Category Archives: telemark

I Decided to Post Nuit de la Glisse’s New Teaser At The Very Last Moment

There I was, having a great day, minding my own business, when a link to the new Nuit de la Glisse vid pops up in my Inbox. Sweet! I’ll just plug it in and …

… you know, there are a lot of things I really could have done without today, one of which was seeing one of the bruthas nearly getting swept over a huge cliff by a surface release on a steep slope in Greenland.

But seeing how I’m the kinda guy who prefers to focus on the positive, you really need to take a peek, especially you pinheads in the crowd, because it looks like once again Thierry’s captured some amazing footage.

Nuit de le Glisse – At the Very Last Moment is hitting theaters near you on December 8th.


How to Find Fresh Tracks in Chamonix

There are an overabundance of reasons to love Chamonix but day-after-day of skiing virgin untracked powder just ain’t one of ’em. Finding fresh tracks, regardless of how early you get out of bed or how long you stand in the rain waiting for the Grands Montets to open the damn door can be incredibly frustrating.

Fortunately for you, young slayer, your difficulties are over because I’m here to give you insider beta on where to find fresh tracks all winter long, regardless of how long it’s been since the last snowfall. But like any good secret stash it’s going to take some hiking. So gear up and take the high street up valley past the post office, past Super U and when you get to Bistrot des Sports turn left and voila! Fresh Tracks – whoop!

Yep, seems your fav-o-rite freeride shop, Otavalo, have put their heads together with the good crew over at K2 to bring us the answer to every big mountain rider’s dreams … Fresh Tracks.

And while Fresh Tracks in this case might not mean you’re nipple-deep in cold smoke, it does have everything you’ll need once you find yourself there. As in a rock solid selection of shred ready gear including, but not limited to, the full range of K2 Sports’ most hardcore brands.

Fresh Tracks manager, Manu Mourier, explained the reason behind this step in Otavalo’s evolution,

“We already carried K2 and there was so much demand for it that it only seemed natural to bring something new, a K2 pro shop, to Chamonix.

Of course we’ll be carrying the full range, for sale and for test, of K2 skis, snowboards, boots and bindings, Line skis, Full Tilt boots, Marker bindings, Marmot outerwear and Ride snowboards, boots and bindings.

We’ll also carry core freeride brands like Dynafit, Norrøna, Dainese, Lange, Tecnica, Salomon, Conformable, Ortovox, Dainese, Sweet, Giro, Smith, Coll-Tex, Smartwool and Sorel.”

Bootfitter Thomas Aubin

And as for you pinheads, there’s no need to get your wooly underpants in a bunch because Fresh Tracks will remain the epicenter of telemarking for Chamonix and beyond.

Longtime Otavalo kingpin and freeheel fanatic, Jeremy Fournier pointed out,

“There are several things that have come together to make it happen: we’re the only dedicated telemark shop between Grenoble and Switzerland; K2 is a brand that has always supported telemarking; and there are loads of passionate freeheelers who love Chamonix. So this new partnership gives us the opportunity to really step up the telemark side of the shop. In addition to K2 and Line skis, we’ll also carry Scarpa boots, Garmont boots, and G3 and Rottefella bindings. We’ll not only have tele skis for test but we’re also still the only store in Chamonix that rents telemark skis and boots.”

Jeremy Fournier, Manu Mourier

Joining Manu and Jeremy at Fresh Tracks will be Snell’s Thomas Aubin who will bring his four years of custom boot fitting to the store, and Julian Vessaire who will also be on hand a few days  a week to lend his extensive knowledge and expertise.

And for those of us who enjoyed hanging out downstairs in the Otavalo workshop, the lurking will now be even better. Jeremy told us,

“We’re re-modeling the workshop to make it more of a lounge with couches and music. It will be an even better place for everybody to come and chill out, talk about riding and find out where to find fresh tracks – haha!”

Head for the blue pin to find Fresh Tracks. (click to enlarge)

***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.”

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

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

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.”

White Chamonix / Black Weekend

‘Nuff said.

High Mountain Hijinks: Andreas Fransson, Morgan Sahlén, Couloir Jager

Andreas Fransson, Morgan Sahlén, Couloir Jager (TD+ 45˚-55˚/700m)

Videographer Bjarne Sahlén sent me this little video exactly a week ago today so I thought I’d celebrate this joyous anniversary by posting it. What the heck, that’s just the kind of guy I am.

Bjarne stalks Andreas Fransson and Morgan Sahlén as they descend the Jager on the coldest day of the year when it was -28˚C at the top of the Midi. Brrr… Keep your eyes peeled to see if you can spot the cameo appearance by Jon Bracey on his way up to climb the Carli-Chassagne (III 4. 1000m) on the north side of the Midi. Probably took him a good 20 minutes or so. Slacker.

Rare video footage of the Jäger yeti who some mistakenly believe is thus called due to local legend that he lives in a snow cave near the Couloir Jager when in fact the Jäger yeti carries this distinction due to the overwhelming number of sightings that occur after a big night out.

For those who exist outside the bubble, the Couloir Jager is located on the east face of the Mont Blanc du Tacul (4248m) looker’s right of the Couloir Gervasutti. It was first skied on 7 March 1977 by Jacky Bessat. Anselme Baud describes it as 700m at 45˚-55˚. Right then, just another stroll in the park.

This is where I would have straight-lined it. Just sayin.

Morgan Sahlén taking the manly way down. Rockin’ the teles. Respect.


Fully dedicated. Bjarne Sahlén freezing his buns off to get the shot.

Gear-O-Licious: Columbia Omni-Heat / Omni-Dry

Columbia 2011/12 Omni-Heat / Omni-Dry / Omni-Tastic!

Full disclosure: For those who don’t already know, I’m writing a blog for Columbia Europe called And while running a product review for a brand for whom I’m working may seem like a conflict of interest, ChamonixInsider readers can rest assured that I would never jeopardize the credibility of the Insider by spewing about some product I don’t fully believe in. And after testing some of the Columbia gear I’m blown away by how good it is and would feel like I was not upholding the mission of this blog if I didn’t tell you all about it.

So yeah, the Columbia crew in Geneva sent me out a new piece from their 2011/12 line and after skiing it for the past two months I am totally in love with it. The jacket is one of Columbia’s top-of-the-line Titanium series and features their Interchange system which pairs a lightweight, synthetic down inner with a lightweight, 2-layer, waterproof/breathable ripstop hardshell. Basically three jackets in one, which is nothing new but always surprising that more brands don’t do it.

There are a lot of reasons this jacket blows my hair back but first and foremost is this Omni-Heat story, which in this piece revolves around Thermal Reflective technology derived from the little silver dots in the lining of the insulating layer. These act in the same way as an emergency blanket which produces a phenomenal amount of warmth to weight by reflecting body heat. Columbia claim the technology is 20% warmer and after wearing it for the past few months I’m convinced that 20% warmer is on the conservative side. The insulating power of this stuff is amazing.

The Inner – I’ve been wearing the inner on its own quite a lot and have found that it’s not only lighter but also much warmer than the Patagonia Puffball I’ve worn for the past couple of years. It’s also more fitted than the Puffball yet retains its range of movement thanks to the stretch panels under the arms. Two zipped handwarmer pockets, an interior chest pocket and an over-sized mesh interior pocket, elastic drawcord at the waist, micro-fleece collar. Everything you need, nothing you don’t, very warm, great fit, I love the color, super lightweight. Perfect.

The Outer – Due to the warmth of the inner, the outer layer has spent more time in my pack than on my body, however as spring rolls around I’ll start wearing the outer without the inner as I did this past weekend at the Otavalo Telemark Festival when a warm wet snow was falling in Les Houches and everyone’s jackets were soaking wet except mine. I kid you not. It was warm enough that despite the snow I only wore the Columbia outer over a lightweight Helly-Hansen synthetic base layer and never felt cold throughout the day. In fact, throughout most of the day I had my pit zips either halfway or fully open. Like I said: warm, wet snow.

Columbia claims its Omni-Dry technology is more air-permeable than Gore-Tex but once again, that’s an easy claim to make these days. What I will say is that even after a full day testing telemark gear by doing laps on the Prarion lift, my jacket and base layer were both still dry at the end of the day. The outer was so dry in fact that when I got back to the car I just shook the water droplets off and pulled the insulated liner on over the outer. I’ve had well over 20 years experience with Gore-Tex in every condition imaginable and in the wet-snow/high-aerobic conditions at Les Houches that day the Omni-Dry technology performed at least as well, if not better, than any other waterproof/breathable product I’ve ever worn. And man, I’ve worn a lot.

The outer has a waterproof front zip, mesh lining, removable powder skirt, removable hood, pit zips, two hidden-zip handwarmer pockets, a hidden-zip chest pocket, interior chest pocket and a big mesh interior goggle pocket. The lightweight ripstop fabric is slightly brushed for a nice hand, although it’s a bit louder than what I’m used to but then again it’s been awhile since I wore a true hardshell so perhaps I’m just not used to it. There are rubberized reinforcement patches on the shoulders and at the bottom sides that clearly add to the weight but they will greatly prolong the life of the jacket. Years ago I received a 3-layer Gore-Tex Middle Triple jacket from The North Face, the weight and design of which was ground-breaking at the time. After the third day of wearing it I noticed that the edge of my snowboard had shredded the lightweight fabric exactly in the spot where Columbia has placed the reinforcement at the bottom of the sides. So while weight is important to me, it can’t come at the expense of functionality so, for me personally, I’ll gladly trade the few additional grams of reinforcement for increased longevity.

So there you have it. Bottom Line is that the Omni-Heat Thermal Reflective tehcnology is amazingly warm and Omni-Dry far exceeded my expectations for both waterproofness and breathability. When I find out what this jacket will retail for next autumn I’ll let you know but for now I’ll easily throw it two-handed overhead horns.

Page O’ Loveliness: Seb Montaz > Helbronner > Fresh Snow > Telemark > Cute Girl in Bikini Pt. 2

There’s just something heart-stopping about the pure beauty exhibited on this page. Happy Friday.