With winter fast approaching, Olly Alkema mounted up his new Agent 2.0 Skis to venture Off The Beaten Track with friends in Chamonix. Want to see your own Off The Beaten Track adventure featured on the blog? We encourage you to share your missions with us on social using the #OffTheBeatenTrack hashtag or submit full stories to firstname.lastname@example.org
There is a buzz around Chamonix town when the first snow falls in Autumn.
As the summer crowds disappear, the town becomes quiet and the local skiers emerge from their summer slumber; sharpening edges and waxing bases looking up at the high peaks in earnest.
30-40cm of fresh snow at altitude is enough to mobilize the keen skiers into the queue at the Aiguille du Midi cable car. At 3842m high, this is the best option for quick access high mountain skiing.
After cycling to the lift station, I joined two friends Joel Evans and Charley Radcliffe and, after a short delay for ‘snow clearing’, up we went. In life, delays can be frustrating, but a delay for snow clearing is always a good sign for us skiers. I was stoked to be back in the high mountains on skis, back in the game with fresh snow all around. The mountains are beginning to look healthy again after the dry summer season.
I took my Agent 2.0 for a first test run and was very impressed. Weighing in at 1570g per ski, I paired them with the 340g Plum Guide 12 binding. For someone that is conscious about weight, but not insistent on the lightest products on the market, this is a great set up for my big mountain ski touring adventures. Light enough on the way up and strong enough to charge some big turns on the way down.
Skiing straight out of the gate and down the snowy arête from Aiguille du Midi, I felt the stability in the skis straight away as I made some exposed turns in variable snow. For me it is important to feel secure and in control with my ski set up, especially on bigger lines with exposure. Considering how light they are they felt surprisingly good making big turns.
We enjoyed powder turns down to the col du Midi and switched to ski touring mode to get to another line near Refuge des Cosmiques. Two great early season ski lines and three very happy skiers.
After another dry and hot summer in the Alps, however, it is evident to see that many glaciers are turning into rubble and dust. In my few years spent in Chamonix I have seen the Mer de Glace retreat quite substantially.
This winter I will be aiming to travel for all my ski adventures by public transport (the buses in Chamonix are mostly electric), cycling or on foot. Small actions can make a big difference, especially when we can help spread good ideas that people can easily adapt into their lifestyle.
Stay tuned for more!