La Grave February 19/20th 2011

Well, I just posted, but I have to post again

So it snowed, The Forecast didn’t call for much, but on the 18th we storm rode and on the 19th bluebird, For the 20th it called for 4 or 6 cm total, but we storm rode today with no visibility and not so many people on the mountain. We couldn’t see shit, but guess what, Trees and Couloirs if you know where they are.  Unbelievable day and everyone is surprised. I opened the Freaux again for the 3rd storm in a row.  It’s great to be the guide and always go first just to make sure 🙂  My job doesn’t suck.

We saw nothing all day except the holes in the trees, the powder in our faces, the pillows in the trees and of course the walls of the couloirs.

You really have to be here all season to appreciate this place.  So many people wait for snow before they will come.  Then they rape our little village and slash the mountain until the snow is tracked and gone.  Then they leave and they truly miss the spirit of this place and what it takes to be a skier that can hang on a mountain like this.  To all the people who stick it out and ride it for what it is and the way it is because they know the beauty and what is so special for the spirit here,  Well played today and it’s worth the wait.  You all deserved it and more tonight 🙂  I love the forecast here, it will always surprise everyone and the lame powder chasers who only care about snow missed out because they chased 5 more cm somewhere else,  Suckers!!!

The above Track was layed by me while opening Chirouze right yesterday with Crystal Wright, Local boy of 16 years Franck and Crystal main squeeze Brian.  What a run, the best part , no one could see our tracks from 3200 because we layed them far side off the glacier. Lets just say $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Frank opening some tubes under some beautiful back lit Ice!

Crystal and Franck below the Ice under the direct Right entrance. I skied a line through the center of that Ice Last April 🙂   Crystal You having fun?

Bluebird Powder and no one around because there is no snow in the Alps!

Are you sure this run is open?  There are no tracks here, Does anyone have a trail map?

Powder Tubes!!!!!!!!!

A pretty happy Franck after 5000’ft of untracked madness.  Now the business, yes it was a thin exit, but quite fun. We managed without the rappel and did some pretty fun billy goating and target practice.  Mini golf rules when you can keep the rope in the pack.

So Today was the 20th and i worked with 4 guys from poland and after waking up to the storm total I was selfish and skied more for me then them, They were lucky to get me today, We opened everything we could :-0

Opening the Banana in No visibility conditions. The couloir was sick once we found it!

My job doesn’t suck, this think sluffed with me the whole way, but the fun surfy sluff that you dream of. So good, why did a guide get here first with clients? Locals????

Looking down with what I consider the best ski on the planet on my feet and about to surf the shit out of this thing.  It’s too bad I don’t have a ski sponsor but I would not have a problem buying as many of these babies as I can afford.

Someone is happy to be at work today!

I couldn’t stop, I roled right into the the Freaux out of the Banana for a fat road run.  Here you see my clients negotiating the pillows in the tech entrance, Steeper then it looks and not a good place to fall!

Rocking my A-Basin bandana,  I know where my routes are, but i also know were I belong and it’s not in Colorado where I can’t get away with this stuff. Thinking of the boys back there and prayers and thoughts are with you boys, Ski one for Leif,  RIP my man!

Game on, Nice to see some white trees in the cloud.  Let me go first and make sure it’s as good as it looks! 🙂

It was some fluffy goodness, Should of gone to Cham I heard they got 5 more cm then us!

Threading the Crux, It’s easier to just jump the whole thing, but this move is cool too!

lining up the move.  You really just have to commit!

Exiting the Couloir, It’s not over till it’s over!!!

Powder glades to the road from here, These shots were so good. We skied under a special place here on the way out, I looked up to say hello to the boys as I ripped the shit out of these trees for them!

Last lift, about 10 people or so waiting for it as the coolest boxes ever come out of the cloud. So cool that the sky just barely started to open at the end of the day.

And as we got to town for beers at the Castillan, we watched the Queen try to show herself for the first time today.

I couldn’t choose from the photos but the next photos were all taken over about a 30 minute period. So for all the powder folks who think that is what its all about, You need to spend some time here and experience moments like this when you really don’t care about the snow but more about where you are.  This place is magical!  Although I don’t call it home, it’s times like these when it starts to feel like it.  I said it once before and I will say it again, It’s not about the snow it’s about the terrain!

Le Rateau just trying to show her endless ridge!

The first view of the day during apres ski beers!

Pretty wicked light and I don’t know about you but Le Enfetchore looks pretty white to me!

The Tabuchet getting some nice coverage and some afternoon light as well, Looks like winter to me.

Le Enfetchore!  One of the best day tours on the planet!

From the last photo till the next was about a 10 minute window!

and out of no where we got this light!

Hope you enjoyed, Ski you next time in La Grave!

Joey

Trifide 0 in no fall conditions.

La Grave Jan/February 2011

PLEASE BE SURE TO READ THE WHOLE BLOG!!!! There are movies at the bottom and I am putting the photo gallery slideshow at the bottom this time, Click on a photo in the gallery to see them all open into a viewer at the bottom of this page!  Enjoy!

One more disclaimer before reading this blog!  We have embraced the game of G.N.A.R. here in La Grave and play it in good fun in the spirit of Shane and what he did to keep skiing fun.  So if you think we are ego pumping snobs, well we are, but we are also trying to get G.N.A.R. points around here.  So if you don’t know what is going on just check out this link and watch an awesome movie. http://unofficialnetworks.com/gnar/

With that being said, before you read on, I just want you to know that I am the best fucking skier on this mountain and I am so much better then you! 😉

La Grave with Joey Vallone January February 2011!!!!!

Ok, so it’s been awhile, and I’m back.  Sorry for the delay it’s been busy here for me.  I spent some time putting together a movie for you and using Imovie for the first time. So cut me some slack, the video is from my phone, and I never edited or cut a movie before.

So whats been going on in La Grave.  Well it didn’t snow for a long time here and it just puked on us yesterday and looks like more coming tonight so that’s a good thing.  There was about 30cm total yesterday, but some spots felt like there could of been more. It made for a nice powder day and more to come.

Despite the rumors that there is no snow in the Alps,  I would like to call total bullshit on that.   We have been skiing some amazing things around here.  And La Grave, even though firm has been absolutely amazing.  Some awesome corn runs to St. Christoph, the Querras got hammered and looks pretty white to me, so if your not afraid of ski touring there is plenty of cold smoke hiding in these hills if you know where to look.

All the powder footage in my movie below and the photos were taken in the First week of February when everyone was complaining about the snow.  I love it when it doesn’t snow here,  Because no snow ,  means no people.  The skiing is quite technical in these conditions too,  I think its a great way to train, but the thing I like most is that it  separates the skiers and filters out technique real quickly.  You really can see if someone knows how to ski or not when they are not just whipping by on there fat skis in powder. You can tell right away who only skis powder and won’t ski hard pack!

Doug said it so many times, “no bad snow, only bad skiers”

What’s even better is  we get the whole lift to ourselves.  The people that are skiing here day in and out are a different breed and my hats off to all that share the spirit of this terrain.   The Traverse back to P1 on both sides has been a true test of a skiers technique, and is actually one of my favorite parts of the mountain. If you think it sucks, then you need to ski it with me some day and I will show you why it’s really fun and how to make it not hurt so much! :-0

So some updates about La Grave.  Still quiet, and nobody here so if you like solitude that is easy to find.  But it did just snow so I think we are about to get the snow snobs here to crowd this place up again soon.  We shall see.   So I have been skiing to the road off the Girose quite a bit lately and not too bad,  a small bit of walking to get out but totally worth it.

The Girose Glacier is Scary as hell and quite open this year.  It’s been skiing great, for the last month, but you could easily ski into the blue room.  And what is gonna make the Glacier more interesting is that we just had new snow and some south wind moving snow onto the Girose so those holes are still there and quite open, but there just covered now,  It will be real interesting to see what happens once the 2 Alps people start pouring down there on the weekends. Don’t get lazy on the Girose as  you can see from this next photo.

Hungry Glacier

Yes those are ski tracks below going right over that scary bridge.  This is right in the middle of the classic line and there are quite a few folks with out packs or harnesses skiing right over this thing. The Dark and cold blue room.  I really do believe there could be people in there right now.

the blue room

Some other fun news from around town,  Sergio hosted an air guitar contest at La Plage Macoomba.  Sergio was being Sergio and totally entertained. I also run an open mic for the local musicians and of course my own pleasure every Monday night at the K2 Pub.  A big thanks to Pelle Lang and Aisha of the skiers lodge for making that possible.  If you are in town and looking for something silly and fun to do on a Monday, come on down and grab the Microphone, its full of Surprises.

Air Guitar Air Giutar Mcoomba

So my week of Privates involved the crazy, Christoph Cousins.  These guys are great and as you will see from the movie and photos to follow we had a wonderful week.  This is my Third year working with these guys and I don’t know why they keep coming back.  But I do know that we get it done when they are here.

Here a few photos from the week but you can watch the rest in the slideshow below or even better watch the movie below.  We had a nice storm to salvage the week about an hour away in Mt. Geneve, but even with all the snow over there and none in La Grave, we still only did two days over there,  You just can’t beet the vert and the terrain.  Even when its bad its still good.

There were Joey Anchors!

JOEY ANCHOR

There was boot packing!

Hikeing

And there was some more Boot Packing!

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Then there was some shit talking and ego pumping as we played our own game of G.N.A.R.

There were some avalanches!

avalanche

There was some sleeping!

Worked!

There was some more sleeping!

Tired Joey

And of course some skiing,, Here is La Rama in perfect corn conditions.

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There was some hitch hiking!  The littlest car imaginable picked us up and I sat on Christophs lap in the front seat. Too Funny,  and this cute little french girl picked us up and I was practically in her face, but she didn’t seem to mind 🙂

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And of course there was some folding pole plants in some steep, firm couloirs where falling just wasn’t an option.  Thanks Erin Smart for snapping this photo of how bad the skiing is in the Alps is right now.  Despite skiing powder in Italy the day before, I still prefer La Grave even in these conditions,  You just can’t beat this terrain, the vertical and the technical skills it takes to ski here when it hasn’t snowed in awhile.

Trifide 0 in no fall conditions.

But of course there was powder, and we did get to float through some cold smoke as well!

Checking out from the chair

So that is our week in a nutshell!

My Radder then you attempt at my first movie

I am gonna share some photos from last year with these boys in a very special run that Chad Vanderham and I equipped some anchors in on one of our many Couloir hunting days together.  This run is called in the middle, and I didn’t ski it for years but finally went back to it a few years ago and realized how special it is,  Well I shared it with the Christophs last year and I believe guiding this run would of made Chad proud.  As of now I think maybe only 12 people or so have skied this line.  I don’t show it to everyone, but if your lucky and you hire me in the right conditions, I might take ya there too.

This is a photo of me lowering Chad in for the first time to make a rappel route in. We established two very “alpine” anchors for the rappel route in.

Happy to be back in a beautiful line. My job doesn’t suck!

Looking up the second and last rappel!  Christoph being radder then you !

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The view doesn’t suck!

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Truly one of the most beautiful lines in La Grave, and opening it with clients for the first time was really an honor! All I can say is that Perfect would be an understatement for this line and the conditions we had!

Those are not G3 skis on my feet, I swear!, It’s all in your head folks! Does anyone want to hook me some boards please!

Christoph posting up and calling his mother to tell her He is about to rip the shit out of this run!

in the middle

Some steep and narrow skiing at the choke and above the air,  Christoph is seen in this photo being radder then you!

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Negotiating the air,  This is the spot in the couloir where you want to leave all your sand if your still carrying any!

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Just after the air and still a shit ton of skiing left, the line doglegs out right and skis fall line to the road from there.

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Christoph getting some  freshies and as usual being below the guide 🙂

Middle

And that is in the middle! Or at least what Chad and I called it!

So I just took the next photo today, it’s  February 16th and it was taken around 5:00 PM from my front porch! Pretty white up high folks, this is a photo of no snow in the Alps!If you know what your looking at I bet the Enfetchore is money right now.  The North Faces are coming in folks,  Time to give up your sacred little powder stash and come on out for the big leagues!

NEWS:  And  A Few Shout Outs:

The skiers lodge now hires fully certified UIAGM/IFMGA waiters, so if you think you have what it takes send Pelle Lang a resume!  Congratulations on the new job Tyler Jones!

I have to thank Deuter USA for hooking me up with the best ski pack I have ever used, I have some Freerider Pro packs in my fleet now so be sure to try it out when your in town skiing with me!  Check it out on my home page through the link under my sponsors! If you are considering a new pack for skiing, I highly recommend checking one of these out,  Email me if you have any questions!

Also I am still looking for a ski sponsor,  Someone want to support a broke, single, old washed up  has been mountain guide :-)!!!!!! Show me some love PLEASE!!!!

Just for your viewing pleasure a nice bonus!

I am adding this  so you can see what goes down in town, The Next video shows you what local Swedish boy Lars does to stay in shape for the big lines here in La Grave! Also you will see the Sergio going live with his air guitar to I love Rock and Roll by Joan Jett!!!I did not cut this video, its just the raw takes,  Enjoy  For more information on how to ski like Lars go to Circus on Monday nights in the Salle de Fett and when your done come to my open mic to drink some beers and sing with me!

So I hope you enjoyed reading my blog this week, and I hope to see you in La Grave, with or without snow,  It’s always good somewhere, just hire a guide!  Hire me! 🙂

Freaux

La Grave the 2nd week 2011

La Grave Early January!

Well were to begin.  So it’s been awhile and I apologize,  So much has happened since the last post, staying busy, and loving La Grave more everyday.   I have not taken so many photos, so I guess this will be more story line then photo based.  But I have a few small treats to support the story.

So New Years with the Swedes Per and Josephine Ås.

Two of the nicest people and possibly the prettiest skiers on this mountain. No kidding, if you ever get a chance to watch these folks ski,  Simply beautiful,  but watch out,  there kids are gonna kick there ass some day growing up in this terrain with amazing parents like this.   Every year they have an amazing New Years party up in Les Aires.  Such a beautiful home with beautiful people,  a great way to bring in the New Year.  The Swedish people are some of the nicest people you will ever meat,  Just don’t date one, take it from me, Ok, no more X ranting,  lets get back to New Years!

Fireworks, good people, good times, a yearly tradition now for me , 3 of them,  Can’t wait till the next one.  The highlight of the evening besides the good company was the food.  We ate everything from the local village and farms all the way down to the Lamb.  So good, maybe one of the best meals I have had in France.  The surprise for me was the Reindeer Heart.  Apparently the Swedes like to eat animal hearts and Reindeer seems to be a nice delicacy in those parts.  Notice the picture in the slides, and how it is served on the Swedish cracker.  I have to admit, it was damn good.

After dinner we all made it to the K2 pub to join Pella and Isha for some blues music and dancing ,  I don’t have much to show from that night, as I might of been a little disoriented by the time I got there, I do remember dancing , and I do remember the strange man in the one piece for some odd reason.

Another Highlight is my good friend and ski buddy Lars (also a Swede)  came over to the dark side and bought some dynafits and AT boots,  I don’t know if he is feeling ok or not,  but welcome to the club Lars. Maybe not that exciting to hear about but if you knew Lars you would be a bit confused as too why the switch.  Stoked for his new gear though.

Last but not least for social events. Villas little girl had a really nice birthday party, She was so funny, Ptor brought his little boy over and she instantly went over and grabbed him.  A man killer in the making and Ptor’s boy played hard to get,  Wish I had a photo, but you can see from the cake photos, she was partying hard and new what she wanted.  🙂 It’s these little parties that make La Grave what it is with people like this.

Ok, a bit of skiing,  The best thing I have for you is the Freaux, and opening it on days like the one I am about to show is why La Grave is so special to me.  To be able to drop lines like this at will without permission is the freedom that lures me to La Grave.  And the fact that I got to do it while working doesn’t suck either.

When we got to the top, it was warming fast on a risk 4 day with no tracks in the couloir.  It was not quite a risk 4 day, but there was quite a bit of new snow and with the temps and isotherme rising,  it had some small manageable concerns.  After dropping the first cut and pushing everything into the couloir.  I fealt pretty good about stability,  The big concern was how wet and heavy the lower elevation snow might be to ski.   Turned out to be creamy goodness the hole way.   Timing was perfect, Powder on top,  Cream in the middle, and a little bit scratchy in the exit, but not bad by La Grave standards.  An amazing run and one of the highlights of the year for me. Pretty Happy clients too,  The Spaniards are fun,  These guys were from Madrid and I had a blast with them.  Got to practice a little Espanol too.

So that is it in a nut shell.  But let me take the time to tell you why this last 2 weeks has been amazing.

La Grave is an amazing place if you live here, you will know why,  But if you just visit and leave when it’s good you will never know the true beauty of this place.

So the word is out that the snow is not so good, or some other place got more, so all the powder snobs chase the snow with the rest of the powder crowds and stand in line while there day gets tracked out in the first hour.  Or the best is there is no visibility so we are not going up today. These have to be the best days you could have here. Hire me and I will show you why.  We have had some nice pulses and the wind has helped buff it out when we were waiting for more snow.  But it’s been relatively good, had plenty of powder days,  and I am yet to wait in line or fight for a full tram cue to get my spot.  Even through the holiday,  a little busy, but nothing to wait for and plenty of uncut turns to be had over and over.  Just amazing, that people will only come here when it snows.  I think its great, I like having this much terrain to choose from, good or bad snow,  It doesn’t matter,  What is bad snow anyway,  Dougie said no bad snow , just bad skiers.  So while you chase your stash, and miss out on ours, we are only becoming better skiers. And I don’t have to wait in line for you.  It’s always good somewhere, hire a guide.

Ok, last but not least,  That shot over my ski tips in the Freaux is over my G3 Manhattens,  After a 3 year run with the company,  They have dropped me due to a new Marketing manager, who wanted a resume and application from me and is looking for high profile athletes etc. , But anyone in the industry knows what that does to a companies budget, Look what happened to Rossi.  Anyway  the old manager left on Maternity leave and was awesome and one of the best in the business I will miss her and all the best with her new baby and life.   I hope the new guy figures it out and gets it someday.  Embarrassing enough for me, I took a client to the page to show them what I was using and explain my gear and where to find it and I could not find me there anymore.  They never even told me 🙁  and that is how I found out.  So be it,  the ski ripped, I really did like it and I will miss it.  But Communication will always be just as important as a product and that was dropped.  They do make some amazing shit. And there are certain Items I will not trade for any other in the business, but you will have to ski with me to find out what they are.  No more plugs from this guy.  All the best to the company, I hope they figure it out someday, that anyone could look good on paper. They really have come a long way though, and there motive is a unique and inspiring one for a guide like myself.

So that brings me to looking for skis!!!  If you want to have free marketing,  thats right,  I sell skis, To rich people, the ones that are willing to go to the store and pay retail for them. Not Johnny bro Bra can I get a deal,  but if you sit in your office and don’t see what I do you will never know this.  So not asking for budget, Money, Contracts and travel budgets that part of the industry ruins it for me anyway.  I just need product so I can keep doing what I was meant to do. I need something I can rely on , and people that I can rely on.  Hit me up if you want a free billboard, the cheepest marketing investment your company will ever make.:-)  That’s right, just keep me in the equipment that I need and you get a free display in one of the most incredible freeride destinations on the map.   How cheap is that, just product and no money expected.  If your really a marketing pro and savvy in the industry , you do the math, how much does product cost versus ads or highly paid athletes.   Come on hook a brother up ,  This boy needs some sticks. You will get the most sincere feedback, reviews and info from someone who beets his gear silly.

I know it’s late in the season, and I didn’t have word from G3 until this week, which sucks because I turned down offers and now it’s too late in the season, and I am SOL since most folks have distributed for the season.  I know there were a few of you out there that offered me gear, and I stood by the support I was getting and still thought I had.  If your still available, let’s talk. I wish I would of known, but if your around, you know what I do, then get a hold of me.

Too all my other sponsors and the assistance I have received.  You guys rock,  thanks for allowing me to do what I do.   You know who you are,  and hope to ski you all soon.  To all my clients a big thanks for allowing me to have the job I have,  Thanks for all the referrals and this year has been an overwhelming response and bookings are filling fast.  So if your finally gonna take that dream trip to La Grave, the best Steep Skiing anywhere of it’s kind from a lift, then find me and book me soon, 2011 space is limited and going fast.

Ok that’s it till next time.

Joey

Ps:  Highlights of the week,   St. Christoph is getting skied, La Rama is in and skiing perfect.  The Pan continues to get slayed.   And the Enfetchore was opened this week by two bad ass snowboarders, and they slayed one of the sickest exits I have ever seen.  Nice one boys, you know who you are, thanks for the inspiring , pretty tracks.  Last but not least, the Teleski to 3550 opened last Saturday, and the Glacier has been skiing perfect to say the least.  Nothing like cold refrigerated snow, but watch out up there, some of the holes are wide open and right down the middle and blind until they are right there .

PSS  coming next time:  My first video cuts that will be sure to please,  from some of the big runs.  Also Stay tuned for my first product review for all you low tech binding users that ski harder then a rando skier and actually freeride on your AT gear.  The full comparison,  Onyx Vs Dynafit  Who will win,  I will compare all pros and cons and hopefully answer your questions once and for all.

Dougie's Car

La Grave the First Week 2010/2011

La Grave Part 1

First, a small apology, its my first blog, I shot the photos with a camera phone, and I am Dougie's Carlearning this website stuff from the beginning.  It will get better I promise, Stay with me.  The good Cameras and video will be soon to follow.

Well, Where to Begin,  I arrived in La Grave on the 17th of December the day before opening.  After securing my pass for the season, finding a bed for the night in the K2 Pub thanks to Pella and sorting my ski kit for morning, I was ready for opening day and just in the nick of time.  To my surprise, with all the snow there were only about 20 people in the morning cue on Opening day.  Unbelievable!!!!   We had untracked line after line in a yet to be explored season of a fresh snowpack. I don’t miss the states for a minute, Colorado you can have all your snow and it’s people that come with it, LOL.

Upon arriving to the Tram dock, it was only Matts and Villa in front of the door and a few folks waiting for tickets, Of course, Kurt was soon to follow and right there with us.   First run out the door was straight to the patou,  It is La Grave of course, we want couloirs.  Maybe one of the best Patou’s I have ever had, but we were warming up. As Kurt and Villa Were Rochamboeing to see who got to cut Patou, I thought of poaching both of them. But that’s ok because  Trifide 1 was mine next.  🙂

Untracked every run, No one here, and perfect snow,  just amazing,  On X-mas day things got a bit more interesting with exploration.  Ptor, myself and Villa, were the only 3 people standing at the tram dock waiting for commission to open.  Only 3 of us, I swear, 2 other visitors buying tickets, but we didn’t know them.  The mountain had been closed from the day before due to a nice Slab that Kurt went for a ride in under the lift at about 2600 meters or so.  So we were blessed when they let us up for a white X-mas of freshies.  Santa was good to us.

1st run with Ptor and Villa was straight into T1 from the upper side,  So Damn Good, and I am not lying,  3 people on the mountain at this point,  maybe 10 for the whole day.  We shifted our eyes towards the Banana after that, as it had not been skied yet for the season, so there was still some mystery there.  It skied amazing, and we were the only ones there.

So the first week has been something to remember,  No people, No lines, So much good snow, and you can be first where ever you want, or alone if you want.  Quiet scene in town, a great blues band at the K2 pub last Friday, and just the seasoner’s, as few as we are pouring back in to the routine we love. ,  I went a bit too hard this first week, and as i write this I am coming off of a four day flu or something, but it’s New Years, I will make the rounds tonight, and look forward to seeing the Genuine Locals of this village that brave this beautiful Town for the long haul.

Happy New Year All

Joey V.

PS,  The Pan was even skied a few times already too, all before the New Year 🙂  It’s Good!