Skiing the Chamonix valley is amazing! It's hard to describe the majesty of the mountains here. Chamonix and the surrounding areas are the birthplace of skiing and it's always been my dream to visit. Two of my friends have been living in Argentiere for the winter, so Jamie and I went to ski for a couple of weeks.
The views from Margie's house were astounding and I couldn't keep my jaw from dropping. The first day of skiing was beautiful and sunny, but freezing. I think it was -5 F. These next photos are from Les Grands Montet, one of the ski areas we visited.
Click on the smaller photos to view them bigger.
We went to check the out the scene in Cham for an afternoon. The city is beautiful!
From downtown, I couldn't stop staring at this cable car atop Le Brevent.
Over the next few days, we skied several of the resorts around Chamonix and checked out the culture.
Then it really snowed and the weather cleared! Sunny Pow Day in France!
Another Gallery for your enjoyment.
We really wanted to get over to Switzerland to Ski Verbier. The bus ride is just over an hour from Chamonix and $35 round trip. Somehow, we had amazing luck with the weather and hit Verbier on a bluebird pow day. It seemed all the high lifts and trams had been closed for a few days and were just opening as we arrived!
Verbier has 4 Vallees. You can buy a day pass for 85 US dollars that gets you unlimited access to all the trams and lifts. The terrain here is incredible. The trams are everywhere and they give you access to some of the most amazing skiing i've ever experienced.
So far skiing in Europe has been off the hook! It's hard to say which ski area was my favorite, but skiing the Augiulle Du Midi might take the cake. The Vallee Blanche is about 20km of glacier skiing with some of the best views in Chamonix. I'll let the pictures do the talking.
At the toe of the Glacier there was a path leading into these ice tunnels. I haven't really taken the time to figure out why they are there. The crystal clear ice is beautiful.
This was the trip of a life time for me! I hope I get to go back soon!
Headed north from Leavenworth, WA to Blue River, BC, an epic backcountry skiing adventure awaited me, until the Canadian Border Patrol decided to step in and make things difficult. Happily driving on my own through Canada I was supposed to meet the Powderwhore Productions team in Kamloops at 7pm, then we were to drive together to ski at the Snowy Mountain Lodge for a week. To make a long story short, the boys didn't make it across the border (too many cameras) so I turned around and drove back to the US, but not before picking up a fellow skier chic at the airport in Kamloops. In hopes of still making some sort of adventure happen we drove the six hours back to the US border and headed to Lake Chelan to meet everyone else for plan B.
Holden Village. A old mining town turned Lutheran retreat, only accessed by boat.
I had heard of the Holden Village Retreat before and I know of the epic mountains surrounding the west end of the lake, so I was pretty excited about our new plan. There wasn't any snow on the ground in Chelan and that left a little question in everyone's mind. We loaded up the ferry with ski gear anyway and took off on a two and a half hour boat ride up lake in hopes of finding that secret pow stash high in the alpine.
There was a posse of people and a school bus waiting on the dock to greet us.
We arrived in Holden Village around 1:30 in the afternoon and got right to it. We hiked up into the trees to get a feel for what we were going to ski for the next few days. We found some great snow and equally great views of the huge peaks all around us.
For the next few days we hiked and skied into the valleys surrounding the village and found some pretty awesome stuff.
The village itself was really cool. They have a dinner bell that they ring three times a day as soon as the food is ready! The rooms are dorm style and they have a wood fired sauna equipped with a cold pool.
The skiing at Stevens has been epic for days! Today the sun came out!
Jamie and I skied some epic pow and got some sweat pics of the awesome trees!! And some good ski shots.
I don't think I'll ever get over how cool the trees look.
Our first week in the parking lot at Stevens Pass! The base went from 24" to 104" in 5 days and the RV got buried.
Epic face shots for days! Now time for some shoveling!
Skiing Is Fun!
Approached from Devils Lake, following the South Sister climbing trail, it is 12 miles round trip with a 5000ft elevation gain to the summit. The South Sister is the highest of the three, although Middle and North aren't far behind.
The Camping at Soda Creek is mostly snow free and the views are so beautiful. We arrived Wednessday morning and spent the day chilling by the little stream and touring the area. The lakes along the Cascade Lake Scenic Byway are such an incredible color.
We woke early to a major frost. Good news for the skiing conditions. Jamie and I were able to skin directly from the road almost the whole way to the top. There was a brief moment we had to take our skis off and hike through the volcanic dirt for a few hundred feet.
The last portion of the route is a pretty steep climb and also one of the best parts of skiing descent. The top of the mountian is flat and broad. From the crater rim it's still a five minute walk to the summit.
I skied from the Summit and we ate lunch on the Crater Rim.
And we Skied.....
Almost 5000 feet of glorious corn snow!
"Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you." Oprah Winfrey
Jamie and I left for Mt. Washington knowing we had a very small weather window. We arrived in Sisters, Oregon to huge dark clouds over the mountains. We headed into from Sisters to the turn off for Hoodoo Ski Bowl, a tiny ski area just west of town. We found the PCT trailhead in the dark and set up the tent as quick as possible. Hoping the forecast was right, we went to sleep early and woke to foggy cold weather with new snow.
I took that picture with my phone and crawled back in the tent, which was wet, by the way. Don't think I'll set my tent up on a tarp again. Learn something new every day. In a few hours we woke up and had a lazy morning, hoping the sun would come out. Soon enough, the clouds parted and we could see the mountain! It was pretty late, but Jamie was super gungho. So we took off. We hiked 3.5 miles to the base of the mountain, then skinned almost 3000ft to the base of the summit pinnicle, where we stopped and gawked at the rocks and ice above us. A truly amazing sight.
We reached the saddle around noon and enjoyed the view for a while. The ski from the summit is about 2300 verticle feet. A great ski run in June!
The clouds rolled in just as we skied to the bottom of the main face.
Happy to make it back to the car after hiking almost 12 miles, we headed to Mt. Hood to do some ski testing for RAMP (Riders Artists Music Project). They make great gear and are awesome people!
Heading accross the desert out of Salt Lake City on a hot spring day, our first stop, of course, the great salt flats. And they are just that, flat. And beautiful. White salt almost as far as you can see. The Salt Flats are shrinking though......because peolple like to eat salt. They are also known for World Records in Land Speed. Jamie always likes to take some jump shots!
We make our way accross Nevada on what seems to me, the loneliest road in America, to Northern California and the begining of the Cascade Volcanic Arc. Our plan is to ski some volcanoes on the way to Washington. We have two weeks. It'll be a good time no matter what, but good weather always makes for better times!
The southernmost Volcano is Lassen Peak.
We found this great place to camp by a river. Here is a picture of the rig. Driving the RV with the truck in tow, full of everything we own. Heavy.
And the Cats came along for the ride.
It rained for almost two days while we camped at this spot. The forecast finally looked up and we woke to clear calm weather. We headed up to climb Lassen Peak around 5am. It was so cold in the morning. It had snowed a few inches of graupel up high, then blew into piles. It rained on top of that and froze. Lets just say it was a bit variable. Not epic skiing conditions. We made it to about 300ft short of the summit and the slope got too steep to continue skinning. We then realized we forgot our crampons, so we had to turn around. Sad, but safety first, right. By the time we switched over to ski mode, the snow had softened a bit and was beautiful, corn conditions and super fun to ski.
We skied down to the truck by 11am, broke down camp and headed for Mt. Shasta!
Mt. Shasta 14.179 ft. Second highest in the Cascade Range.
Mt. Shasta is a two day climb. 11 miles and 7300 ft of elevation gain. We drove the RV to Bunny Flat trailhead and spent the night there in the parking lot. In the morning we woke up, not too early as we were'nt going straight for the summit. Jamie and I donned full packs and started skinning to "Lake Helen" (10,440ft) to camp for the night. We got a bit off the route somehow and found ourselves to high on the ridge. We had to ski back down to the gully to get back on course. It was about a 600 ft ski run, unexpected, but fun. When we got to Lake Helen some people were leaving and we got their tent site. It was nice not to have to dig in as much!
click on the photos in the gallery to see full size image and read the captions.
We spent that night in the craziest wind I have ever "slept" in. I read later it was blowing sustained 45mph. I woke up at 4am to look at the weather, looked outside to see a complete white-out. Decided to try again in an hour. And every hour until 10am. By noon, I could sort of see blue in the clouds and although it was too late to leave for a summit atempt, it was nice to see the sun again. It was still super windy and it actually knocked me to the ground once. I knew the weather was supposed to be perfect Tuesday, the next day, so I decided to turn on my phone and see if I could get a forecast. Amazingly, I had the internet at 10,440 on the side of Mt. Shasta. The weather looked grim for that night. Calling for gusts in the mid to upper 80's and snow. We decided another night of even crazier wind wasn't worth it and headed down. Not without some major reluctance.......another time.
Continuing North to Crater Lake, Oregon.
Crater Lake is the result of the massive eruption of Mt. Mazama, an ancient volcano. Mt. Mazama would have stood about 12,000 ft, puting it with the likes of The Sisters, Jefferson and Hood. Mazama collapsed into itself and lost almost a mile of height, creating the ninth deepest lake in the world over millions of years. I've always dreamed of skiing here. The lines are perfect. With the road still closed and tons of snow around, we spent the night in another parking lot.
We decided to follow the closed road north along the crater rim towards The Watchman and see what we could see. The Watchman is a fire lookout on the lake ridge at 8018ft. We started out skinning directly along the ridge and soon found out it would be easier to just follow the road. It is interesting skiing along the side of a paved road, can't say it's one of my favorite things. I wish we would have thought about bringing bikes along.
Crater Lake is a magical place. I love the energy here. The water is among some of the purest in the world.
We went to about 7000ft on the Watchman when the clouds rolled in and it got super cold. The ski lines didn't look super enticing on the mountain so we decided to get some ski shots and head back. This one is fun!
We stayed one more night at Crater hoping to ski something else the next day, but woke up to bad weather and headed to the Three Sisters zone. Stopped in Bend, resupplied and headed to ski the South Sister and Broken Top. On our way down the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway the road ended in a ten foot snow bank and forced us left into the parking lot of Mt. Bachelor. Funny thing is, the next day was the last day of the season at Bachelor and was forecast to be bluebird. We camped in the parking lot again, this time it was ten bucks. It snowed nine inches and was an awesome blubird pow day at Bachelor. We got to stand on top, look out over the Cascade Volcanoes and take some great ski shots!
All good things must come to an end.......... I mean, break. We had to get to Leavenworth to start work for the summer. Then on to the next adventure.
I want to give a massive shout out to Jamie Callister for taking such incredible photos and basically being my personal photographer!
Some call it Der Town or L Town, Me.......Paradise! Some of the most incredible people in the world live here, the trees are huge, the mountains are big and snowy, the air is fresh, the water is clean and a little lederhosen goes a long way!
Leavenworth is a small beautiful mountain town in central Washington. I traveled there last week to celebrate the lives of three amazing men, Jim Jack, Chris Rudolph and Johnny Brenan who were taken by an avalanche on February 19, 2012. They were well loved by everyone and will be missed dearly. Jim was an exceptional friend to me and an extraordinary man. He was truely a legend, not just in the freeskiing community, but in everything he did during his life. I have never seen someone who could remember so many peoples names. He could talk about anything for hours and was always so kind to everyone. I've had some of my most memorable and fun experiences of my life with Jim Jack and Tiffany in LTown. I would like to thank them and many others for welcoming me into this great community and introducing me to so many awesome people. Jim, you will continue to influence my thoughts and inspire me to be a better person. Thank you for being my friend.
"For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and melt into the sun? And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered? ...And when you have
reached the mountaintop, then you shall begin to climb. And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance." - Kahlil Gibran
The memorial on top of Cowboy Ridge was incredible! A few hundred people showed up to send the boys off to the next life. The hike was lined with roses and their petals. Beautiful!!!
On our way into town we saw this spectacular rainbow. Had to stop and do some jump shots......
The whole time Jamie and I were in Leavenworth it was dumping snow! So we took a few fun photos of skiing and the mountains.
Here's the Leavenworth promotional video starring the one and only Jim Jack as Woody Goomsba the Nutcracker!