Local LIVE conditions
Its not about the ski down!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPsV3n0TA7w[/youtube] THIS MUCH FUN IN 4 KNOTS!!!

Having left the euro’s back in Exmouth, we arrived at Grenoble after a short easy jet flight & all excited we await our bags on the carousel. All around us people are getting their bags and walking away then the gates go down and the guys running the gate look at us open the gates and throw in a random guitar! We couldn’t quite believe our luck… no kit had arrived from Gatwick. We left the carousel to find Eric having a few problems at europcar the seat altea wasn’t quite the kangoo van he was expecting. Eventually we source a VW van. I get on the phone to easyjet and says the kites and skis we checked in at Gatwick were actually important medical equipment; they should be on the next flight arriving at 10pm.


The trip consisted of Eric, Ezra (the sweet) and Andy (Drevinoski). We had been talking and thinking about a snow kite trip for so many years. Whenever Eric & I have been to the mountains of late we are busy with the Bridglets & never committed anytime to this sport. Unless you know the off-piste well then this is not a sport to do in ski resorts.



So with a day to kill we decide to head to the mountains anyway to soak up the scene and recce the best snowkite spots.


We check in at the local Gite in Lautaret, surrounded by the world’s premier snowkite spots. We are met at the door by Christophe Bonivardo the owner & soon to become good friend. The Gite is clean, warm & has a super nice feel about it. It sleeps 40 persons but we are lucky enough to have the place to ourselves. A late night trip to the airport to collect our kit so we can get on it in the morning is made all the more important by watching chasta ripping up an evening session at the pyramid.

The next morning we were persuaded by Christophe that kiting was on. We rush our breakfast & shake our heads as we watch in horror the small movement in the wind sock. However his enthusiasm never waned and so we make the 5 minute walk to the spot. At this point Andy, ez, Eric and I are starting to think he is a bit mental. Barely a breath of wind yet we are setting up our kites ready for a session. Once the kites were up we were taking the first steps to snowkiting success. By lunchtime we had a free ski back down the mountain for some lunch; Dre was less than impressed with his efforts… “This sport is really starting to piss me off’ was his lunch chat! By afternoon we moved to the pyramid where we practiced some jumps & took photos with Dre now making great progress. We ski back to the Refuge as the sun is going down, absolutely shattered but happy to have had so much fun in so little wind.



We awake to another beautiful day with the sun pouring in through our dormitory window. The first to get the kites in the air: remember it is only 3 or 4 knots and we are getting excited! Before long the pros are on it and we get overwhelmed by the heights these guys are getting. It is a real scene with Chasta riding everyday no matter what the conditions. By the afternoon we are hitting some kickers, getting more speed for some air time & have great success getting higher up the mountain. Eric (Patch) on the Sabre 12mtr, Dre & Ezra on the 9mtr ozone frenzy and me on the 9mtr North Solid. We make the trip to the top of the mountain, pack our kites down and then– joy we each take a line to the bottom in spring snow ready to do it all again!

refuge-small-1.jpg ezra-2-small.jpg

By 5pm we are done, this has been the best day & gets better when we roll down to Monitier for an evening in the natural warm thermal springs. Dre & The sweet were lacking a pair of speedos so blagged it in their boxer shorts and we chilled outside getting pummeled by hot water, bubbles and watching the sun go down.

The quote of the day was from a completely converted Dre— “fuck the ski resorts, I’m going snowkiting”

Patience: This is the biggest thing we learnt so far. In wind that is barely blowing your hair, this snow kite thing is happening


Quotes so far:

The St. Bernard kept Andrei Drevnowski warm for a whole afternoon

The size of their joints prior to ‘flying so high with the kite

Dre- ‘Ezra crashing into his kite & putting him in a stinker saying: ‘This is the most stupid sport ever invented, I’m going to get a ski pass’

Dre- ‘I’m going for some drifting today; I just need to set my parachute up!


Everyone to steph ‘this is not a rugby tour’!

Shall we go for an hour of freestyle first!

Everyone to Christoph ‘can we have some butter?’—his reply ‘not the ‘fffing’ butter

Eric when he got up the biggest climb of the week, higher than anyone else with the kite and comments ‘I think that that was the most difficult thing I have ever done’



Awoke to a very still day, we travel to the spot & look for the signs of movement. The windy Nitro tape is just lifting & the other tapes are showing little sign of movement. We decide to chill with a coffee & get joined by all the players- Jeromme was super friendly & we soon got to learn how these boys really live. They are out everyday and just have more passion than we have ever seen for this sport. You have to be a true mountaineer, a guide, a decent skier/boarder, a paraglider, a decent kite flyer & have the commitment to make it all happen. It is possible to jump huge, travel distances, tear down hill & just enjoy the whole experience of getting away from it.

The wind is now 5knots and there is a sudden excitement to get going. The day just gets better. After a freestyle session at the galiber we move across to the area above the pyramid and let our kites take us to the national park. We travel higher than we ever thought we could get. It was super challenging and we just worked so hard to reach the top. Eric makes it first and I follow. Ezra is soon to follow & we just watch & take in the view with amazement. We enjoy the top section in powder and meet with Jeromme half way. He congratulates us on getting to the top & we are so stoked with this comment that we decide to set up and do it again! This is the last lift back up, it is 6pm and the sun is going down, there is no rush, it is chilled and just the best thing to do at the end of the day. We pack the kites & all find our line down to the car.




After a morning coffee stop at ‘bar de la Ferme’ with the rest of the snowkite legends plus the French teacher from Lyon on strike smoking copious quantities of Pot out the back of his van. We mentally prepare ourselves for what could be the biggest day so far. While rigging we take a look at where ‘goutier’ had got to, watching him tearing up the mountain high high up. We know that this is where we need to get to and take the route through a dis-used ski lift & electricity pylon then enter a field of trees with a vertical climb that was the most challenging so far. I take the lead & tack my way up the mountain intense concentration preventing the kite getting caught in any trees, or dropping it or falling back on the turns. Eric is close behind and I start to track along an icy ridge then I get a gust that lifts me along the ridge with my kite low to the dis-used ski lift. I thought I was going well and then the green red bull logo-ed kite pisses past me like I have an anchor down. Chasta is incredible, suddenly I felt a sense of urgency to try to keep up with him as I loose site of him & he heads over the next ridge. I am getting exhausted, the wind is fully strong and I get the strap on. I take the most vertical route up to a flatter spot where I make a poor decision! I want to take a photo of the team coming up the mountain. I get my kite down, take some amazing shots before a quick evacuation further up the mountain as the wind changes & I am now fully stacked again. This is a different sport up high, now we are over 700mtrs above the col d Lautaret pass & believe it or not this sport is not about the ski down. The ‘fight or fright’hormone has taken on a whole new dimension. I am pumping. We go a bit higher & decide we may be pushing our luck so all decide to pack down in various precipitous places on the mountain. We then watch as Chasta and Jerome come back up again in effect lapping us and eventually ride the best powder of the week back down to base.

After sorting out our kites we then launch an assault on the col de forchette this time the wind is beautiful all the way up and we all manage to climb the 500m in about 5 minutes by far our fastest ascent yet and we were not even tired by the time we arrived. After this success we cruised down through the powder and sped back up again. On arrival Ez decided it was time to launch some proper air and claimed the biggest jump of the trip with a 25 ft 10 second drift. All the more impressive as only 10 minutes earlier Jerome had told us it was way too dangerous for jumping at this height!! Following a quick pack down and a final look up at the mountains we made our last carves down to the Col all totally stoked and exhausted.


Back at the Refuge we tell more stories with Christoph, reminisce the day & the phone is ringing with the promise of south east winds tomorrow! We reluctantly pack our kit, drink some more wine & plan the next trip. Christoph cracks open some Champaign & we eat more Ice-cream. We take a look outside & the wind is strong. We all head to bed, toss, turn and get the worst ever sleep. I thought is was just me- re-living the kite loops up the mountains & all the adventures of the week. But we all awake before 6am to say what a messed up sleep we all had! My adrenaline is still pumping & I can not stop thinking about our snow kite adventure.

rb-small.jpg steph-small2.jpg

So, this is it. Nothing will feel quite the same again as we track back to Exmouth. Eric & I have spent many hours in back country grounds, we have been exposed on the ocean and now we have taken on a new sport that is going to push us to the next level. We have never had 4 days like this. We are better kite flyers, we are far fitter and we have found a drug that is more addictive than kitesurfing!

A few rules;

Deal with your own shit- you are on it alone

Foil kites are the way forward, leave the inflatable at home

Patience will be your best friend.

You only need 4 knots of wind- never has a flag flown so floppy!

Always have a hill to climb with the wind taking you up it.

Take the most direct route up the mountain and stick to the ridges

Perhaps going to Norway first may be the easiest route into the sport

Travel Info:

We stayed at the Refuge Du Lautaret with Christophe. This place is great all year round, a fantastic atmosphere and amazing location. Just a few minutes walk to snowkite heaven. Check it out

We flew with easyjet to grenoble and drove to the col from the airport. Although easyjet did leave our bags behind at gatwick… It’s about a 2hour drive from the airport to the Col (non stop) but its worth getting a sandwich at Alp d’huez on the way!