Skiing photos, climbing photos and riding photos

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After picking up the kite from Ozone I spent a week in the Calanques. I desperately wanted to fly the kite but the conditions were not really right and Dave wanted to climb, which was why we were there.

When I got back to Chamonix I woke up eagerly every morning anticipating heading up the midi and getting some kite action. Every morning I looked out the window and my hopes were dashed by the vertical smoke stacks, the 0 km/h wind and the settled high pressure.

On about the fourth day I thought that I'd go up anyhow as there might be a small breeze up there. And sure enough there was. A very small breeze. A very small breeze indeed. Still it was just enough to inflate the kite and to get it to drag me about a bit on the flat. These pictures are from that day, DAY #1.

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Then I went to Sweden for 10 days. I took the kite with me and dragged it all over Sweden in the cold November grizzle. No chance of flying.

So back to Chamonix. Only now all the lifts are shut. I drive around the valley a lot with work, carrying the kite all the time and have spent the odd half hour here and there sitting up at La Tour hoping for a breath of wind. It reminds me a bit of paragliding in N Wales when there would be big groups of us sitting on a hillside waiting for the wind to be right. Except that this time I was on my own.

One day I tried it on terra firma up at the Col du Montets. There was a reasonable breeze and I got it flying and got dragged around the field quite a lot. The ground was really really rough though so twisted ankles were threatening. Still it was DAY #2.

The day the Grands Montets opened I headed up with the kite. The lift to the top wasn't open so I skinned up hoping to ski down into the Argentiere basin and fly it there but there was a dodgy looking section of crevasses to cross to get back out and I was on my own so I decided to give it a miss and carried up to the top of the hill instead for a nice set of turns.

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Then at last the Midi opened again last Saturday so I was straight up there. There was a reasonable wind and I wasn't sure if it was wise to by flying it on my own or if I would be able to set it up on my own without it blowing away. I decided to persevere though and dug a bit of a trench to lay it out in and put snow on the trailing edges etc to hold it in place. It fluttered a bit but seemed OK so I paid out the lines, untelescoped my poles and put them into my rucksack, wrist leash one, clipped in, into the ski's and gently inflated the wing and then WHOOOOF and we were off.

It was actually really good conditions, just the right amount of wind. Easy enough to go across the wind, down wind or up wind. I cruised around the whole Col du Midi area at a good speed converting it to air at the end of a leg before heading back the opposite way.

Then the wind started to pick up, and at first it was cool because it just got a bit faster and then a bit faster but then I flew into some turbulence (too close to the S Face of the Midi) and the wing lost its shape and then re-inflated all messed up. Then it got scary as it was quite hard to control. But I managed to get it to the floor at the upwind edge of the window, good technique I thought. However I was missing the "experienced helper to take hold of the kite" (from the manual for collapsing in high winds) which was causing me some concern and did make it quite exciting wrapping it up. And then all that was left was to climb back up to the midi to catch the lift down. DAY #3.

Thank you to Richard Lundberg for the pictures