Mount Townsend by Natalie Segal

Last year, my sister Anna and I planned a trip to the Main Range in Kosciuszko National Park, NSW. We hadn't skied together in years and had never been backcountry skiing together.

It was five days to remember or howling winds, storms, blood red sunsets and full moons. In turn, this trip inspired us to embark on a two year documentary film project that we have since dubbed Finding The Line.

Check out this film that cinematographer Lachlan Humphreys put together from our trip. A big thanks to Holly Walker, Teddy Laycock, Lachlan Humphreys and Giorgio for their great company!

5 Niseko Stories by Natalie Segal

 

 

During the winter of 2015/2016 My House Pictures, a Higashiyama-based production company, was out and about in Niseko capturing a look at winter with the Niseko apparel company OYUKI's team riders for the new film "5 Niseko Stories".

Part 3 features Nat Segal, a Freeride World Tour competitor and former mogul skier with a love for Niseko's famous powder snow.

#whatperiod by Natalie Segal

Earlier this year I was asked to be participate in an advertisement for sanitary napkins (pads).

At the time I honestly thought it was as a hoax and after realising that it wasn't a small part of me dreaded ending up being the skiing pad girl....

Two months later the ad aired and I was blown away by it. Not only was it awesome, the producers and directors have put together a piece of advertising that promotes women being themselves and not letting the fact that they have a monthly period hold them back.

So if you haven't already had the pleasure check out the director's cut:

 

Directors: Cos We Can Client: Kotex Agency: OgiIvy Producer: Fran Derham DOP: Clare Plueckhahn Production Company: One20 Editor: Andrew Stalph

Midsummer Ski Mountaineering by Natalie Segal

Photos care of Heather Swift, Women's Mountain Collective.

It's been raining a lot lately. The other day I woke up and in my grogginess thought it was winter and that it had just snowed. When I looked out the window and felt the temperature I was jolted back to reality. It's the middle of summer and that heavy rain falling down.

After two months of summer I'm starting to pine for cold days, snowfall and skiing. I miss skiing, I miss the floaty feeling, going fast and jumping off things while not fearing for my life like I did yesterday while trying to mountain bike.

When I first arrived in the Alps this summer a little part of me had a secret goal to try and ski every month of the year. However, with the warm temps and my plans to head to New Zealand on my home having fallen through, I have only realised that this little goal may have to wait for another time.

This did, however, leave me to reminisce about my last summer skiing adventure, where Heather Swift, Rich Southcott and I managed to bridge a ski trip over June and July.

Hot hot hot skiing slush off Breithorn. 

Hot hot hot skiing slush off Breithorn. 

June 30th.

I woke up groggy on the couch, after working until the early hours of the morning I snuck into Heather's place for small nap before waking up around 5:30am up to head to Italy.

6:30am - We're running a little behind schedule, partly due to my tiredness and other small factors. Car is getting packed with skis, glacier kit and extra gear, just in case.

Sometime around 8-9:00am - Arrived at the carpark of Cervina. Were excited to see other skiers until we realised they were going to ski at the resort and not ski tour up mountains and glaciers. After some mismatching of gear, giggles about skiing when it was so warm and finally gearing up we jumped in the lift and put our skins on.

11:00am- Important moment at the refuge involving me cleaning the chocolate milk that leaked through my backpack, that managed to inundate my avalanche rescue gear, eating creamy pastries, buying lunch and sipping coffees. Left with a cleaner bag and full stomachs towards Kleine Matterhorn, dodging alpine racers and park rats. After making it to the top we slipped off to the side towards Breithorn.

12pm- Starting to feel the altitude as we skin out of the resort towards Breithorn (4100m). There are lots of mountaineering parties but no one else has skis. Feel a little outnumbered here.

Breithorn- my first 4000m summit with Castor in the background. 

Breithorn- my first 4000m summit with Castor in the background. 

Sometime early afternoon - On top of Breithorn. What a view, the Matterhorn lurks just to the left, while Pollux and Castor, our goals for tomorrow stare us straight in the eye to the right.

Heather Swift stoked on life, soaking in the view of the Matterhorn.

Heather Swift stoked on life, soaking in the view of the Matterhorn.

Slogging up wet snow for an hour at altitude was worth it. The corn and smoo that we skied to the bergschrund was just what the doctor ordered for this ski-sick little girl. I only wish that it was longer! However, that wasn't the end of the day.

Our game plan was to ski Breithorn and descend down to the Rifugio Guide della Val D'Ayas. On paper it seemed simple enough. Descend from Breithorn, keep on going, traverse across the glacier and then make your way to the hut. Yes simple on paper but sketchy on wet, summer snow.

It began ok but after a few soggy crevasse lips we began to realise that and earlier descent would have put us in much better stead for a safe descent. The consistent calving on the lower flanks of the glacier only heightened our feelings of anxiety.

After several hours and too many crossings we made it to the final traverse to the hut, the crux of our descent.

Sunset from the hut with Heather Swift.

Sunset from the hut with Heather Swift.

After a good refuel, a beautiful sunset and a sleep we were ready for the next day. Unfortunately were decided not push forward with our plan to attempt both Pollux and Castor in the same day as a result of the poor conditions on Castor and the exponential warming that we had experienced during the day- we still need to make it home before the close of the lifts.

July 1st

Woke up to an incredible sunrise and a cracking morning. After an interesting breakfast of dry bread and nutella (not sufficient for this ladies breakfast needs), we started back up towards Pollux.

Hiking up towards Pollux, Photo: Rich Southcott

Hiking up towards Pollux, Photo: Rich Southcott

I knew that the route up to Pollux involved a little more rock climbing in ski boots than I was used to but halfway up when the route turned to straight rock, my skis and I started shaking in our boots.

Belaying Heather on the mixed rock route up to the summit of Pollux after a little ski tour and a boot pack.

Belaying Heather on the mixed rock route up to the summit of Pollux after a little ski tour and a boot pack.

However, with a strong leader we make it up, albeit slightly awkwardly with our skis, to the top of the rock route, ready to attack the snowy ridge to the summit.

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We made it to the summit around noon and despite concerns that the snow may have already transformed, we found the opposite on the descent. One could almost call the top section boilerplate (really icy). Nevertheless with was a super fun, steep descent with just a few creamy turns at the bottom.

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To date, these two days were some of the best I have spent in Europe this summer. We had a great crew, a super interesting route planned and two fun descents. It's crazy how much you can learn in two days but spending the time on the glacier like this helped me to consolidate so many things I have learnt over the past three years. I can't wait for winter!

The Uncomfort Zone by Natalie Segal

Hiking up Grands Montets at the beginning of June for some early bird turns, Photo- Patric Lundell

Hiking up Grands Montets at the beginning of June for some early bird turns, Photo- Patric Lundell


"What lured him on was of course, the great adventure, the eternal longing of every truly creative man to push on into unexplored country, to discover something entirely new- if only about himself. "                  

                                                                               - Heinrich Harrer, The White Spider

These days to find unexplored, unknown country is quite rare, if not impossible. Finding the uncomfort zone, however, is not so difficult. For me there is always something about the unknown that is slightly disagreeable- sometimes just not knowing will make me cringe.

Despite loving all things pleasant, I'm a big believer in the 'uncomfort zone'. Yes I know, it's a made up phrase but you get the point. It's the place where you stop feeling comfortable and start feeling challenged and at times slightly awkward. It's here that I have always learnt new things about myself, about others and gained respect and love for life.

Earlier this year I made a big decision, which for most could seem trivial but from my perspective, it felt like I had decided to start living upside down. For the majority of my adult life I have  been chasing winter. My focus has been skiing; earning money to ski and getting fit to ski. Other things like future careers, hobbies and sports outside of skiing have slowly but surely ended up on the wayside.

However, this year, for a multitude of reasons, including feeling totally and utterly burnt out doing one of the things I love most in the world, I decided to step out of the wintery comfort zone and try some warmer temps on for size. This summer, I moved to Chamonix, France.

Hanging out mid-climb with Celine and Klara.

Hanging out mid-climb with Celine and Klara.

Living here for the last two months has been incredible. However, I would be lying if I didn't admit how often I have been out of my comfort zone since the beginning of June. Luckily I have met some generous souls along the way, who have agreed to hold my hand and explore the mountains with me.

For instance, in my first week here, the lovely Heather Swift, without hesitation took me up the Aiguille du Midi for my first mountaineering route.

Heather Swift showing me how to climb rock in crampons on the Cosmique Arete

Heather Swift showing me how to climb rock in crampons on the Cosmique Arete

She cooed calming thoughts to me as we descended the Midi arete, which in ski boots seems absolutely manageable but in normal boots and crampons felt death-defying; was patient anytime I was scared and then walked me through the idea of trying to rock climb with my crampons on. Without her, I would have spent most of the summer staring up at the Midi, wondering what the temperature was like up there.

I guess you could say that this first climb was a slippery slope to addiction. I have spent all of June and a large part of July mincing around on rocks. Like I said before, it hasn't been an easy transition. I'm often scared on routes, especially by the height and exposure, I get disco leg more often than not, which usually ends up with me talking to myself.

Unlike skiing where many things come naturally to me, I feel like I am constantly working hard just to get the small things right. But I guess that's the point right? It's in this unexplored territory, away from our cocoons of comfort that we discover a new and better understanding of ourselves.......or at least a great love for good quality climbing equipment and well planned trips.