The Freeride World Tour rolls into Chamonix every year to stage an event that all competitors, organiser and media look forward to. I feel like in Europe there’s no location quite like Chamonix, with imposing peaks of the Aiguille du Midi and Mont Blanc dominating the skyline above the town. Unlike other mountain resorts, these peaks jot straight up from town giving you an uninterrupted, and somewhat intimidating, view from wherever you might be in the valley.
I’ve attended the Chamonix leg of the Freeride World Tour each year since 2011 and have become accustomed to the early morning gondola ride that working on the competition affords. This year I was determined to get up early to see how the sky was looking so i jumped onboard a 7am ride up to 2000m just as the morning light was starting to pop.
Pranplaz, situated at 1,999m, is directly opposite the Aiguille du Midi and Mont Blanc. As the sky starts to show signs of life, the sun initially illuminates the South face of the mountains where the Italian resort of Courmayeur is based. They take great pride in their location, marketing the town as, “the sunny side of Mont Blanc”.
This selection of images were all captured between 7.15 and 8am as I stood and waited for the skiers and snowboarders to arrive. As they started to filter out at the top of the gondola the clouds were moving fast, washing out the skyline within about 10 minutes. it does give the sense of blink and you might miss it.
There were moments during the competition where blue skies flirted with us, but generally the day was now filled with clouds. Just before 10am the light popped once more, illuminating the summit of Mont Blanc that was now being battered by strong winds.
It’s a rare treat when you can capture images own your morning commute to work. Chamonix has a habit of producing the goods, leaving smiles permanently etched on the people who visit. I love the area both in the winter and summer, with some of the most visually stunning running trails to look forward to once the snow melts.