I watch the sparks from the fire glint and fly up into the night. At one point I thought they’d go and join the stars twinkling in the sky above our clearing. But they ended up going out, transforming into invisible dust particles. Some might even become the central point of moisture supercooling around which a snowflake might form. In vain I try to remember certain passages from the Book of Transformations while drinking a generous dram of whiskey. I can feel the amber liquid slide down my throat and warm my stomach. I pass the bottle to Layla. Julien has joined us and Flo is on his way. The gang will soon be complete for this long night ahead.
We move into a silent world filled with sound. Strong breathing from the exertion and a muffled, almost unnoticeable sound of skis sliding on the snow accumulated over the past hours, still with an incredible freshness to it…Occasionally the wind stirs the branches in the trees. Of course, no one is talking, no one feels the need. Communication is established in other ways amongst the pack. There are still some zigs and zags to be made in the middle of this combat zone before the forest thins and gives way to the alpine lawns. We will soon change our direction; the time has come to stop fighting gravity and to play with it instead.
We quickly peel our skins off our skis. Our poles point out openings and escape routes. The terrain that reveals itself in the beams of our head torches is playful and varied. The excitement gently builds within the group.
We go for it. In the space of a few turns the rhythm is set. Fast, fluid, the cadence increases in tune with our body heat. In the forest, through snow that flies and explodes all around us, adrenaline and instinct overcome us. It’s something that reaches far beyond skiing. This is a ritual that has its roots in the dawn of time, when the shamans of the great north and the Siberian forest dreamed up this mode of transport for hunting, fighting and surviving the winter. In our time, in the dead of night, we still carry out this sacred dance in the midst of a swirl of snowflakes. Without doubt it cures us, if only for a few hours, from the modern world.
To remedy the long winters cloaking the lands of their ancestors in permanent night, the Norwegians have had to find a solution to keep skiing in periods of complete darkness. Recently a small company has changed the game for skiers living above the arctic cercle with headlights of a surprising capacity.
Layla and I are always searching for a different approach, the artistic and creative side of skiing.
Beyond the aesthetic of this video, we desired to break with the classic ski industry image production, we wanted to free our spirits and ourselves from our daily routine.
To ski at a different time of day, alone in the heart of the Mont blanc range on a classic itinerary, usually very frequented after the storm.
The night allowed us this abyssal plunge into another world, to renew our bonds with nature, to feel our vulnerability and our true place in the mountains. In the midst of this secret conversation, I wondered if the wide angle of our vision wasn't another obstacle, holding us from entering the heart of the practice.
With nothing else to fill our minds during this descent, where commitment and improvisation were total, Thomas’s images are here to witness this beautiful experience which we wish to recreate in different places, in different universes.
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