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january 2012 articles

31st january 2012

CJ and I left for Chamonix on 17th January for 9 days on the snow - long overdue...

The view over Chamonix from Brevent cable car stationWe checked out Brevent on our first day, finding our legs on the hardpacked crusty snow.

In the afternoon we got speaking to two American guys in Brevent cable car, and arranged to hook up on the next day.

And so we met Michael and Mark! Over from The Hamptons in Long Island, New York - they were on a short visit to check out Chamonix, and snowboarding european-style.

CJ & Michael in the Bochard bubble at Les Grandes MontetsThe snow started on day two, when we were at Flegere - and with it came poor visibility as the cloud descended...

The powder came thick and fast, and we spent our hours carving through deep snow and dropping cliffs into the snow drifts beneath.


CJ tree riding at Les Grandes Montets Michael rides at Les Grandes Montets Mission on..!

Sometimes you had virtually no visibility...Sometimes the vis was so bad you had to "board with the force", feeling your way over the snow rather than using your eyes!

The snow coninued to absolutely dump down, and everyone in Chamonix was looking forward to deep powder days!

We deicded that Grandes Montets in Argentiere would be the best candidate for off-piste, and found powder so deep that even the trusty Skate Banana kept submarining - I had to fight my way back up three times, and eventually walk out...

It was genuinely frightening how insubstantial the deep snow was, rendering all efforts virtually futile, and I can see how people could die very quickly through exhaustion in caught out - and I was only about 150m from the piste...

I have to say that Michael is extremely fit, and is the only person of his age I have met so far that boards that fast. To say quick would be an understatement!

We covered the mountain as best we could given the patchy lift operation, and had a great day, Michael experiencing some of the range of conditions that one could expect to meet here

Flegere was better in poor light conditions as you could snowboard through the trees, using them as points of reference to try and focus on the snow within, so we spent the next few days there.


CJ and the spiral staircase Riding out after dropping the ridge on the right... CJ blasting through the powder between the trees

We spent quite some time with them, but eventually Michael and Mark had to leave - it was great to meet them and snowboard with them for a few day, I hope they enjoyed Chamonix and wish them well :)

CJ & Gary at the bottom of BreventBack at Flegere, we shared a chairlift and got talking to a scotsman called "Gary" - who we were to spend the next four days with.

Between fast-moving bands of pea-soup cloud, we found vast tracts of virtually untouched powder, culminating in a cat-track with big powder faces off the side...

Dom at the bottom of the 60degree face, FlegereGary and I kept returning to a 60-degree face, which started relatively flat but rolled off into the nothingness - scary ;)

The snow was deep enough to cushion you from things underneath, but you still had to be careful of barely submerged rocks...


Gary cuts through the powder at Flegere About to drop a ridge... *****

Gary invited CJ and I around for a hottub - facing out towards Mt.Blanc with a beer in hand,after a hard days riding I wondered why can't life be like that every day..?!

Gary was a good rider, who seemed to meet lots of people, and had many tales to tell - about people famous and otherwise! Some crackers to be sure... ;)

Spending most of our time at Flegere, we explored different areas to those we rode with Michael - making the most of each days fresh powder, and finding untouched stashes to float through...

CJ and Gary riding down the hidden valley, FlegereI remembered a hidden valley off one of the runs, and it proved to contain a stash of unridden powder that we rode repeatedly.

But the snow stopped, and our last day came round all too quick - so we bade our farewells to Gary, and started the long trip home...

We got back to the UK bruides and battered, but vowing to get back out there as soon as possible...

Back at home, the weather has conspired to snow across the UK, so we'll see what opportunities it brings...