Jacob Wester
Jacob Wester
Jacob Wester
Jacob Wester
Jacob Wester

Blog

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

Cham shredding

Still in Chamonix after last week’s Italy adventures. We got some fresh snow the other day, and even though we really need over a meter, the 15-25cms was much needed. Had a fun storm day in Grands-Montets and followed it up with some sunny turns on the Aiguille du Midi yesterday. My ankle is still sore, so I can’t really charge anything yet. It doesn’t prevent me from getting out there though, but filming is going to be a while longer.

A little report in photos:

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Looking back at the exit ridge from the top of Aiguille du Midi. Just off to my right is the north face with its hanging glacier and convoluted “routes”, that sometimes involves more climbing than skiing. Not this season…

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Tof about to drop in on the Grand Envers, left of the ridge. Last year we skied this in chest deep conditions, today we had to make the windblown ankle deep work. Still a great time, and good to get an idea of where the biggest holes are.

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Tof and Mati navigating the lower couloirs. We stopped for a snack on the sunlit ridge in the background and it felt like summer.

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Looking back at the snack stop.

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Stoked on the Clifbar for these mountain times. Lunch isn’t always an option and these keep me going all day.

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The exit, in some weird cardboard-textured snow.

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Big rocks

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Looking back while on the biggest green slope in the world, the Mer de Glace. Kilometers of beginner slope, in some spectacular terrain.

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Selfie

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As Mer de Glace finishes in a moraine 20 minutes later, a long set of stairs take you to the train station to go back around the mountain down to Chamonix. These plaques on the cliff marks the levels of the glacier over the years. It’s crazy thinking it has lost this much since even a few years after I was born. Really makes you wonder what the future holds for skiing.

Off to some dinner at my favorite restaurant in the village, MOÖ bar!

Jacob

 

Lasagna Times

Back from the snow! We’ve had two insanely fun days in Italy, playing in some pretty awesome terrain. Feels incredible to be back on snow!

Put together a little comeback edit, nothing crazy since I’m still in mellow mode. So happy to be back out there!

See you soon!

Jacob

Grands-Montets

Been skiing up at Grands-Montets here in Chamonix the last two days. There’s really nothing looking very interesting in the massif right now. Like I’ve said before, probably a good thing so I won’t hurry into anything big at the moment. The last two days have been fun and mellow, cruising the groomers with the new Armada Invictus 188, such a fun ski for variable snow conditions. The backcountry conditions look pretty terrible but we poked around a bit and found some real fun smooth chalk conditions. Haven’t been shooting many photos but here’s a quick sample:

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The Argentière glacier with Aiguille du Chardonnet and Aiguille d’Argentière in the background.

 

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Skiing down next to the glacier.

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Rock hard smooth snow with a windblown dust layer on top. Skiing here is still so damn fun. Adventure all day.

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Setup shot I took the other day. Feels good to be prepared for anything the mountains throw at you. The right ski is the Invictus that I rode today. Great all mountain ski for challenging conditions, and I’m sure it will be perfect for those late season tours too!

Time to kick back with the new walking dead episode, leaving at 6:30am tomorrow on a little powder-hunt in Italy! Excited to find some softer conditions for my sore ankle. Treating these next few days as more of a comeback trip rather than work mode. Even if I should be collecting shots for Unfiltered pretty soon, I don’t want to rush back into bigger conditions just yet. Plans for April and May are lining up and it’s going to be amazing. I’ll tell you all about it as soon as dates are in place.

Checking out from Cham, see you in Italy from my new Gopro Hero 4 black, so stoked on this thing!

Jacob

B&E invitational

Yesterday I got in the car and made the 2 hour drive south to Les Arcs for the B&E Invitational event. A fun, playful little mountain that builds an unseen videogame-inspired skateboard style bowl, with transitions, rails, gaps and fun features the whole way down, open for multiple interpretations without mandating double corks. It was hard to watch the afternoon slush session with a sore ankle but I definitely don’t want to subject it to park landings right now.

Anyways, the rider lineup was nothing short of insane, with many familiar faces like JF Houle, Tom Wallisch, Torin Yater-Wallace and Sammy Carlson, but also style icons like Adam Delorme and Jossi Wells, as well as a multitude of up-and-coming, ridiculously good, talent. I met up with Henrik’s brother Oscar, as well as Simon Ericson, who had a sore heel from the day before. Lasting for over 5 hours in total, it got pretty cold watching but it was well worth the show that went down on the completely frozen-solid course at 9pm that night. Maybe a new discipline of our sport was born? I hope so.

Shot some photos of the whole spectacle, enjoy;

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 Parker White taking flight with the one and only Stoudgen follow-caming

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Henrik choosing one of many lines through the maze.

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JF Houle and Torin Yater-Wallace among others ready to drop

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Intermission with Masta Killa from the Wu-Tang Clan

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I could write an essay on Henrik and Phil’s genuine respect and admiration for the Wu-Tang Klan, which in combination with their unique skiing has led them to eventually meet with their former heroes. As someone who made their way to the top in an early stage of the sport I can relate to this, and it’s cool to see it taking such a big step into music.

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The night session turned the fun slushy spring park into a skiing version of a skate park. It’s exciting watching the world’s best adapt their skiing to a completely different setting.

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The lineup gives their thank you’s

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The hosts together with the big winner of the night, the young Noah Albaladejo out of spain. Impressed by this guy’s style an how well he seemed to handle som pretty challenging conditions. Congrats!

A bit tired today from the resulting after party, plus the long drive back to Chamonix in weekend traffic. This blog post is just about the only productive task I’ve been able to take on after that road madness. Checking out, hopefully I’ll get up on the mountain tomorrow!

Jacob