Flying out of Anchorage Alaska (Mikey), two consecutive red-eye flights, a day of walking around Washington DC, meeting up with Gabe Rogel and the Chickering-Ayers bros at Dulles International Airport, a 4 hour bus ride through the Alps, and 36 hours of travel time later, Gabe and I finally made it to Tignes. The bus ride from Geneva to Tignes, France really dropped us into the vibe of the Alps with small old villages, the French countryside, and finally the accent into the South Western Alps. Oh, and the bus driving really fast through all of the villages and curvey alpine roads.
Once in Tignes 1800 (just below Tignes’ Les Boisses) we surprisingly found our hostel right around the corner from the bus stop and waiting for us there was my good buddy Stellan Fries. Also, Frederick and Cecelia who stayed with me a few years ago at my house in Driggs. It was really exciting to see them! After an apre beer or two with Stellan, Gabe and I got settled into our sewage-scented room in the basement of the hostel, which is ideal because we have it to our selves.
The Sweds are staying in the town about 300 meters (vert) down valley from Tignes 1800. Naturally, Gabe and I put on our ski boots (with our street cloths), grabbed our skis, and skied down in the dark to meet the Sweds for dinner in Tignes’ Les Brevieres. I knew a few of the other’s in Stellan’s crew and we was introduced to a few more… what a crew. The restaurant was your quintessential French alpine setting. It was in a old stone building that smelled like the slinkiest cheese you can imagine. Honestly, it was one of the greatest meals I have ever eaten and if I don’t gain 5 lbs on this trip then I will have not taken full advantage of the cuisine. I mean they served a block of cheese (Raclette), the size of a basketball cut in half, on a stand with a headed coil slowly melting the cheese onto a plate. Great eats and great company!
The next morning Gabe and I met Stellan in the main village (Tignes’ Le Lac) about 300 meters (vert) above Tignes 1800. From there Stellan showed us around Tignes and Val di Sere for the morning, until he had to head out to Chamonix. It is too bad we didn’t get to spend more time with him, but it was awesome to get to hang out for the time we had! Until next time buddy. It was way nice to have Stellan to show us around a bit because this place is unimaginably big, to the point where you do not know where to begin upon showing up for the first time. I mean, there are ski lifts, gondolas, trams and trains (yes underground trains) to the top of nearly every peak in sight. When you leave the piste (designated runs) it is hard to tell if you’re still near the area or off into the side country. It is quite easy to ski very far from civilization in little time.
Unfortunately the weather has been really warm and has consolidated the snow and then even gone isothermic in places with quite a lot of wet-slide and glide activity. Yesterday, however, it was over cast most the day with the sun coming out for the late afternoon and evening. We were able to fire off a couple shots, but it was a bit late.
We also shot a bit last night with a strobe, but the feature we were gunning for ended up being off-limits. There is this really old stone hut just up from our hostel in the woods, and you can ski right onto the roof. It is tiered with a couple levels of roof to ski like a pillow line. As it turns out, someone actually still lives there (only in the alps) and they preferred we did not ski on their 200 year-old roof. We will check again tonight and see if they are, by chance, not home (damn Americans).
Now, Friday morning, we are getting ready to head out again, but it is pretty gray out and hopefully snowing a bit. We have time and shall see what Mother Nature give us to work with. Either way, we are in the Alps and it will happen! We will report again shortly, so keep check into tetonfreeride.com.
Mikey and Gabe