Sun setting over the Chamonix valley

Refuge de Loriaz

The beginning of this season in the alps can only be described as grim. While I love staying positive, there is no other way to put it! No storms and warm temps is depressing in December.

However, thanks to huge snowstorm that ripped through Chamonix, my winter base, was finally sorted out with some snow.  But not every storm is just face shots and pow turns. There were giants lurking beneath the surface after such a long dry-spell and sadly some of those giants took good friends and many others away.

Everyone approaches the snowy and dangerous conditions differently but my instinct was to do my best to extract myself from the situation. So myself and some friends headed up to the sunny side of the Chamonix valley to ski low-angle terrain and have some hut time at the Refuge de Loriaz.

The Refuge is a 1-2 hour ski tour from Le Buet train station just a 30 minute train ride up the valley from the town centre. Despite an easy skin track, I had yet to test out my touring set up for the season and suffered all kind of early season ski touring fails. From skins that stuck to the wet snow, to ice covered ski edges and unwaxed skis, I managed a little bit of everything that curses unprepared backcountry travellers. Luckily, I had everything else sorted and a credit card slowly, but surely, helped me sort out my skis and skins. Thank the ski gods for patient ski touring partnersūüėÄ.

After making it to the refuge through an aesthetic range of tree-filled, scenic hiking trails, we stored our gear and checked out our accommodations for the evening.


The refuge is open in both the summer and winter season and at time can host over 60+ guests. On that evening it was just the four of us, so we got first dibs on the cosy bunk bed just above the main hut.

Hiking up in the fog.

Hiking up in the fog.

After a spot of lunch, we went off to explore the peaks above the hut. After a sunny start to the morning a high cloud descended upon us and left us in a thick fog for most of the ascent. After struggling through clouds and an icy skin track we finally made it to the top to claim our prize- a sweet view and a nice, yet slightly rocky ride down to the hut.


Ready to claim my prize!


Watching the clouds part

After the light got low, there was nothing left to do except relax, make tea and play board games. This is one of my favourite things about hut skiing— After skiing, all that is required is a whole lot of relaxing.

Sun setting over the valley

Sun setting over the valley

Usually hut trips require an early start but with the warm temps during the day and a clear night, we made sure we had an extended breakfast before heading out to mince around in the sun.


Scoping out the beautiful terrasse that we decided was too unstable to ski, we opted for a nice south facing slope that we hit up before lunchtime.


More line scoping over the backside of the ridge. So excited to find such aesthetic terrain!


Cruisy, creamy turns.


GW wanted an extreme face shot.

So we spent a great two days walking about, eating snow and drinking wine. Of course we could have been off hunting serious lines but the rush would never have been worth the risk. Instead I got 2 days in the sun with some seriously awesome friends!


The good, the rad and the gnarly. We’re working on our selfie shots.



The Road to Paris: I AM PRO SNOW

Photo (above): KT Miller, Nat Segal skiing pow in Greenland during the Shifting Ice + Changing Tides expedition.

Re-posted from

Signing petitions and letters has never been something that I take much notice of. I’ll occasionally sign an online letter calling for action, but after receiving so many I have started to become desensitised to them and their worth.

The reality is that one name and one voice aren’t very loud, and unless you’re already in the spotlight, it’s unlikely you’ll be heard.

To the contrary, public opinion does matter. The voice of a crowd is deafening and often it is the primary stimulus and driving force behind change. Just look at current Australian politics. Whether you agree with the recent changes in parliament or not, public opinion had a significant influence on the most recent leadership change.

I am a skier. It‚Äôs my career; it‚Äôs my passion and a lot of the time it’s my whole world. Being immersed in this community and culture can sometimes make me feel like I am living in a bubble, where politics and current affairs aren’t my primary concerns ‚Äď I usually spend much more time researching where the snow is falling than watching the news.

However, right now is different. As someone who spends the majority of their time in the mountains, I see confronting changes occurring right before my eyes.

‚ÄúGlobally, the ten warmest years in the past 134 all have taken place since 2000, except for 1998, and 2014 was the warmest year on record, according to data from NASA. In Chamonix, scientists fear July 2015 was the worst of all summers: temperatures peaked at the highest since measurements were first taken in 1934.‚ÄĚ ‚Äď Helen Fouquet, Bloomberg Business

2015-06-11 11.34.50

The Mer De Glace, Chamonix. This glacier is currently retreating 4 to 5 meters every year. Since 1988 (my birth year), they have had to add 370 steps below the access cable car for visitors to reach the glacier below. Image:: Wikicommons

Climate change is one of those issues that most of us shy away from. It’s because the predictions are scary, the evidence is confronting and the solution requires an ethical revolution.

However, we are not completely powerless.

In less than six weeks, the United Nations are hosting an international summit in Paris, the COP21 Conference, where the goal is to achieve a new international agreement on the climate, applicable to all countries, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2¬įC. This conference is a follow-up to the Kyoto Treaty (1997) ‚Äď the first Kyoto Protocol commitment period lapsed in 2012.

The successful outcome of this summit is integral for all of us, not just the skiers in the world who are left lamenting bad seasons and a lack of powder snow.

As I mentioned earlier, one voice and one action is nice, but it’s not enough to secure a sustainable future. We need deafening, global change made by corporations, big industry, communities, households and everyday people. While individual contributions are important, it’s only when national governments commit and follow through with emission reduction targets, that we will have any hope of combating climate change.

It is for these reasons, and more that I am going to ask you to do something that in the past I have avoided. I’m going to ask you to sign a letter.

The Climate Reality Project, founded by Al Gore, with the help of a board of ambassadors representing the ski and snowboard industry, I AM PRO SNOW, have carefully constructed a statement that will be presented to the UN in Paris from the winter sports industry. The goal is to gain as many signatories to this letter as possible before the Paris conference begins.

By electronically signing this letter to the UN, you will be joining a strong international coalition of the winter sports community to push our world leaders towards acting on climate change.

Please take one minute of your time to read and sign the letter as an individual or on behalf of your organisation or business.

If you have any further questions about I AM PRO SNOW, The Climate Reality Project or the letter, please do not hesitate to contact Talya Tavor at

I’ll leave you with this:

‚ÄúOur economic model is at war with life on Earth. We can’t change the laws of nature, but we can change our broken economy. And that’s why climate change isn’t just a disaster. It’s also our best chance to demand‚ÄĒand build‚ÄĒa better world. Change or be changed. But make no mistake, this changes everything.‚ÄĚ ‚Äď Naomi Klein, ‚ÄėThis Changes Everything‚Äô “

Upside down @ Bounce.

I used to hate backflips and in turn it made me a lot less keen on trampolines. I don’t think this was a problem when I was younger, trampoline time during gymnastics used to be the best part¬†of the session.

I think it all boils down to one afternoon in my friends backyard around the age of thirteen when I tried to huck a backflip ¬†and landed on my face. I’ve always been a stubborn one and when I decide not to do something, only I can take it back. – When I was around four or five years old I scraped my knees trying to ride a bike without training wheels, it wasn’t until the age of sixteen that I decided I wanted to give biking a go again….. I think the term is stubborn as a mule?

I think the whole ‘upside down’ thing went from being a bad day on a trampoline and transformed into a fear that stuck it’s heels in and refused to let go. Even when I started landing them on trampolines the thought of doing them on skis made me want to be sick despite the burning desire I had to fly upside off a jump – everyone told me how incredible it felt.

Finally, after a lot of hard work and anxiety¬†in my stomach, backflips don’t feel like a chore. I love them, I feel like I am floating when I do them, the whole world is spinning but I know exactly where I am.

I know it seems silly to get so sentimental about such an unimportant little speck in the scheme of life but for me it signifies so much more. ¬†It’s years of patience, learning and gaining experience to trust myself, to let got and just do it rather than over thinking. Going upside is awesome. I‚̧ Trampolines…… Now I just need some soft snow and a kicker to really get things started….. watch this space.


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.

11:00amРImportant 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. ” ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†

                                                                               РHeinrich 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.