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FA attempt on Petit Capucin and ski shoot on Vallée Noire

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With good weather back in the past couple of weeks, we have finally been able to go do proper stuff in the hills, and I have been very busy lately. Beside all the warm rock climbing (including the two biggest granite classics of the range, Rébuffat-Baquet on Aiguille du Midi and Contamine on Pointes Lachenal), the highlights have been twofold. First, it was an honor to accompany superman Jeff Mercier on his attempt to open a new mixed line on the very steep north face of Petit Capucin. Unfortunately, a very blank section shut the attempt down after four pitches of high level drytooling and ice smears runout climbing. Though I was only belaying/following/shooting, it was eye opening to see what strong and bold climbers can get up. The development of drytooling is certainly shaking things up!

A week later, I teamed up with Italian guide Jimmy Sesana for a ski shoot on the classic Vallée Noire, the Italian variation of Vallée Blanche. With fresh snowfall 36h earlier and a cloudy day previously, we hoped for some powder, but temperatures were so high that we mostly skied the most incredibly awful crust almost all the way down. Still, we got first tracks, some really good images and first-class banter, so no complaining on my end!

Enjoy some images from both adventures.

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Peak Design Pro Shooter (and contest giveaway)

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After over a year of trashing thoroughly testing their products, I am glad to join the newly created Pro Shooter roster of Peak Design. They are best known for the amazing little device called the Capture Camera Clip but also recently came out with slings/tether systems, the Cuff and especially the Leash.

While shooting in the mountains, it is of course crucial to have easy access to my camera, but also to be able to store it in a way that is non-intrusive when I am busy climbing or skiing. Though I still use the ThinkTank Skin bag system (see my review from a few years back), I almost always have the camera on a Capture fixed to my climbing harness, and tethered to a gear loop via a Leash.

While I don’t (yet) have a full review of either devices, the launch of the pro team is an opportunity by Peak Design to give some free stuff away. On Wednesday, April 17th (aka today), they are focusing on yours truly and will give one of my prints by the end of the day, along with a full Capture/Cuff/Leash system. For all the important details and instructions on how to enter, see their facebook page, or go straight to the contest page.

Good luck!

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Shooting the Snow Leopard for Montane

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Last May, I was hired by British technical clothing manufacturer Montane to shoot two of their athletes, Jon Gupta and Nick Valentine, who happen to be good friends of mine. They were planning their big Snow Leopard expedition to Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan the following summer, and wanted to use the opportunity of having a week in the Alps to do a big alpine route as training, which would provide me with the perfect shoot opportunity.

We set our sights on Dent Blanche, a fairly moderate climb in summer but a bigger undertaking in snowy conditions. Unfortunately, after slogging through most of the long approach with ridiculous packs, we were turned back by bad avalanche conditions on the Ferpècle glacier. Back in Chamonix, we waited out a spell of bad weather before shooting the first part of the classic Midi-Plan ridge. Here too, we skied part of it and climbed the rest, but again, sketchy snow conditions forced us to abort about halfway through.

Still, even though we didn’t manage to finish a route, it was two great days of skiing and climbing, and both the client and myself were very happy with the results, which were used thoroughly in the following months in their catalog, workbook, website and tradeshow material. Now that the embargo is over, here are some shots.

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