Sunday, March 28, 2010

Spring- French Style

The last couple of weeks have come and gone in a blur. Heidi left Sunday after a great 9 day trip that included pow and movie stars. Rogish's trip was a whirlwind of tele madness and RICHARD! Now they've both left me to fend for myself until the Dudley Brothers arrive on Thursday.

Rogish showed up for his trip without a ski bag, but the smile on his face was proof he was stoked to be in France. After a quick trip in Bourge Ste Maurice for some essentials at the Super U, we drove up to meet Nico at L'Annexe for a cold beer.
The next day we did some skiing and prepared for the annual Memorial Race. The Memorial is an event to recognize local patrollers who have passed away. The first event is a toboggan race through a course with multiple "up's and down's" and "switcharoo's". Rogish and I ran the course in fine fashion and were handsomely rewarded for our efforts. It's just skiing, right? Check out the link below for some exciting action of the race with Jeff and I making a couple of appearances.

After our fair share of RICHARD, vin chauld, vin rouge, vin blanc, beer, jambon, fromage, and du pain we somehow made it back the La Hilton in the dark. Not without casualities though. We lost a bottle of blanc on the way.
The La Tel'm was our next all-inclusive event for the week. This day included an unlimited amount of runs on the giant air-bag in the park, vin, telecross, vin, tartifilette, and oh yeah. WINE! We met a lot of really nice folks and it couldn't have had a more beautiful day to tele.
The next few days we did some exciting sking off the Roche De Mio and the Friolin. I think Jeff was enjoying the skiing and very quickly realized how big La Plagne is and what kind of skiing possibilities she has to offer.
It was great having "Brogish" here for a few days but I wish it could have been longer. I haven't laughed that hard in a while and it was great to have another patroller around to see the work side of this experience. I think Rogish got a good taste of France. A taste not soon forgotten. THANKS JR!!!!
Heidi's last trip here was looking to be a repeat of the last one. A major snow storm hit Colorado which made the chances of an on time arrival pretty grim. Flying out of Eagle wasn't happening. Heidi made the right choice to hi-tail it to Denver. After a quick 4.5 hour drive to Denver she made her flight to Germany and was on time into Lyon on Saturday.
We hung out with Mikey and Gretchen for the first couple nights before they had to leave for Vail. Two weeks ago Mikey broke this Tibia and Fibula after hucking his meat off what is now referred to as "the hovey line". A rod, 12 screws, and 38 staples later Mikey was headed home to recover.

Heidi and I had a great time skiing with Mikey and Gretchen this season and are looking forward to hanging out in Vail this summer. Mikey showed me lines that I'd never have skied if we hadn't met. I hope he has a speedy recovery and I can't wait to ski with him again next year.
After a couple decompression days for Heidi we had good weather forecasted and decided to head to Chamonix. Good Choice. There aren't many words to describe a place like Chamonix.

"Big" comes to mind first. Then maybe "Breathless".
When your standing on top of the Aiguille du Midi breathing is the last thing on your mind. Just walking around and taking in where you are is hard enough. Every now and then you remember to suck in what oxygen there is.

We bought passes for the day and headed for the closest cafe of a shot of expresso. After deciding we'd take skis to the top and see what kind of options we had, Heidi spotted Glenn Plake. He was talking with another person so we didn't get a chance to say hi. Heidi was pretty star struck and thought it was a good sign for the day. Mikey Hovey's brother Brock met him on one of their trips to Chamonix and said Glenn was a super nice guy who didn't mind talking to other American's visiting France. Next time maybe.
I lost my pass between the first turnstile to get on the damn tram and the mid-station. Luckily the operator let me up to the top. When we reached the top I don't think Heidi and I spoke more than a few words to each other. We were both in complete awe and just gapped at everything there was to see.
We didn't have our trusty guide Mikey Hovey so skiing was going to have to be very straight forward and the visibility would have to be clear to pull this one off. We didn't get up the top until noon and the weather was moving in quickly making the vis quite low. We decided that it was a good idea to call it good and live for another trip. My magic pass reappeared just in time to get me back down the tram too. If you ever have the chance to see Chamonix, do not pass it up!

After Chamonix the weather turned to shit and the snow started to fall. For Heidi's last few days in France the weather was a bit white to say the least. But we had a great time skiing new snow and eating great food in our favorite spots.
Having Heidi be able to visit me three times this winter has been incredible. She brought me a sense of normalcy each trip and I can't even begin to explain how influential she was in making this a perfect winter. Ok...I love her.
Heidi's last day in France for the season was a good one to remember. The snow was falling pretty heavy down low and the Glacier had been closed for three days. At the end of the day Vins came over for a beer and said there was already 30+ cm's on the Glacier. It was still snowing hard and Sunday was going to be great.
When Heidi and I got up early to make sure she made her 10 am flight, Nico's cars was already buried under a good 15 cm's. This is at 1800 meters, the Glacier sits at 3000 meters. Needless to say the Glacier wasn't open Sunday either.
Sunday the guys working went in early to get started on the PIDA work that needed to be done. There was 60-70 cm's at the Glacier and we needed to get a head start because it was still snowing. They had some pretty big results with and without explosives. Cowboys. Is there a word for a French Cowboy?
Yesterday. Monday. We went in early for more PIDA work and another trip up the hill in the bird. Sunday had turned pretty warm and the wind also picked up a bit. So the wet French snow had settled quite a bit. We didn't have huge results. Mostly new snow on south facing aspects. I worked on a route with north facing aspects that had minimal results but great skiing. We skied a few runs before the masses came and it was fantastic. The sun also came out making it a perfect bluebird day.
Today. Tuesday. Not so much sun. 10cm's thought. The wind was ripping again and the Glacier was closed. About 1pm the snow started nuking again for the fourth day in a row. Tomorrow will be another PIDA day. Fo show!
I think the skiing for the Dudley's shoud be great. Right now the avy conditions and weather are dictating where we can ski, if at all. If and when we get a clear morning, it's on! STILL SNOWING!!!!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Vent Fort

After writing a pretty lengthy blog my sweet internet connection failed and lost the blog. Awesome! So here is the quick version.
My camera broke soon after my visitors left. Bummer. Trying to find a new one, but my internet won't stay on long enough to do anything. Hope to have updated pics up soon.
The weather has been snowy and windy. Mostly windy lately. Yesterday we had a big wind event and the snow turned pretty hard. More snow in the forecast and hopefully the wind will calm down which would help turn the snow back around.
Rogish is coming out this week and we're entered into a toboggan race for a memorial party. Supposedly there will be some beers and an ipod for entertainment. We'll keep you updated.
My nephews won their Sectional Championship on Saturday. If you know anything about Indiana basketball you know it's a big deal. Nice work fellas, keep it up!
All is good here and I'm looking forward to all the visitors arriving in the next few weeks.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

When the Circus comes to town.

Living in a foreign country you sometimes find that you're wanting some hometown companionship. Last week I was lucky enough to have some hometown friends come and enjoy the French Alps with me. All of them also made big sacrifices to make it here. Heidi was delayed almost 48 hours (what a shitshow), Mikey, Devit, and Charlie changed their flights to avoid another shitshow, then Rob and Kelly drove 10 hours from Italy to make it there. Devit was also traveling with a severely sprained ankle. I was sure glad they all made it for a beautiful weekend of sun and snow.
The weekend started in true French fashion with a couple great runs off the Glacier followed with wine, cheese and jambon. The skiing was better than we expected. The night before the wind had scoured the snow and I wasn't sure any of the goods were left. There was. After our first run I think everyone was happy with the powdery conditions.

After a few bottles of wine and hanging out with the patrollers on duty, we met up with Mikey Hovey and Gretchen. They had skied a very nice couloir a few runs before and thought it'd be a good spot to end the day. Boy were they right. The snow was amazing and the lines were even better. Everyone skied well and enjoyed the elevated heart rate. Once Mikey Hovey skied his line with a 30 foot cliff to exit his couloir we headed for dinner in Plagne Center. The first day was a huge success and everyone was excited to be in France. I still couldn't believe they were all here to enjoy this great experience with me.

The next couple of days the sun stayed out for us and the snow stayed soft. I was stoked that everyone got to push themselves a bit and enjoy some of the great skiing La Plagne has to offer. The picture below is of an area we skied a couple times over the weekend. I think the biggest reason we skied these lines was to get to the Borseliers. Which could have turned into Heidi's new favorite restaurant.

I had to put this picture of Mikey in the blog because it's a classic. The first night the little guy wouldn't stop snoring. So we put him in the kitchen/toilet/shower hallway so we could sleep. It didn't matter how he was sleeping, he just kept sawing logs. Big logs. This was his new bedroom for the week.

Devito was a real trooper for this trip. I would guess he was in pain the entire time he had his snowboard on. He tried and tried but the ankle wouldn't let him ski off piste. He made the absolute best out of the trip and I was stoked he had a good time. Nice work Devit!!

The stories from the week could fill a book, but those stories will forever stay with me and the friends I shared the good times with. I'm sure many of these stories will be told for years to come. Like drinking Genepi form a wooden statue. Take a close look above.
After everyone left I came home to empty flat and realized that only after one day of work I already missed everyone dearly. Can y'all come back please?

In a few weeks Jeff Rogish is coming out to visit for a while. I'm stoked! The snow keeps falling so the skiing should be great when he arrives. I'm not sure he's bringing skis, so we'll probably just do some shopping and sight seeing. There is a chance that if things go right I'll hopefully run into Kurt Kincel in Chamonix. Can't imagine that would be much fun. Mikey Hovey has said he still can't find the word to describe Chamonix.
Heidi is also coming back out for her third trip of the year a few days after Brogish. Her last trip seemed pretty short, but this trip will be for ten days and should be a blast. She's become familiar with La Plagne and has become comfortable with "French" way of skiing. I just hope all the good travel karma she built up on the last trip gets her here without any worries.
All is well. Thanks to everyone who came out for making my trip here more memorable. Words, or at least my words, can't explain how much it meant to me that you all came to France.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I can't wait until the Cubs win the World Series!!

My work week ended after a couple really fun work days. Saturday was an early morning wake up, a slammed cup of coffee and off to work kind of day. The snow had subsided for the morning and it was perfect working weather. There were some lingering clouds but the views were still incredible and the moon was up with us. This morning I was to meet Ben R. to do some different routes around the Verdon Nord chair. We worked on a couple different areas that were new to me and made our way back down for another lap up the chairlift.

This lap we had to use the CATEX system (cable transporteur d'explosif). I hadn't used this method of doing avalanche control and had fun learning a new system. We basically hung the charges from a cable that would move over the areas we wanted to control with explosives. We would adjust the fuses and rope lengths to the distances from the deck where we prepared the charges. Then run the charge out over the slopes. The furthest charge went 260 meters away with a 3 meter fuse.

The rest of the day was spent eating with my drinking pal Quick. We met Mateo (Chief), Olivier Chenu (Chief), and 6 other patrollers for lunch at the Borsillier. Normal. Towards the end of lunch a man walked to into the room with a dislocated elbow and a broken arm. He just happened to speak English so I got take him with "General" (who doesn't speak English) to Champagny. My day was over.

Mont Blanc from Roche de Mio 7am

Sunday started off with a sign of things to come later that day. My camera had fallen out of my pocket in my flat the night before and that morning it didn't work at all, broken. Sign #1 I'm a believer in the "things happen in 3's" theory. And today the theory was proven.
The work day went great though. The morning was super foggy and the helicopter wasn't able to fly us up to the Glacier to do the PIDA. We took the gondolas instead and it took us an hour to get up there. The Glacier gondola broke down and we sat for a long, long time. I felt sorry for Nico. He was hurting pretty bad from the night before and the rocking gondola cabin didn't help. I think most of us have been there and can imagine the misery.
Once at the top we did the regular routes around the Glacier and headed back to the top. The clouds had cleared around 2000 meters and the heli was coming to pick us up for another round of PIDA.
This pilot was no joke. He pretty much landed right on top of us, but in just the right spot to load and go. As we approached the mountain he flew only 30 feet off the deck and then straight up the mountain to our drop point. He dropped us off on the ridge line hovering of course with only one skag on the ground. We unloaded our gear. That's when he did a switch-180 and dove off the ridge line. That was awwwwesome!
The day turned out to be beautiful on the Glacier. Blue skies and powder. We did some good skiing and a few rescues. One of which needed a helicopter for evacuation.
Sometime during the day Mikey Hovey called and said there was an american football game on that night at midnight. And we could watch the game at his place on the HD widescreen. I was very excited and enjoyed my final run of the day to the locker room. This is when sign #2 came into play. I had broken a leash on my binding on my way down the hill. Bummed. First the camera, now the leash. I was starting to think about what else could go wrong and the "theory". I'm sure if you know me at all you know what went wrong. NUMERO TOIS! The game we watched lasted until 4 am our time and I was happy to sleep until noon the next day. That's all I have to say about that.
On a good note. Heidi arrives tomorrow to Lyon and we have a great week of fun ahead of us. Mikey, Devito and Charlie arrive friday afternoon, then Rob and Kelly Parish will be here early Saturday morning. Nothing like a good ol' Eagle County hoe down in France!!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Just a taste.

This one is for all the folks who are headed here next week, and to all those who are thinking about coming. We're sitting pretty in a big storm right now and it's not supposed to stop until Sunday. It was dumped all day long with minimal wind, so I think it's going to stack up nice for tomorrow. The Glacier closed today after noon and we're headed in early for more PIDA work. Heidi, Mikey, Devito, and Charlie are in for a good trip. I LOVE SNOW!!!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Waiting for snow can be hard to do.

The last week or so we've been enjoying gorgeous, bluebird days and great skiing. No new snow though. We decided to make some huge sacrifices for the snow gods at the local "establishments". This weekend the gods were happy with our sacrifices and granted us another foot of fresh pow.

Mikey Hovey is back from Vars, where he had been working for the last month on the Red Bull Lincatchers comp. His girlfriend Gretchen has also arrived for the winter. It's great to have some english speaking folks around to ski and socialize with.
On Saturday we (Mikey, Gretchen, and I) skied around Montchavin. The Glacier and Roche de Mio were both closed because of snow and high winds, so we stuck to the trees where we found great untracked pow. Mikey and Gretchen are great skiers and I think we all had a great time exploring some new areas around the resort. We all agreed that the lines we skied are worthy of putting into the regular rotation.
Saturday evening we skied down to Champagny for the Gorzderette. The Gorzderette is a weekend long ice climbing event in the upper village of Champagny. For the last seven years this event takes place on Champagny's 22 meter ice tower. The weekend is full of competitions, bands, and plenty of warm wine to keep the -15c chill away.

After watching the top 3 men and women in the world climb the tower we started back for Champagny proper for drinks, dinner, and the after party. We stopped at a friend's bar for some Richard and beers before dinner. I kind of lost track of time but I do know that dinner was over around midnight and we hadn't even been to the party yet.
We were being hosted by Quick all night. Champagny is Quick's home and I'm sure that there isn't anyone in town that doesn't know him. So I wasn't surprised when we just walked in the back door to the venue, crawled under the crowded bar, and walked out the floor to have a great time. Quick was working the bar and the beer flowed like the salmon of Capistrano.
Both bands were good and LOUD. Holy shit! They love their music turned up to 11 for sure. The reggae was rocking and the crowd was dancing and having a great time. We meet tons of great people and enjoyed the music until 3am.
Quick was now headed to the "Disco Tech" to hear his son play music. I don't think he was to0 surprised when Mikey, Gretchen and I said we were ready for some sleep. We thought we'd walk back to Quick's house, good thing we didn't. We would still be walking around trying to find the house. Quick graciously gave us a ride home and we called it a night as the snow kept falling.
I'm looking forward to the next couple of weeks. Next weekend the Colts play the Saints for the Super Bowl. I'm hoping to watch it live here in France. Even if it does start at midnight. Go COLTS! Heidi is just days away from making her second of three trips out here. Can't wait to see her. She'll be here a few days before Mikey, Devito, and Charlie arrive. And while those four are there from the U.S., Rob and Kelly Parish are coming from Italy to ski for the weekend. Good times!