After scoring the best day of my life heliskiing in Coumayeur with Mike, the weather moved in and the weather took control of the mountains… Again!
The weather looked great for storm skiing but not for ski BASE jumping which was my next goal for the trip.
Moreover, we had one more weather issue to deal with: the Foehn was supposed to pick up which means hot and dry weather with variable strong winds.
The Foehn is a south wind that blows all the way from the Mediterranean Sea and brings an invisible wave of chaos to the mountains.
I decided to get my gear ready in case we could benefit from a small weather break.
After a quick sauna sessions, it was time to pack my parachute. Mike joined me wearing a bathrobe and started drinking tea on a massive red beanbag looking like a French Aristocrat.
I couldn’t help it but bust out laughing! I was thinking: “what the hell is going on here?!?”
After sharing a good laugh, my gear was ready and I looked at the weather forecast once again.
It was calling for strong winds at altitude but nothing at low altitude. It looked like we might be able to squeeze in a last minute ski BASE jump.
My mind was racing and I reminded myself that the more you look at the weather, the less you jump.
It was time for dinner and a good sleep.
We were supposed to meet my friends Kevin and Stefan at the gondola at 8:30am and we wouldn’t know about the conditions until then anyway.
Because the mountains decide, I am always ready for a 50% chance of success and a 50% chance of turning around… You don’t want to get your hopes up in the mountains… Always take a step back and look at the facts.
The next morning, we were driving to Les Grands Montets and it was not looking promising.
As we parked the car at the base of the mountain, the flags were moving sideways and the clouds at altitude were moving fast.
I wondered “is it even worth going up to check it out?”
However, as I looked at the mid-mountain, the trees half way up were not moving at all.
Kevin made a call to the local ski patrollers and there was no wind at the mid station on the mountain.
We decided to go up and check it out. As always, you don’t know what the conditions are like until you are at the exit point on top of the cliff.
We unloaded the chairlift and I helped Mina ski down to the edge of the Argentières Glacier where the 280ft cliff stands.
As we showed up, my gut feeling was right. We were under the high altitude winds and the valley draft.
Even though it was snowing, we were literally in a calm pocket in between the wind layers!
We had to hurry though as the blizzard was about to pick up at any moment.
We put Mina on a rope hanging on the side of the cliff in front of the seracs and over the glacier, her camera in hand
The wind was calm and it wa time to give the count: un, deux, trois FOIE GRAS!
I went airborne; my parachute opened perfectly and flew by a waterfall that is normally completely frozen!
It wa gorgeous but it was time to prep for landing.
I landed in a white out on the glacier, looked up and the blizzard picked up.
I put my gear away and skied down the glacier.
I couldn’t believe we actually got a ski BASE jump in minutes before the storm unleashed itself on the mountain!
Once again, the mountains gave us a gift. We must not take them for granted.
It was time to go meet the rest of the team and celebrate!