The best ski runs from 2020. We started the season down under. New Zealand must be one of my alternative spiritual homes, a place I’ve visited several times and feel completely at home. For skiing it’s like my Super Bowl. You may make all the moves and just be out of luck with high winds making you question the sanity of opening the outside door. But make the finals and on ‘The Day’ NZ will show you her magic and allow you play your A game. With @davejsearle we added a 700 m line to the Caroline Face, skied the 2nd known descent of Bowie Couloir and did another lap on the East Face of Cook. Back in Chamonix just as the season got good lockdown came and we had a wait of 2 months confined to our homes before restarting the season with a run on the Midi North Face to start the high mountain season. Dreaming of skiing during lockdown 2, hopefully it will be over soon.
Spring 2020 in France was a strict 2 month lockdown due to the Coronavirus pandemic. I didn’t see a soul for 55 days except for the gendarmes policing the lockdown outside my house, freely handing out fines to the unfortunates for minor misdemeanours. As soon as lock down lifted I went back to my spiritual home in the mountains with my friends and skied the North Face of Aiguille du Midi. What joy to be back skiing after a 2 month hiatus. The post lock down season would be a short one for me with the lift only open at the weekends and a massive project on a scale that was hard to comprehend drawing all my energy. However we made some nice days, Tacul, Gervasutti Couloir, Contamine Negri, and Col de la Brenva to finish the season. Soft spring snow made for relaxed skiing and some cloud in the Brenva Cirque made everything feel very atmospheric, oh an a massive rimaye at the bottom made for an exciting exit onto the debris cone. The slog back up the Valley Blanche in desert heat wasn’t so fun but the bars were open that night for the first time and the cold beer never tasted so good.
France has had one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe behind Italy and Spain so after 8 weeks of not seeing a soul it was great to return to Aiguille du Midi with friends and make that big turn left down the North Face.
Max Ritter of Teton Gravity Research writes:
This weekend marked the re-opening of perhaps the most iconic ski lift in the world: the Aiguille du Midi’s Telepherique in Chamonix, France. Home to unquestionably the gnarliest lift-access terrain in the world, the Midi was closed for most of its prime spring season, leaving local skiers and riders frothing to get back up into the icy heights of the Mont Blanc Massif as soon as possible. Their prayers were answered this past weekend.
None other than steep skiing mastermind Tof Henry and a group of friends made it up there early and skied some classic lines that look like they’re actually still in really good shape for the end of May. Check out what Tof and local IFMGA guide Ross Hewitt got into on their first day back on skis after the COVID-19 lockdown.
Seems like ages since we got to ski endless 1200 m runs but finally its showing signs in select places of getting good in the Alps and today I sneaked a few runs in there before the storm arrived with my good buddy and Black Crows team mate Tom Grant. Here is a photo he took of me sneaking between the hanging glacier and the rock using the features to provide some slope definition as the light flatted out.