Fulfilling Dreams in Champery, Switzerland
Now I am here in Champery, right on the boarder with France. We are so close, you can see the Mont Blanc a few ridges away and we ski into Avoriaz, France, for lunch and the cheaper cuisine. The Porte de Soleil (door of the sun), where we are skiing, consists of seven Swiss and eight French resorts all interconnected and skiable under one "Porte de Soleil" ski pass.
We are living in Champery, home base for the Piste Artiste guide and chalet service. The world famous skier, Andy MacMillan, is not only our guide but also our host as one of the PA owners. When I say "we" I am referring to our crew here shooting for Teton Gravity Research's (TGR) next ski film. Gordy Peifer and I are the skiers, Vance Shaw is our ripping cinematographer and Scott Markewitz is our photographer.
The Piste Artiste folks have invited us here to stay in their 12-bed chalet (just a little bigger than Gary Bigham's pad; see last week's tale). The place is complete with chalet girl/chef, TV, VCR, stereo and is situated only a stone's throw from the tram. The chalets come with stereos unless you play them so loud you blow the amp needless to say we were forced to sing, play Euro VH1, or pull the car up next to the chalet and crank the CD player when desirous of tunes.
I only saw the sun twice in 11 days in Champery, and thus that was all I saw the surrounding peaks as well. Even though I was there on a film trip and sun helps a lot with shooting, I was just as happy skiing over a meter of fresh in the trees and in the blinding whiteout of the upper mountain. I skied some of the deepest pow I have skied in two years. To ski that kind of snow with great friends and a long time local and famous ripper like Andy MacMillan in the alps was an incredible experience.
Stay tuned for tales from Verbier, the largest ski area in the world.
Dave Swanwick, MountainZone.com Correspondent