Category Archives: tequila

The New and Improved Y Bar Starring Canadian Matt

Famous hockey celebrity and nightclub impresario 'Canadian Matt' Sixt, Y Bar owner Leila Suzukawa, Y Bar pyrotechnics engineer Astrid.

Just got a press release in from the new Y Bar crew. I don’t normally like to regurgitate press releases but this one has a certain je ne sais quoi…

There’s a new bar in town you should visit. Y? Exactly.

This Friday, Dec 9th, the new and improved Y Bar opens its doors and kicks off the season with a grand opening – drink specials, live music, and a sexy new owner with a great rack (of wine glasses). And nice boobs. Rock up Friday night from 8pm for every ski bum’s favorites — free shots and nibbles! Not to mention €2 demis, €4 pints, €5 glasses of lovely champagne, FREE sushi, nibbles, and of course live music all night long…

Chamonix’s main drag hosts a few great bars and this one is no exception. It’s got every bar’s best bits rolled into one. Intimate corners allow for a quiet chat with friends, perfect for poignant discussions such as “Where’d you ski today?” or “20 bucks says it doesn’t snow for another three weeks.” The ground floor bar is good for gettin’ down with DJ decks and space to showcase your moves. The upstairs bar will sort you out with shots and wine tasting for those with a finer palate or those too lazy to walk downstairs from the massive outside balcony, which begs for aprés ski boot stomping sessions. No matter your taste, you’ll find something to like.

Y Bar’s recent revival is thanks to its new owner Leila, who has stripped down the former “is this a bar or a shop” bar and turned it into a “this is a bar” bar. Think “Cheers” meets “Coyote Ugly.” Think “Copacabana” meets “Roxbury.” Think “the bar on the Love Boat” meets “the bar on Gilligan’s Island.” Think it’s time to get a drink. Y? Y not.

Find Y Bar at 141 rue Paccard between Swarovski and Lacoste.


Hammocks Without Borders – Ultra Sieste du Mont Blanc 2011

And if you’re wondering why anyone would choose to go through all that suffering when they could be kicking back in a hammock enjoying a lightly chilled rosé, then you need to check out … the Ultra Sieste du Mont Blanc

All the non-action starts today, Friday 26 August, 17:00, Les Gaillands. Bring a hammock, chaise longue, eats, drinks, games and a sense-of-humor.

Mo’ beta at

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.

Frenchies Dominate Nissan Russian Adventure by Swatch in … La Flègére

Julien Lopez / ©Nissan Russian Adventure by Swatch 2010 – Chamonix / C. Margot

The Nissan Russian Adventure by Swatch went down on the  northeast face of Aiguille Pourrie at La Flègére yesterday under bluebird skies and warm temps. The French Massif came out in force taking three spots on the men’s skiing podium but rather than Candide in the top position as everyone expected it was Julien Lopez bringing home the gold with a smooth fall line run that included a cleanly landed backflip followed by a nice double. Candide took second and there was a tie for third between Seb Michaud and Henrik Windstedt.

Men’s Skiing

1- Julien Lopez (FRA)
2- Candide Thovex (FRA)
3- Seb Michaud (FRA) & Henrik Windstedt (SWE)

In the snowshredder category Chamonix homeboy Xavier de Le Rue won the men’s with a fast technical line and a big double jump at the bottom. The nature of the 500-meter, 40˚ face enabled the athletes to boost bigger airs, a bit more stylish maneuvers, and faster lines. Austria’s Max Zipser took second while Russia’s Gennady Khyrachkov grabbed his first podium. “Unfortunately Chamonix local Douds Charlet FRA (4th) fell when executing a big backflip at the end of his run. He would probably have been on top of the podium if he would have stuck it clean as he had a really creative line interpretation, with several stylish jumps, especially a massive 360°, the biggest snowboard jump of the day,” said a source who asked to remain anonymous to protect himself from incrimination.

Men’s Snowboarding

1- Xavier de Le Rue (FRA)
2- Max Zipser (AUT)
3- Gennady Khryachkov (RUS)

The women did not compete and will have their makeup day on February 13th at the Scott Big Mountain Fieberbrunn (Austria), a Freeride World Qualifier event.

Going into the third event of the four-event series – the Nissan Tram Face in Squaw Valley on February 27 – the overall rankings look like this:

Men’s Skiing

1. Candide Thovex (FRA)

2. Julien Lopez (FRA)

3. Kaj Zackrisson (SWE)

4. Henrik Windstedt (SWE)

5. Tim Dutton (USA)

6. Sverre Lillequist (SWE)

7. Seb Michaud (FRA)

8. Aurelien Ducroz (FRA)

9. Stefan Hausl (AUT)

10. JT Holmes (USA)

Men’s Snowboarding

1. Mitch Toelderer (AUT)

2. Douds Charlet (FRA)

3. Xavier de Le Rue (FRA)

4. Khryachkov Gennady (RUS)

5. Max Zipser (AUT)

6. James Stentiford (GBR)

7. Routens Aurelien (FRA)

8. Cyril Neri (SUI)

9. Matt Annetts (USA)

10. Eric Themel (AUS)

Bullock & Houseman First Ascent of Coveted Line on Chang Himal

face topo..reduced 2

Chang Himal, North Face, Central Spur. ED+ 1800m

Man, I can’t even tell you how much sleep I’ve lost sitting in front of my computer these last few weeks, checking my emails for news from Chamonix crew sticking burly new routes on formidable faces in exotic places. And just when I think it’s safe to catch a few winks I get hit with something like this from the November 6 Alpinist Newswire:

British alpinists Nick Bullock and Andy Houseman have completed one of Nepal’s most coveted challenges: the 1500-meter north face of Chang Himal (aka Wedge Peak, 6750m) in the Kanchenjunga Himal.

The team confirmed ascent via satellite phone text. The message said the pair had returned to base camp safely on November 3.

The north face of Chang Himal was featured in “Unclimbed,” a feature in Alpinist 4 documenting the most striking unclimbed lines in the world.

A bold new line, climbed in impeccable style. Early photos of the face are stunning beautiful, alluring, dangerous – 100% Grade A climbing porn. So I brew up another pot of chai and babysit my Inbox, anxiously awaiting a report from the hardmen themselves. Like this one I just received from Andy:

In association with DMM, Mammut, Crux, Black Diamond, Mountain Equipment, Scarpa, S.I.S (Science in Sport) and the Lyon Equipment Award.

With financial support from The BMC, MEF, Nick Estcourt Award, Mark Clifford Award, Shipton/Tilman Award.

Thanks also go to Loben of for a great service in dealing with all red tape, transport and base camp support, especially in supplying us with the best cook in the world (Buddy). Definitely the reason we succeeded.

For us, the North Face of Chang Himal was an obvious though distant objective. Situated a long way from anywhere it took us a 2-day jeep ride and 10 days of walking to reach the base. The face itself is 1800 uncompromising metres of steep rock and ice that draws the eye and spurs the imagination with sweeping snow chutes, cones and ice fringes, seracs the size of semi-detached houses, bulging rotten rock, flutings and a pointy summit. Trekkers with no aspirations whatsoever sit and stare in awe. Mention that you intend to climb this face and watch their faces crack. They look and then they see you are serious. Expressions change to worry, doubt, concern. It is not that they worry about our physical health, more so our mental stability. Expressions then change once again as they realise they are stood with crazy people.

Please do not misunderstand, this face is not death. It is not the living end. It is not the best, the biggest, the highest, the boldest, not even the baddest. During an autumn where several new test routes have been climbed, here in Nepal and in China, it is certainly not the hardest. What it is, what it was, was a step into the unknown, a challenge to surpass other mountain challenges we have experienced, a step onto the largest mountain face that both Houseman and I have had the balls to walk to the base of and start climbing with just our bags packed. This is a mountain route that is not crazy, but a hard classic awaiting a few more ascents. How about it?

Here is some info for potential suitors.

Night/Day 1 – 29 October

02.30. We set out from our cave/bivvy at the base of the face and gained the large snow cone at the right of the spur via an ice/rock gully. Plunging steps into the more than favourable snow I turned to watch Houseman retching and throwing up. Hmmm, game over before it had started I thought. “Want to go down? Try again in a few days?” “Naa, I’m ok. Shouldn’t of ate that meat.” It wasn’t the meat though, it was Giardiasis [ed. – infected individuals experience an abrupt onset of abdominal cramps, explosive, watery diarrhea, vomiting, foul flatus, and fever which may last for 3–4 days], and I suspected it would get worse pretty soon. But respect to the Youth, 1800-metres to go (or to be more precise, approximately 2400 metres more to go when you add the traversing) and he was still game.

We soloed the 30° – 60° narrows on the left side, sensing the seracs above, until level with the top of the first buttress. A 70° unconsolidated slope/runnel was then followed and we eventually reached the first rock buttress. Rope out, and we climbed a 60-metre, M4+ direct line to the right of the spur followed by a further 120 metres of simul-climbing. It was now approximately 3pm, and we were at about 6000m and knackered. A fin of snow and some digging provided a reasonable step for us to recover and spend the night. Houseman was carrying a light single skin tent. Waste of time, I thought, and I was right. Never pitched it once…

Day 2 – 30 October The second rock band (make or break time).

chang himal route pics etc...1 054.reuced for web

Day 2 - Andy Houseman leaving the bivvy, starting on the 1st techy pitch of the rockband.

A rejuvenated Youth took the lead from the bivvy stating, “It looks ok.” Little do you know, I thought, as he climbed a steep runnel with sack and an unprotected bulge at the top. (M5 / 55 metres).

“Take your pick,” was the Youth’s only suggestion as I pulled the bulge and looked up at three possible overhanging continuations leading through the rock band. “None,” was my reply but eventually I took a shallow overhanging corner line sprayed with a sheen of ice. Not the best with a big bag and above 6000m. Huffing and hanging on, I pulled the exit mush with relief after 60 testing meters. M6.

Pitch 3 of the rock band included traversing right to belay beneath another vague, shallow, rotten snow runnel. (M4 / 55m).

Pitch 4 was fortunately not as steep or as rotten as Pitch 2 and went ok. (M4 / 65m).

The biggest roof on the route was traversed beneath while hunting for a bivvy site that never materialised (M4 / 70°) and in the dark a snow slope was reached on the right of the roof. (70m). A final 30 metres of 70° was climbed until back on the crest directly above the roof and at 7:00 pm a 30cm step was cut for ‘Oh what a comfy’ evening. The approximate height on the face was 6200m. (Slowed us down a tad then, that section!)


Day 2 - Nick Bullock starting up the crux pitch.

Day 3 – 31 October

The day started well with a 2.5 hour simul-climb following a broad, right-slanting, 60°-70°snow ramp to rejoin the crest beneath the final headwall where a rising traverse was taken. Oh deep joy, loads of rotten snow eventually lead to snow flutings on the right of the face. M4 / 80m. Youth took it away crossing two flutings and climbing a particularly rotten bulge of M4 rock until ensconced deep inside a fluting that gave no particular support. Well levitated, I thought as I followed. (50m). The day was finished with a flounder up the fluting with no protection and a possible dead end at 6550m. The best bivvy of the route was dug out with a fine, albeit chilly, view.

Day 4 – 1 November

A steep flounder directly out of the top of our bivvy (made easier without the weight of rucksacks which we had left at the bivvy) brightened our slightly cold and breezy day, when, with a bit of Peruvian/Nepal unprotected jiggery pokey, we entered the guts of a continuation runnel which we hoped and prayed lead to the summit crest. (70° / 180m).

And it did… A final 100 metres of 50˚ wind-scoured ice lead to the knife-edge summit at midday, directly above everything we had climbed.

After half an hour on the summit we downclimbed to our bivvy where we stopped for the evening.

Day 5 – 2 November

A tour de-force (from Youth) in constructing abseil anchors from very little indeed had us down in a one-er without too much drama. Setting off on one of the abseils, directly down the very steep rock band did have the old man puffing slightly but 13 hours later we hit and downclimbed the initial snow gully and cone and ice runnel to nestle back into our cave feeling very happy with our lot, 15 hours after leaving the high bivvy.

Game over…

The weather throughout the climb was very favourable, albeit a tad windy and slightly cool. The rock encountered on the climb was generally poor not favouring easy-to-place or easy-to-find protection for either running belays or belays. The ice was sometimes good and sometimes bad, and the snow was often rotten. All in all we had a pretty amazing time.

chang himal route pics etc...1 163.reduced for web

Andy Houseman, Nick Bullock - summit of Chang Himal.

Once again thanks to all of the grants, organisations, etc for the invaluable financial help, this by no-means was a cheap trip and it really would not have happened without support. Thanks again to both Andy and my sponsors, named above; including SIS and Lyon, your support is very gratefully received.

You Shoulda Been Here Yesterday


Fredrik Ericsson breaking trail through chest deep snow. Not bad for first day of the season.

Movember 8. The day the 2009/10 Chamonix ski season started for some of us and no, I didn’t spell Movember wrong. As you can see in this photo, Frippe’s got a bit of a head start on you but based on his past fur-bearing attempts I reckon that if you start now you should easily be caught up by next weekend. Ahh, but I digress…


Needless to say there wasn't much shoveling needed to get the car out.


Obligatory first day faff session

We’ve been teased all week with promises of 20cm here, 15 there, but Üllr has been quite the coy snow god as of late, teasing us with low dark clouds and frosty nights but refusing us a glimpse of her lovely white curves, the dreams of which have us leaping out of bed early each morning like kids at Christmas, racing to the window, unreasonably high expectations filling our ever-hopeful, childlike minds.

From the beginning of last week those of us who start our days with steaming cups of chai and a variety of forecasts, weather maps and radar images saw the big low pressure system bearing down on our little corner of the world. The optimists were calling 10cm for Friday night, another 20 Saturday. When Saturday afternoon turned to Saturday evening without as much as a dusting, most everybody began making other plans; another Saturday night sausage party in an empty ski town with nothing to look forward to on a cold, damp Sunday but a hangover and a ski vid or three. Sunday would be one of those brutal, undeserved rest days in the mountains – no wobbly legs, no


You'll notice from the angle of this shot that I'm way ahead of Frippe. Actually, it's his second lap.

windburned skin, no gear drying by the radiator, nothing to look forward to but a bad weather Sunday morning with empty pockets and this ridiculous moustache. “Yo barkeep, une autre pastisse s’il vous plait et une tequila et tonique pour mon ami.” “Dude, you really think Dynafit is the right binder for a one-ski quiver or you reckon I should play it safe and go with the Dukes?”

Sunday morning my cell rings. Ohhh, me head. No way I’m gonna answer it and so I lie there, drowsing in the glory of a soft, warm bed in a cold room on a day off. Open one eye to get my bearings, the phone still ringing somewhere. It’s not early but hmmm it’s not late enough for this much light to be filling the room either. Holy smokes! I hit the floor as if the bed is on fire and race to the window. It snowed. Thank Üllr, it snowed!


A mad, disorganized scramble for gear and an hour later Frippe and I are at the base of LeTour. It’s looking thin and there’s a low thick ceiling about 100 meters above us and we’ve got serious doubts. But there are riders coming down already, doing their worst to rock skis old enough to be in a ski museum. Others are walking, picking their way through the mine field of snow-covered sharks, razor sharp teeth hungry for a mouthful of P-tex. But then a snowboarder glides by with superior flotation, a big smile, double shakas and in an instant the skins are out, and we’re laughing and going through the ritual first-day-of-the-season faff. Frip’s bindings aren’t set to his boots and his slick new multi-tool doesn’t have the right screwdriver to make the adjustment. I somehow stored my boots for the summer with the liners switched and my feet are now punishing me for such a rookie move. But there’s no need to hurry, no crowd-induced stress, and soon enough we’re up and moving and I’m breathing hard, wondering where that rhythm could have gone that a mere five months ago seemed as natural as if it was embedded in my DNA. A cold north wind is bearing down on us and I’m sweating like a … erm … well, like a Muslim army psychiatrist about to stand trial for gunning down 13 of his fellow countrymen.

Clearly struggling

Way steeper than it looks. No, really.

I can feel the beginning of a blister on my right heel, I can’t catch my breath. How could I have forgotten to bring my thigh muscles? I stop, lungs bursting, and I kick up a ski to scrape the ice from the base of my ski skin. It’s a delicate maneuver and as I balance precariously the boozy chemical imbalance in my system takes its toll. Like a tree in the forest I fall slowly and surely into the cold, wet snow. Frip laughs and I laugh with him and there’s no place in the world I’d rather be than in Chamonix in Movember in the snow.


Chamonix in Movember. Rockin'.