After visiting Chamonix twice in 2013, I fell in love with the dramatic backdrops, the easy access to some absolutely breathtaking terrain, and the general ambience of the town, its locals and its culture. Everything here revolves around the tallest mountain in Europe, the Mont Blanc, and the chamoniards enjoy it in every way possible – on skis, in a climbing harness, on a bike, or blasting through the air in a wingsuit or with a parachute. I was hooked, and decided to spend the season here last year, to see what Chamonix had to offer me. Unfortunately, I quickly learned the hard way that the terrain here is demanding, and very dangerous if not approached with caution, and only 5 days into January I hit a rock and broke my leg. After two long months of rehab, I got back for the end of the season and still managed to get some amazing ski days here, further solidifying my fascination for these young mountains, their intricate glaciers, legendary steepskiing routes and the town’s rich extreme sports culture. Leaving at the end of April, I knew I was coming back soon, and I had already started to make new plans in my head. It’s time for revenge!
Two days after Christmas, Sofia and I filled up the van with our camera gear, skis and surfboards, and hit the road south. 2200 kilometers later we were back in Chamonix, rolling into a town sprawling with British tourists, holiday decorations and not a single parking lot to be found. The snow is still absent, as with most of Europe which has been suffering from a stubborn high pressure system lasting for almost two months, but as I am writing this, the last snowflakes of 2015 are starting to fall outside our window. Over the course of next week, the forecast charts are predicting a whole lot more to come, so it looks like our timing is on point. Once again, Chamonix will be our base, this time hopefully for more than a week!
Somewhere on the Autobahn, in very slow traffic.
Marching on in our trusty score-mobile, which easily handles 130 km/h without sounding too awful. I was pleasantly surprised to discover our fuel mileage was only at around 1 liter/100km, packed to maximum load.
Sofia in her brand new van-boots, loving life.
Leg-stretcher on our second day of driving. We didn’t want to spend too long behind the wheel at once so we actually stopped for two nights, one in Denmark and one in Switzerland. The fact that you can pull over and sleep anywhere, without expensive hotel nights makes our life so much easier!
Sofia enjoying the morning view over beautiful Lake Geneva.
Almost up the Grands-Montets pass, close to the French border. So happy to see snow-capped peaks again, even if the depth is pretty disappointing for end of December.
Back in town! Mont Blanc in the background.
On our first day we decided to head up the Aiguille du Midi to check out the snow situation. No skis of course, as the glacier is still very open and I wouldn’t head out here without a guide or a local friend just yet. It was nice to get up high and take in the scenery again though, it always blows my mind how this is all lift-accessed from my backyard!
Mountaineers, alpinists and hikers make the way down the northwest ridge from the exit of the cablecar at 3842 meters. To their left is the north face of the Midi, that ends in enormous cliffs above the mid-station. Not a good place to lose your balance.
Feeling the presence of the mountains after a long summer and fall is the best!
The view of the town, and the ski areas of Brevent and Flegere. It looks pretty depressing without snow but that will change fast these next few days.
Sofia taking in the view for her first time on the Midi.
Went up to Grands-Montets yesterday for some turns in the marginal conditions, so we didn’t shoot any photos for obvious reasons. Here’s a quick one of Sofia back on skis after a 2 year off-period!
The slackcountry zone of Flegere, with Aiguille du Belvedere in the middle, it’s impressive southeast ramp cut diagonally through the face. Below is a zone I can’t wait to start working as soon as the snow fills in the many bowls, cornices and cliffs.
Happy New Year everyone, and thanks for checking the blog again! Hopefully as content piles up I will post here more often, so hold your thumbs for some heavy precipitation!
See you in 2016,