Dept. of Freaky-Deaky

What all's going down in Chamonix

Seth Morrison on the Tour Ronde. Photo: Constantine Papanicoloau via Twitter

Seth Morrison on the Tour Ronde. Photo: Constantine Papanicoloau via Twitter

By Hans Ludwig

Nate Wallace below the Tour Ronde. Photo: Seth Morrison via Twitter

Nate Wallace below the Tour Ronde. Photo: Seth Morrison via Twitter

North Face of the Col du Plan. Photo: Oakley Action via Twitter

North Face of the Col du Plan. Photo: Oakley Action via Twitter

Seth's eye view of JP Auclair climbing through the crux on the Tour Ronde. Photo: Seth Morrison via Twitter

Seth's eye view of JP Auclair climbing through the crux on the Tour Ronde. Photo: Seth Morrison via Twitter

Chamonix isn’t going off. It’s been a crap winter, and spring has been in full-effect in the valley for weeks. With the last of the lifts closing in Argentierre this week, and the snowline thousands of feet above town, only a few die-hards are even skiing at all in Cham. But these aren’t your regular die-hards and they’re putting on quite the show for late spring in a low-tide year. Despite the snow conditions, the boom in Chamonix gnar that we reported on in last December’s Return of the Extreme Skier hasn’t slowed down.

Sometime Powder correspondent Nathan Wallace has been in Cham for weeks now working with Seth Morrison and JP Auclair on the Oakley/Morrison film project, The Ordinary Skier. Over the last couple of weeks the O-show has been breaking new ground for both Seth and ski films, using the full array of modern cameras and tech to film some of the most cinematographically challenging possible scenarios.

Wallace, who’s been helping out with safety and getting a bit of time in front of the camera as well, mentions Morrison’s commitment to the mission—the guy could have been heli-skiing powder all winter, but the last two springs he’s spent weeks out of his element, opting for the ultimate crash course in high-consequence ski-mountaineering. For a skier who’s been so focused on AK-style skiing, it’s a big learning curve to move onto this kind of terrain, to learn ice-climbing, rope-work, and glacier protocol.

If the teaser images are any indicator, the movie will be be chock full of serious skiing over massive exposure. To ski the lines they’ve hit is setting the bar way up there; to attempt to film it is a huge step in complexity. When I spoke with Wallace, they had just skied the North Face of the Tour Ronde and the Col du Plan in firm conditions.

But the Seth Circus isn’t the only show in town. Andreas Fransson (see the Dec 2010 issue of Powder) flew in for a couple of days and did Andreas Fransson things—first skiing the Mallory route under the Aiguiile du MIdi solo, and then descending the horrow-show North Col of the Aiguille du Plan with Xavier de la Rue… with a broken Dynafit heel-fitting on one boot (shudder).

This shot by Mike Weyerhauser pretty much says it all. With Standard Films shooting from a heli and a random paraglider in the foreground, it could have been taken in the 80′s extreme skiing heyday. Fransson has apparently made a good recovery from the huge fall he took last season on the Aiguille Verte (write-up here by his partner Colin Haley—scroll down).

If you really want a taste of what’s been happening in Cham even in a low-tide winter, a nice Italian snowboarder named Davide has been kind enough to share his season with everyone via the superb photos on his blog at www.snowhow.it/blog.htm. Davide and his various partners, including Fransson, Glen Plake, and the world’s best monoskier, PF Brun, teed off on the Mont Blanc massif this winter, skiing an unprecedented number of big alpine lines in good style, often in full powder. If the skiing is done where you’re at, here’s some over-the-top entertainment to keep you going through summer:

#theordinaryskier on Twitter
oakley.com/theordinaryskier
andreasfransson.blogspot.com
chamonixinsider.com

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  • ccb

    yes. well. ok. can I rant? hiring a guide and a heli just for 3 turns on 45 degree followed by endless billygoating down the north face of aiguille du plan is kind of pointless and it is missing the point: (like a nice outing with friends) . Beside the fact that its so 80 (filming it that way) and that line has been skied in much better condition by the frenchs and the italians a few weeks before. And when you come down under the spotlights with something like that…yu have to be sure you did it the best way:

    the next day snowboard douds charlet and skier vivian bruchez completed the amazing ‘Traverse of the Chamonix Aiguilles’: north face of aiguille du plan to contamine on blaitiere . The pair roped up for only one 15-meter rappel on the Plan and one rappel on the Blatiere and were back at the Plan de l’Aiguille by 14:30. Truly remarkable. Now THAT is stylish and so progressive that it deserve to be mentioned here. i think.

    end of ranting.

  • Hans

    Yes, CCB, you can rant freely. I know I do after a beer or two.

    But if you read the article, you’ll note that I don’t suggest that any of the skiing mentioned above was ground-breaking, progressive, or a notable ski-mountaineering deed, nor do any of the skiers. Whether it’s a triple in the park or a first descent, I could care less about keeping score on who’s radder than whom.

    I was just following up on some of the people we covered last year in the magazine, and the continuing steep-skiing frenzy in Chamonix, which is pretty remarkable—until the last two seasons, nobody got on the Aiguille du Plan for fifteen years, good style or no.

    I figure that our readers, like you, are smart enough to make up their own minds about what’s cool without me telling them. Hopefully most of them recognize that whether it’s a contrived rappel-fest for the cameras or the most stylish and progressive descent, all the skiing in this article is totally over-the-top death-exposure bananas, and we’re all much better off skiing low-angle powder in the trees.

  • ccb

    ok. you are almost right. i just wanted to give a big up for douds charlet and vivien….that was so “cutting edge” and beautiful!….

  • lifted8

    Yo ccb:

    What are you – the fucking French style Police?

  • Hans

    Ha! Just realized who I’m talking to–what’s up Ced?
    Speaking of big ups (or big downs)–nice work on getting down the W. Face of Mont Blanc a season or two ago. Hope you’re having nice outings with friends and not rappelling down icy couloirs…

  • ccb

    shit! tu m’a démasqué.

    yes, french style police indeed . if you bring your heli media sponsors circus, do it right!
    this said that crappy watches brand and those ugly car got what they wanted. the buzz! and franssen is still my favorite soul-skier . i guess he needed cash for his alaskan trip!!!

  • lifted8

    Yo Ced. You’re right about two things:

    1. Franssen is a soul-skier and needs money for Alaska. I wish him well and hope to see him next winter.

    2. The N Face of the Aiguille du Plan to the Contamine is a pretty damned gorgeous linkup.

    ciao chow ch-ciao
    ms

  • http://monicaprelle.com monica

    thanks for the entertainment gentlemen. now, i will go ski the low angle trees and drink a beer sitting in a hot spring.

  • ccb

    precisely our problems here in cham: we dont have low angle trees nor hot springs. we are condemn to drink our beer whilst dangling like smoking monkeys over some ridiculous hanging melting iceberg, and we think its fun ;)

  • ccb

    2 friends talking about a sweet outing within the aiguille de chamonix and in French so you can learn french

    http://compagniedesguidesdechamonix.over-blog.com/article-ski-de-pente-raide-dans-les-aiguilles-de-chamonix-73500188.html

  • Hans

    “Condemned to drink our beer whilst dangling like smoking monkeys over some ridiculous hanging melting iceberg” would have made a much better title for this one. Maybe we need the CCB Report.

  • lifted8

    what’s the french word for ‘progessive’?

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