Healing Mountains: Salomon Freeski Spring Skiing in the Alps
It was with a heavy heart that I left the U.S. for Europe in mid-March, but the trip turned out to be distracting and healing. I was surrounded by good people, tons of inspiration and much positive perspective upon arrival to Annecy, France. It was a necessary transition to achieve a better balance after the last few months’ tragic events in the ski community. As the tough news continues, I mourn for those we have lost and pray for those who are still fighting, and am trying hard to find the guiding light through it all, turning to the mountains and to friends to appreciate what the present offers.
Mid-March, our Salomon Freeski Mountain Collective team gathered in Annecy and La Clusaz for a spring session of gear development, talks and testing. Cheese dominated our evenings and skiing dominated our days. We were stuffed through with Raclette, Tartiflette, Fondue and more. We discussed and tested hard goods, soft goods and accessories on slope and in conference rooms. And we enjoyed exploring the magic of the stunning beauty and terrain at La Clusaz resort and its backcountry. I found myself moved daily by the talent of the people with whom I was surrounded… some of the best in skiing and, more importantly, some of the very best people.
The following week was spent in Chamonix with a variety of friends that shared in the adventure of exploring the areas in the valley around us. The spring conditions were challenging and so we were careful to pick routes and objectives that would offer some hope of light powder or corn skiing and soft snow. We spread ourselves across the valley, touring out from all the main resorts and sampling a small sliver of what this mind-blowing area has to offer.
We skied the steeps, the glaciers and some of the classic ski tours. Working our way out from Les Houches, the Aiguille du Midi, Le Tour, Les Grand Montets and Hellbroner, we got a glimpse at the magnitude of the Alps. We skied classics routes like Couloir des Cosmiques and Couloir Trappiere, along with some peaks like the Aiguille d’Argentiere and the Col du Posson, gaining knowledge and perspective with each day.
My spring plans are evolving with change. Our planned expedition to Baffin Island in May has been canceled. With the loss of our two teammates, Steve Romeo and Chris Onufer, in Jackson last month, it was best to move in another direction for spring 2012. The next few weeks will bring about a new evolution in travel and I hope to share the journey here at Osprey.
Kim Havell is one of the world’s premier female ski mountaineers. Her career began as a ski coach in the Telluride valley before transitioning to climbing and ski mountaineering in the San Juan Mountains. Before leaving Telluride, Kim went on to claim first female descents on several classic lines. She is one of only a handful of females to have major ski descents on all seven continents, including first descents on four of them. Kim has been featured in several ski films over the years, and when not skiing, keeps herself busy by writing for Outside Magazine, Powder, ESPN, National Geographic and more.
To follow Kim’s adventures please visit: HavellTravels-The Adventures of Kim Havell Professional Skier or follow Kim on Twitter.