Thursday, 15 February 2007

The backcountry playground

Dropping a cornice

So the quotes for the new work went in yesterday, we've got stuff tabled and we've done a load recently so Chris and I decided to take the day off to ride the new powder. I went out riding with the usual suspects of Chalet Le Courtil in Brevent and Flegere - two ski areas within walking distance of the chalet.

What a day. We all rode really well - 4 friends out in the backcountry riding all the natural terrain with powder faces, chutes, couloirs, gullies, windlips, cornices and natural kickers. It's like one big snowy playground up in Flegere and is really one of my favourite places to ride just because the topography of the place really leans itself to freeriding. There's a huge natural kicker called "The Tit" up there which we hit a couple of times. You run flat out at it and there's a windlip at the top that kicks you up in the air. I managed to pull a 360 off the top but unfortunately butt-checked the landing - but because it's just this bulge in the landscape (guess what it looks like!) it feels like your 40 feet in the air when you take off (you're not, no way near). We also dropped a whole load of cornices and ridges - everyone pulling different tricks or sometimes just floating off the drops. There's a photo of me dropping one at the top of this blog entry. There was also a load of freeriding powder with people carving huge swooping turns and riding fast and steep terrain with cultured aplomb. I've started to get into the habit of pulling tail presses in the powder sending up a bit of a roosters tail and luckily Kev grabbed quite a good photo as I went passed him.

I managed to drop a 20 foot cliff with a 12 foot powder landing that ran into a piste. There was no-one on the piste but a family of four with clear blue sky and I could see the landing from the take off so dropped down and pulled a safety grab, landed perfectly and shot onto the piste where I stopped immediately and had a look up where I'd just jumped from. The dad in the family rushed up to me and started shouting "That was mad! That was amazing!". I was giggling to myself anyway beforehand and I just burst out laughing and said "Thanks mate". It was pretty special - he said that he and his son just turned around and saw the take off and kind of decided to watch. It was another one of those wicked moments where you feel embarrassed and pleased at the same time. We ended up having a chat about his family and stuff and it was really cool - maybe I'll get the chance to bump into them in town and say hello. I hope so and I feel quite priveleged to have met them in the way we did and hopefully give them a small talking point over dinner tonight.

Tail press in the powder.

We're all surprised how well we're riding now - we're tending to put down really interesting lines and finding better and more progressive ways to use the mountain. It feels really good to be part of a team of riders who really are doing some amazing stuff. Joe's riding is coming out leaps and bounds and constantly amazes me with how much he picks up every day and executes it all with a nice style. His choice of lines down the mountain is really starting to come on as well. Dan always looks stylish and rides his skis fast and true down the steep stuff and he takes on all jumps, drops and kickers with style and grace - especially the 180's he's started to pull all over the place. Kev's just an awesome rider and really lays down lines that are beautiful to look at - his technique and style are something we all aspire to. For my part, I'm just happy to be riding so solidly and I feel pleased that the other guys say I push them as much as they push me. Looking at the photos from the day, I can safely say that we're all really starting to lay down the style like the usual suspects we are.

I've put the full set of photos from the day up on flickr: