Tag Archives: Xavier de Le Rue

Xavier de Le Rue’s This Is My Winter (full tamale) – That’s One Helluva Season Edit, Xavier

Y’know how it is when there’s no snow. You’re sitting around with nothing to do so you decide it’s time to clean up the ol’ desktop. But before you trash all that footy from last season you figure you might as well mash it up into a season edit.

Funny, but mine doesn’t look quite like Xavier’s…


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.

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.

Chamonix’s De Le Rue Wins Freeride World Tour

Douds Charlet, Verbier Xtreme 2010

Rider: Douds Charlet. Image:©Nissan Xtreme BY Swatch - Verbier 2010 / C. Margot

I know, I know. I’m pretty far off the back with this news but hey, that’s what happens when you dare to venture outside the wifi bubble for a week or so.

So the big (though unsurprising) news for those of us in the valley is certainly Chamonix loc Xavier de Le Rue bringing home the snowboarding gold (and some say, the best run of the day) in the Verbier event as well as the Freeride World Tour overall trophy. Well deserved. Xavier is truly The Man.

Verbier Xtreme Men’s Snowboard
1. Xavier DE LE RUE – FRA
2. Cyril NERI – SUI

The ski division on the other hand was more hotly contested going into the final event at Verbier with several riders having a good shot at the overall title. Chamonix homeboy Kaj Zackrisson was the dude of the day, just edging out CHX loc Aurélien Ducroz’s near-identical run. The win was enough to earn Zackrisson second overall behind Candide Thovex with Henrik Windstedt third.

Verbier Xtreme Men’s Ski
2. Aurélien DUCROZ – FRA
3. Candide THOVEX – FRA

So who do you believe had the best run of the day. Vote in our ChamonixInsider Poll-a-tron below.

Also interesting to note is the number of views the vids have generated. With that in mind, The Insider has decided to present our own Media Domination award. Sponsors, take note.

ChamonixInsider’s FWT Media Domination Award 2010 (as of 31 March)
1. Xavier DE LE RUE – 26,342 views
2. Julia MANCUSO – 22, 483 views
3. Kaj ZACKRISSON – 7,978 views

Seems as though Olympic fever is still strong, eh? In any case you gotta respect a girl who grabs third in her first freeride event ever and scores the most hits ever for a women’s freeski event. Nice one, Julia.

Freeride World Tour 2010 Overall Standings

Men’s Ski
1. Candide THOVEX – FRA

Men’s Snowboard
1. Xavier DE LE RUE – FRA

Women’s Ski
3. Jaclyn PAASO – USA

Women’s Snowboard
1. Aline BOCK – GER
2. Susan MOL – USA
3. Nathalie ZENKLUSEN – SUI

Finally, I’ve heard there were some pretty gnarly crashes at the Verbier event. If anyone knows where to find them on the interwebs hit me back with a link and I’ll throw ’em up.

Jeremy Jones, Xavier de Le Rue on North Face of Tour Ronde

Welcome to Chamonix, Jeremy.

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)