We’ve mentioned before about our instructor David Gladwin passing his UIAGM exams which means he is a fully qualified Mountain Guide who can take anyone anywhere in the world. We put David’s qualification to full effect last week when we sent him off along with three of our clients, Sophie, Peter and Sylvain to the Italian side of Mont Blanc for an epic day of off piste riding on the glacier de Toule.
An early start was needed for the drive to Chamonix to pass through the Mont Blanc tunnel into Italy and then onto Courmeyer in the Valle d’Aosta, where the very shiny new ‘SkyWay’ lift takes you up to the Punta Helbronner lift station at 3400mtrs.
Sophie, Peter and Sylvain are all experienced off piste snowboarders but none of them had ever climbed or abseiled before so it was down to our guide David to teach them everything the needed to know and to keep them safe in the mountains.
After a mountain safety brief from David the team stepped into climbing harnesses, strapped on their crampons, tied into the rope and made their way across the snow to the Col du Flambeau and then on towards the Col Oriental de Toule.
The team then hiked from the col Du Flambeau to the top of the Col de Toule. From this point a number of abseils, a bit of down climbing and some steep ladders were needed to access the top of the Glacier de Toule where the fun snowboarding could start.
Safely at the top of the glacier everyone could take off the mountaineering equipment and strap on their boards. With open views of Mont Blanc and the Grand jorasses and no one else to be seen on the mountain it was time to do what everyone came here for.
The snow conditions were perfect with plenty of bowls full of wind transported snow the team had a great afternoon of riding, with this epic glacier descent all to themselves.
As the team descended further down the glacier the snow softened up nicely and the group was riding well so we decided to spice things up and tackle some steeper descents. The team were briefed on safe travel techniques and snow and terrain analysis and everyone discussed the best line of descent and entry and exit points before they set off.
The steep terrain was definitely the highlight of the trip, everyone held their own, carving their way down the rest of the glacier to the Sky Way midpoint station at the Pavillon du Mont Fret
At the midway station with everyone pretty tired and having had an epic day out in the mountains the team made their way back down to the cars to head home for a well-deserved beer (or three).
After a slower than usual start to the winter, the snow gods answered our prayers in January with an abundance of snow. The guys on our Off Piste Freeride course in early February enjoyed some fantastic snow conditions, with bluebird powder days and endless untracked descents throughout the week.
This course involves 5 full days of exploring the off piste terrain around the Portes du Soleil on the French / Swiss boarder. Our UIAGM Aspirant Mountain Guide, David Gladwin, led the pack with his second to none knowledge of the backcountry terrain in and around the Morzine – Avoriaz area.
The group enjoyed plenty of long off piste descents of over 1000 vertical meters, with first tracks all the way. Towards the end of the week they tackled some steeper, more challenging routes, involving hikes up to peaks unaccessible by ski lifts.
The course also included technical input into off piste snowboarding techniques, to help the group master the different types of terrain and snow conditions. You have to be able to tackle anything that the mountain throws at you!
And as ever David, who is a slight snowpack geek, enjoyed giving the group an understanding of avalanche risk and safety… and explaining how he makes calculated decisions when guiding them on their daily snowboard adventures.
Everyone finished the week absolutely exhausted and totally buzzing off snowboarding. Success!
DON’T MISS OUT on riding powder this winter… join us from 29th February to 4th March 2016 on the next Off Piste Freeride course!!!
Check out some of the photos of the freeride week below:
Thanks to the freeride group for the photos: Chris, Simon, Viet, Kev, Wael & Malcolm.
Mint Snowboarding have been running renowned snowboard camps since 2007 and this winter they’re back better than ever; not only with a revamped format but we are also stoked to announce that they are now run in partnership with Burton Snowboards!
Structured in a way that offers full days exploring the Portes du Soleil with your coach, our snowboard camps are aimed to maximize fun whilst benefiting from top level coaching. All of our instructors are qualified to the highest level (BASI or equivalent) and fully legal to teach & take you off piste in France. A Burton Test Centre, is available for all those booked on our camps, which is fully stocked with a whole range of brand new 2013 Burton boards including: The NEW Parkitect – a park specific board with design input from Jeremy Jones; The Hero – a team riders favourite whose V-Rocker delivers incredible amounts of pop; And The Feelgood Flying V– Burton’s most sought after women’s all mountain board.
What do you want out of an epic snowboard holiday? To find how 3 feet out of a pipe can be 10 with a bit of coaching, go adventuring in the backcountry, progress your shred or simply ‘Experience Snowboarding’... we run snowboard camps for riders of all levels. Join us this winter for the best week you will ever have on your board! Choose between the following courses:
Experience Snowboarding Camp: 17th – 21st December 2012
Shred Progress ion Intermediate Camp: 17th – 21st December 2012 & 14th – 18th January 2013
Shred Progress ion Advanced Camp: 17th – 21st December 2012 & 14th – 18th January 2013
Freestyle Camp: 28th January 2013 – 1st February & 4th – 8th March 2013
Backcountry Snowboard Camp: 21st – 25th January 2013
For more info on the Mint Snowboard Camps check here and check below some photos from last years camps.
Once upon a time, in an extremely cold snowy inhospitable place, 6 gladiators pitted themselves for a week of backcountry snowboarding against the mountains of the Portes du Soleil…
They were led by Mint snowboard guides David Gladwin & Tammy Esten into the untouched, secret off-piste spots of the Portes du Soleil resorts around Morzine, Avoriaz & Chatel…
It snowed on call every night, laying down knee deep powder for the following day…
The mountains drew blood…
But they continued to shred…
The mountain tried to swallow them up…
But they continued to shred…
Tons was learnt by all; avalanche awareness, terrain analysis, snowpack stability, transceiver use as well as backcountry techniques to riding the deep deep powder to name but a few…
And the snow never stopped falling, and again they continued to shred…
And happy faces were permanent fixtures for the week…
Many thanks to:
The 6 Gladiators for being keen & solid shredders
The Mountain Gods for producing bottomless powder in a seemingly endless supply for the week
Some of the off piste routes done (as well as many secret spots to boost):
Pointe de Vorlaz
Pointe De Linderets
Vallée de la Manche (several variants)
Crozat Bowl (several variants)
The Croset Couloirs x5