First Turns

view down Chamonix valley from Tete du Balme I've been nervous about my first turns this year. Every one tells me they are always i...

view down Chamonix valley from Tete du Balme

I've been nervous about my first turns this year. Every one tells me they are always incredibly awkward. As a one-season skier, i thought i'd be in trouble; what if i couldn't turn... ever again! What if last season had all been a dream and i was destined to 6 months of hating my life on two planks  with so many project pipe dreams! With bigger skis coming and potentially a dry winter, it was only going to be worse!

Preseason chairlift

Billy Goat Steve and I planned to ski tour up la Balme to get a feeling for the base layer snow, knowledge of which will be really useful at the end of the season as the snow pack melts away.

Billy Goat Steve

Billy Goat Steve / Retro Steve / Stevey Monoski, is becoming a good friend here in Chamonix.  We've hiked, climbed, skied and drunk together. The guy is the ultimate snow chaser, having followed it around the world for most of his life and recently published a book about his adventures. A kind soul that has made his life around the things he loves. (More on Steve in a later post.)

Steve - technical issue #1

 So we toured up la Balme, there were very few people about and the snow looked dubious, windblown, unstable, thin in parts to the rocks below. Steve suffered several gear problems  (as seen above). Beside all that, it was heavenly. We slid one foot in front of the other, in a steady uphill rhythm in a cloud of euphoric bliss, stopping often to take in the sunshine and crystal clear views over into Switzerland. as we ascended,  the snow thickened, the traction improved we plowed on happy.

Steve- technical issue #2

 At the top we geared up and took in the views down the valley. Amusingly, there was a serious caravan of people trudging up in our wake. We'd had the place to ourselves on the way up and would be the only ones going down at the time. The poor sods after us would fight for lines in the ever heavier and thinner snow due to the sun. With all those uphill facing eyes, i definitely couldn't afford to fall over!

[look up, knees forward, plant pole far ahead, transfer weight to downhill ski, lift weight, slide tails to initiate then drop on to edges]

...carve. IT WORKED!

TomTom - Success!

The snow was really variable, windblown into pockets of soft velvet, between crests of rock hard lunar surface.

 [stay forward, keep it tidy, chest facing downhill, keep legs loose but keep skis tidy]

 pole plant to pole plant, i was finding my rhythm. 

I have to shave daily for work, this balaclava keeps me from depression

As it almost always is with skiing, it is all in your head. i was so nervous of failing today, and now sit back in the euphoric glow of adrenaline and pride. all things considered, i think i skied well over difficult terrain. 

Bring on the season!

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