Touring in the Right Direction

Earlier this year Blake managed to escape the snowdrifts across London and get away to Chamonix and the Dolomites for a few weeks of ski touring and fresh tracks, so here’s his write-up/chance to show off. Photo credits go to Daniel Wildey; see more of his work here or on Facebook.

For the past few years April has been a time for reminiscing about the amazing skiing that’s been done in the last four months and wondering where to spend the next season.  This year’s been a bit different for me, but no less (well, maybe a bit less) fun, and still ripe for reminiscing.

Two weeks of skiing instead of four months requires a little more planning than I’m used to and getting the kit right is a pretty essential place to start.  The SportPursuit office is the place to talk gear though, with plenty of people ready to voice an opinion – even if they’ve never skied before – and plenty of people to compare and drool over new kit with…even if they’ve never skied before!

I found myself in Chamonix in February with a sweet new set-up (including some Sweet, actually):  K2 Hardsides mounted with Dynafit Radical FT’s and some awesome new Sweet Protection Supernaut Pants.

It was raining when I arrived, but my seasonnaire transfer driver assured me of snow in the next few days. I wasn’t convinced; I used to have the same patter.  Surprisingly, he was wrong; it hadn’t snowed for a week, but it had been cold and the next day brought incredible blue skies, which would prove to be set in for the week.

Having a friend working out of Argentiere as a guide is a bit of a bonus in the Chamonix valley, especially if it’s not snowed for a while; the fact that he had a week off and three months of beta proved to be a jackpot.  We skied fresh powder every day (apart from in the Vallee Blanche/Vallee Toute Direction) and certainly earned those turns!  The Hardsides were good on the uphill: a little heavy for my weak legs and a little wide when it got steep and icy (some scary ‘no fall’ kick-turns prompted the Harscheisen out of the bag!); but they really came into their own downhill, where they ploughed effortlessly through the powder and almost made the sunbaked crud at the bottom enjoyable.

One week to recover didn’t seem like enough after all of that, but a week later I was on my way to my favourite skiing playground: the Dolomites in Italy.  They delivered again with amazing weather, deserted pistes and a fresh dump of cold, light powder before our final day.  The Hardsides  proved their worth again – charging on cold, hard pistes; slicing through the rare patches of slush and making me feel like I was cheating in the powder even when it (finally) got tracked out.

I’m sure some of you have still got skiing planned for this year, but that’s about it for me, so reminiscing is all I’ve got; until summer does eventually show its face. Croquet anyone!?

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