Fun on the Steeps

There was deep powder and glorious sunshine over the Christmas holidays. How nice for everyone who came. And came they did! It was very, very busy in town. Then everyone left and all the obvious off-piste was done! Skied! Tracked!

It’s been a month since our last snowfall. So finding fresh tracks is super rewarding. I’ve been guiding freeride skiing every day, finding nice stashes of powder low in the forests and deep in the shady couloirs. We’ve been going high into the mountains for great adventure too. With the avalanche risk so low, one can ski really steep terrain now.

I made another little video of Chris and I skiing a local couloir. Thanks for the footage of me Chris! And it has just snowed 15-30 cm in this part of the Alps, so we are back to a bit of fresh powder skiing!

Freeride Ski Tour above Verbier

You’ve got to love these Alpine ski areas in Switzerland, France and Italy for the super quick access to the wonderful Freeride Skiing terrain! Using the lifts and modern freeride skis, mounted with light ski touring bindings, one is quickly into the virgin powder.

Yesterday, we took the lift to Attelas, then toured on from there, quickly getting into some real nice powder for a couple of good runs. It’s still relatively thin, so one needs to be real careful not whack into the rocks hidden below. I put the 3-axis gimbal on again to get a little video of Gilles floating…

Early December Snow Conditions Update

We have good snow coverage now here in Verbier. At 1500 meters in town, we have 30 cm of compact snow. At 2000 meters we have 65cm of various layers. Above that, the wind and warm temperatures have filled couloirs and faces with snow. Because of these high temperatures, these layers of snow are bonding very quickly, which is unusual for this time of year. The avalanche risk should descend to level 2 out of 5 by tomorrow. The forecast is calling for bluebird weather for the next two days, and the two week forecast shows a depresion sitting over northern Europe, bringing a humid, westerly flow through to mid-December.

Verbier is now open all week, having opened for weekends a month ago. Here’s a 1 minute video showing what freeride conditions are like at present.

Electric Mountain Bike access Mountaineering

I’m completely enamored with my EMTB. I’ve been riding mountain bikes since bringing mine to Verbier with me in 1983, but these electric bikes have opened up a whole new world. It truly is like skiing off-piste in winter. The ride we do in a few hours now, used to take days. I’m getting a fantastic work out, even more than my non Ebike because I love the speed! I just want to go faster uphill because it’s such a new, and literally uplifting feeling.

Last week, we rode to the head of the Val de Bagnes to the Mauvoisin Dam. That’s usually it for the day’s activity. Ride back down and recover. Instead, we then did a via Ferrata while recharging the batteries, had a nice lunch, then rode to the head of the valley to the Chanrion Hut.

We climbed the lovely Ruinette the next morning. The climb starts with a beautiful, remote hike through fields of edelweiss, to some lovely steep moves on gneiss, up onto a tiny glacier, then 45 minutes of rope work along the ridge. We spent an hour on the summit, enjoying what is perhaps one of the nicest views in the Alps. Especially if you live in this Bagnes valley! The next morning, we rode back down the valley in a surreal ambience of drizzle, fog, and mist over the Lac de Mauvoisin. Being on a bike, rolling along, left me to enjoy the scenery as I’ve never done before. Though I was moving quicker, I was taking in more, somehow quite in the present, being more aware of the fleeting moments I was living. There were waterfalls everywhere, sometimes thundering underfoot, sometimes rolling through. We got back to Verbier and still had time for a tour of the Pierre Avoi on dirt and single tracks.

EMTB at its finest!