Sunday, 22 January 2012

VT for NY

After spending 9 weeks riding last year as a fresher with a season pass, I was feeling pretty gutted to be back on punter duty after 2 years. However, I think this made me even more stoked to get back to my second home-mountain of Val Thorens in the Three Valleys ski area of the Alps.

I hopped on a flight on New Years Eve, hoping to get into resort just a few hours later.
The trip took longer than anticipated as a result of cancelled train. 

It was pretty tedious, what with 32kg draggin' ski bag. 

I got into town at 11:30pm and was greeted by a young man and a bottle of champagne, which was great.

There had been so much snow before I got to the Alps, and there was plenty falling whilst I was there. I didn't mind the down days seeing as I was pretty unfit. Everyone likes a lie-in and an afternoon tramp session.

The snow was excellent, and after a day and a half of bad viz dumping, we were itching to get high and bounce through some powder. As the sun was setting the day I took the pictures above, the snow began to ease up until suddenly the clouds had passed to leave a beautiful bright, white night. We wrapped up, skinned up and began our hike. About two hours later, we had climbed a little higher than the Folie on Plein Sud and decided that it was time for our descent. Initally we had planned to ski behind the piste at the back of town. However, we got a few clouds overhead which blocked out what little light the moon and stars were providing. So instead we skiied down piste which was wonderful, seeing as it hadn't been pisted and it looked fantastic. The thigh-high moon-lit powder was unforgettable, and I think there were a few face shots too.

During the day, we skiied some nice off-piste. There was abit of sliding, but nothing too serious. Towards the end of one bluebird, we made a little detour and boot-packed up a small ascent to find ourselves at the summit of a perfect line.

The light was perfect, and the face was looking really fun. The drop either side of our peak was pretty dramatic and got me pretty nervous, but I ended up putting that energy back into my ride.
I was pretty stoked to realise that I'd found what must have been a similar spot to where this postcard shot was taken. The postcard has been hanging in my room for the last two years.

It was a really nice afternoon. The rest of the week I spent doing the same kinds of thing. There was a great morning with all the guys from The Frog dropping some cliffs (which I might be able to get some footage of) as well as a morning of sticky, wet powder frustration. Another evening was spent searching for the Bella Coola crew who were setting up some urban features. After about an hour of carrying all the Photog equiptment, we eventaully found them trying to creating a kind of curb-side half-pipe, but in the end, everyone gave up and went to bed.

I was slightly disappointed to have not been able to ski much park during the 9 days I was in town for. After the SFR Freeskiing tour contest that had gone down in Snowpark Val Thorens in December, very little had been open. The last afternoons worth of riding saw my only oppertunity to do a bit of jumping, seeing as a couple of red/blue and green kickers had been open. Stupidly, I was still riding with a pair of tall, big-basket powder poles from that morning, which resulted in me getting a badman fat lip when I set down off a rotation. It wouldn't stop bleeding for ages, which was massively annoying although pretty funny. Spittin' blood at snowblades happened.

I'm really regretting not getting on with some decent filming or even photography on my trip. Despite having all the equiptment we would have needed to hand, we just forgot about everything but going skiing. After a few seasons of average to poor snow conditions, I couldn't wait to ski in some really nice snow and completely make the most of it.

I got the train back to Geneva Aeroport as the sun was rising over the lake at Annecy.

I'm looking forward to my next trip this season back to Val Tho with Leeds Snowriders, which will be happening over the Easter holidays.