trip report

Ski glamping. It’s a thing. by Natalie Segal

When we first heard about the Points North Heli Tour camp, I imagined the classic winter camp, tent, cold toes scenario. No one could have prepared me for the experience we were about to have. Read more in a story a wrote for Snowsbest.com below.

 Downtime at PNH Tour Camp, Alaska. Photo: Zoya Lynch

Downtime at PNH Tour Camp, Alaska. Photo: Zoya Lynch

"As one professional athlete recently commented to me, “why the f**k would you go winter snow camping when, for the same price, you could stay in a nice cosy chalet drinking gluhwein and eating cookies.”

It’s a good argument. I am all for gluhwein and cookies, especially if I am on a ski holiday. Holidays are meant to be relaxing, where you ski all day and drink wine in front of the fire all night- none of this ‘dig out the tent’ malarkey. Why would you go and make more hard work for yourself?

I don’t really have an answer to that question but I do have a solution, winter glamping."

READ MORE at Snowsbest.com

Chamonix, French for out of your comfort zone by Natalie Segal

Showing my sister Anna around Chamonix, my winter home, was one of the highlights of my year. She wrote about her experience for Snowsbest.com. See below.

 Anna and I traversing the Argentiere Basin in search of steep ski descents. Photo: Linus Meyer

Anna and I traversing the Argentiere Basin in search of steep ski descents. Photo: Linus Meyer

Words by Anna Segal

"Three years ago, when I decided to redirect my ski career from park skiing to the big mountains, I knew that I would be subjecting myself to an extremely steep learning curb. I felt that over the past few years I had done well to acquire new skills in this area, such as ski touring, terrain choice and avalanche awareness.

But then came Chamonix and I realized how little I actually knew and how much more I had to learn."

READ MORE at Snowsbest.com

Discovering Roger's Pass by Natalie Segal

Earlier this year I spent a week at Roger's Pass, exploring the zone with ski guide Greg Hill and the Finding The Line crew. After a few days of high temperatures and some liquid snow up high, we were surprised to still find powder up high. Following the trip, I did some research on the history of this incredible natural powder resource and wrote a story about the pass for Snowsbest.com. Check it out below!

 Stacking pillows on the way up to Ursus Minor, Roger's Pass. Photo: Jarred Martin

Stacking pillows on the way up to Ursus Minor, Roger's Pass. Photo: Jarred Martin

Located near the state line of the British Columbia and Alberta, Rogers Pass connects the towns of Golden,  and Revelstoke. Well known for its rugged, steep and diverse terrain, coupled with the highest average annual snowfall in Canada (12 meters per year on average), it is no wonder that the numbers of winter backcountry visitors rose to 17 000 visitors in 2016.

However, it is not skiing that first made Rogers Pass famous.

Read more at Snowbest.com

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!

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!