Nico Favre and his brother Benoit from the French video productionÂ Wild RushÂ and I bagged the first descent and ski BASE off Aiguille Croche in the Alps on the 26th! Nico is editing the video and it will be available on Skipass.com very soon.
The day started very well with a beautiful blue sky. We did a first interview with the Aiguille Croche in the background. Afterwards, we had to take a big cable car to cross the valley to get to the other side and take the lift to access the correct side of the mountain. We take 2 chairlifts and arrive at the cable car and it tries to take off 5 times and comes back in the hangar. The guy tells us we have to take a shuttle.
After taking another lift, we get to the shuttle but all the people rushed into it, Both camera guys are in and the driver tells me: “sorry, no more room”. Thankfully, a guy is behind the shuttle and gives me a ride to the other side of the valley with his little Renault. The sky is getting a little milky by now and we start losing the light now. No wind is picking up however.
So, we take one more gondola, 2 chairlifts and the last lift to the top of Mt Joly is closed so we decided to skin up with our skis. But, the camera guys’ skins are old and keep coming off their skis. They end up boot packing up and we are already 1hr30min behind schedule.
We get to the top of Mt Joly from where we can climb the ridge to get above the face and we realize that the snow conditions will not allow us to travel fast and that there are 2 long uphill sections on the ridge. After another 2 hrs, we finally get to the spot. I find the top of the line and the camera crew is getting set up but by now it is 2 pm and the light is completely flat which means that we can’t see the hazards and shape of the slope very well which makes skiing the line very challenging.
To add to the challenge, the snow conditions were pretty unstable but just stable enough if you want to ski light and fast.
The camera is rolling. I give the guys the 30 second check and drop in. The snow is sloughing all over the place and I ski lightly so it doesn’t turn into an avalanche. I am getting into a tight chute and my skis are fighting the crust. I quickly realize that falling is not an option and it is turning into a you fall, you die situation.
I try to breathe and relax but the other issue is that I don’t really know where the edge of the cliff band is since I am blind skiing the line. Finally, I feel like I am getting closer and start pointing it. All of the sudden, that’s it, I am in the air and 600ft off the ground and all the slough from the top is falling next to me!
I am going so fast that the air is grabbing my skis and trying to flip me on my stomach but I manage to pull my chute and stay stable. Finally, the parachute opens and I am screaming like a madman and fly back towards the cliff to get a good look at it. It was just too incredible to just fly away!
But, it was time to think about a landing zone and I found a spot between little evergreens – smooth landing. I look at the cliff one more time to soak in the experience and call my family to let them know I am safe as well as my girlfriend.
It feels good to be alive one more time and to do another first. This was probably one of the most terrifying lines of my life and one of the most fulfilling and magical moments.
Nico Favre calls me on the radio, he is fired up, got the shot and it is sick!
So, in a nutshell, this was my experience! I want to do it again but we only had one day to make it happen since the weather turned bad again and the snow is now pretty bad.
After that, I came home to hang out with my family and drink champagne! It felt really good to be home again, conqueer my home mountain after cheating death across America and hanging with the whole family for the first time in 6 years. Good times for sure!
I am back in Utah on the 30th and will get back on the road towards Mt Baker and Mt Hood around January 5th. If the snow is good, Grant Gunderson and I found a nice drop at Baker but it will be minus parachute.
I hope you all had a great Christmas and I already wish you a happy new year! The video link will follow very soon!