Monthly Archives: January 2010

Chamonix Guiding Snow Report + Insider Snow Forecast Compendium – 27 January

28 Jan @ 13:50 – Le Brévent, site of tomorrow's Nissan Freeride de Chamonix Mont Blanc, is up there somewhere.

The Chamonix stop of the Freeride World Tour – The Nissan Freeride de Chamonix Mont Blanc – is scheduled to start tomorrow and the pros in town reported the Hotel Face was a little more firm than they had hoped. In his blog, Stian Hagen pointed out the new snow should add a nice cushion without creating a prohibitavely (‘zat a word?) high avy danger that might postpone the contest. For a look at the infamous ChamonixInsider Snow Forecast Compendium for the next few days, scroll to the bottom of the page.

For those whose only thought about the contest is the joy in knowing it will keep a handful of people out of their powder stashes for a day, here’s this week’s edition of Seb Montaz’s sublime Snow Report.

ChamonixInsider Snow Forecast Compendium

28 Jan @ 15:35 – Le Brévent, site of tomorrow's Nissan Freeride de Chamonix Mont Blanc

Chamonix’s Hagen & Binning Doing What They Do Best in Antarctica

Stian & Andrea Photo: Chris Davenport

You know there’s just some people who seem to live more extraordinary lives. Like pretty much every one of us who has the extreme good fortune to live here in Chamonix, for instance. Yep, there’s us and then there’s a whole other level of which even the most fortunate Chamonerds are envious and that, my friends, would be the misty world where Stian Hagen and Andrea Binning reside.

So when everyone’s fav-o-rite pro-freeskiing huband-and-wife team returned from their November 2009 Antarctic ski safari and talked about some of the most beautiful mountains they’d ever seen with entire ranges of virgin lines, loads of wildlife, and a really pimp boat, we listened. Andrea describes it like this:

Antarctica was truly a trip of a lifetime, my best trip ever! We had so much luck with the weather and the majority of our time down there was sunny so we got a lot of skiing in. The team was awesome, it was great to be in the mountains with Chris Davenport and Stian. And to top off the skiing, the scenery and wildlife were incredible. What a trip!

Davenport Mountainsport and Granite Films are making a film about the adventure that will be coming out this summer. So. Can’t. Wait. Until then, check out this teaser to find out what it’s like skiing at the bottom of the planet. And someone please let me know how I can get on that boat!

Snowed Out in Sochi, Freeride World Tour Moves to Chamonix

Kaj Zackrisson Photo: ©Freeride World Tour / D. Carlier

The 2010 Freeride World Tour is off to an ironically appropriate start with The Nissan Russian Adventure by Swatch (the first leg of the four event tour) being called due to hazardous conditions around Sochi. (As ChamonixInsider readers all know Sochi is not only Vladimir Putin’s fav-o-rite winter playland, it has also been selected to host the 2014 Winter Olympics). A deadly combination of heavy snow and high winds meant course conditions were just too sketch to hold the comp. Big respect to FWT organiser Nicolas Hale-Woods for making the difficult call. No solid news yet on who won what must have been a massive after-party competition but early reports indicate pretty much all the competitors brought their best games and are still in contention for the lead.

The next stop, the Nissan Freeride de Chamonix Mont Blanc is scheduled to start Saturday, January 30th on the Hotel Face at Le Brévent and will feature men’s and women’s skiing and snowboarding comps. Event organizers are also planning on making up the Sochi event in Chamonix on the next possible day using the original Sochi start list.

Aurélien Ducroz Photo: ©Nissan Russian Adventure / C. Margot

Xavier de le Rue Photo: ©Nissan Russian Adventure / C. Margot

Chamonix homeboy and reigning Freeride World Champion Aurélien Ducroz (FRA) will be defending his crown against a strong group of contenders including Reine Barkered of Sweden who came out of nowhere in 2009 to finish second overall in his rookie season including a win at Squaw and second in Verbier. Also on hand will be a healthy Henrik Windstedt of Sweden (who won the tour in 2008 and who my girlfriend thinks is really hot), Sverre Liliequist (SWE), Seb Michaud (FRA), and Kaj Zackrisson (SWE) who gave me his old oven so if I was voting he’d win for sure. And did I mention how great those Kask beanies are?

But the skier that everyone will be watching will undoubtedly be Candide Thovex (FRA) who is back on form after a long break due to injury and whom the Insider expects to revolutionize the freeride world in the same way he rewrote the freestyle/jibber handbook. Don’t believe me? Check out Candide’s smooth style on some of the lines in this vid. [Long, dull intro alert. If you’re looking for skiing go ahead and skip to 1:45]

I’d call him the Tiger Woods of freeskiing but that wouldn’t really be fair to Candide, would it?

Anyway, where were we? Oh yeah, Freerideworld Tour. On the snowboard side of things another Chamonix loc and absurdly talented rider, Xavier de Le Rue (FRA), will be defending his title against Max Zipser (AUT), Mitch Tölderer (AUT), Eric Themel (AUT) and Cyril Neri (SUI) among others.

Ane Enderud Photo: © Nissan Russian Adventure / C. Margot

Susan Mol Photo: ©Nissan Tram Face Squaw Valley USA / C. Margot

Women’s 2009 FWT champion Ane Enderud (NOR) will have to be on her game to keep Marja Persson (SWE) and Elyse Saugstad (USA) from walking away with the title this year. Aline Bock (GER) will be challenging the women’s snowboarding title holder, Susan Mol (USA).

2010 Freeride World Tour

1. Nissan Russian Adventure by Swatch – Sochi, Russia
Date: 21-22 January 2010  POSTPONED

2. Nissan Freeride of Chamonix Mont Blanc France
Date: 30 January 2010

3. Nissan Tram Face – Squaw Valley, California, USA
Date: 27 February 2010

4. Nissan Xtreme by Swatch – Verbier, Switzerland
Date: 20 March 2010

So there you have it. Something for you to do this weekend if there’s no powder to be shralped and/or you’re looking for a few good nights out. Here’s a video for you but take my advice and mute the sleepytime muzac that goes with it and crank up your own tunes instead.

There’s also this video that has better music but a but too much window rolling and  janky landings for the Insider’s taste. Without showing the burly lines that lead into these hucks it’s not really doing the riders or the contest any favors. Everybody’s a critic, eh?

Chamonix Guiding Snow Report – 20 January


This week Seb Montaz delivers his outstanding snow report with images from the Envers on the Midi and the Pas de Chevre’s Rectiligne on the Grands Montets. Good stuff.

Being Super

'Super' Rupert Rosedale 1972-2009

On a cold, dark day at the end of December I lost a close friend and climbing partner, Super Rupert Rosedale, in an avalanche on Ben Nevis. In a story on the traverse of the Chamonix Aiguilles I wrote of him:

Super is a true British alpinist in the finest tradition – nothing like the ones who seem to come over for the sole purpose of hurling themselves down crevasses or freezing to death in previously forecast storms. Nope, Super is fast and talented over both rock and ice, solid with his protection, with an ability to laugh in the face of stuck ropes and spilled brews.

Super was a teacher. He taught people, young and old, how to enjoy life and experience first-hand the overwhelming beauty of nature. Man, he was good at that. He was less than a year from completing his guides’ exam, he was rebuilding a house in Vallorcine with his bare hands, living the dream with his wonderful wife and beautiful children. In going through my photos and climbing books since the day that Mathieu called me with the bad news, through the heart-warming memories and the silent tears, I’ve come to realize that I’ve climbed in Chamonix with Super more than any other partner. It’s just crazy how close you become to someone when you tie into a rope and achieve what seems like the impossible together. How long, intense days followed by cold, endless bivvies bring out the best and worst in a person. Luckily for those whose lives he touched, Super had an overabundance of best. Lord, how I’m going to miss him.

Rest in peace, my friend. Rest in peace.