Hunting turns in midsummer

Photos care of Heather Swift, Women’s Mountain Collective.

It’s been raining a lot lately. The other day I woke up and in my grogginess thought it was winter and that it had just snowed. When I looked out the window and felt the temperature I was jolted back to reality. It’s the middle of summer and that heavy rain falling down.

After two months of summer I’m starting to pine for cold days, snowfall and skiing. I miss skiing, I miss the floaty feeling, going fast and jumping off things while not fearing for my life like I did yesterday while trying to mountain bike.

When I first arrived in the Alps this summer a little part of me had a secret goal to try and ski every month of the year. However, with the warm temps and my plans to head to New Zealand on my home having fallen through, I have only realised that this little goal may have to wait for another time.

This did, however, leave me to reminisce about my last summer skiing adventure, where Heather, Rich and I managed to bridge a ski trip over June and July.


Dream team…

June 30th.

I woke up groggy on the couch, after working until the early hours of the morning I snuck into Heather’s place for small nap before waking up around 5:30am up to head to Italy.

6:30am – We’re running a little behind schedule, partly due to my tiredness and other small factors. Car is getting packed with skis, glacier kit and extra gear, just in case.

Sometime around 8-9:00am – Arrived at the carpark of Cervina. Were excited to see other skiers until we realised they were going to ski at the resort and not ski tour up mountains and glaciers. After some mismatching of gear, giggles about skiing when it was so warm and finally gearing up we jumped in the lift and put our skins on.

11:00am– Important moment at the refuge involving me cleaning the chocolate milk that leaked through my backpack, that managed to inundate my avalanche rescue gear, eating creamy pastries, buying lunch and sipping coffees. Left with a cleaner bag and full stomachs towards Kleine Matterhorn, dodging alpine racers and park rats. After making it to the top we slipped off to the side towards Breithorn.

12pm- Starting to feel the altitude as we skin out of the resort towards Breithorn (4100m). There are lots of mountaineering parties but no one else has skis. Feel a little outnumbered here.

Heathers victory dance

Heathers victory dance on the summit with the Matterhorn covered in clouds behind her.

Sometime early afternoon – On top of Breithorn. What a view, the Matterhorn lurks just to the left, while Pollux and Castor, our goals for tomorrow stare us straight in the eye to the right.


Rich and I looking super trendy on the summit of Breithorn

Line spotting, Pollux to the left and Castor straight on.

Line spotting, Pollux to the left and Castor straight on.

Epic smoo all the way down to the bottom.

Epic smoo all the way down to the bottom.

Slogging up wet snow for an hour at altitude was worth it. The corn and smoo that we skied to the bergschrund was just what the doctor ordered for this ski-sick little girl. I only wish that it was longer! However, that wasn’t the end of the day.

Our game plan was to ski Breithorn and descend down to the Rifugio Guide della Val D’Ayas. On paper it seemed simple enough. Descend from Breithorn, keep on going, traverse across the glacier and then make your way to the hut. Yes simple on paper but sketchy on wet, summer snow.

Beginning the route finding process to the hut

It began ok but after a few soggy crevasse lips we began to realise that and earlier descent would have put us in much better stead for a safe descent. The consistent calving on the lower flanks of the glacier only heightened our feelings of anxiety.

After several hours and too many crossings we made it to the final traverse to the hut, the crux of our descent.

Our favourite part of the day, traversing scary seracs at 5pm

Our favourite part of the day, skiing below seracs at 5pm


Team meeting before our final crevasse crossing to the hut

There is nothing better at the end of the day than stepping onto solid ground

There is nothing better at the end of the day than stepping onto solid ground and getting a big meal in your belly.


Heather and I gratefully taking in the view from the hut

After a good refuel, a beautiful sunset and a sleep we were ready for the next day. Unfortunately were decided not push forward with our plan to attempt both Pollux and Castor in the same day as a result of the poor conditions on Castor and the exponential warming that we had experienced during the day- we still need to make it home before the close of the lifts.

July 1st

Woke up to an incredible sunrise and a cracking morning. After an interesting breakfast of dry bread and nutella (not sufficient for this ladies breakfast needs), we started back up towards Pollux.


Early morning shadows on the way up to Pollux

I knew that the route up to Pollux involved a little more rock climbing in ski boots than I was used to but halfway up when the route turned to straight rock, my skis and I started shaking in our boots.

Belaying Heather on the mixed rock route up to the summit of Pollux

Belaying Heather on the mixed rock route up to the summit of Pollux after a little ski tour and a boot pack.

However, with a strong leader we make it up, albeit slightly awkwardly with our skis, to the top of the rock route, ready to attack the snowy ridge to the summit.


Heather taking in the afternoon with the Madonna

We made it to the summit around noon and despite concerns that the snow may have already transformed, we found the opposite on the descent. One could almost call the top section boilerplate (really icy). Nevertheless with was a super fun, steep descent with just a few creamy turns at the bottom.

Skiing down the the bergschrund on Pollux

Skiing down the the bergschrund on Pollux


Content after two fun days of skiing and adventuring

To date, these two days were some of the best I have spent in Europe this summer. We had a great crew, a super interesting route planned and two fun descents. It’s crazy how much you can learn in two days but spending the time on the glacier like this helped me to consolidate so many things I have learnt over the past three years. I can’t wait for winter!!

The uncomfort zone

Argentiere Glacier, Chamonix Photo: Patric Lundell

Argentiere Glacier, Chamonix
Photo: Patric Lundell

“What lured him on was of course, the great adventure, the eternal longing of every truly creative man to push on into unexplored country, to discover something entirely new- if only about himself. ”                  

                                                                               – Heinrich Harrer, The White Spider

These days to find unexplored, unknown country is quite rare, if not impossible. Finding the uncomfort zone, however, is not so difficult. For me there is always something about the unknown that is slightly disagreeable- sometimes just not knowing will make me cringe. Nevertheless and despite loving all things pleasant, I’m a big believer in the ‘uncomfort zone’. Yes I know, it’s a made up phrase but you get the point. It’s the place where you stop feeling comfortable and start feeling uncomfortable, challenged and at times slightly awkward. It’s here that I have always learnt new things about myself, about others and gained a true respect and love for life.

Earlier this year I made a big decision, which for most could seem trivial but from my perspective, it felt like I had decided to start living upside down. For the majority of my adult life I have literally been chasing winter. My focus has been skiing; earning money to ski and getting fit to ski. Other things like future careers, hobbies and sports outside of skiing have slowly but surely ended up on the wayside.

However, this year, for a multitude of reasons, including feeling totally and utterly burnt out doing one of the things I love most in the world, I decided to step out of the wintery comfort zone and try some warmer temps on for size.

So this summer I moved to Chamonix, France.


Living here for the last two months has been incredible but I would be lying if I didn’t admit how often I have been in the ‘uncomfort zone’ since the beginning of June. Luckily I have met some generous souls along the way, who have agreed to hold my hand and explore the mountains with me.

For instance, in my first week here, the lovely Heather Swift, without hesitation took me up the Aiguille du Midi for my first mountaineering route.


She cooed calming thoughts to me as we descended the Midi arete, which in ski boots seems absolutely manageable but in normal boots and crampons felt death-defying; was patient anytime I was scared and then walked me through the idea of trying to rock climb with my crampons on. Without her, I would have spent most of the summer staring up at the Midi, wondering what the temperature was like up there.

Heather Swift- yep, I have a little bit of a girl crush

Heather Swift everybody- yep, I have a little bit of a girl crush

I guess you could say that this first climb was a slippery slope to addiction. I have spent all of June and a large part of July mincing around on rocks. Like I said before, it hasn’t been an easy transition. I’m often scared on routes, especially by the height and exposure, I get disco leg more often than not, which usually ends up with me talking to myself.

Unlike skiing where many things come naturally to me, I feel like I am constantly working hard just to get the small things right. But I guess that’s the point right? It’s in this unexplored territory, away from our cocoons of comfort that we discover a new and better understanding of ourselves…….or at least a great love for good quality climbing equipment and well planned trips.

I’ve got another two months of summer ahead of me, so who knows what other new, uncomfortable places I’ll explore. In the meantime, here are some places I have already been.

Patric and Klara were part of my first climbing adventure in Chamonix

Les Gaillands with Patric and Klara on my first sport climbing outing in Chamonix

Above the clouds

Above the clouds

This is Heather, Flossie, Johnny, Neil and I getting lost in Italy looking for boulders

Heather, Flossie, Johnny, Neil and I getting lost in Italy looking for boulders

We later realised that they were over the river.....

We later realised that they were over the river…..

Celine and Klara took me out on my first proper multi-pitch climb for the summer. I rewarded with them with a range of songs and dances by the one and only Beyonce (trying to twerk in a harness can be interesting).

Celine and Klara took me out on my first proper multi-pitch climb for the summer in Cheserys. I rewarded with them with a range of songs and dances by the one and only Beyonce (trying to twerk in a harness can be interesting).

Our awesome summer ski mountaineering crew in Cervinia. Climbing with ski boots and crampons up rock routes is an adventure in itself.

Our awesome summer ski mountaineering crew in Cervinia (Heather, Rich and I). Climbing with ski boots and crampons up rock routes is an adventure in itself.

Tom GW and freezing our tits off and talking about farts while hanging off a multipitch route on Aiguille du Peigne

Tom (‘the GWA’ – Ginger with Attitude)  freezing our tits off and talking about farts while hanging off a multi-pitch route on Aiguille du Peigne with Abs Wheeler.

Extreme walking with Heather

Extreme walking with Heather

Papillon ridge with Megs...trying not to freak out before the crux.

Papillon ridge with Megs…trying not to freak out before the crux.


Shaky but alive after climbing through the crux on Papillon

Just because it's summer doesn't mean I can't still go for the occasional ski.

Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean I can’t still go for the occasional ski.

Do or do not, there is no try.

“Do or do not, there is no try.”

This is just one of the Star Wars quotes that circulate around competition venues at Freeride World Qualifier events of late. This is most likely as a result of the lovely Evelina Nilsson a Star Wars obsessed, ripping female skier who I have had the pleasure of competing with a lot this season.


On the podium with (left to right) Chloe and Evelina at Nendaz Freeride last week

I actually asked Evelina to remind me of the this quote while we were standing on top of Mt Gond last weekend, before dropping into our finals run for Nendaz Freeride FWQ 4*. In some ways it’s a strange thing to ask, usually at this time one should be focusing on their drop in zone and the run ahead. But for me these little snippets of advice and support have helped me to get out of a competition funk this winter.

It’s hard to make a generalised statement about camaraderie in women’s action sports, as I have only had a limited experience with big mountain skiing, and even then I have experienced a whole range of personalities and attitudes. There is one thing that I can say for sure is that over the past few years of competing, it is the other female competitors who have supported me, inspired me and at times greatly challenged me to progress and push myself further.


Competition selfies with judge Monika Tartarkova

I used to think a lot differently about this and would have readily gone to a guy for advice over another female competitor. Nowadays, if I am worried about the take-off or landing of a cliff, the snow conditions in an area- I go and ask the girls. For sure, not everyone wants to discuss where they are going to ski in a competition at great length, for some it’s part of their strategy at certain events but over this year I have found that for most it can be reassuring and informative to discuss the competition venue with your fellow rivals.

Scoping lines

Scoping lines

I think my desire to gain advice from my male counterparts in the past was because I wanted to ski harder and better, which at the time for me meant ‘skiing like a boy’.  Over the last few years the level of women’s freeride skiing in general, as well as in competition has flourished. In my personal opinion I believe that a lot of this has to do with a paradigm shift , female riders in our sport are choosing not to be compared to male skiers but rather recognising themselves as strong female athletes in their own right.

Girls ski differently to boys, we are built differently and the exciting part about that is that our progression is going to take a different path and will uncover different styles and ways of skiing down the mountain. I mean, freeride skiing would be pretty boring if the aim was just to jump of the biggest cliff on the venue.

So I’ll leave it there, I am sure there is a lot more to be said on this topic but for me- I am just stoked on competing with such as interesting, diverse and ripping group of women who are challenging each other and I can’t wait to see where our sport is going to head next.

I guess there is just one more thing, a big thanks to all the organisations, events, brands and individuals at our events (including the judges and event organisers), who give us the opportunity and support to be the best riders we can.

Road tripping without a car: Slovakia

My favourite part of competitions is turning them into adventures. The nature of freeride competition circuits works well with this desire. Where else will you find yourself travelling all over Europe, on a tight budget to all kinds of mountain ranges?

There is a quote by Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, that goes along the lines of, “The word adventure has gotten overused. For me, when everything goes wrong – that’s when adventure starts”.

I am guilty of overusing the word adventure, maybe because I love the idea of making the most of things and an adventure is the best way to use time- even when everything goes wrong!

If you use this definition of the word, I can’t fully classify our road trip to Slovakia as an adventure, because not everything went wrong. However, there were some road blocks along the way that required some serious creative and positive thinking.

It all started in Innsbruck. I was picked up by the amazing Arianni Tricomi and Maria Kuzma, in a car that would suit a pack of gangsters far more than us three freeriders. I mean this in the nicest and most complimentary sense- I was travelling in style!

The drive from Innsbruck to Jasna was fairly uneventful, we made it to Bratislava under the cover of a starry night and spent the majority of our drive through Slovakia trying to picture the surroundings through our sense of smell. From what I could figure, there were a lot of factories around the road and some very nice pine forests closer to the mountains.


Face check with Maria and Sam

After arriving at Jasna, we got settled at the Hotel Ostredok and prepared ourselves for face check the next day. We were all smiles on our way up the mountain the next day- who wouldn’t be? It’s not often you get to ride a chairlift in Slovakia……But our amusement was quickly dashed when we found ourselves surrounded by fog after the first two chairlifts. After getting lost we finally made it to the face, although we didn’t find much more than the previous runs- fog.

Following a coffee and some smack talk about a Tinder app connected to avalanche beacons, we abandoned face check and took some laps on the lower mountain.


Keen skiers

I was surprised how fun the mellow tree runs were. There was a mix of fresh, condensed snow and slush but it was perfect for macking through the trees on each others tails. It reminded me a lot of skiing in Australia- minus the snow gums.


That evening, Evelina Nilsson and I presented PURE at the Hotel and despite having seen it over ten times now, I never get tired of it- it always manages to inspire me.

The next morning I woke up to more fog but by the end of breakfast we could see all the way to the top of the resort. On arrival to the competition venue, we found this (minus the blue sky).


Not too shabby if i do say so myself

Despite some icy layers on the top of the venue and a fair bit of rime, the snow on the face looked good. After a nice, long face inspection the first riders dropped into what looked like some sweet, sweet Slovakian pow turns.

Unfortunately, the weather is a cruel mistress and just before the halfway mark of the competition, the fog began to rise and engulf the venue. There is nothing worse than waiting to drop, especially when the competition goes on hold. You sit there, trying not to loose your excited, nervous energy but stressing because you are becoming less positive and more depressed about the swirling fog. Everyone deals with it differently.

The judges chose a competitive game of gin

The judges chose a competitive game of gin

Some people climb the walls

Some people climb the walls

And I usually stare out the window, pretending that I can see blue sky

And I usually stare out the window, pretending that I can see blue sky

My optimism had no effect on the weather. Finally at 4pm we skied down, giggling, because it was so hard to see in the thick mass of clouds.

I could go on to explain the rest of the competition but to be brief, it continued on at the same pattern. Early mornings, positive attitudes, thick fog, lots of coffee and hands of gin and unfortunately a cancelled event. On Sunday when they made the call, the weather was only going to get worse. They did however manage to run over two thirds of the mens snowboard category, which by definition of the rules, means that the results of that category count.

Yiew! Awesome to see kiwi Jake Koia on the podium, representing for the southern hemisphere......even if he does pull some weird faces

Yiew! Awesome to see kiwi Jake Koia on the podium, representing for the southern hemisphere……even if he does pull some weird faces

While frustrating for many, I was stoked for the event organisers. After having investing so much in this event (which had previously been a 3-star), it was nice to have some kind of prize giving ceremony. A big thank-you to Jasna Adrenalin for putting so much effort into trying to ride a sweet freeride event in Slovakia- I hope that next year the weather gets in line!

While I enjoyed our little ‘adventure’ to Slovakia, our crew gangsters were ready for some skiing. After the prize giving ceremony, with Tori Beattie in tow, we hot-tailed it back to Innsbruck for what we hoped to be a pow day the following morning.

At Axamer Lizum the next day we found some pow- but once again no visibility. I still had fun, got some snow in my face and chuckled with friends.

…And then the adventure was over before it started. Tori and I packed our bags and after a few very confusing Facebook conversations, met Moby Dick (a white van commanded by Beranger, Cedric and Dion) and began the drive home to Verbier.

Dion, Me, Tori,  Bee and Cedric. Photo: Anna Smoothy

Dion, Me, Tori, Bee and Cedric with Mr Dick.
Photo: Anna Smoothy

Moby Dick was a trusty stead and over the week successful transferred a range of judges, freeriders and spectators safely from Verbier to Jasna and back. The final leg of the journey was no different. After leaving Innsbruck, we slept in St Anton where we found over 20cms of fresh on the ground, with more to come. It was hard to wake up in the morning to what we knew would be an epic pow day but home was calling and after a big breakfast and a glance at the powdery slopes we were homeward bound to Switzerland.

And so ended the carless road trip. I’m back home in Verbier, rested and ready to go for the next string of Freeride World Qualifiers. Big thanks, as always, to everyone who let me drive with them, housed me and delivered such great company in the mountains and at home. Until next time!


It’s good to be back Verbier!

Road Tripping without a car: to Austria and beyond!

Earlier this week I made my way to Innsbruck, just in time for some fresh powder. Not being a local and still quite confused about the Innsbruck public transport system (yep that number three tram was a huge mind boggler), I called in the big guns.

So on Tuesday morning I was escorted to Axamer Lizum by the local kiwi crew who have made Innsbruck their base for the winter- Pete Oswald, Neil Williman, Charlie Lyons, Georgie McNamara, Sophie Stevens and Austrian Christoph Schöfegger. Check out Neil’s edit from the day. After a month of travelling for competitions it was so nice just to freeski with friends.

Neil and I after some epic pillow pow turns

Neil and I after some epic pillow pow turns

Ironically, I met some of these boys at my first ever big mountain competition in New Zealand in 2010. While some of them can only very vaguely remember me, others, like Neil, mentored me through what ended up being quite the short lived FWQ event. I crashed 10m out of the start gate…. Who would have thought that five years later, I am still at it and thankfully have learnt from my mistakes.

NZ Freeski Open in 2010- first competition and yep, that is Arianna Tricomi in the background (she sent it as per usual)!

NZ Freeski Open in 2010- first competition and yep, that is Arianna Tricomi in the background (she sent it as per usual)!

Skiing pow with these crazy cats made me reminisce and start to wonder- why was I still competing? The last few months have been a struggle for me and poor results have led me to be less and less motivated. But Tuesday helped me remember- the best thing about competitions are the amazing, out there, eccentric and positive people you meet and shred with. They inspire you, support you and usually challenge you to ski harder, faster and send it bigger! Some people I have competed with and met at competitions are now some of my best friends and huge inspirations in my life.

Little screen grab from getting pitted in Axamer-- check out Neil's Athlete page to watch the full edit:

Little screen grab from Neil’s edit- getting pitted in Axamer.

So Tuesday was epic and was very quickly followed by an early morning on Wednesday to catch the train up to St Anton to hang out with my Aussie friends: James, Trish and Michael who have based themselves there for the winter.

It felt weird taking public transport with all my ski gear in Innsbruck

It felt weird taking public transport with all my ski gear in Innsbruck

While the snow quality was better in St Anton, the cold temps that led to the light snow meant that the base was also harder, leading to some crampy feet but still some epic turns.

James getting the goods in St Anton

James getting the goods in St Anton

After an awesome two days skiing, I was recharged and ready for our departure for Jasna, Slovakia.

Unfortunately, the trip wasn’t over and on the train ride home I found out that my pow buddy Neil had just broken his collar bone. There is no way to explain how crappy you feel the day of an injury- in the past I have just wanted to lock myself away and cry and how much as a friend you want to do everything in your power to make the injured feel better. We tried and hopefully after a Mexican feast, Lukas’ incredible Kaiser pancakes and the Inbetweeners 2 you are already on the mend!

Big thanks to Mr Lukas for having me to stay- housing ski bums from all over the world is a profession in itself!

Next stop- Jasna.

Road Tripping without a car: ITALIA

I don’t know why but all last week since getting back from my last competition road trip I have had ants in my pants. Despite being back in Verbier for only a week I was feeling a little bit like this guy:


Yep, making puns and everything- I think I even have a similar hat at home…….

So, when the opportunity came up to compete in the King of the Dolomites in San Martino di Castrozza with Canadian photographer, Zoya Lynch- I jumped at the chance. Huge mountains, couloirs, pizza, coffee and the chance to shoot with a badass photog. Who needs convincing?

The only issue- I don’t have a car. While it’s not a deal breaker, my plans were quite complicated- this was not going to be a one-country-only adventure and getting a train from Verbier and beyond with two pairs of skis and gear for two weeks did not sound appealing-so I began the car-less roadtrip.

The route: Verbier to San Martino di Castrozza, San Martino to the Dalbello Factory, Dalbello Factory to Innsbruck, Innsbruck to Slovakia and finally after the Jasna FWQ 4* in Jasna- home to Verbier.


After some super sleuthing I found out that local Italian ski legend, Giulia Monego was leaving the sunny slopes of Verbier to head back to her home country to compete in the King of the Dolomites, and after a few polite emails I nailed down transport for the first leg of my journey.

We began in Le Chable on Wednesday and drove to Chamonix to spend the night. On Thursday morning after a relaxed morning staring up at Mt Blanc we hit the road and toured through the Aosta Valley to pick up her photographer Damiano. After a light Italian lunch complete with bresola, buffalo mozzarella and espresso we returned to the highway to pass through the flatlands of Milan, before making it to the mountains and the beginning of the Dolomites.

A misty view of mountains after a very flat journey through Milan

A few hours, and quite a few windy roads later, we arrived in San Martino just in time for dinner and the opening of the competition, which was complimented by a screening of Trial and Error by Whiteroom Productions.


KOD is a photo contest, which takes place over two days in the mountains surrounding San Martino di Castrozza. A range of ‘PRO’ teams, comprising of one photographer and two athletes are selected to compete and each team at the end of the weekend submits three photos per athlete to be judged.

Along with photographer Zoya Lynch, I spent the weekend shooting with Sigi Rumpfhuber- a ski athlete and mountain guide from Austria.

Zoya teeing-up a shot for Sigi

Zoya teeing-up a shot for Sigi

On Friday morning we woke up to a bluebird sky and quickly jumped on the lift up to Cima Rosetta, one of the more prominent peaks in the local range. On arrival the view was overwhelming. There was so much possibility and so little sunlight to do it all, so after taking in all our options we headed down towards Valle del Cantoni and got to work.

Gondola view

View from the gondola on the way up to Rosetta

Making tracks

Sigi sending his line

While the snow wasn’t the deep powder of the previous year’s KOD, we still found some sweet stuff and nice lines to ski. Following some success in the lower part of the valley, we slowly made our way back up towards the lift system to shoot some final pictures as the sun faded.

Sigi leading the way back towards Cima Corona 

During the day we had made the plan to shoot the sunset on the west faces on our descent back into San Martino but unfortunately due to the adventurous nature of our team- we hadn’t made a concrete plan about location. There were a few incredible spots for photos but based on our timing and for safety, we ended up shooting underneath the top part of the gondola- the sunset was pretty spectacular.


This first day out shooting was quite special for me and also a big learning curve. While I love to ski in big mountains, I have much less experience shooting photos on bigger and more exposed terrain- if I am out there I usually just focus on skiing it!  While we didn’t get into anything too gnarly during the day- choosing routes and moving around these beautiful mountains taught me a lot and I was so grateful for the opportunity.

I was also stoked to share Zoya’s birthday with her- nothing like a productive day out shooting to celebrate turning 24!

Zoya taking in the sunset on her birthday

Unfortunately, due to the weather and some unforeseen party planning Saturday ended up being quite the unproductive day- with no help from me but thanks to Zoya’s insistence on getting the shot on Friday, she was able to put together a sweet competition portfolio. You can see all the final photos online here. While we didn’t make the podium, Zoya’s shot below of me got a special mention for it’s emotive and aesthetic affect on the viewer.

Photo: Zoya Lynch

Photo: Zoya Lynch

We finished the weekend with a pow day on Sunday and I was lucky enough to be shown around by some not so local but very friendly Italians who were more than willing to share the powder between the trees with me. Yea Vez! Such a sick day! Thanks Silvia, Nico and Paolo- can’t wait until next time.

Silvia, Nico and Paolo- the happiest ski buddies out there!

Silvia, Nico and Paolo- the happiest ski buddies out there!

High-fives for days in the trees Photo: Silvia Moser


It would be hard to top such a great weekend- but it wasn’t over! After meeting such a great group of people at KOD, I had one more stop to make in Italy- the Dalbello Factory.

I’ve been wearing Dalbello boots for over four years and have recently started working with the International team so it was pretty cool to head down close to Castelfranco Veneto with Fabio Studer to see the boots being made in the flesh and get myself a new pair of sweet freeride touring boots.

Fitting my Lupo T.I s

New boots!

Big thanks to the King of The Dolomites crew for putting on such a sweet event and huge thanks to the Dalbello team for getting me all fitted up- can’t wait to take my boots for a spin!

I’ve just arrived in Innsbruck and looking forward to some shred happy laps with the kiwi residents of the valley!

Travelling on the 10th parallel


How time flies. I have already been in Europe for two months, have competed in four competitions, visited five countries and eaten my fair share of local delicacies.

If I could use one word to explain this winter so far it would be ‘rookie’. It’s been a bit of a rookie season for sure  and I have been making some hilarious rookie mistakes.

Having an average of 10th place at nearly every contest this winter has been a hard pill to swallow, especially after a string of podiums before and after ACL surgery. But I have decided to eat a big serve of humble pie and just take it in my stride.

In some ways freeride competitions are a bit of a video game, once you have cracked the code, it’s easy to progress to the next level and I guess cracking that code is almost as challenging and good for you as winning is. So for the rest of this winter in Euroland I am going to travel, take in the incredible sights, go on ski adventures, crack codes and pray for snow!

In the meantime, here are some tales of my latest adventure on the road from the Shades of Winter blog:

Last week we were lucky enough to be invited to one of the mountainous hearts of Italy, to present PURE at the European Freeride Festival.

Well known for its incredible mountains, duty-free shopping, low petrol costs and delicious foods it was a hard offer to refuse, especially when we realised that the screening would coincide with another debut event in the region – the first ever Freeride World Qualifier hosted in Livigno.

Leaving Verbier for the event was hard, as the mountains in Valais had just received a huge blessing by the snow gods leaving white gold floating all around- just asking to be skied. We tried to make the most of it before our departure!

Powder skiing

Floating around Bruson before our departure

Freeriding with the Swedes, Evelina and Karin

Freeriding with the Swedes, Evelina and Karin

The drive to Livigno was nonetheless interesting. Following the average tollway drive from Verbier to Zurich, we then turned off to a more mountainous route, which included quite the crazy car train that speed through the mountains for over fifteen minutes and was then followed by an old school, one-way tunnel that delivered us into the narrow streets of Italy. Safely past the windy tunnels we made our way to the European Freeride Festival hub at Plaza Placheda in Livigno. There we found a great range of festival attendees and competitive freeriders ready for the week ahead.

We began our stay by being briefed on the Freeride World Qualifier event that would begin the next day and confirming the plans for the PURE screening. The most exciting part of the evening was learning that the next morning we would be heli-bumped to finish line of the FWQ event face for a face-check.

Heli Staging

We arrived to the heli staging area in style and got ready for our trip into the mountains. However one thing that we hadn’t thought about was the temperature. Livigno is notorious for cold temps in mid-winter, which great for the quality cold smoke snow- but not so helpful for chilly toes. But we’re freeskiers and won’t let a little cold get in the way of a perfectly good helicopter ride. We put out heads together and while waiting for our ride, constructed a range of warm-up games to keep our fingers and toes intact.

Face check at Livigno

Face check at Livigno

After arriving by bird, we spent the next few hours inspecting the face and watching the forerunner’s preview. Unluckily, the conditions weren’t as we had hoped, high winds had left a variable snowpack on the face, which meant both some unstable avalanche and skiing conditions. Despite the organisers best and hard efforts to run the event on a beautiful face, mother nature got in the way and the competition was postponed and later moved to a different face close to the Carosello ski area above Livigno.

Next up was Shades of Winter! The following day we made our way to the Cinelux to help kick off the beginning of the Freeride Film Festival. PURE was the first of eight films to be shown over three evenings. We were especially excited to show the film in Livigno as one of the segments, Nine Queens, was filmed in the parks above the village. Following a brief introduction by our Italian presenter, the film aired to a captive audience.

Following the screening, we were asked on stage for a quick Q&A with the presenter. He was especially interested in the ‘scariest’ and best parts of filming for PURE. We both agreed that the best part was filming in Japan, the beautifully soft and deep snow meant that we were able to challenge ourselves in ways that in other conditions, we may not have dared. This was especially true for Evelina’s double backflip attempt.

The evening was nearly at an end, but not before a few questions from the audience. This was by far our favourite part of the screening as one of the parents of a family of young boys and girls thanked us, and the whole Shades of Winter team for producing the film. He said that PURE, alongside other films that promote female freeskiers was incredibly important to help inspire and encourage the next generation- including his daughter who is a keen freeskier.



Evelina, Arianna and I


Despite a slow start to the season, we’ve had some fun times in Verbier! Forecast is looking good for this week, looking forward to some more powder turns and less rocks!

Powder laps around Gentianes. Photo: Anna Duner

Powder laps around Gentianes.
Photo: Anna Duner


Hiking lines during Volkl team week in Verbier. Photo: Dan Milner


Merry Band of Bitches- the best ski crew a girl could have!

Moody morning looking over at Bec de Rosses.

Moody morning looking over at Bec de Rosses.

Trains, mind games and patience.

Trains in Switzerland. Given the countries reputation, you’d think that they would run on time, no? Well that was the assumption that I made on Thursday morning and by golly I was right. The suspicion that left me twitching with anxiety as I downloaded from Verbier to the Le Chable train station was not paranoia. However, despite my very real inkling, I still decided to roll the dice.

While watching the train sit in the station ready for imminent departure from my perch in the gondola, I made a plan- I would make a run for it, thrown my gear on the train and if the train wasn’t already moving I would buy a ticket from the machine three metres away, so I could jump back on in the nick of time. Superb plan, right? No right minded society would let a train depart without some kind of warning, so I would be safe!…..How wrong I was. I got my ticket and full of content and relief I began to walk back towards the train compartment that held my skis, boots, laptop and all personal belongings that would be needed over the weekend.

Have you ever experienced time slow down in front of your eyes? As I walked back to the train doors and reached for the open button time almost stopped. After the first push, the train jerked, following the second it depression, the train jolted forward and began to leave the station with all my ski gear on board. Despite desperate cries, and dramatically running after the departing train, it didn’t stop, it just continued on its way- on time.

If I wrapped up this tale here, it would end with me bamboozled at the train station office, the driver, after lecturing me in french about the punctuality Swiss train service, racing me out to his car so that he could speed me down to the next station just in time to meet the train and reunite me with my ski gear. But adventures didn’t end there.

I was on my way to the first four start Freeride World Qualifer event of the season in Austria and after waiting all morning for the confirmation call from the competition organisers I was hot-tailing it to Martigny to be picked up by Anne May Slinning and Larry Gauthier and driven to Hochfugen.

Sweet lady crew, Karin, Evelina, me and Caroline

Sweet lady crew, Karin, Evelina, me and Caroline

I would be lying if I said that I haven’t been anxious about the upcoming competition. Being a four star event it is hard not put the pressure on. At four stars you can gain important qualifying points. However, if I think back to a few years ago, I used to get nervous before competitions but never like this. Over the last few weeks I’ve tried to rationalise the nerves but it really hasn’t helped and it wasn’t until yesterday that I decided to quit the mind games, to stop psyching myself out and just accept that I am nervous.

Bib draw followed by an extremely Austrian feast!

Bib draw followed by an extremely Austrian feast!

If you really think about it, it would be crazy not to be nervous before dropping into a big mountain event. You spend over three days (and that is just travel, packing and face check time) patiently preparing for a competition run, which is over in less than a minute. Generally you only have a short amount of time to really get to know the venue in person and the rest is spent pouring over photos. You drop in blind, the only image of the slope you have is one that you created in your mind, so you need to be ready for anything; like a powder landing that is actually ice.

Recently someone said to me that competing in big mountain events is a ‘process’ and one that you should enjoy. I think this is a good way to look at them as unlike other winter sports events, we only get one shot and it is hard to not get hung up on one ski line shredded badly. But if you look at the whole season as a process of improving yourself, having fun and making the most of opportunities, one below average comp run can be quickly analysed and then filed away, to make way for more positive memories.

Ostwand Face- our competition face

Ostwand Face- our competition face

The competition was supposed to go off yesterday but due to some pesky clouds, snow and flat light it has been postponed until tomorrow. Coincidentally, tomorrow is also Australia Day and I am choosing to take it as a nice little sign. It’s not everyday that you get to fly across the world and compete in a niche, extreme sports event that involves incredibly scenery, cool people and terrain that will never exist in Australia. So keep your eyes tuned for some results and sweet media content coming from the event tomorrow!


There are so many different ways to train for an upcoming winter and everyone does it differently. However, over the last few years there are a few things that I have learnt.

Firstly, quality over quantity. I had a crap time coming back from ACL surgery twenty months ago. Despite my hard work , I still am battling to make some of my muscles in my operated leg work. It doesn’t necessarily affect my skiing but I still don’t feel back to my old self. During the rehab process I realised that the quality of my training had fallen behind- leaving my poor little muscles with them. Over the the past southern hemisphere winter and spring I was luckily enough to work with some great physios and trainers and finally, my left leg is remembering how it used to be- functional.

Training at Kaya Health Club in Melbourne and getting those hamstrings firing

Training at Kaya Health Club in Melbourne and getting those hamstrings firing

Secondly, preparation starts long before the snow begins to fall. For me having a relaxed outlook is key – if I’m stressed going into winter it’s a whole lot harder to relax and get into ski, and then competition mode. There are a few things that really help me chill- trying to surf, trying to rock climb and yoga. The latter is the only thing that I can bring with me overseas but man it makes a difference.

Playing at the Burnley Bouldering Wall down the street from my house

Climbing at the Burnley Bouldering Wall down the street from my house

Preparation takes times, for the most part it is gruelling, boring and doesn’t really give back…….but then you click into your skis for the first time and you realise why you just spent over three months kicking your own ass.

Now, since arriving in the northern hemisphere and despite my best efforts my preparation has taken a turn for the humorous. I wish I could be a bit more diligent but sometimes I think the best way to go into a competition season is with a huge smile on your face and not stressing whether you have done enough post shred workouts.

Avalanche course ski tour- we made it one third up the route and managed to forget 1 x pair of skins and break a pair of bindings- winning

Avalanche course ski tour- we made it one third up the route and managed to forget 1 x pair of skins and break a pair of bindings- winning

Christmas hike + 20kg of toddler weight.

Christmas hike + 20kg of toddler weight.



Working hard while getting my boots perfected at Surefoot, Verbier

Working hard while getting my boots perfected at Surefoot, Verbier- mmm cosy

Ski touring in the direction of coffee with a couple of kooks

Ski touring in the direction of coffee with a couple of kooks

I’m going to finish this post with a recently collected video of my new favourite way to warm up in the morning- horizontal hip rolls: