VIDEO: BD athlete Colin Haley films POV video while skiing on Aiguille du Midi above Chamonix, France
Black Diamond athlete Colin Haley is currently in Chamonix, France and sent us the following update and POV video from a wild day of ski mountaineering. It's definitely a cool glimpse for the uninitiated into the type of amazing terrain you can access from a lift in France!
In North America the world of lift-served skiing is almost totally separate from the world of ski mountaineering. Lifts are built on relatively tame mountains, and in the few cases that lifts access extreme terrain it is often off-limits. Not so in France! - lifts are built up very steep, high mountains, lift-served glacier skiing is very standard, nothing is off limits, and anything goes (climbing, ski extreme, speed-flying, ski-BASE, paragliding, etc...). The epitome is the Aiguille du Midi Telepherique, in Chamonix Mont-Blanc, France, which takes you straight from the streets of town 2,800 meters up to the craggy summit of the Aiguille du Midi. In North American terms, it's the equivalent of a tram that would take you straight to the summit of Mt. Combatant (in B.C.'s Waddington Range) in the middle of winter.
[The west face of the Aiguille du Midi. The green line shows the Glacier Ronde to the West Couloir, and the red line shows the Passerelle (aka Couloir Cunningham) to the Heart of the Ronde (aka Les Salopards). Out of view below the photo is the Glacier des Bossons, which you can ski down to reach the entrance of the Mont-Blanc tunnel, and then hitchhike back to the base of the Aiguille du Midi Telepherique. (Note that this is not a current photo, and doesn't accurately show the current snow conditions.)]
I'm on a 5-week trip to Chamonix, and although I plan to do some climbing I have been almost exclusively skiing so far, as we've received lots of fresh snow. This is a video I shot of a day skiing off the Midi with Norwegian friend, Tormod Granheim. These runs are nothing extreme (well, at least not by Chamonix standards!), but hopefully will give a good sense of what it can mean to go lift-served skiing in France! Tormod has skied Everest, Cho Oyu and Aconcagua, among many other big mountains, and thus is no stranger to skiing steep terrain. Considering that I missed almost all of the ski season in the Patagonian summer, I'm definitely having to work hard to try to keep up with my freeride friends here in Cham!