Monthly Archives: April 2010

Chamonix Guiding Snow Report – Season Finale

After a season spent bringing us week after week of amazing footage, ChamonixGuiding.com’s Seb Montaz is ending his run with a bit of the ol’ steep and deep. This, the final week of Seb’s Snow Report, sees Seb out charging the exposed steeps of the Aiguille du Pouce like a rhino in spring. What a way to end the season.

Bravo, Seb.

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Colin & Tormod Ski the Glacier Rond

For those who will never know the totally rad awesomeness of the Glacier Rond, here’s a little insight provided courtesy of Colin Haley’s helmet cam.

Eco Expo Chamonix 2010

Them bees theyz abuzzin'.

Everywhere you look Chamonix is turning green and no it’s not simply because it’s spring. The EcoExpo Chamonix 2010 is happening tomorrow, April 29, at Hotel les Aiglons from 13:00 – 18:30. The expo will feature sustainable products as well as workshops and forums designed to improve awareness of environmental concerns surrounding the Chamonix valley.

And this being Chamonix and all well of course there’s an after-party which will be held at Hotel le Vert starting at 20.00 and featuring a clothing swap, a 3-course eco-friendly menu for €19, Charlie “Bob” Marley DJing, Bodhizapha playing live and a clothing swap which to me sounds like a whole lot of fun and will hopefully get way out of hand.

To learn more check out the website and the Facebook page. Or just go.

Chamonix Guiding Snow Report – 22 April

Yes, yes, yes it just keeps getting better out there. If you thought you had to get above 3000m to find freshies, think again. In this video, snow magnet Seb Montaz scores amazing snow in the Aiguilles Rouge proving once again, you just gotta know where to look.

On the other side of the valley, the crew from Mountain Spirit Guides didn’t do too badly either. Check out the story and photos from their big day out that ended up with a descent of the Barbey Couloir. Not too bad for a valley that hasn’t seen a significant snowfall in weeks.

Eva charging up the Aiguille d'Argentiere.

Wolfgang likes playing with Barbey.

Chamonix Lift Schedules – Spring/Summer 2010

Sunny skies, bare thighs and a fire in her eyes. Gotta love spring skiing.

With the season coming to a close lots of folks are wondering how much time they have to get to the beach and get that summer tan going before it’s time to get back here in time for the opening of mountain bike season. Well fret no more. Here at the ChamonixInsider we’ve done the research so you don’t have to.

The exact opening and closing hours are too convoluted to list so you’ll have to weave your way through the myriad Summer 2010 timetables here if you need to know what time to queue up for first tracks.

And what about Les Houches, I hear you ask. Well, after bumbling around their website looking for the lift schedule (pretty basic info, right?) for 10 minutes I found a calendar of events that didn’t even list the dates and I finally gave up. For info on the Bike Park at Les Houches (except, of course, lift opening dates – grrrrrr), check out this website. C’mon Les Houches, get it sorted.

[ADDENDUM: just got a very brief email from the Les Houches crew. They open June 12.]

And of course, any chance to ski in a silly outfit (other than the one you normally wear) is a day not to be missed. So don’t miss the Freeride Days at Les Grands Montets on May 2nd. Always good fun.

Chamonix Hellmen to Charge Unclimbed Southeast Ridge of Annapurna III

7555m Annapurna III (center). The southeast ridge descends (left in shadow, right in sun) from the highest point on the peak.

“Every mountain has a line that defines it; this line becomes the goal for climbers. For Annapurna III this is the unclimbed 2300m southeast ridge.” -Conrad Anker

Way back in the day, back before a petulant volcano in Iceland brought the aviation industry to its knees, two Chamonix hellmen, Nick Bullock (with his 2009 Piolets d’Or firmly in hand) and Matt Helliker, boarded a plane headed for the Annapurna region of the Himlaya. Their goal? An alpine-style ascent of the 2300m southeast ridge of Annapurna III, a line that Alpinist magazine has called “one of alpinism’s greatest unclimbed objectives.” Although attempted five times the actual ridge has only been reached once.

Okaaaaay.

In the team’s blog Nick Bullock explains,

“The objective is secluded and guarded by rock walls the size of the cliffs of Yosemite Valley. Towering and dark and intimidating.”

Well, well, well. Sounds like a lovely day out.

And as if that’s not enough, the team has been plagued by misfortune from the beginning. First there was an abrupt, last-minute change to the team when Jon Bracey was replaced by Pete Benson. Then Pete, along with two of the support group, became stuck in Europe by the volcano fiasco. Bugger.

There are not many specifics on the route but from the blog it appears as though the team is planning for what could be a seven-day push to the summit without a clear idea of the descent.

“Why, oh why?” I hear you ask.

In the blog, Nick eloquently describes his thoughts on attempting such a difficult route in the most aesthetic style possible:

Successfully climbing, or, successfully failing on the Southeast ridge will be a deeply rewarding and soul seeking experience, it will bring about spiritual growth, it will make the climbers (Pete Benson, Matt Helliker and me) reliant on each other as soon as the first step is taken. There will be no Sherpa’s, no helicopter rescue, no other teams to run for to help, no oxygen, no fixed rope to easily slide back to safety and no bolts for certainty. Memories will last for life and the lives and character of those who have attempted (my mates and me!) will be enriched and changed for ever. This is what attempting to climb in a style where the mountain holds most of the cards is about. It is about putting yourself out there and seeing what you are made of, it is not about desecration, it is not about success at any cost, it is not about ruining the dreams and a finite resource for future parties.

Now that’s the spirit. Good on ya the Brits! To follow the team’s adventure log into their blog at http://annapurna3expedition.blogspot.com/.


Chamonix Guiding Snow Report – April 14

Now I know what you think you just saw in Seb’s video packed full of chest-deep sickness but before you all go booking tickets to Chamonix let me tell you that conditions are in reality nothing like this. These images were clearly taken back in January or February 1998 when there was loads of fresh, light powder for everybody.  I mean, think about it. It’s mid-April for crying out loud. It’s practically full summer up there and I feel it’s my duty to tell you there’s nothing on the mountain but slushy snow and mud puddles and smelly hippy telemarkers in short pants, long johns and Hawaiian shirts with food in their beards. Nope nothing to see here folks, just keep moving…

On the other hand, I just had a reliable report from a friend in Hossegor who reports sunny 20˚C day and no one in the lineup but hot chicks in bikinis. And rumor has it that Rockfood is serving free fish tacos and Don Julio margs. So there’s no really no choice, right? Forget about those unfoundeed, completely ridiculous myths you’ve been hearing about the past few days in Chamonix with uncrowded lift lines, nightly dustings followed by warm spring days and steep couloirs filled to perfection, and go surfing instead.

You can all thank me later.