Whenever I say I’m going home, my friends always laugh at me. “Home?” They say. “Which home?”
Where exactly is home? Is it where you grew up? Where you’re parents are? Is it where you just moved t0 or where you came from? Is it just a physical location or an emotional location too? Sure, the house I lived in in college was technically my home, I slept there every night. But did it really feel like home?
Well, that went by in a hurry, one moment I’m skinning up the Argentierre Glacier with Crystal, Brian, and Ashley, the next I’m packing my car and moving to Jackson. Phew, I’m glad I’m settled in one bed with my suitcase unpacked.
After our adventure on the Rhone Glacier, we had more down days due to weather and warm temps. We filled in the time with laps on the Grand Montets, attempted to skin around Faverge in gail force winds with scary slides on the steeper slopes, and went to the gym for some moderate work capacity sessions. But then, the sun broke, one more time. It was our last Thursday in the valley, three days before departure, and the clouds parted just long enough for a big (ish) adventure.
The top Tram at Grand Montets was closed again due to high winds, so we rode up as far as we could before skiing the last few hundred feet to the saddle. We chased the Norwegian Nordic Team boys that we had met a couple night before. Needless to say, they were speedy, even with their massive packs for 8 days on the Haute Route. Remind me to leave the uphill cardio to the kids who do that professionally.
The first 1000 ft. of turns to the Glacier were spectacular. Chamonix had received 2 feet of snow in the past 48 hours, and it was smooth, fluffy pow the whole way. As we established our surroundings, wind, temperature, and potential spring warming at the bottom, we decided to head up the Col de Amythest instead of attempting the Col de Chardonnay – the Col de Pouisson – Le Tour route. It would have been awesome, but with spring temps rising rapidly, we didn’t want to put ourselves in danger.
Glacial travel can be deceiving. It’s flat, it’s white, and the sun sparkled off the snow as we followed the tracks of previous travelers to avoid the crevasses. I estimated it would take us about 20 minutes to get to the base of the Col de Amythest. Yeah, I was wrong. All that flat, white, sparkly stuff was much longer than I had imagined. The Col de Amythest is right at the top of the Argentierre Glacier, on the left hand, it is moderately pitched, the three obvious crevasses on the way up. Lesson Learned: if it looks 20 minutes away, you’re probably wrong.
The skin track up the Col was windblown and soft, Crystal and I alternated breaking trail all the way up. Breaking trail is hard work, and I’m not usually the one doing it. Now, before you give me a hard time, this isn’t because I won’t do it, it’s because Jamon, Adam, and the rest of the crew I ski with in SLC are so damn fast, I don’t have a hope in hell of leading. If I’m only 5 minutes behind, I’m having a really good day.
When we finally made it, I was beat, hungry, and ready to rip my skins off. It was a little heavy and wind affected at the top, but as soon as we passed the second crevasse it was a beautiful 3,000 ft. ski back to the glacier. 4,000+ feet of hiking and 8 hours later, we were ready to shuffle back down the glacier, put our feet up, and sip on some vin chaud.
Ashley and I stopped at the retreat on Grand Montets for some cheese, meats, fruit, and vin chaud as we watched couloir after couloir wet slide. It sounded like we were on a landing strip, and we were grateful for our decision earlier in the day. Skiing anything moderately pitched and in the sun was definitely out of the question. But sipping on some post ski wine, was not.
A few years ago the book and movie “The Edge of Never” by Bill Kerig made its way through the ski community. Everybody I skied with either read the book or watched the movie. Somehow, I missed it.
Fast forward three years and I meet Bill Kerig as a board member at Spy Hop, a million miles from our ski industry roots. He recently directed “Ready to Fly”, a documentary about the U.S. ski jumping ladies and their battle to compete at the Olympic level. His book “The Edge of Never” was part of the goody bag at the premiere. I spent the following week glutened, and in bed reading.
It changed my life. I quite my job, bought a plane ticket to Geneva, and went to Chamonix. I had no intention of skiiing the Glacier Rhone. Bill’s description of the steepness, exposure, and ice was enough to scare me away. Until it went blue.
I have a problem. I love food. I obsess about it. The flavours, the textures, the color. How to bring out different flavour profiles or create different colors. I’m scarcely halfway through breakfast before I’m thinking about dinner. I’m always thinking about my next meal. You’d think I had at some point suffered from starvation, but, alas, that is not the case. I simply love eating. Food is an adventure, it’s expressive, exciting, and, usually, it tastes delicious (unless you accidentally buy salted pork in a French grocery store, but that is another story…)
I’m sitting here waiting to press my coffee as big, fat flakes fall into the valley. Waiting seems to be the name of the game this winter. From Zabljak, to Snowbird, to Chamonix, we’re either waiting for the skis to open or the clouds to clear. Skiers, so picky about the weather.
Yesterday we woke up to snowy skies and the valley socked in. Since I just arrived, I’m excited, but the rest of our crew has been here a few weeks and is getting frustrated by the foggy, low visibility skiing, and lack of big days. As my mind wandered to the Grans Montets, they discussed driving south to Cassis for a few days of climbing on the Mediterranean. After a long breakfast of coffee, eggs, and checking the webcams again and again, Crystal and I decided to investigate the conditions at the Grans Montets. … continue reading.
A couple weeks ago I headed into the Tetons with some fellow Marmots for our annual winter catalogue shoot. Group camping trips are an easy target for accidental gluten/dairy/whatever consumption, especially since I wasn’t partaking in the grocery trip.
Losing control over my food can send me into a state of panic – what if they put gluten/dairy/corn in my food and life SUCKS?! O god, maybe I don’t want to go after all! Then I take a deep breath and think about how rad skiing and yurting will be and get to work. These muffins were my alternatives to lara bars on this trip – something to grab half way up the skin track to re-energize me!
What you will need:
Large mixing bowl
Small mixing bowl
Silicone muffin liners – seriously, these things are the best!
1 can pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon coconut butter/oil
1 tablespoon honey – if you want to
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 cup craisins
1/2 cup crushed walnuts
2 teaspoons flax
1 tablespoon baking soda
nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamon, clove, ginger and allspice to taste
Preheat your over to 350
Mix all wet ingredients in the large bowl and combine thoroughly. Mix all the dry ingredients in the small bowl. Slowly stir the dry ingredients into the wet.
Pour the mixture into your silicone muffin liners and bake for 35 minutes!
Recipe yields 24 medium sized muffins.
Sometimes You have to follow your heart. And sometimes, you have to take a break from life to realize that your unhappy. Montenegro was a wake-up call. I laughed, I made people laugh, I smiled, I made new friends, saw new places, and relaxed. I realized that working a full time job, coaching on the weekends, training all week, and trying to have a social life wasn’t a balancing act, it was a recipe for disaster. A sleep-deprived, bitter, sick, disaster. It was my disaster and I was returning to it.
Tensions are high. We’ve been here a week and only skied once. It’s snowing everywhere, even at the beach, and Montenegro has declared a national state of emergency. The roads are closed, towns are without power or supplies, and we’re on the beach, building bonfires from discarded pallets and drinking lotza. Too much lotza. What do you do when you have 8 skiers stuck on the beach, staring at snowy mountains that they can’t access, and it feels like the government is playing a mean trick on you?
You rent a massive Mercedes van and drive to Dubrovnik for lunch. I mean, we may as well see as many countries as we can while we’re here. It’s all about collecting passport stamps right?
Dubrovnik is a stunning walled city on the Croatian coast. After a long drive, we were dropped off just outside of old town. The streets were quiet and the rain drizzled down. We wandered in and out of alleys, escaping the freezing gale in the tighter streets. As we traveled deeper into the walls, the music grew louder. We turned the corner in the square and the clowns, Guy Fawkes, zombies, and nuns danced before us. Singing, swaying, hopping, sipping, and smoking, taking the city by storm as they celebrated towards a masquerade ball. I danced with a clown, and was called Hannah Montana before they left us behind in the empty streets. Left us to explore and dine on a plate of meat at a Bosnian restaurant called the Taj Mahal.
It’s 10 am. I’m exhausted; too much Lotza and a bad run in with some Russians. But we’re laughing, and that’s what matters. I lie in bed post-breakfast debating what to do with the day. It snowed 3 feet in Centenje, the town just over the low coastal mountains that we visited yesterday. We nearly didn’t make it back to the hotel last night and this morning, the road is closed due to the weather. It snowed 5 feet in Kolasin, the ski area we’ve been hoping to reach since we arrived on Tuesday. A passanger train from Podgorica is stranded between avalanches on the way to the resort. The snow line on the hills meets the sea, and the usually azure Adriatic is silty and tumultuous, crashing onshore in massive barrels.