Eurotrash 2010 – Update 2

Currently in Andermatt Switzerland after getting chased out of Chamonix by rain, and more rain in the forecast. But our second day skiing in Chamonix was plenty interesting…

Steve and I had a bit of a late start, and we were made even more late by missing the bus, after waiting another hour, we loaded on the Brevent tram with the intentions of doing some touring around the backside of the ski area. We toured to the top of a cool little peak with a Buddha statue on top and followed some tracks off the summit to a north-east facing bowl. The snow was deep, soft and steep. Steve cruised down first to photo me on a slightly steeper line. He waived for me to go, and I dropped in, there was a short straightline to a hard right turn over some rocks, then a nice, big, open, powder face, I made a hard first slash, then something didn’t look right. The snow was breaking downhill, my mind raced as I realized I was in an avalanche. Doing the only thing I could do, I punched it. I straightlined over the toe of the slide and sped down to a high point in the bottom of the valley. I turned around to see the plume of the avalanche stop just above me. My heart was racing, but the slide was really pretty small, only a 6″ deep windslab. Steve and I continued down to another lift and another skin track. By the time we reached the top of the 1000′ climb it was late in the day, we decided rather than explore, to just ski what we had climbed. This line was longer and steeper but a different aspect than the run before. Still nervous about the snow, I volunteered first to drop in first, since I had an Avalung, I made some tentative turns to test the snow, and it felt ok, I punched it through the narrow, steep part when the snow was moving again, only this time faster and I was mid-turn. I tried to straightline out of it, but I hooked a tip on the toe of the slide and fell. I bit as hard as I could on the Avalung as the snow pushed me downhill. I tried to get my edges to hold and finally they did. It took all of my strength, but I was able to self-arrest after being carried about 200′ feet. I skied out with my tail between my legs, and a little shaken. The next day we woke up to rain, and more rain in the forecast, and decided to head to Andermatt, where I am now, and after our first day of skiing, this place is super sweet!

Also be sure to check out my partner in crime’s website where there are more (and better) photos of the adventure! Check it out here .

Chamonix beauty

Steve Gilson looking small in Chamonix

Steve skiing with Mont Blanc in the background

Steve Gilson touring the Chamonix backcountry

Your's truly on a 'small' Chamonix Peak

This small Buddha greeted us at the summit

Steve Gilson far below, right before I was caught in the first slide of the day.

EuroTrash 2010 – Update One

I am currently sitting in a campground bathroom internetting, because it is the only place I get service. But after an adventurous 2 days of traveling that included; strip searches, angry customs, packed trains, and lugging 90 lbs of gear through the streets of Paris and a nice 3 mile walk in the snow and dark we finally made it to our campground in Chamonix. We just wrapped up our first day of skiing at Brevent and boy oh boy was it fun, especially since hardly anyone skis the good snow. Our campsite is super dope and right at the base of Mont Blanc, depending on conditions, and what not, we may try and ski the White Mountain if we get a good weather and stability window. But in the meantime we’re just enjoying the skiing.

Gare de Lyon in Paris, we walked around this place like a hundred times, and kept getting lost

Dijon mustard in the birthplace of mustard, Dijon France. (This is here to keep up with Lou Dawson's posts about Eurotrash Food)

Our mega-awesome campground

The Aiguille-du-Midi from Chamonix

This picture was taken from my sleeping bag in our tent, it's the Aiguille-du-Midi

The tram at Brevent, it takes you to some super easy access, big mountain lines, that no one else bothers to ski

Mont Blanc from Brevent, if we get a window we may try and give it a ski.

Steve Gilson drops in towards Chamonix, after a long day at Brevent.

Shameless self promotion

A couple months ago, on a whim, I decided to enter a picture in the Backcountry Magazine Photo Contest. A somehow I got second! Check out the article here.

Through the washing machine

I now know what it feels like to be that dirty shirt going through the washing machine…

Patrick had the money shot all lined up... Photo: Patrick Lawrence

I think this is the exact moment my ski came off... Photo: Patrick Lawrence

Going through the spin cycle... Photo: Patrick Lawrence

And finally the rinse cycle... Photo: Patrick Lawrence

Recovered my ski, then went through the dryer to get to the bottom... Photo: Patrick Lawrence

Prepping for Europe

I leave in a week for a long European excursion to do some skiing and traveling in the Alps. So I have been spending the majority of my time working, training and planning. In the process I found a really cool zone that, by Montana standards, is pretty easy access. So over the course of a few days I made 3 trips into the zone and summitted all 3 of the major peaks in the drainage, which resulted in nearly 30 miles and 20k of vert climbed and skied in 3 of 4 days. Not a bad way to start shaping up for the 20k vert a day in the Alps.

For skiing I’ve been trying to ski Bridger Bowl when I can, but without a pass it’s sometimes hard to get up there.

Ryan Walters sending it in Mundy's bowl at Bridger Bowl

Myself, airing out of Alabaster Chute in the Diagonals zone at Bridger Bowl

This tin was in my pocket during a pretty violent fall in Mundy's. Saved me from ending my season early, that's for sure.

As for touring and climbing, I’ve spent a lot of time on the easy approach and low angle of Mt Ellis, but I also found a drainage that I am going to keep secret for a little while. Skied off of 3 different summits over 4 days in this area.

Panorama of the Northern Absaroka mountains

The first of the three mountains climbed and skied during a summit binge in this drainage.

The fun thing about the 3 mountains in this zone is that they get progressively more difficult. The first day was on the easiest peak to get a feel for the snow and see what the terrain looked like.

Steve Geiger coming out of the inversion on the approach

Only one of many aesthetic and fun looking lines only a little more than 2 hours from the trailhead

Over the next two days I bagged both of these mountains

Shawtann Whitson climbs towards the summit of the first mountain climbed.

Rob Wudlick and Steve Geiger hike to our line

Shawtan Whitson enjoys the bottom half of 1200' of powder.

Steve Geiger on the approach for summit number 2

Steve Geiger nears the summit of peak number 2 after getting caught in an afternoon storm

Patrick Lawrence gears up at the trailhead in the wee hours of the morning for an attempt on the third peak.

Looking down my line from the top of the gnarliest peak in the zone

The last peak we climbed was the most difficult to climb and ski. I was up there with my good friend Patrick, who I ski and climb with frequently. After winning a round of ro-sham-bo for first tracks down what appeared to be one of the best runs of my life, Patrick staked out a cover worthy photo angle and waited for me to drop. I clicked into my skis on the pointy summit and looked down my line, one turn on a spine then straightline a little chute, lay a big slasher for the photo then race my slough out. I yelled to Patrick that I was dropping. I lightly skied onto the spine and made my first turn, this is when the mountain reached up and took one of my skis. I fell headfirst down a little chute, over some rocks then went through the washing machine as my slough pushed me down the hill. I fought my way out of the moving snow above another rock band, and with only one ski traversed to a “safe” spot. I yelled to Patrick I was ok, but I was missing a ski. Worried my ski was buried deep in slough at the bottom, I looked around and sure enough, my ski was poking straight-up still on the top of the mountain. Patrick recovered it and brought it to me. I gave him first tracks for the rest of the run because of my stupid fall.

Looking back up through the carnage after falling on my first turn. If you look at the very top of the mountain you can see my ski poking up.

Patrick Lawrence slashes after rescuing my ski.