most evil, unforgiving death trap of a mountain side, but it sure is hard not to photograph.

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Looking out the cablecar window. This truly is the most bad-ass lift in the world. Hands down.

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First tracks down the top of the Vallee Blanche, minutes before guided groups with zero experience are let tumbling down the crevasse-filled glacier. This is Chamonix, and there are no rules.

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Mati and Tof doing the final little hike up to the entrance.

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The Rond, in all her scary sexiness. Open canvas that invites for speed, but go too far and it’s game over. The little ridge below Tof’s backpack is the start of the exit couloir.

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Tof cruising the upper steep part.

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POV looking down the exit couloir, also known as “best run I have ever skied”. This place opens new doors of perception every day.

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Mati carefully following our tracks around the crevasses in the Bosson glacier.

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Traversing back across these amazing runs (which end in the trees and require a long walk), I was tempted to drop in, but instead we decided to do another run down the Rond. Why not?

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Exposed traverse below the north face.

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Mati having fun on one of the final pitches before re-boarding the top tram. Sweet bonus turns!

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Always a good feeling when the only tracks you see are your crew’s.

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Tof traversing to the Rond entrance for the second time today. Still no tracks but our own.

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Thanks Tof and Mati for a sweet day, it was for sure a worthy revenge!

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Tof setting some final tracks down the middle part of the exit couloir before we called it a day. Time for some afternoon liquid carbs 😉

My ankle is finally not bothering me too much and I feel like I can start letting go of the brakes every so often. It’s a good feeling when you can tell your body has healed, and regain the confidence lost. I believe it’s important to be out in the mountains again as fast as possible, and not letting fear take hold. Mine is far away by now.

Happy easter everyone, and I hope you are finding good snow, wherever you are!

Jacob