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Off To France & Italy

February 11th, 2010

Joe Stock is an Alaskan adventurer, AAI guide, photographer, writer and has worked as an Osprey pack tester for many years (ala Osprey Athlete). We love Joe.

I’m nervous. Normally, mountains are just mountains. Some are huge and glaciated while others are just rocky. Add a frenzy of foreigners, a network of telepheriques, a 300-year old guiding history and the mountains suddenly become daunting to me. These are the French Alps around Chamonix. Tomorrow we’re going there.

Guiding in France is a rite of passage for IFMGA guides. Chamonix is the birthplace of mountain guiding and still sets the international standard for guides. My wife Cathy and I will base in Chamonix for the next month, taking the lifts to mountain summits for day touring, then spending two weeks hut-based in the area. I’ll take any odd work from guide friends in the area, but focus on learning the system, writing, and shooting.

The world’s finest ski tour is the second portion of our trip—the Ortler traverse in the Italian Alps. This will be a recon before I guide five customers across the Ortler for Sierra Mountain Guides.

Cathy and I are taking Mutant 38s as our main ski packs since ice axes go inside the pack while riding the telepherique. On lighter days, we’ll use the Kode 30. We have the Flap Jack and Flap Jill Mini as our townie bags.

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The Osprey quiver!

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Mowzers perusing the trip literature. Her favorite book is Mont Blanc and the Aiguilles Rouges – a guide for skiers by Anselme Baud. The steep skiing history has her wiskers twitching.

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Cathy running at Bethany Beach, Delaware where her parents live. The east coast called this the Blizzard of 2010.  Reagan International was shut down for four days from 30 inches of snow, but it looks like we’re flying out tomorrow.

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