Tag Archives: Chamonix

Ride the Snake aka The Freestyle Menace in Chamonix. If People Aren’t Vigilant Against This Sort of Thing the Next Thing You Know We’ll Have a Halfpipe!

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Effortless Method over Mont Blanc? Clearly the result of a deal with the devil.

Ride The Snake. The name is lewd, satanic even, if you happen to harbor that particular deviation of imagination.

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Big kickers are scary for a reason. If not avoided at all costs, pleasureable sensations may occur that are difficult for young minds to understand.

Egged on by the creative, open – shall we say ‘liberal’? Or perhaps the more en vogue, ‘progressive’ – minds at HO5 Parks, Compagnie du Mont Blanc, LeTour ski area and Quiksilver, the riders came, they rode the snake, they unleashed their smooth, styley sorcery on our our impressionable youth, infecting local minds with absurd ideas of going upside down and even (gasp) backwards!

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At first glance this might look like fun but, seriously. It’s not even steep.

Yes, yes, the lewd, satanic frestylers came and forced their happy-go-lucky hijinks on our pious community of splitboard-riding, woolly-underweared, glacier-glassed riders who keep their directional boards on the snow and pointing forward as God and Jake originally intended.

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Styley, yes. But at what cost?

And all this without harness, beacon or airbag – soooooo irresponsible.

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Avert your eyes, children. Focus instead on the beautiful suffering of the skin track.

Oh by the way, here’s the video…


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.

Xavier de Le Rue Showcases Blower Chamonix Powder Season in ‘This Is My Winter’

This is My Winter

Holy smokes! Starting the day with a teaser like this is better than three cans of Red Bull with a shot of espresso in them.

This is my winter Timeline

The riding is classic Xavier with the kind of steep ice, mach 11 powder turns and nail-biting straightlines that have built his formidable reputation as a big mountain slayer.

“Welcome to Chamonix,” indeed.

The complete version of This Is My Winter will be available online for free from mid-November and also features the skills of Mathieu Crepel, Andreas Fransson and Samuel Anthamatten.

Got Yo’ Chamonix Season Pass Yet? Mysto Super Promo Ends Soon, Alledgedly. That, and Jake Blauvelt Reminds the City Jibbers What Snowboarding is All About

If this was the photo on Jake Blauvelt's season pass then 'Slingshot' Jez Wilson would have no problem using it.

Yo slackers, just a little reminder that you’ve got less than seven days to take advantage of Compagnie du Mont Blanc’s Super Promo season pass.

A source who may or may not wish to remain anonymous told us the deal may or may not only be available to those who may or may not have had a season pass last year and who may or may not have been sent the SCI security level email from Compagnie du Mont Blanc. Or maybe not, we’re not sure, denying everything, speak to our attorneys.

But hey, if the deal does hypothetically exist then big ol’ super stealth high five double chakas to the CMB for offering up a frequent flyer discount to your devoted hardcores. For all the rest of you we kindly ask you to skip straight down, without looking at the prices in the table below, to the inspiring video of shred master Jake Blauvelt whose style bears a remarkable resemblance to that of Jez ‘Suck It Up It Ain’t Broke’ Wilson, to a lesser degree, of course.

No peeking…

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.

19e Piolets d’Or Awards, or … The Night I Partied With Walter #Tigerblood Bonatti

19e Piolets dOr recipients with president of the jury Greg Child (far right)

The 19e Piolets d’Or happened this weekend and if you’re the kind of person who likes to hear stories of the triumph of the human spirit over impossible odds, all from the comfort of a well-appointed, air-conditioned ballroom then Chamonix was the place to be. This year’s Piolets d’Or went to…

Katsutaka Yokoyama and Yasushi Okada for their route on the  southeast face of Mount Logan called I-TO (ED+, WI5, M6, 2500m)


Nicolas Favresse, Olivier Favresse, Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll, Ben Ditto and Captain Bob Shepton for nine new big wall routes in Greenland’s south coast including Devil’s Brew (7c, 850m).

Fine job gentlemen. Full respect for all the imagination, creativity, persistence, strength, courage, luck and grit this hard-earned award represents. How the highly-qualified jury was able to select just two teams to receive Piolets d’Or from the group of six extraordinary nominees I’ll never know. But then again I guess that’s just one of the many reasons I wasn’t invited to be on the jury. But don’t think for a minute that’s going to stop me from presenting my own darn awards…

Thanks, But No Thanks award

Kyle Dempster, Bruce Logan

Mt. Edgar, east face, The Rose of No Man’s Land (WI5, M6, 1100m) – What makes two seemingly clear-thinking individuals like Kyle Dempster and Bruce Normand want to march into the shooting gallery that killed Jonny Copp, Micah Dash and Wade Johnson just two years earlier and think they can come back alive? Whatever it is, they were right. The two completed their route, the first on the east face of China’s Mount Edgar, in eight days and returned home with all the body parts they walked in with. Amazing, considering the objective dangers these two faced just getting on and off the climb. When one jury member asked if he would ever consider repeating the route, Dempster’s face dropped into an astonished look that clearly read, ‘Have you not been listening to everything we just said?’ but left it with a simple, “Um, no.”

Kyle Dempster: As we were descending on Day 7, having already dealt with so much objective danger throughout the climb,  we got lost and stumbled out the wrong gully and just started walking out this disgusting, heavily-broken glacier with tons of crevasses everywhere. And as we got further and further down it started getting warmer and warmer and wetter and wetter, foggy and cloudy, rain or snow or both. And there was just instability everywhere, steep granite walls all around us, rock slides, threat everywhere whether it was snow avalanche, rock slide or falling in a crevasse. The anchors for rappels got shittier and more difficult to find and we’re like V-threading off a serac and when you’re that tired you sort of become … less caring. Just kind of over the danger and unable to really engage  anymore.

Bruce Normand: For me, the biggest question mark was on Day 5, that day where we were heading up on the last of the technical climbing and the ice was becoming more and more broken. I was spending more time looking down the mountain at all this horrible stuff we had just come up – a few hundred meters down the really technical stuff, a few hundred meters down the low angle ice, and another few thousand meters down the serac drainage gully and out the stream beds that spit rocks at you – and thinking how going back down didn’t seem terribly appealing. Kyle was on the lead and the ice was getting more broken and he had to spend more time cleaning it off and dry tooling the rock beneath. And it was starting to look like we might not find a line at all and that we would have to run the same gauntlet that we’d had to pass to get in. For me, that was the day that was mentally the most difficult, not sure whether we would make it or not.

The day that got Kyle’s goat was Day 7, going down through the broken glacier, when we ended up at 4300 meters, stuck on a ledge with no obvious thread. The ropes were icing and I was starting to clean them while Kyle was scouting for places to abseil off and all you could see were these slabs going down into the mist and slabs going up into the mist and we didn’t know what was about to fall on us. We had a little snow ledge that was covered in crap and he set up another sling, pulled on it, and it blew so it was like ‘OK, we’re not going any further tonight.’

Colin Haley, Bjørn-Eivind Årtun

Mt. Foraker, southeast face, Dracula (M6 R, AI4+, A0, 3200m) – After a long spell of bad weather, Colin Haley and Bjørn-Eivind Årtun left their base camp and headed up the 3200m southeast face of Mt Foraker … without bivvy gear. Their 71-hour push resulted in Dracula (M6, AI4+, A0, 3200m).

Bjorn-Eivind: “There were two critical moments. One was when we had to decide whether to go or not because it was a short weather window: one-and-a-half days. We could have easily decided not to go but we’d had bad weather for 30 days and we were hungry. We’d also already decided to do it in a single push and counting the hours, and based on our experience on Hunter the year before, I knew we could do it.

The second critical moment came on the descent after we summitted and descended the East Ridge. We’d been moving 35 or 36 hours when we took shelter in a crevasse to eat and brew up. After an hour, we emerged from the crevasse into a full-on blizzard. We had expected it to descend upon us slowly but it was like, bam! There was no visibility, we had problems standing up and I almost walked off a big cornice. So this is a really remote area, it’s far from base camp, we had no food, we had no sleeping bags, but the weather was just crazy. We weren’t going anywhere. So we decided to dig in and wait. But we had no bivvy gear, we had half a canister of gas, some nuts, no sleeping pad, no sleeping bag. And this is kind of … we had a sense of humor about it, not feeling very stressed but we had this sense of standing on the brink of the possibility that we would either stay here for a long time with no bivvy gear or have an incredible fight to get down. So … phew … So that’s what we did, always moving in and out to check for a clearing, we just needed a little bit of visibility to find our way down an alternate route. I wasn’t directly scared but for me it was the closest I’ve ever come to thinking this was maybe a little out of control. But we never panicked and that’s important because if you’re calm then you’re in control of the situation. The critical moment comes when you realize there is the possibility of real suffering or freezing to death if the storm lasts. But this option is always there on big climbs. In the end we made it down and it didn’t result in any big epic for us – especially compared to what Doug Scott [this year’s Piolets d’Or Lifetime Achievement Award winner] went through, breaking both legs and taking eight days to crawl down The Ogre – I mean, pffft, this is nothing.”

19the Piolets d'Or Katsutaka Yokoyama Yasushi Okada

Katsutaka Yokoyama, Yasushi Okada. Giri Gir Boys represent.

Mt Logan, southeast face, I-TO (ED+, WI5, M6, 2500m) – To put Katsutaka Yokoyama and Yasushi Okada‘s new route on Mount Logan  into perspective, try to wrap  your head around the fact that their acclimatization climb alone was 60 frikkin kilometers long. Yep, you read it right, that was the warmup. So with that in mind, try to envision a point in the middle of this massive, remote face, two totally exhausted climbers, weather threatening and unknown terrain ahead…

Katsutaka Yokoyama: “From base camp we had been moving for four days. The sky was perfectly blue but we were worried that it would be getting worse very soon. So we had a long discussion about whether we should go up or down. We didn’t have any idea what was above us and because we had been climbing for so long we were super exhausted by that time – we hadn’t been able to sleep at all and we’d eaten very little. So probably the reason we were so nervous and so afraid and had such hesitation is because we were so exhausted. If the weather got bad there was the strong possibility we would really suffer. Yasushi thought for a bit, then shouted at me, “We’re going!”

ChamonixInsider: “What’s next for you guys?”                                                                Katsutaka: “Cigarette.”

Gotta love the Giri-Giri boys.

You Really Shoulda Been There award

Paul Figg, Malcolm Bass

Vasuki Parbat, west face (M6, 1600m) – While the Piolets d’Or tends to be dominated by professional climbers who have the luxury of climbing full-time throughout the year, working stiffs Malcolm Bass’s (a clinical psychologist) and Paul Figg‘s (an arborist) gorgeous new route on the west face of Vasuki Parbat (M6, 1600m) was accomplished in the kind of perfect weather conditions that all Brits hope for when they leave on their summer holiday. The pair’s unabashedly enthusiastic description of the route and typical British downplaying of the sustained mixed difficulties made me wish I’d been along for the ride on this one although the reality is that I probably would have been left at the bottom of the route crying for mama.

Malcolm Bass: “The critical moment for me was when we saw the route, thought about it for a little while – it had been failed on by two really, really good British alpinists – and I made the decision that we were gong to climb it. Once I made that decision I trained really hard for it and I was absolutely, bloody determined that we were going to do it if we got the weather for it. I’ve not felt that way about every other climb that I’ve done in my life, I’ve never had that absolute sense of certain determination that it was going to get done.”

Sébastien Ratel, Mathieu Détrie, Mathieu Maynadier

Lunag I, Southeast Face, Close the Door (IV/5, 5, 1200m) – All I can say is that it’s a bittersweet tribute to a team when their fantastic effort on a big peak in Nepal is recognized by the international climbing community but one of the teammates is not there to receive it. Max Belleville, Mathieu Détrie, Mathieu Maynadier and Sébastien Ratel climbed a beautiful, all-time route in great style. Although Max died tragically in an accident on the Vallée Blanche this spring, Mathieu, Mathieu and Sébastien represented their team with strength and grace.

Mathieu Détrie: It’s a good moment. It’s interesting to meet the other teams and other people. It’s good for promoting alpinism in general. It’s great.

Sébastien Ratel: I think the most important thing is that we can talk about modern alpinism, with fresh ideas and good feeling. That’s more important than the award.

Initially, the Te Crew was started by five local boys from Chamonix. But now they have opened it to other guys who have the same spirit. It’s good, because we are young and we can all share expensive equipment like the phone, the portaledge, and the bags.

The Climb That Looked Like One Helluva a Good Time award

Nicolas Favresse, Olivier Favresse, Sean Villanueva ODriscoll, Ben Ditto, Bob Shepton

Greenland big wallsNicolas and Olivier Favresse, Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll and Ben Ditto are four of the nicest, most fun-loving guys you’ll ever meet. Throw them in a 10-meter sailboat captained by an animated 75-year-old Scottish priest, point the boat in the direction of an amazing passage from the west to the south coast of Greenland, bring musical instruments up the wall for late afternoon jam sessions, tack on a post-climb trans-Atlantic crossing for good measure and this adventure almost looked like too much fun to be considered alpinism. And it should be noted that as juror Simon Anthamatten pointed out, if the Favresse brothers rate a pitch 7c you best be prepared for 8a.

Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll: “It feels great, we just can’t believe it really.  Obviously, we don’t do these climbs for this kind of reward or anything, the best prize is obviously the climb. But it’s a big surprise for us and it definitely feels nice for us to get the recognition. It’s also kind of like a message for the future of climbing and alpinism in general about how the style will be in the future. All the teams that were nominated here used really nice style on really nice ascents and it’s great to see that the values promoted in this event – like team spirit, respect for the mountain, and clean, alpine [style] pushes – are really good values. Another thing is the communication and recognition that we can share with the general public about what we do. Because we don’t climb 8000-meter peaks the big media doesn’t know what we’re doing, but a prize like this helps bring attention to it.

Ben Ditto: It shows the fun side of it. [Climbing] is not just about the suffering and the manliness. [For us] it’s more like going out and having a good time and seeing what happens.

Mission accomplished, gentlemen.

Long Overdue Award

Sir Chris Bonington Lifetime Achievement Award Doug Scott

Sir Chris Bonington presenting the Lifetime Achievement Award to Doug Scott. ‘Nuf said.

Otavalo Telemark Festival This Weekend in Chamonix

Heads up freeheelers, it’s time once again for Otavalo’s annual Telemark Festival.

Certainly, Otavalo’s reputation as the best tele shop in Chamonix proceeds them and the crew there are not afraid to give back by throwing a bit of a weekend-long soirée.

There’s not a whole lot more that can be said that’s not laid out on the poster above except that if you’ve ever thought about giving the old telemarks a go then this is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for. See you there.