Category Archives: art

One Step Beyond: Géraldine Fasnacht Through the Eyes of Seb Montaz

One Step Beyond

“In life, it’s our choice whether we laugh or cry.”

If there’s anyone who’s had reason to cry it’s snowboarder, BASE jumper and wingsuit flyer Géraldine Fasnacht. To understand what this young woman has been through and how she’s found the inner strength to bounce back is a testament to her extraordinary character.

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Milner’s Waffle House: Terje and Jeremy Show Us Their Guns

Chamonix

It goes without saying that snowboarding is one of the funnest things you can do in the mountains with your trousers on. But hey, coming in an awfully close second is shooting guns, which is why serial waffler, Mr Dan ‘Pro Lens (Amateur Body)’ Milner has come up with the ingenious idea of putting it all together in a slide show.

And as if that’s not enough, the ones doing all the shootin’ (or would that be chutin’?) are some of the sport’s most legendary figures: Jeremy Jones, The Cat and, it goes without saying, the lovely and talented Angie Wardell.

Tonight, 20:30, don’t forget your heckle hat.

Milner’s Waffle House – Year of the Bike

After months spent pedaling our legs off in the most amazing autumn anyone can remember it’s finally dumping outside, the crew have micro-cleaned the bikes and stashed them for the winter, everyone is stoked out of their minds to be making powder turns, and what does illustrious lensman Dan Milner do? Why he goes and cues up a slide show on … you guessed it … mountain biking!

Which is exactly why everyone should go. Because if this man and his incessant waffling are not brutally humbled by a relentless barrage of unbridled heckling then we will continue to be assaulted by his stunning images and clever insight into exotic places we’ll never go, interesting people we’ll never meet and outstanding rides we’ll never enjoy. Why? Because we all know that humanoid life as we know it simply cannot exist outside our dreamy little valley.

So can we really be expected to sit through another one of Milner’s rambling diatribes on his whimsical theory – along with his so-called ‘photographic evidence’ – of life beyond the bubble? Yes! Why? Because we must heckle! We must heckle and we must never pass up even the slightest opportunity to experience the riding skills of some of Chamonix’s most almost-famous celebutantes including ‘Slingshot’ Jez Wilson, Seban ‘Lid Spin’ Liljeberg, Mike ‘They Don’t Call Me The Bike For Nuthin’ Foster, and perchance, the delightful Angie Wardle.

So go and heckle and laugh at the expense of people who fall off their bikes and hurt themselves. Trust me, you’ll all be better men for it.

Learn more about Dan Milner on his website and check out what he gets up to in his leisure time on his Facebook page.

Movember in Chamonix – Extreme Toplipiary

Movemeber in Chamonix

Never underestimate the power of the mo'. En garde!

Chamonerds, start your scissors – it’s Movember Guest post (and the first reference to Scythian warriors on this blog) by facial-hair-ianado and wordsmith extraordinnaire, Carlos Schtang.

Movemeber in Chamonix

Start with a clean face. No cheating, Elling.

It’s that time of year chaps, time to dust off the cut throat, charge up the clippers or simply sharpen up the utility multi-tool – Movember is upon us and all good self-respecting Mo’ Bros are leading the way, joining hands around the world for the good of one and the betterment of all.

Billed as a ’30 day journey into moustachery’, Movember sets out to raise awareness of a certain men’s health issue that is more often than not swept under the proverbial carpet. And that, coupled with the opportunity to publicly flaunt a forgotten side of man’s, erm, manliness should be sufficient. What more encouragement do you need? What further pearls of wisdom need imparting?

Prostrates are highly carcinogenic. Keep them in full view to facilitate casual checkups.

Oft frowned upon by the fairer sex, as well as rejected in favour of its more popular full-faced hirsute bedfellow, the art of Moustache growing/grooming, or top lip topiary or even Toplipiary as I like to call it, is fast gaining momentum as not just an artform, but a way of life… some would say a life force in itself. In modern parlance, it’s a bit like riding a fixie, or wearing a trilby but way, way cooler.

Movember is not a competition. If it was, Scythian warrior reincarnate, Lars.com, would crush us all.

Hyperbolic rhetoric maybe, but the time has come for the moustache (humble or otherwise) to finally claim its rightful place in the annals of time and the scrolls of history – from the first documented moustaches of the Scythian warriors of 300 BC to the many styles and guises we see today, through fiction and history the moustache has enthralled and (perhaps) appalled in equal measure.

Movember in Chamonix

Those not rallying around the cause will be ridiculed, then shot. In the prostate.

‘Tis true, shameful but true, that naysayers and dissenters persist in denouncing the moustache claiming it is the work of madmen, evil dictators and purveyors of dastardly devilment. But for every Adolf Hitler, there’s a Charlie Chaplin. For every Saddam Hussein, there’s a Salvador Dali. For every Fu Manchu, there’s a Hercule Poirot. For every Snidely Whiplash, there’s a Mario. For every Bruce Grobbelaar, there’s an Ian Rush. For every… oh sod it, you know what I mean.

So, brothers of the Chamonix tribe… cast aside your apprehensions; banish your cowardice to the dark forgotten room of your brain where it belongs and embrace the month of Movember and the art of Toplipiary.

Hair will grow; awareness will be raised. The world will be a better place… Honest.

Movemeber in Chamonix

Marisa Miller excels at raising awareness of a man's prostate, among other things.

Editor’s note – Mo Bros and Sistas, should be aware that Bar Dup will host their third annual Movember fancy dress, fundraiser party with amazing prizes, raffles and auctions taking place. Over the past two years the Bar Dup crew have raised over €2000 towards cancer research. Well done, gents.

***UPDATE*** Teaser Tuesday: Chamonix Adventure Film Festival 2011

climbing film

Corey Richards having an adventure in the film 'As It Happens'.

Wednesday, 24 August 9:00 p.m. 

***Free screening – Salle Olca, Les Houches  – 21:00***

Ever Last & The Love Letter – 4 + 14 min. “An insight into the life of Krissy Moehl, 2x UTMB women’s champion.”

http://vimeo.com/10052748

As It Happens – 16 min. “Renan Ozturk & Cory Richards attempt to establish a new technical alpine route on 6,498m Tawoche in Nepal.”

On a Marché Sous le Pôle – “Eight explorers and a husky are dropped 60kms from the geographic North Pole, in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. Their aim is to make the first filmed report from below the ice shelf.”

Mo’ beta at www.ChamonixAdventureFilm.net.

Friday, 19 August 7:00 p.m.

Dark Side of the Lens – moody 7-minute surf film.

Life Cycles – 47 min. of amazing cinematography and mountain bikes

Arctic Speed – 10 min. Exploring the Polar Circle on skis and by speed riding.

Dream World – 8 min. Documentary on free-runner Jason Paul

http://vimeo.com/25532494

The Wild Line – 20 min. Four speed riders, a mountain guide and a cameraman travel to China to attempt the first speed ride descent of 7546-metre Mustagh Ata.

Azadi Freedom – 27 min. This film takes a look at Kashmir in the wake of the violent militant insurgence of the 90s, and the current rise in tourism thanks to skiing.

Skateistan – 10 min. “Film telling the story of two young skateboarders and their search for escape from the brutalities of war through skating.”

The Argentine Project – 10 min. “Three friends taking a trip and hoping to create a film with one bike, two cameras, and a few words of Spanish.

Saturday, 20 August 7:00 p.m.

Panik in Baffin – 2 min. ***Chamonix Homegrown!*** “Four girls head to Baffin Island in the Arctic Circle in April 2011 to ski couloirs and explore unknown territory.

Feel the Hill – 17 min. “The multiple disciplines of longboarding and the sense of freedom that comes with the sport.”

WildWater – 31 min. “A visually stunning feast for the senses… a new kind of adventure film – one where image, sound and ideas trump all else.”

Kilian’s Quest – 30 min. “Kilian meets his long-time hero and inspiration, Bruno Brunod, and travels to Greece to attempt a record on Mount Olympus

Climate of Change – 86 min. “In this rich and inspiring documentary, director Brian Hill takes us around the world to find the ordinary people taking action in the fight to save our environment.

Sunday, 21 August 7:00 p.m.

Solitaire– 15 min. Ski vid with Chamonix’s ‘American Dave’ Rosenbarger, JP Auclair, Will Cardamone, Johnny Collinson,  Jacqui Edgerly, Kip Garre, Elyse Saugstad.

Eastern Rises – 39 min. “An epic fly fishing journey to Russia’s remote Kamchatka Peninsula. What we found… big, beautiful, mouse-crushing native rainbow trout, super kudzha and bigfoot in Russia’s far, far east.

Second Nature – 14 min. Guys on longboards, blue suits and beards. “Winner: Best Extreme Sports Film at the 2009 Mammoth Film Festival! Winner: Best Short Film at the 2010 X-Dance Action Sports Film Festival. Winner: Best Sports Film at the 2010 Sonoma International Film Festival. Winner: Best Adventure Sport film at the 5 Point Film Festival in Colorado.”

Moonflower – 2 min. ***Chamonix homegrown!*** Teaser for Jon Bracey and Matt Helliker’s film of their ballsy ascent of the Moonflower Buttress on Mt. Hunter in Alaska.

Summit 4 Kids – 15 min. “Laura Bohleber, Marja Persson and Giulia Monego attempt to summit and ski three of the highest mountains in the Peruvian section of the Andes to raise money for disadvantaged children living in the Peruvian city of Cajamarca.

Vertical Sailing – 50 min. “Nico & Olivier Favresse, Sean Villanueva and Ben Ditto take us on their latest climbing and sailing adventure to Greenland in search of virgin big walls. Nine new routes on six big walls earned them a Piolet d’Or award.”

Ode Siivonen’s Big Mountain Shred Clinic: Lesson #1

Sharpen up those pencils, boys. You’re gonna want to take notes here…

And just because Ode makes this all look so easy, here’s that last couloir in Ode’s video as ridden by 2011 Freeride World Tour champion, Mitch Tölderer.

Xavier de Le Rue, Andreas Fransson vs Aiguille du Plan, Face Nord

North Face, Aiguille du Plan, Xavier de Le Rue, Andreas Fransson

Photo: Mike Weyerhaeuser / JDPfreesport.com

“When I came off that last rappel, I didn’t kiss the ground, but I felt like it.” –Xavier de Le Rue, when asked about the best part of the route.

It’s one of those unusually perfect days when Mother Nature decides to loosen up the ol’ apron strings and treat the kids to warm temps, fresh snow, light wind and clear blue sky. Yep, stunner of a day and if you happened to be on the Vallée Blanche on the afternoon of 5 May it was impossible to look around and not see big lines being fired: The Ordinary Skiers on the Face Nord of the Tour Ronde and the Finnish Mafia in the Couloir du Diable, to name a couple.

North Face Aiguille du Plan Xavier de Le Rue Andreas FranssonOver on the north side of the Mont Blanc range, the sun worshippers in the Chamonix valley didn’t even need to take off their flip flops to bear witness to cutting edge freeriding. From the comfort of a well-positioned lawnchair one could kick back with a celebratory Cinco de Mayo margarita and see two big-mountain chargers making their way methodically through the junk show of hanging glacier and steep granite that comprise the north face of the Aiguille du Plan.

Face Nord, Aiguille du Plan. Photo: Mike Weyerhaeuser / JDPfreesport.com

11:45 Xavier and Andreas complete the Midi-Plan Traverse and settle in to wait for the chopper carrying photo/video pros Tero Repo and Guido Perrini. [Bjahne Salén will also have amazing footage from his angle on high ground]. Despite the blazing sun, here at 3600m the temperature is -10˚C. Shivering in the cold makes it difficult to relax as they study the 2600m face below them. Andreas writes in his blog

“The north face of Aiguille du Plan is not really a ski, it’s more of a mind game where problem solving and keeping one’s cool is much more important than the actual skiing. I had already skied the face two years ago with Tobias Granath and that was probably the first descent in 15 years. This year it’s already had two successful descents. Last time I told myself I was not going to do the face again…”

Xavier de Le Rue. Photo: Mike Weyerhaeuser / JDPfreesport.com

12:40 The heli arrives and Xavier drops in to the 40-45˚ snowfield. Within seconds he has a solid understanding of the snow beneath his board and rips five fast powder turns straight down the falline. Andreas traverses skier’s left and follows suit. The snow looks amazing, perfect. It’s an outstanding start – 200 meters down, 300 to go.

12:51 The boys have taken shelter in the shadow of a small serac where they can get a better look at the face below and evaluate their next move. The falline drops straight over several massive seracs before cliffing out to 300m of cold, clear air to granite. A snow ramp angles rider’s right to a corner that’s threatened from above by a 20m serac. From our viewpoint it looks like there may be a thin line of snow on the wall skier’s right and then a rappel to the next snowfield. Between the riders and the corner is a big fracture line. With three crowns.

“I was a bit nervous when the heli showed up because it was like, game on, but I had a really good feeling. There was no wind, perfect sunny day, the snow looked healthy and we just charged these magical turns, just this incredible stuff at the top. It’s funny because it didn’t really feel like we were hanging over the middle of nothing. But then, as soon as we got into exposure, there with this big crown in front of us that had just broken. It showed there was a lot of fresh snow ready to slide.” -Xavier de Le Rue

13:05 Andreas drops in, skis to the corner, then hangs left and disappears into a crack in the wall of the 60m overhanging serac. His head appears over the edge of the ice. He stops moving and we assume he’s drilling a V-thread in the serac to put Xavier on belay.

13:20 Xavier follows, joins Andreas at the belay. The crack in the wall continues for another 10 meters before emerging onto blue water ice.

Photo: Mike Weyerhaeuser / JDPfreesport

13:40 Andreas rappels and rigs an anchor in solid blue ice. From here it’s difficult to see impossible to see how Xavier is going to follow without a top rope. Then again, that’s why Xavier is up there and the rest of us are watching from the golf course.

13:50 With his ice axe out, Xavier slips in and joins Andreas at the belay. Seeing how they make it past the ice will be another highlight in the TimeLine and Standard Films videos when they come out in September. Or ChamonixInsider.com if I can find a way to break into the vault where Guido stashes his hard drives…

Xavier: middle of the screen, in the shadow just near the sun where the granite wall meets the snowfield. Andreas: further right, directly beneath the 60m overhanging serac.

Xavier: middle of the screen, in the shadow just near the sun where the granite wall meets the snowfield. Andreas: further right, directly beneath the 60m overhanging serac. Photo: Mike Weyerhaeuser / JDPfreesport.com

13:55 At an angle of 50˚+ the riders are now at one of the steepest parts of the route. Xavier traverses skier’s right towards the edge of the glacier where it meets the wall. Due to the massive serac threatening the route between their belay and the wall, moving quickly through this section is a clear priority. Xavier inches out slowly and to everyone watching, the worst case scenario becomes painfully clear: the snow here is total junk. Andreas later explained, “I couldn’t find the base with my ski pole, it was completely hollow. There was no base.”

14:00 Xavier makes it to the wall and sets a belay. Andreas, skiing delicately, joins him. The snowfield traverses left and down across a snowy shoulder, dips (if you were ski basing, this is where you’d want to point it), then crosses a snow spine, dipping further left to a rocky ridge that separates them from a rock cliff with an east aspect leading down to a snowy football field. Some of this section is protected by towers in the wall above.

14:15 A rider leads out and glides smoothly, confidently, over to the steep spine and links solid, controlled turns down the crest of the spine. The next rider does the same, skis out right to the rocky shoulder and out of sight to set a belay. Fully committed, fully controlled. I’m blown away by what I’m seeing.

Andreas crests the rocky ridge towards the east aspect as Xavier traverses. Photo: Mike Weyerhaeuser / JDP Freesports.

14:26 Due to the east aspect we are unable to get a clear view of how they make it down the cliff to the snowy football field below. Andreas’s blog mentions a ‘hidden couloir … with great snow.’ They traverse right to an apparent belay high and skier’s right to steep turns down to the football field. The boys are far from being finished but they’re past the difficult skiing and the crew gathered in the Flégère parking lot breathe a huge sigh of relief. The only thing between the riders and a veggie burger is 150 meters of rappels down blank, compact slabs.

Xavier and Andreas opt to descend via the slabs on the right bank of the glacier. they traverse over and find Andreas’s anchor from two years before.He replaces the webbing and the rappelling starts. Protection is extremely difficult to find in the compact granite. On the second rappel, Andreas raps to within five feet of the end of their 60-meter ropes before finding a crack that would take two #7 stoppers.

“Yes, they were in the same crack, but that’s all there was and I backed it up with a half-good knifeblade. Still, there’s two big boys with ski equipment hanging from this belay and well … it was pretty intense.” -Andreas Fransson

16:30 The guys are kicking back with a coke and a smile at the buvette at the mid-station. In four hours of steep skiing on a variety of snow and heavily-exposed terrain the team had made a balls-out descent of the north face of the Plan de l’Aiguille in fine style.

Andreas Fransson, Xavier de Le Rue, face nord, Aiguille du Plan (3673m).

Andreas Fransson, Xavier de Le Rue, face nord, Aiguille du Plan (3673m), 5 May 2011. Photo: Mike Weyerhaeuser / JDPfreesport.com

In Mont Blanc et Aiguilles Rouges à ski, Anselme Baud rates the route TD+ / 45-55˚/500m (passages of 55˚). Laurent Giacometti and Jean-Marc Boivin were the first to ski it in 1977. Some may think that yet another descent hardly makes this ‘cutting edge.’ In fact, by calling it that, the thing to which I’d like to draw your attention is the outstanding style with which the two rode a heavy, heavy line. If there’s any criticism that can be leveled at the two it’s that they hung it pretty far out there. Yes, they did. They charged this beast with both barrels blazing and they stuck it. Full respect.

Kai Palkeinin, Chamonix Freeride Center, Andreas Fransson

Chamonix Freeride Center's Kai Palkeinen and a much more relaxed Andreas Fransson following the post-Plan, pre-AK repair.

“Taking my boots off in the parking lot I discovered something that explained the bad feeling I had at the top. Just before I took off I double-checked my boots and bindings like always, but this time there was a small gap under the left heel allowing me to lift the boot up and down 1 cm in the binding. I thought the binding was just getting old or something but taking the boots off I realised the boot was broken and the metal piece on the heel was gone. Skiing was fine without it as long as I stayed on the middle of my foot…” -Andreas Fransson, from his blog report.

“I drilled out the old screw, used a secondary Low Tech piece, put a bigger screw in, bit of Araldite. It’s 110% now.” -Kai Palkeinen, Chamonix Freeride Center, post-Plan, pre-AK.

“I think this is the first time it has taken me four hours to get down a mountain – normally it takes me 20 seconds. It was one helluva run. Done. Probably never again.” -Xavier de Le Rue.

5 May 2011 - The light shines on Andreas Fransson and Xavier de Le Rue

“The best part of the route was getting back to the lift station. This is not a run you do for fun because there is so much objective danger. It’s not like you go there to enjoy yourself.” – Andreas Fransson

Xavier de Le Rue, Nissan Juke, Chamonix

Everybody go out now and buy a slick new Nissan Juke just like Xavier's so they will continue their generous support of these kinds of shenanigans.

Check out these high-res images and loads more over at http://www.JDPfreesports.com. Photo mashup: ChamonixInsider vs Alex di Suvero.