Saturday, February 27, 2010

Freeride World Tour Stop # 3 Tram Face (hopefully)

Squaw received 16 inches of heavy wet snow overnight last night, which made for some interesting but fun skiing conditions for today. I skied and then scoped Tram Face, I found a line that I am really excited about and just need to take into consideration that the conditions are not ideal. I feel that I have never skied a competition where the conditions are ideal so I feel that I am ready. At the meeting tonight they told us that we would not be skiing tram face tomorrow. This raised some concerns among the athletes. The tour has been trying to get a competition off on Tram Face for 3 years and everyone is psyched to try and get it done. I was bummed, I was really excited to ski the tram face and I knew this is probably the only chance that I will get. Jeremy Jones spoke up being a local and one of the best snowboarders in the world, he said this is as good as the face will get and why not ski it. Cody Townsend another local big mountain skier also felt the same. I was really glad that people were speaking up and the organizers were listening to the athletes. There is no final consensus that we will ski Tram Face, but it is looking pretty positive. I am planning on skiing my line tomorrow, but will be ready for whatever they throw at us. I just really would be excited to ski strong here and be able to build up some confidence with my skiing. My line that I am thinking about is pictured here and is more technical and not as many big airs. I am stoked to be able to ski such an awesome venue!!! Hope it happens.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Sliver

I was only back in Jackson for a week, but I was really excited to get up into Grand Teton Park and do some skiing. I had one full day off, so I decided to go ski the Sliver, which is a really narrow couloir on Nez Perce. I had attempted to ski it last year, but the snow was so warm that we were only able to get to the top of Shadow Peak. I have been on a roll with skiing couloirs especially after Europe, so I could not wait to ski another one. It took us about 3 hours to get to the top of Shadow and then we had to drop down so we could boot up the Sliver. Booting up the sliver was a little challenging because the snow had all funneled through and it was like swimming up a 50 degree slope. We finally made it to the top after about an hour of boot packing. I was so excited to ski another couloir! It definitely compared to the couloirs in Europe just a little shorter but it was definitely 800 feet of pure steep, so that was awesome. We then skied the rest of the way down getting some awesome light fluffy face shots! I always feel so awesome after spending a day in the Tetons and realize how lucky I am to live in such an amazing place! I now am getting ready for the Freeride World Tour Stop # 3 in Squaw Valley, Ca. I hope the snow stays good there so we can ski the Tram Face....

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Fieberbrunn, Austria: Freeride World Tour Stop # 2

I woke up this morning feeling very confident about my line, but knew it was a little risky because it was a steep chute that funneled into a mandatory cliff area. It was a beautiful clear day and when we unloaded the gondola we had a great view of the entire face. I scoped my line once more and felt confident about where I was going, the venue was incredibly rocky, but there were ways around all the rocks. I headed up the to the bottom of the boot pack that took us to the top of the venue, it was about a 45 minute hike. It was a good time for me to calm my nerves, I was running 19th so I knew I had some time. I stood at the top and could see down on most of the venue and watched most of the girls ski trying not to become to nervous. I really wanted to do well in this competition, but I also wanted to push my skiing ability. I headed out of the start gate skiing pow into the top of my line. I then dropped strait fall line toward my chute and knew exactly where I was! I skied fast and fluid, dodging rocks the entire way down, I could not believe how many sharks were hiding under the surface. I was the first person to ski into my area and as I entered the tight chute the slough started to run. I looked down and I felt that I was in a river getting ready to go off a waterfall, the snow was running fast under me over rocks. I knew I just needed to point it, but with as many rocks as there were it was very intimidating. I finally did point it, but there were more rocks than I expected and I hooked a rock on my takeoff which sent me landing hard on my right side. I am still learning a lot about skiing with slough. I still had some of the venue to ski and my goggles were caked with snow and as I went into my next feature the helicopter was right above me stirring up so much snow that I could not even see my takeoff. I guess it was pretty cool to have a heli above my head!!! ha ha. I landed that air luckily and skied into the finish very disappointed, but really excited that I had skied a really neat line. I looked back up and my tracks were set out by themselves and that was my line. I was the only woman to ski that line, which was awesome. I have had a rough start to my year, but it has all been a great learning experience with my first time visual inspecting and being a rookie on a new tour. I am glad that I am challenging myself more and making myself a better skier. I am very excited to go home and ski Jackson!! I have missed my home. PICTURED HERE: Full view of where I skied and a close up view of the Chute that turned all to rocks!!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

La Grave!!!

The girls and I decided to head to La Grave for a couple days after Chamonix. We had a hook-up from a friend with a couple of the guides there Keith and Joe. These guys soon became our new favorite people, because they took us to ski some of the coolest terrain and couloirs I have ever skied. I knew little of La Grave except it was a mecca for ski mountaineering and steep long couloirs. Also I knew that Doug Coombs had called this place home, so I knew it had to be pretty amazing! Driving to La Grave in a snow storm was pretty crazy, we knew we were in the mountains, but we could barely see two feet in front of us! As we arrived in La Grave all we could see was the town and I already wanted to move there. It is a very quaint little village in the middle of the mountains with cute little bakeries, restaurants and bars. Keith lended us is home, which turned into 4 nights which was very nice of him. Since it had been dumping we knew that the next day was going to be a good ski day! We got up early so we could make first gondola car. La grave has one lift to the top that has a mid station, but climbs 7,000 vertical feet to the top. This makes for an amazingly long run, the main run has awesome views of Le Meije and huge glaciers. There is five gondola cars that are connected and trek up the mountain. In the morning we were in line with the hard core locals, it was like a powder frenzy in Jackson, but with a bunch of hard core frenchmen. (not a lot of women in La grave.) We were three American women getting into line and we sure got some looks, it was pretty funny. People were in harnesses and had their climbing gear ready to go, this made for an intimidating ski line. It was then a race to make the first five gondola cars, which we did. It was still a little socked in so it was hard to see where we were going, all I knew is we were surrounded by some big mountains. Keith and Joe took us to our first couloir of La grave called Le Banan. We were able to get first tracks, which brought huge smiles to all of our faces. I have always been obsessed with couloirs so today my dreams were coming true. It started to clear a bit and you could see the massiveness of the mountains around us. The rest of the day were were greeted by powder and endless coloirs one that had an awesome rappel in the middle. We skied five pretty aesthetic couloirs that day! Our guides who became our friends were amazing and we had a great time and even got some pretty good photos.
Joe let Jess and I tag along the last day we were there, which was a beautiful bluebird day and we were able to see the mountains. We skied two long about 4,000 vertical foot couloirs to the road, got to rappel switch (backwards) with our skis on, and got some pretty amazing faceshots skiing to the couloirs. Thanks Joe and Keith for making are trip to La grave one we will never forget. I definitely can not wait to go back. I really want to improve my ski mountaineering skills and learn more about glacial travel. What a beautiful place!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Aguiille Du Midi (Vallee Blanche)

Yesterday Jess, Angela and I headed up the Agui. Talk about one of the most exposed and beautiful places. It was a clear day and the views of Mont Blonc and the Chamonix valley were amazing. We got off the top tram and walked around the entire viewing area looking into Italy and possibly many other countries. Pretty amazing! We then put our skis on our packs and started the exposed walk down the rope to where we could put our skis on. It was probably about 15 below with the wind and it made the climb down even that more crazy. We then out our skis on and headed down the Valle Blanche which is the main place to ski down from the top of the Agui. The ski routes from there are endless and I would be really excited to go explore the ski mountaineering possibilities someday. We skied around glaciers and through ice, with amazing views of all the mountains. The top of the Agui is a 9,000 vertical foot climb from the valley floor, so we had a very long run down. We then skied to these really amazing ice caves that we were able to walk through. Ice and ski boots do not mix, but it made it exciting. We then climbed about 1000 steps and then took the train back to the valley floor! what a great day.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Chamonix Freeride World Tour Stop # 1

The face that we were given to compete on received about two feet of snow the day before our competition. Normally this would be an amazing thing to have happen before a competition. The only problem was that the half of the venue was south facing which made for icy conditions under the snow. I woke up very nervous for my first Freeride World Tour event. It was a little different scene then the Freeskiing World Tour and I was definitely the rookie, a woman and an American. I watched the first 13 guys go and they were being sluffed all over the venue because of the steepness and the snows ability to bond to the icy under layer. I watched the whole face that I was going to ski slide away to the icy layer underneath. I also watched some of the best guy skiers in the world crashing on small airs. It was definitely hard for me to keep to my game plan about skiing the south side, but I wanted to ski the steep face and I had been looking at it for five days! The other side was bottomless powder, but I could not seem to find anything that really interested me. Jess found something she liked over there and at the last minute changed her line to that area (a good cliff as well.) and had a blast and in the end it payed off for her because she won the comp! (which is so awesome totally happy for her.)
I headed up to the start, which was a very steep boot pack with the most amazing views in the world. I left the starting gate so excited to ski one of the more cooler lines I have skied in competition. I came on the the 50 degree face and sure enough it sluffed on me a little at the top of the face as I was standing on very icy snow. I was able to hold onto myself as heavy snow tried to knock me off my feet. (would not have been a good place to fall, so exposed.) I skied into my first air off the ramp with good direction as my skis left the ground. I landed very hard in the debris that had setup throughout the day. I accelerated into the soft snow and it was like hitting a cement wall, I tumbled got up and continued to ski. As I entered into my bottom air once again the snow broke lose as I took off and I landed flat and sat down for a moment as my snow fell on top of me and then skied out. Overall not a great showing, but was excited about my line and glad I did not ski something easy. I just could not believe how much snow I played in on my way down! Pretty bummed, but not a lot I can do I am in Chamonix and had an amazing experience. Hopefully better luck in Austria.