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Mountain girl blog: Backcountry adventures

January 30, 2012
sophie5

After weeks spent taking full advantage of my season pass and using the lifts of the Grand Massif to access the immense Alpine powder, last week signaled the start of this winter’s ski touring fun and games.

For those of you who don’t know what ski touring is, simply put it is walking up hills and mountains on your skis and then skiing down. Sound like a sweaty, tiring, blister inducing, rather usless way to spend a day? Perhaps for some but not for me.

I am a relative newcomer to the sport but it is by far and away my most favourite thing to do in the whole world. In fact, the only thing that could beat a day out touring would be two days out touring… or three… or a week… or… ok, you get the deal – I love it. Even more the Cadbury’s Crème Eggs, party food and Prosecco.

From where I live in Samoens in the Haute Savoie, a 15 minute drive from the house can deliver you to the car park of Les Allamands from where you can take a variety of routes up to the summit of the Tete de Bostan. This is a safe place to tour as the slope angle renders it unlikely to avalanche. It is also an accessible and short tour involving about two and a half hours of climbing on skis through a forest and then out into the open with fantastic views over the Aravis, Mont Blanc Massif and Portes du Soleil.

As is the way with ski touring, you often put in a hell of a lot of effort to get to the summit and the descent always passes by far too quickly and in a blink of an eye you’re back at the car, peeling off your skins and planning where to go for a much deserved petite biere.

I don’t really mind that it’s a lot of effort for sometimes very little reward because for me it is always an adventure – are you going to get powder snow, sun affected crust, or icy scratchy stinky stuff? That’s the thing with ski touring – unlike the manufactured and prescribed world of the resorts, you are right in the wilderness and good snow conditions do not come to order. Of course when there is powder there’s nothing better but for me it is the whole experience that makes it so worthwhile. As clichéd as it may sound, it truly is all about ‘earning your turns’.

I believe that ski touring is the essence of true adventure: a journey into the unknown where you really need to have your wits about you, be aware of your natural environment, be humble enough to know when to retreat yet be sufficiently brave to push your limits when it is required.

More than anything it is about working with what you’ve got right in front of you at that moment, accepting it and making the very best of it. In this age of immediacy and limitless choice, that is a very rare experience indeed.

Here is a little video of the day out I had with Java the dog last week. Like the snow at the bottom of the hill, it’s nothing special but it might give you a wee taster of what it’s all about. Please excuse the rapid ending to the whole thing but I’m afraid we then descended into such a thick mist that I couldn’t see up from down and actually ended up feeling very sick! We did get down safely and next time I promise to make something a little more exciting and professional but until then… enjoy this wee aperitif!!

This little exploration into the unknown was my first attempt using the awesome Go-Pro Hero HD Camera. This fantastic bit of kit is super easy to use, small yet robust, and records in superb quality. I’m looking forward to getting to grips more and more with it and putting together some fab little visual records of my adventures.

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About Sophie’s blog

Mountain Girl is passionate about the vertical wilderness, backcountry skiing, mountaineering, hiking, trail running, biking, and rock climbing. Oh and Prosecco - she really likes Prosecco.

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