Sa'eeda from Marrakech!
I just got down from an incredible ski traverse of the High Atlas Mountains.
My team was an international group of friends working on two different film projects. Representing the States we had Kim Havell and myself, from Canada we had Chris Rubens and Dave Mossop and from France Jordi Montserrat. Dave was the lead filmer for our group covering a segment for next years Salomon Freeski.tv and for the next film put out from the Rocky Mountain Sherpas. We spent 10 days linking six 4,000 meter peaks with some great ski runs across several valley miles of terrain. We finished the odyssey in the village of Zawiyat Ahansal where I said goodbye to my friends and I stayed in the village with my wife Cloe and my daughter Noor. We are now back in Marrakech enjoying our time together taking in the incredible history and culture of this ancient crossroads city.
Unfortunately we have little time to sight-see as Cloe is finishing this season's work on the igherm restoration project in Zawiyat Ahansal in the Central High Atlas. And me? Well I'm loving every second with Cloe and Noor before headed in early May to Norway's Svalbard Islands at over 80 degrees north in the Arctic Ocean. EmiloPrevitali, Jamie Laidlaw and I will explore the fjords of this northern arctic land of 24 hr sunlight in search of first descents! Our only hope now is that the prevailing continental winds pick up and clear out the ash plume from the Ejfjallajokul volcano. Inshallah!
I'm in the middle of editing the photos and will be posting more on the High Atlas traverse but first I wanted to share some stories from my recent North Face winter climbing and ski trip to Shishmal, Pakistan with Herve Barmasse from Valle de Aosta in Italy and Eneko Pou from the Basque country of Spain, and two other friends Oscar Gogorza also from Spain and Marco Cavana from Italy.
Visiting this remote northern village, near China and surprisingly close to Afghanistan, was a rare opportunity to travel back in time to a community and culture that remains largely untouched by the political chaos surrounding them. Shimshal is one of the great mountain towns of the world and home to many of the high altitude porters that are so critical to every expedition throughout the Karakorum. We were fortunate to be able to spend time teaching advanced climbing and mountain rescue techniques at the local climbing school to not only men but women as well!
The trip was complicated by a tremendous landslide that completely blocked the Hunza River, cutting off our village from the rest of the world. At the end of the trip, as the weather deteriorated, the helicopters provided by the Aga Khan foundation couldn't fly and we waited and waited and even tried in vain to forge an alternative path around the lake and over what proven to be impassable terrain. As I write this, engineers are trying to find a way to release the waters that are rising over 2 feet per day in order to avert what could be a natural disaster of tremendous magnitude for tens of thousands of residents downstream.
Being the one behind the camera most of the time, I'll leave the words to Herve along with some video clips from this once-in-a-lifetime experience. This short clip is the first of several I'll be posting from the Shimshal experience as I can find the bandwidth to get them uploaded from here in northern Africa.
Enjoy and let me know what you think!
Ma'a Salaama for now,
Kris, Cloe and Noor