Backcountry Bliss

Friday, January 30, 2009

Yesterday we ventured over the back of the mountain. Once again, we were the only people out there - bliss. Here are a few of the photos we took...


Le Clou, Sainte Foy
Le Clou Village

For every photograph taken, there's a decent hike up a steep powdery slope involved. Thank God for skins!

Le Monal, Sainte Foy
Le Monal Village - the final destination of our trip.

Video - Avalanche Training

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Here is a short video of Dani and I doing some practise with our transceivers.

Avalanche Training from Simon & Dani on Vimeo.

I love the mountains

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I love the mountains
The new snow has left the mountains looking pristine. I wish there was a skier in this shot cutting a line down the right hand side. I'm can't decide if I want to be the skier or the one taking the photo.

Pisteirs Shrine
This is a memorial to Pisteirs who have died on the mountain. This is looking roughly west looking down the valley to Bourg St Maurice.

Peace flags

Waist Deep

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

During the last two days, at least 50cm of new snow has fallen, and in many places significantly more. Yesterday was truly spectacular with virgin turns in powder all morning. Last night the temperature rose above freezing and the snow turned to rain. Disappointed, we went to bed thankful we'd got our powder turns in when we did.

This morning we were pleasantly surprised to find nearly another foot of fresh snow on the ground. We powered back breakfast, jumped on the lift and discovered the cloud clearing into a perfect blue-bird powder day. We met some folk who are living in Sainte Foy in their van for the winter, and they showed me some of their "secret stash" - places where most punter don't dare to venture. Sinking deep turns in the trees, I can assure you, the snow was waist deep.

For Dani however, the snow was often up to her eyeballs, as she spent more time in the snow than on it. Its been a rather steep learning curve, but by the fourth run today, Dani was cutting some mean turns down 'powder paddock' in knee-deep-untracked-greatness.

Today was definitely one of my best days skiing ever. More snow forecast for later in the week! Here's some shots we took this morning before we ditched the camera for the skis.

These are some of the chalets near where we live.

Snow collecting on the fence outside our front door.

Powder Day
Near La Bataillette, where Venture Ski's chalets are.

The fruit of our labour

If you didn't read the post about the credit crunch, Dani and I are now full time photographers. We're starting to collect quite a reasonable amount of imagery from around the chalets. Heres a few snippits to show that we are actually working, and not just skiing all day.

Les Sapin Spa
This is the pool room underneath Chalet Les Sapin. It contains this pool, a hot tub, sauna and massage treatment room, not to mention stunning views down the valley.

It pool room also contains this stunning model.

Massage Treatment Room
Fellow housemate Jen put her neck on the line to model for the treatment room.

Chalet Elwood
This is the living room of the Elwood Apartment.

Chalet Elwood
And this is the view from the Elwood Apartment.

And a detail shot of the faucet in the Elwood Apartment.

Video - Golden Bay, NZ

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

This is one of the first video's we made, and its still one of our favourites. Every now and then we watch it to remind us of home. We shot this over a week at Pohara, Golden Bay in New Zealand, just before we left New Zealand. If you haven't seen it already, enjoy.

Golden Bay, August 2008 from Simon & Dani on Vimeo.

Video - Ardeche Gorge

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Heres a long overdue video from the Ardeche. Dani put this together today. We've had the footage on the harddrive for a couple of months now, and its time to free up some space!

Ardeche Gorge from Simon & Dani on Vimeo.

We're Goin' Backcountry Baby!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

No longer are we slaves to the piste! A few days ago we invested in avalanche transceivers. This means we can leave the pisted runs, and spend some time in the uncontrolled territory of Sainte Foy. Whilst the risk is slightly higher, we're schooled up in avalanche rescue techniques using our new beacons, and we're exceptionally careful. Play-it-safe-Simon and I are not particularly keen on actually having to dig each other out of avalanche rubble, so we're sticking to very mellow terrain. Even the mellow stuff has some pretty sweet rewards...

Backcountry Skiing in Sainte Foy

Backcountry Skiing in Sainte Foy

Backcountry Skiing in Sainte Foy

Backcountry Skiing in Sainte Foy

The Credit Crunch

Friday, January 16, 2009

Times are tough. The Brits aren't booking half as many luxury ski holidays as other years. Unsuspecting chalet workers everywhere are being turfed out onto the icy streets.

Luckily for the employees of our company, management are being very accommodating. Some of our colleagues are working half hours, others are taking extended unpaid leave and enjoying the free accommodation and food.

Simon and I are in a slightly different boat to the others, in that we are doing a season as part of extended travel. With our pitiful bank account balances, we can't afford to take any leave, or any form of pay cut. As such, new roles have been created for us. We are no longer working as driver and chef. For the next month, until the chalets are fully booked again, we will be working full time taking photographs to be used in marketing material for the company.

The first few days of our new work has involved photographing Chalet Les Charmes . Other projects will include doing horrible things like hiking to remote mountain villages, and photographing a picnic setting as an example of an activity guests can take part in.

As you can imagine, it suits us down to the ground. We can combine the outdoors, photography, a bit of creative thinking... and we're getting paid still.

View more images at

Cantabria and Basque Country

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Some photos from a while back, Cantabria and Basque Country, Northern Spain.

I shot these two of Dani while we were shooting photos outside the Guggenheim with Ander and Olaia.

Coast of Cantabria
This is a beach near Santillana del Mar, Cantabria.

Coast of Cantabria

Coast of Cantabria
Again, but in the background, the incredible peaks of Picos de Europa.

Santillana del Mar
The beautiful old village of Santillana del Mar, Cantabria.


Dani managed to join me on a trip to pick up some guests from Geneva. On the way we stopped in Annecy to have a look around. Annecy is gorgeous this time of year, albeit a bit chilly!


Swans in Annecy

Swan in Annecy

Simon Gets a Mop-Chop

Friday, January 9, 2009

Obviously when travelling, normal things like getting a haircut go by the wayside... my hair down to my shoulder blades, and if it wasn't for my hairdressing expertise, Simon's would be too! Here's a before and after pic from the last haircut I gave him in Andorra, before starting our jobs.

Skiing in Sainte Foy

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Here's a little video I made (with some pointers from Simon) of him shredding powder on New Year's day. Not as good as Simon's vids, but it gives you an idea of what we do all day here!

Skiing in Sainte Foy from Simon & Dani on Vimeo.