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It’s an early, foggy morning after a rare spring snowfall, the eight of us gather at the Arctic Cafe. Nervous hands cup fresh coffee and breakfast doesn’t quite take the edge off. At this time of season, the mountain vista is filled with a seasons worth of winter storms. The snowpack is thick and lines that us free ride skiers have had in the back of our minds all season (or sometimes for many seasons) are finally in shape.

Our crew has a common goal in mind as we step into the famous Jumbo cable car and ascend into the fog.

Hugo and Dante, two mad Swedes who have made a name for themselves (both on and off the hill..), grab a position at the front of the lift in order to get the best view in-between the foggy patches. Lewis and myself, the two Australian lads in the crew, make sure we get in last for a panoramic view to the ridge facing north. Sophie and Moa, two of the most impressive female skiers in the resort, check lines that they photographed the day before. Whilst others around are looking at the grandeur of the Mont Blanc massif in the distance, we are looking at the nuances, scanning for lines the un-trained eye may see as crazy, or even un-skiable.
As we step out of the Jumbo, the fog begins to clear as the forecast predicted. Senses turn on edge as the faces of Mont Mort emerge in the sunshine. Fresh powder covers the vista. This is todays playground.

Danya and Noel, our videographer and photographer, get into position. Having already climbed almost 2000 vertical meters from the village, the rest of us make the final ascent to the peak of Mont Fort. The Swedish boys are the first to jump and descend the stairs to the fresh pow below with the rest of us in pursuit. A group risk assessment is made; equipment- check, avalanche transceiver- check, snow stability- check; now it’s real. 

The six of us traverse the side of Mont Fort, all with different lines in mind. Hugo is the first to push off and begins boot packing up a peak we refer to as The Pyramid due to its natural shape. The rest of us continue down the valley before clicking out to hike up a razor thin ridge to our drop ins. After twenty minutes of heavy breathing, Dante and I find the top of our lines whilst the girls continue across the ridge towards a line known as Paradise. Lewis continues to the riders left with another line in mind…
“Ready to drop”, crackles Hugo over the Radio as we stare at him across the valley, an ant standing atop the needle head of the Pyramid. His line looks pristine, exactly what we came for.. never mind the 30 meter cliff to the left of his path of descent. 

“Filming!”, replies Danya from the valley floor.

Hugo drops into the first line of the day, 10am sharp, with two massive sweeping turns on entry. He drops one cliff before making another high speed turn to the right. Moments later we hear a crackling sound on our side of the valley; Hugo hits a rock under the snow and starts tumbling towards a second cliff! Hugo manages to recover and stops himself just before the edge and heads to safety at the bottom of Mont Fort.

After watching Hugo; Dante and myself are filled with adrenaline. It’s only now that we come to terms with where we are. I’m standing above a narrow face called The Spine. Short but intense The Spine is a super steep rocky wall with with a wave like feature down the skiers left before a mandatory double cliff to finish. Ski too close to the edge of the wave and risk falling off massive cliff.
Dante Drops into his line first, spraying three high speed fish tails of powder before stomping a well sized drop at the bottom. Now it’s my turn. After 10 seconds I get an all clear on the radio from the crew- take a deep breath- and push off. Airing onto the beginning of the wave, I slash my skis into a right hand turn to control my speed, powder instantly sprays up in front of me blocking my view. My best hope is to trust myself and point my skis dead straight to get ahead of the snowy cloud.. a second later I burst into the open right before flying off the first of two cliffs. I land with my weight too far forward and instantly launch off the second out of balance. After fighting to regain control I land in the soft powder and manage to pull it back together in the last moment. Stoked and relieved, I straight-line down to join Dante right before Moa and Sophie start ripping down Paradise.
The girls drop in together and start shredding down Paradise in figure-8s, spraying snow over the massive cliff face to their right. To finish they both drop a nice cliff near the bottom before letting out a collective, “yewww!!”, To finish. As they pull up beside us we think what’s next. 

Dante looks over at me, then over my shoulder… I know what he has in mind. A huge un-named cliff to the skiers left below paradise. Around 13 meters high with a tiny landing in-between a narrow rocky chute, it was a feature we had been eyeing off for a few years and we had never seen anyone attempt it. Now Danya and Noel are standing in prime position to get a shot so we decided to head over and check it out. The next hit of adrenaline kicked in as we peered over the edge. It appeared twice as big standing on top. I was feeling uneasy but it didn’t seem there was even a shred of doubt in Dante’s mind; he was going to hit it no matter what.

We stamped out a take off and left a mark exactly where Dante needed to take off. A lack of precision meant landing on rocks either side. Dante claimed his nick-name, “The Big Man,” partially because of his stature but mainly because of his urge to pursue monster features that others would consider un-ridable. Noel gives the all clear from below, followed by two deep breaths from The Big Man before he points his skis straight and takes a massive air. He even pops on take off adding some extra height and locks in a clean Iron Cross grab. It seems as though he’s been in the air for an entirety when he lands in the perfect position- stomping it- and riding out perfectly. A true feat to watch and enough of a motivator for me to decide to try it as well.
Now the landing has been skied by Dante, leaving me with around a meter side to side of fresh snow to land in. I leave my mark on the take off and hike up. My heart is in the throat as I point my skis down the hill and fly off the edge of the cliff. Instantly I know I’m heading right for my landing zone though it feels like I’ll be landing in an hours time. Stomp! I ride out at speed hearing a cheer from Moa and Dante.

As we meet at the bottom- stoked on the lap- we decide to name the new cliff “The Big Man.” Our chatter falls silent and Noel asks, “where is Lewis?”

“Up here boys!”.. Lewis appears as a speck atop Le Bec de Rosses- one of the gnarliest and most impressive peaks in the Alps- and home to the annual Freeride World Tour Final. At first glance, Le Bec appears as more of a vertical wall than a rideable mountain.All of us are stoked and gripped at the same time as the camera’s zoom in on Lewis awaiting his drop in. Lewis manoeuvres his snow board through the rocky entry of the 60 degree slope before getting into position above one of the open faces. He drops 600 vertical meters in around four turns before taking a huge 8 meter high air! It’s the most impressive line I’ve seen down Le Bec outside of the World Tour competition.

The whole crew meets in shadow of Lewis’ line and takes a moment to think back on the day of madness before racing each other down the piste towards the village. As cliché as it sounds, it was just another day in paradise, or as we refer to Verbier, The Land of the Gods.
Later in the week, Hugo claimed revenge on Pyramid and laid waste to the line he had previously fell on. Moa Followed up skiing a new high risk line down Pyramid, shredding on the razors edge above a 50 meter cliff and becoming the first women I’d seen shred the peak.

Lewis continued on his high after his Bec De Rosses descent, smashing new lines all week until a fall resulted in him breaking his elbow; requiring an emergency Heli EVAC off the mountain. Later in the day, Danya and myself went and picked Lewis up from the hospital. He was laughing, so we laughed, then he gleefully informed us he was, “stinging for a beer!” Lewis’ crash was sobering moment for the team and a reminder of the thin line we tread. His laughter was a reminder of why we do it.
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