Monday, April 23, 2012

Les Calanques, the Mediterranean and skiing the Glacier Rond again!!!

The weather still was not cooperating in Chamonix so Brian and I decided to head to the South of France for a couple days. We were debating, because we had our place in Chamonix, but decided if we were only 5 hours from the Mediterranean and the beautiful climbing mecca of Les Calanques! We rented a car and headed south. The drive was gorgeous as we left the alps and entered into a more desert environment of southern France. We stayed in Cassis a small town the size of Jackson, right on the sea! The town of Cassis was right next to Les Calanques and such a cool town. We climbed for 3 days, amazing climbing right over the ocean. I could definitely have spent a month there climbing! The water was a little cold, but I swam in the Meditteranean all 3 days, it was very hard to resist with the sea blue color so enticing. Since we had our place to stay in Chamonix and needed to take advantage of it so we left our little beach vacation and returned home to a morning break in the weather and we went for the Glacier Rond again! This time it had a little more snow and we skied some beautiful powder into the glacier and all the way to the bottom! We got 8500 feet of skiing in one run! Climbing on the beach, swimming in the Meditteranean to skiing an exposed glacier with a couloir! Life really does not get that much better than that! I feel so lucky!!!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Glacier Rond, Valle Blanche and a Ice cave!

The weather has been tough in Chamonix, but finally on Tuesday the sun came back! We knew everyone would be in a frenzy, because it was the first time that we had seen the sun in 8 days! It was Brendan and Travers last day in Chamonix, so we wanted to make it a good day. We loaded the Agui Di Midi at around 10 am hoping to be a little behind the crowds. Our plan was to try and ski the Cosmique Couloir or the Glacier Rond into the Exit couloir. As we came out of the clouds at the mid station we knew it was a possibility. It was bluebird and a beautiful powder day! We walked the snow/ice stairs down off the Agui and skied down to the Cosmique there were a few parties still rapping, it looked like a good adventure, but not as much skiing. We decided to ski the Rond, because it involved no rappeling and we could get more bang for our buck! as we traversed in to the top of the glacier it was a perfect 500 feet of 45 to 50 degree slope with powder on ice above serious exposure. Pretty exciting, this was definitely a no fall zone! As I made my first turn I wished I had sharpened my skis!!! The snow was awesome, but you were not totally sure when you were going to hit ice. We traversed left toward the exit couloir and as I looked down I could not belive my eyes, a 40 to 45 degree couloir that looked like it went on for forever! We had one more crux and that was getting into the couloir it was again an icy ramp, but not above as much exposure besides going down the entire couloir! Yikes! We all made it through the crux nice and easy and were greeted by pure bliss of powder for about 1500 feet. Then a nice traverse with the glacier and Mont Blanc to our left! We hopped back on the mid station tram and did a great run on the Valle Blanche to the ice cave and then to the Mer de Glace train right back to our aparment! What an amazing day, I just wish the weather would hold so I could have more amazing adventures!! Keeping my fingers crossed!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Powder skiing in Chamonix!

After Kirkwood it was so nice to finally arrive at my new home for a couple of weeks! I had been living out of my bag and flying back and forth between Europe, competing and ski touring! Prett amazing life, but can get exhausting! What a whirlwind! As soon as I arrived in Chamonix it started to snow! I do not mind skiing powder, but I was ready to come back here and get into the high mountains. The skiing has been great, but we have not seen the mountains or where we are skiing for the last couple days. The weather is supposed to improve by Tuesday which is good news! It has given me a chance to catch up on work and life and in all reality I probably needed the rest! Chamonix is still a beautiful town to explore and there are 3 ski resorts within a short bus ride or walking distance! We rented a house with 6 of us so we are all becoming good friends! Ha ha! Hopefully I will have more adventures to write about soon! Here are some photos of the boys in the sauna at our house, the town of Chamonix and the beautiful peaks from the top of The Grand Montets!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Kirkwood and the McConkey Cup!!

This has been quite the season starting wth 3 weeks in South America for 2 competitions in August and September. Last seasin I had a tough year breaking my ribs, bringing a knee to my face and then breaking my leg in March. Competing in South America I still was in a lot of pain in my leg, so I started doubting the season. Going into this season I told myself I was going to try and win the world tour one more time and if I won that would be awesome, if not it was okay to! After winning the first stop on the Freeskiing Tour I thought maybe this could be my year! I placed 3rd at the second stop just pulling me slightly into the lead for the overall ahead of Angel Collinson. The next stop was not until January, so I had some time to rehab my leg more and continue my training at Mountain Athlete. The third stop was Revelstoke, BC and I skied one of the most amazing runs of my career in the finals, but was only able to place 2 nd behind Angel. I still felt good about the tour because we still had 3 more stops! As the winter went on one stop proceded to get cancelled, another moved to April due to lack of snow. I was starting to worry about not having a chance at the tour. As Snowbird approached, I felt a ton of pressure to do well and I also wanted a shot to compete in Verbier. After the Snowbird event the current top male and female competitior would compete in Verbier. Again in snowbird I threw down as much as I could in the finals, which won me the run but was only good enough for another second! This result along with Angels third made us tied evenly for the overall! This also meant I was going to compete in Verbier! My boyfriend and I had been planning for a year to spend the month of April in La Grave and Chamonix, France to climb and ski some couloirs. The only problem was that Kirkwood had been moved to the first weekend in April. So it was a tough decision, but with help of my sponsors Mountain athlete and Fish Creek Excavation I was going to be able to fly from Europe to Kirkwood and then back to Europe to join my team back in Chamonix!

Leaving Europe was tough I had just had an amazing 2 weeks competing and skiing, it was so hard to leave. I also felt a ton of pressure to win the world tour and it was a lot of travelling and expenses to try and do so. I was excited to go though and could not believe Angel and I were in a tie for the overall. I flew in and had to compete the following day , which was hard because I was incredibly jet lagged, nervous and wanted to do well! After the first day I was .03 behind Angel and sitting in 4 th place by 3 points. I was not happy with the way I skied and knew I needed to find the fire for one more run. Inspecting the finals venue I felt confident with my line, it had some good feautures with a lot speed coming into some inconsistent snow. My nerves were all over at the start of my finals run, I just wanted to be at the bottom!!!! As I left the start gate, I felt my energy and my fire come back! I knew I could do this! Entering my top air, I came out with some speed had to slow it down for my next feauture. My third air was the one that worried me, because it involved an air into straightlining a long chute into a pow field. As I took off I just put my hands forward and held on realizing this is why I loved racing downhill! I was able to hold onto it and coming into the finish I could not have been happier!! Now I just had to wait for 3 more girls to come down, Angel skiing right after me. She skied awesome, but got a little lost on her line costing her some points. After her score was released I was told I had won the world tour, I could not believe it! There were still 2 more ladies to ski the run. Earlier that day I could not help thinking how amaizng it would be to win the event and the overall title! I had to push that out of my mind, because that would be to hard and I did not want to get my hopes up! The next girl came down and I as I kept my fingers crossed I pulled into second, then the as the last girl came I waited for the score and as soon as it was released I knew I had won!! I could not believe it! What an amazing day! It seemed so surreal , I was so stoked to be with my freeskiing family and that my mom was there to see me on one of the happiest days of my skiing career! Winning the McConkey cup is such and honor and I want to continue to ski for those we have lost in this amazing sport! I am so lucky to have met and spent times with all those that have fallen. I know Jim Jack was watching and I carried his encouraging words with me through my skiing that day! Also I am sure Ryan was there cheering us all on as well with a big smile on his face! The two people that loved skiing more than anyone I have ever met along with Shane McConkey! These people have inspired me so much in different ways and I will never forget how lucky I am to be part of this sport. Now I am on my way back to Chamonix to hopefully do some fun skiing!!! Thanks to Arcteryx, Head, Scott, Hestra, Gu, Jackson Hole Mountain resort, Icebreaker and Mountain Athlete for making this a possibility!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

La Grave!!!!

Pulling into La Grave I felt like I had come home! This is my third trip to La Grave and I never have enough time to spend there. This time I arrived with 5 other people and we rented a house in the Terrases, which is a small village above La Grave located steep on the mountain side. Walking to the little stone home for the week we walked through chickens and barns full of sheep and goats. Our place had an amazing view of the mountains of La Grave and the Le Meije! It could not have been more perfect. It had not snowed for a couple weeks in La Grave so we decided to do more touring than skiing on the mountain. The first day we toured up the Col De Lauteret with only touring for an hour we dropped through thhe coal and had a 2500 foot run down. The second day we drove a little further past to another valley and toured about 3500 feet up and skied a beautiful face starting with a short couloir. From the top of this peak the views were unbelieveable and all of us spotted a beautiful perfect couloir in the distance. We figured that it would take more than a days trip from where we were to get there. When we arrived back at the car we started talking with a man and he told us that the couloir was just another valley over and it was a half day mission! All 6 of us had a new objective and could not wait to check out the couloir. I only had one more day left in La Grave, I really wanted to have a chance at the coulor Devin. We headed out around 8 am and were hiking toward the couloir Devin , along a beautiful creek in the woods. We skinned to the bottom of the couloir and started to climb upward. The couloir was not incredibly steep, but a perfect pitch of about 40 to 45 degrees. It was one of the longest couloirs I have ever booted up and skied about 2000 feet. It took us about 1 hour 45 minutes to reach the top from where the couloir started. As we skied down we were greeted with surprisingly good conditions with a little knee deep powder!! We all skied for Doug Coombs( anniversary of his passing in La Grave) this day , it being in his old stomping grounds and him being one of the most influential skiers in the world! I also skied for his wife Emily, who has inspired me as well and become a good friend. Skiing back down to valley and arriving at the little village in just about 6 hours since we had left! The village restaurant had some of the best crepes and omlettes I have ever had and they tasted that much better after our 5,000 foot climb and ski!! What an amazing trip to La Grave it was so hard to leave everyone and the town.
Now I am in route to Kirkwood, Ca for the last stop on the Freeskiing World Tour where I am currently tied with Angel Collinson for the overall lead. I then will head back to Chamonix to ski for the rest of the month. Going to Kirkwood mid trip was not part of the original plan, but due to lack of snow the stop was pushed back. It was a tough decision, but with a little help from Rob at Mountain Athlete and Rick Hunt I am able to make the trek back to the U.S. to try and win the world championship!!

Some photos from Europe!!!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Dufourspitz Peak Switzerland!

My trip to Europe so far has been amazing! Expensive, but well worth the experiences I have had! After Verbier I ventured to Saas Fe, Switzerland to meet my friends Don and Sarah to do a hut ski traverse to Zermatt. I had no idea what to expect and was grateful for the invite. The night I arrived in Saas Fe I was struck with food poisoning and was not able to join them on the first ski adventure. I ended up meeting them later in the afternoon at the Brittania hut not far from the summit of Saas Fe Ski area. The hut system here is pretty amazing, very accessible and the only thing you needed to carry is the essentials. We stayed the first night at the Brittania Hut and then planned to traverse the next morning to the Monet Rosa hut near Zermatt. We awoke at 6 am for breakfast the next morning and I was feeling a little better, but very fatigued. We traversed up and down through the Alps for 6 hours and I was so happy when the Matterhorn came into sight and I gained a second wind to make it to the hut!! As we arrived at the hut I had know idea what to expect, it was very modern and sat surrounded by glaciers and tall peaks. Everything in the hut was run my solar panels and the design of the windows were so they would catch sun at certain times of the day. The views from the dinner table were unbelieveable, I could not believe that I was actually here! The next day we decided to go for the highest peak in Switzerland the Dufourspitze which is about 15,203 ft. I have never been above 14,000 so I was stoked to get up there! We skinned up through glaciers and over crevasses as the sun rose through the mountains I could not believe how lucky I was to be here. As we approached the saddle I could definitely feel the altitude, but just kept moving slow and steady. At the saddle we exchanged in our skis for an ice axe and crampons and decided to go for the left peak first ( this one was about 14,700) it involved walking along a very exposed ledge that made the border between Italy and Switzerland. The walking was pretty easy, but falling was not an option. After this little trek we made our way back to Dufourspitze proper. This was a lot steeper and involved using crampns well and climbing a rope! This also had a lot of traversing above exposure, so I was greatful when I reached the summit.