Davide Capozzi and Denis Trento completed a rare descent of the Couloir Sud Est du Grand Capucin in the Mont Blanc massif, on snowboard and skis respectively. Capozzi reports.

Couloir Sud Est du Grand Capucin is a beautiful gully wedged between Grand Capucin and the Trident, skied in the 80’s by Jean Marc Boivin. In 2002 an integral descent was made by Pierre Tardivel with Nathan Wallace, Tim Dobbins and Bruno Compagnet.

In 2002 I skied the lower part of this gully: it was one of my first steep descents I did in Mont Blanc massif and although I’ve returned on various other occasions, I’ve only ever done the first 200 meters which I’ve always regarded as good training. Last week, thanks to my friend and mountain guide Federico Camangi who had mentioned that the couloir was in excellent conditions, I decided to go and check out the entire line. Why I’d never done so before is, quite simply, inexplicable.

My friend Denis Trento was free and immediately accepted the invitation. I’m always happy to go into the mountains with him: Denis is shy, modest and with an unbridled drive. A former ski mountaineering athlete, he’s a great example to look up to and I always admire how fast he can move in the mountains.

The ascent and descent of the Gran Cap gully were swift… it couldn’t have been any different with Denis. I just went snowboarding and left him to think about all the rest.

Although this line is clearly visible, I don’t think it has had many repeats since 2002, especially by snowboard. But this is of little importance when compared to the beauty of this place and the thrill of skiing within touching distance from Grand Capucin. Especially for someone like me who, in the summer season, doesn’t go wild about rock climbing on these Mont Blanc satellites. I’m absolutely certain that this gully is one of the most beautiful descents that can be skied in this particular corner of Mont Blanc.

by Davide Capozzi

Couloir Sud Est du Grand Capucin
Length: 450 m
Difficulty: 5.3 E3
Angle: 45°/50°
Notes: 20 meter abseil.

Our fingers were dragging as we used our poles to push across the last of the flats before the partially plowed turnaround at the end of the only road. Our tracks high on the mountain were fading with the growing shadows and intense alpenglow. Ocean waves were dragging soccer ball sized rocks up and down the beach. The temperature was dropping with the increasing north wind. Our stomachs were growling.

We were surprised to see two older Norwegians loading a snowmachine that had seen better days on a trailer next to our shiny white Ford Fiesta. I was starting to wonder where we would pitch our tent on this remote island in Northern Norway. As far as we knew, the island had a population of four, including Calum and I. With no vegetation to use as a wind block, it was looking like it would probably be a cold night for us.

I am not sure where I first got the idea to go to Norway, but the place has been stuck in my head for a long time. I decided going on exchange to the University of Bergen, Norway to study Geography should include a strong focus on splitboarding. Calum, a solid splitboarder from Scotland that I had met two years ago at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, just happened to also be studying in Norway with similar goals of
balancing his academic activities with splitboarding. The stars aligned and we were able to fly north to Tromsø, Norway and spend twelve days exploring the Lyngen Peninsula and surrounding islands.

Navigating an overseas country took a bit more effort than a trip into my home mountains, the Chugach Range in Alaska. Before we could even think about making our first turns, we had to figure out a flight, a rental car, new weather patterns, a foreign language, a lost wallet, broken bindings, and a leaky boat. Then we started to consider the normal challenges of terrain selection and avalanche danger. We had outstanding luck finding places to sleep. After the first few nights in a bed and breakfast, we laid our sleeping bags out in an abandoned caravan, a day use cabin with a fireplace, a public use cabin with a sauna, and of course my trusty tent. We found that dry bags work exceptionally well for dragging overnight gear into places away from the car.

Our boat was old enough that it could have been built by the Vikings themselves. It required constant bailing but got us where we needed to go.

Even though we spent days scrolling around Google Earth, we were blown away by the terrain. It was easy to find 3,000-foot runs, and some were pushing 5,000 feet. The snow was soft and smooth all the way down to beaches covered in salty seaweed and polished black rock. From several summits, the only thing between the North Pole and us was a relatively short stretch of cold, dark saltwater. There was something about that view that was particularly moving.

As we traveled north from Tromsø, the people became friendlier and more spread out. In one town, we talked with a tired fisherman with vibrant blue eyes who was working late into the night to fix his daughter’s boat. He wanted her to be prepared to go out with him at 5 a.m. the next morning. He explained how he struggled to stay in business as large boats are working to buy up the entire cod quota. As we walked away from the peer, a couple stepped out of their weekend cabin to get into their Jacuzzi. The two lifestyles contrasted like fire and ice.

We could not have asked fore better snow, weather, and avalanche conditions on our trip. Overcoming the multitude of logistical problems on the trip felt like a big accomplishment. However, the real highlight of the trip was meeting the genuine people that call Northern Norway home.

As the two local Norwegians loaded their snowmachine on a trailer, they told us they had just hauled firewood into a day use cabin. It was 1 km down the beach. It would be no problem if we slept there. We tossed sleeping bags and some food in a bag and strapped our skis back on. We felt small as we skinned along the beach to the rhythm of waves swallowing boulders. The last rays of sun streamed through a
hole in the clouds and echoed around the fjord.

Text: Trevor Grams
Photos: Trevor Grams and Calum Macintyre
Originally published at: splitboard.com

“Higher Latitude” is a portray of snowboarding above the Arctic Circle, made by Eirik Verlo, Krister Kopala and Jussi-Oskari Taka. Made without the help of helicopters or snowmobiles and major budgets, we’re really impressed by the high cinematic quality and impressive riding.

The episodes are divided into three parts: Early season Polar night, when sun never really rises above the horizon; Midwinter pow frenzy, and Spring season big mountain freeride, which you can see in Episode 3.




„The kind of place where the way a traveler‘s tracks disappear in snow is something you get used to – such a place is the world of ours.“

– Princess Shikishi

Japan, the land of the rising sun,  the land of endless tree runs through waist deep snow, a dream came true when I finally left European ground heading east to Japan.

Along with the Sinkflug Independent* crew our main focus beside having tons of fun was to get some solid footage for our latest film project which will be released in autumn. After 14 endless seeming hours travelling, we finally reached Tokyo, very exhausted but at the same time super overwhelmed about all the new impressions. The first two days were used for some sightseeing in Tokyo and also to get some lifestyle-street shootings done. One of those many remarkable things in Tokyo is this crossroad, where hundreds of people wait for the green lights to go on.

For us also the green lights went on, which means we finally took our flight  from Tokyo-Narita north to Sapporo, using Niseko as our home base for the next 2 weeks, where all our adventures should start.

After checking the tracked out resort for the first couple of days, we decided to search somewhere else for the goods. This turned out to be a really good decision! First I was a little bit concerned about using my Splitboard instead of snowshoes in this really deep snow but with the Freeride Split it was no problem at all! In densely wooded parts it was really agile, floated perfectly through almost neck deep powder and on the other hand it gives you the necessary stability and pop for some pillow action. Luckily it turned out that we were able to hike to most of these amazing zones straight from the road, it was unbelievable!

So the daily routine looked kinda like this: Search for spots prepare pillows and in runs , hiking to the top using my Splitboard, waiting for the camera and drone to set up and then finally drop in. It´s not always easy to be patient when you see all this possibilities surrounding you and the only thing you want to do is ride.

One of the outstanding experiences was that one night session we did, where we had to jump from a kicker over a gap straight into a pillow, that feeling to drop in, using only the lights of your headlamp, was truly amazing.

On the last day at Niseko we took advantage of a beautiful bluebird day and decided to hike up to the top of Chisenopuri. It took us a while to get up there and the last part was quit steep for Japan standards, but at the end we were rewarded with a lovely view over the open landscape and even could spot the ocean in the distance. On the way down we managed to find and ride two more really sweet spots and so it was a perfect ender of this trip.

Big shout out to the Hokkaido Backcountry Club especially Pia and Tristan, who showed us all this beautiful spots and even enabled us to go cat skiing in Shimamaki and at the house of powder Chisenopuri! So definitely check out their homepage to get a variety of touring options around Hokkaido! 

This trip to Japan was literally an all time experience for us all!

Hopefully the pictures speak for themselves.

Thanks for your support: furbergsnowboards.com




Photo Credits: www.simonrainer.com

Victor Heim is 24 years old and currently living in the freeride city Innsbruck.

He started snowboarding at the age of 9 and is now competing at the Freeride World Qualifier Tour since 4 years. He likes to explore the mountains and escape the crowded lift lines with his splitboard.