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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    Yet Another Cham TR

    So we spend 10 days in Chamonix last April. Let me state right off the bat that this isn't a rad TR -- nothing like the peds or Betty Dee awesomeness. But I'm laid up right now after having 12 PRP injections in each knee and thought I would share some photos.

    The bottom line is we had a great trip: conditions were truly all time, nobody got hurt/dead, and we made some new friends. But a wide range of experience levels, egos, risk tolerances, fitness/injury levels, and motivation levels made group dynamics a challenge. That, combined with the typical stuff like jet lag, having to put out work fires/work from home, and trying to figure out the weather and snow conditions to find something cool to ski, my wife (jesski) and I made conservative choices and mostly just enjoyed the scenery, access, food, and all Cham has to offer. Classic Type I fun. There are so many beautiful places to ski in the world, I don't know when we'll be back but I know that we will.

    Frankly, living in Baltimore for the past half decade slogging away at a PhD (robotics, for anyone interested), has made it tough for me to show up for a trip and be able to push my skiing level (always my goal) while still staying safe, especially since my skiing ability outpaces my mountain experience and fitness. Rationally, I understand this -- heck, I don't even qualify for "weekend warrior" status anymore. I had a blast, and I did gain more experience moving in the mountains. But it's not easy to be satisfied knowing that conditions were about as good as they get but somehow I still didn't manage to ski anything that challenged me. Oh well, maybe one of these trips I'll figure out how to ride the line of safety/comfort and pushing my limits. Or somehow learn how to be happy not pushing my limits and just having fun. [Side note: this is an internal thing and has nothing to do with what other people are skiing. I am fully aware that I am not and will never be rad by Cham standards]

    tl;dr: went to Chamonix, skied mellow terrain, had fun, want to go back, here are some photos.

    We arrived to near perfect conditions. We skinned off the jet lag in the Argentiere basin.




    Before we could capitalize on the weather, it turned low pressure with warming. Big avy cycle. We skied a little, including one particularly fun day in the Aiguille Rouges in a near whiteout. The exit while it was puking fat flakes was one of the most serene and tranquil experiences I've had on skis. Except for the hotel-sized piles of avy debris.









    Fortunately, high pressure followed before too long!



    jesski was stoked














    Above the cloud deck




    At the cloud deck


    But with that, came more warming. We struggled to find something to ski. A friend got halfway up the Col des Cristaux before it was just too warm/sketchy to continue. The next day, a different friend broke through the shrund for the NE Face of Les Courtes up to his hip (unroped). Both from first bin on the GM. We made a bid for "Couloir X" on the Aguille de Argentiere, hoping it would be in the shade long enough to start from the first bin. Warming and avy debris stopped us before we transitioned to foot pons for the couloir proper.



    kevino looking small at 6'2"


    We quickly learned that you either had to alpine start from town -- decided not Cham style -- or stay in a hut. Or know what to ski when, which we certainly did not. By the time we figured out that we ought to have reserved a hut, the main ones were booked for the rest of our trip. A friend tried to alpine start from town, but 3:30 am wasn't early enough for the Spencer. So we contented ourselves with first or second bin on the GM and playing around in the Argentiere basin on whatever was shady. Maybe I'm spoiled and lazy, but I go to Cham specifically to be spoiled and lazy, at least in terms of access. Wake up at 6:30 or 7 am, grab some breakfast or some fresh baguette, get in the queue for the Midi or GM, and be in full-on alpine terrain like an hour later. And then be back in time for dinner, or sometimes even lunch. It's mind boggling. Cham is the most absurd town I've ever been to, in the best possible way.

    Obligatory touristy shots from town






    Somewhere along the way, prolly in the GM queue, we met Robert. He is perpetually stoked and super fun to ski with. He guides summer volcanoes in WA and winter ice in CO. jesski and I skied nearly every day after that with Robert and his buddy CJ. We could almost keep up when they were hung over, so it worked out well.

    jesski with Robert in the bottom right


    jesski is also perpetually stoked.








    We met Cam the top bin of the GM. He was part of "Team America" aka the US skimo race team, some of whom were hanging out in Cham after racing in various locations around Yurp. He was riding up with Teague and a non-American (whose names I didn't catch), who were planning to go have a look-see at something radder than any of us could handle. Cam seemed keen to join us for the day and silenced our protestations that he'd be bored at our pace with, "I never thought I was a 'views skier' till I came to Cham." Cam's a super nice guy, and I hope we're able to ski some in CO -- though I'll have to get way fitter to keep up on his "rest" days. He was as much fun to watch as he was to ski with: he didn't bother with ski crampons on refrozen slopes steep and firm enough I secretly wanted foot 'pons, just kick-turned his own route up with blinding speed and precision. Seriously, if I ever get half that good at kick turns, I'd die a happy man. And he ripped down on his skimo race gear faster than most people ski an alpine setup.

    Cam tried to set the American record for croissants eaten in a Euro trip. I think he managed 63.


    L-R: Robert, jesski, Cam
    Last edited by auvgeek; 03-01-2019 at 10:43 AM.
    "Alpine rock and steep, deep powder are what I seek, and I will always find solace there." - Bean Bowers

    photos

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Seattle
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    29,745
    Thanks for sharing.. Looks like a hell of a fun trip.
    Quote Originally Posted by Downbound Train View Post
    And there will come a day when our ancestors look back...........

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
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    Gaperville, CO
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    Dope photos. Quality stoke. Makes me excited to get to Euro land for the first time.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
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    956
    Great pics. Need to get to the promised land someday...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    The Wilds of Maine
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    2,676
    That place looks SO wild. Good on you for doing a touring-focused trip despite having Baltimore PhD-level training opportunities . Thanks for sharing!
    "We're in the eye of a shiticane here Julian, and Ricky's a low shit system!" - Jim Lahey, RIP

    Former Managing Editor @ TGR, forever mag.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Ventura Highway in the Sunshine
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    21,377
    Rad trip by any standard. as long as a good time was had, and French wine consumed, it's all good.

    I'm heading back this April, and hoping for good weather. I got semi skunked in 2017. The fuun(sp?) settled in and conditions went to shit. Got two days in at the end including tagging the Breithorn and descent from the top to Cervinia .

    I agree it is a constitutional right for Americans to be assholes...its just too bad that so many take the opportunity...
    iscariot

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    F'n Midwest again
    Posts
    2,162
    foehn???
    Aggressive in my own mind

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Paper St. Soap Co.
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    2,262
    Looks like a good trip, thanks for posting the TR.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    OOTAH
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    2,411
    Thanks for sharing, Cham is on my list of must do trips!
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Love the Western State Colorado shirt. My wife is a professor there!
    Samuel L. Jackson as Jules Winnfield: Oh, I'm sorry. Did I break your concentration?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    SLC
    Posts
    809
    Rad TR!!

    Quote Originally Posted by hoarhey View Post
    foehn???
    Proper spelling. AKA the herald of destruction, devourer of all the snow.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
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    Ventura Highway in the Sunshine
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    I stand corrected...thank you gentlemen. How ever it's spelled, it is a real snow eater. Turns everything brown, but at least it adds contrasted in the associated fog.

    I agree it is a constitutional right for Americans to be assholes...its just too bad that so many take the opportunity...
    iscariot

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Den/Baltimore
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    Thanks everyone! Cham really does feel like the promised land for steep skiing and alpine climbing -- it definitely deserves at least one visit, for the views alone! But it's the only place in Europe I've skied, so I'm really excited to check out some other places that are more off the beaten path.

    Yeah, we had a few days of foehn and some other weird wind/weather patterns, but also quite a bit of high pressure. Fortunately, it wasn't that awful foehn that lasts weeks and carries sand from the Sahara like you had, hutash. And for anyone wondering, foehn isn't unique to the alps: they call it the Chinook winds in the PNW and Santa Ana winds in Cali.

    Quote Originally Posted by teleee View Post
    Love the Western State Colorado shirt. My wife is a professor there!
    Yeah, Cam kills it. He started skinning like 4 years ago, won the Grand Traverse skimo race from CB to Aspen last year, and has been on a tear this year, too, winning the sprint category at US Nationals. I'd put money on him doing some crazy things in the next 5 years. He'd probably be insta-famous if he had a smart phone and posted with any regularity.
    Last edited by auvgeek; 02-02-2019 at 12:14 PM.
    "Alpine rock and steep, deep powder are what I seek, and I will always find solace there." - Bean Bowers

    photos

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    547
    Great pics. Some sweet looking lines.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Posts
    17
    I've been hearing the term "cham" thrown around for years, and just realized it stands for chamonix. So thanks for that.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by Murphnturf View Post
    I've been hearing the term "cham" thrown around for years, and just realized it stands for chamonix. So thanks for that.
    And thank you for bringing up that I never actually spelled out Chamonix anywhere. I edited my post a bit and fixed some broken photo links.

    I don't really understand why some of the photos are "large" and some are "huge" -- I used the same imbed size for all of them. Hope the photos work up okay for everyone. If not, feel free to visit the flickr album, where they're all in hi-res: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmv1Aj6w
    Last edited by auvgeek; 03-01-2019 at 11:09 AM.
    "Alpine rock and steep, deep powder are what I seek, and I will always find solace there." - Bean Bowers

    photos

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Up in ya face!
    Posts
    3,391
    Arrresome. Thanks

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Posts
    678
    Great photos. Actually had to scroll through a couple of times. Really made me want to go back to Cham.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Ross Thompson's land
    Posts
    574
    Sweet TR
    Thanks
    (And a Western State alum here)



    Sent from my iPhone using TGR Forums

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    3,541
    This is a rad TR. Big thumbs up!

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