Skiing will be the death of British Alpinism”, exclaims Andy Kirkpatrick in his book ‘Cold Wars’. In an amusing exchange between himself and British mountain guide and 11 times Everest summiter, Kenton Cool, Kenton suggests “you should try it mate,” but Andy “doesn’t have any time for fun…” He probably hadn’t tried ski mountaineering however, where the pain of an arduous climb is rewarded by the freedom and speed of an off-piste descent from a mountain summit. The two sports really go hand in hand.
I’ve just completed an “Eagles Ski Club,” ski mountaineering course in Chamonix, run by British mountain guide, Andy Perkins -who is also based here. Fortunately my rope work wasn’t too bad thanks to my experience of trad climbing…. but my navigation needs quite a bit of work!
Skiing-wise however I feel this year I’ve made quite an improvement in the powder, largely thanks to repeating a course I did last year with BASS Chamonix/ Off Piste Performance called “Ski Performance for Mountaineers.”
I was actually worried there wasn’t going to be any powder for my course, but amazingly it snowed fairly heavily the day before it started and there was plenty of “pow” to be had. I’ll be writing up a piece on this for a new magazine called Sidetracked, and you can read my piece on ” Off-piste skiing for mountaineers” here and in Trek and Mountain magazine.
All photos in this blog, courtesy of Andy Perkins, Mountain Guide.