My name is Sander and I loveee skiing! I'm working in Verbier/Nendaz as a Swiss Snow Pro. Let me tell you how my powder addiction started.
For me powder skiing began way back in the winter of '82. I was 16 years old and every now and then I visited my sister in Switzerland for a skiing holiday. In my second holiday that winter season a huge quantity of snow came down over the 4 valleys! During the previous holidays I became highly inspired by my sisters Swiss friends regarding skiing off-piste. It was really good skiing with these local lifties and with them I got to the conclusion that the mountain does not stop at the side of the groomers… but it actually just begins!
So far I hardly ever skied real DEEP POWDER snow. Yeah you gotta be lucky if you live in the Netherlands and you go skiing twice a season! This time I was lucky! An enormous load of fluffy powder flakes came down from heaven!
Previously my parents always told me that it was a NO go to ski off-piste with fresh snow, too dangerous, at least not for us flatlanders! You had to be local… what did I know! However, these guys showed me that this fluffy powder is extremely well skiable and is there to be ripped! Although with short turns and those long skinny skis. But on those skinny skis you got face shot after face shot! Backpacks were not invented yet, at least I think…. Safety was another thing what had to be invented. We were dropping in all at the same time. I can't remember anymore if any one spoke about avalanche danger. Strange… because some of those faces I still ski and with similar conditions with a lot of prudence! Probably we were there on that face at the right moment at the right time.
Back home in the flat lands I began to gather footage of skiing images on a video tape. These images occasionally were showed on German television. I was actually making my own ski movie! I could watch this for hours, how those guys shred the powder. Much later I came to the conclusion that this must have been the time where my addiction for the white stuff actually began!
When I was about 20 I had some friends who were crazy about skiing as well. So quite often we drove 1200km to go skiing for a long weekend. And after three days 1200km back again! The destination was hardly ever based on a dump. In those days we didn't have a Powfinder app! Most times we just went to Val d'Isère. Because it's such a beautiful area. As I said before, Val d'Isère was one of our favorite areas and we regularly opened the season there in December during the World Cup, "Critérium de la Première Neige". We didn't see a lot of the races, but the ambiance was always superb! My friends and I in the powder and the cracks on the slopes. And than afterwards drinking a beer with these guys at the same table!
In the ski area "l'Espace Killy" we experimented a lot. We were constantly looking for those untracked faces far away from the slopes. At one point we discovered a tunnel. We had to clear the entrance of snow before we could go in. On our hands and knees and the skis dragging along we crawled to the other side. We had a rough idea where and on what face we would see the sun again… perfect! Exactly there where we expected we dug us out into the light. Like a couple of marmots prematurely awakened from hibernation. What a beautiful sight to stand in the middle of a face where nobody has been so far! On that face we drew three magnificent lines! Later in the cable car, we heard people say in French, “wonder where those three ski tracks come from”?
Steeper and deeper
The following years, we traveled a lot through the Alps. Around '95 it wasn't good enough anymore and I started looking for higher, steeper and deeper, more extreme. So I got to La Grave for the first time. In March '97, we drove over from Serre Chevalier where we were on holiday. In Serre I met a women who could ski and she invited me and my two buddies to go skiing in La Grave for a day. Never heard of at the time, but never forgotten ever since! What a place… !!!
That day was so good and I knew immediately I needed more shots off something similar to this every winter!
How did your powder addiction start?