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Photo Epic: Chasing High Alpine Trails with Jerome Clementz in 'Mostly Rideable'

Sep 19, 2023
by Nathan Hughes  





'Mostly rideable'. It's how that certain friend will always describe the new trail which, for very good reason, you've never ridden before. Then later when you're on your last drop of water, all snacks depleted long ago and the chainring is really starting to dig into your shoulder you realise just about no section was in any way passable in the saddle. The classic.

Well beware of these adventurous conspirators of the high mountains. Photographers particularly, they always pull this one. They'll say anything to get you to go, all in the name of 'the shot'. You should be especially cautious around sunset when the infamous golden hour looms and certainly always refuse sunrise point-blank because who wants to make a non lift-assisted ascent in the dark before breakfast wherever you're headed?

In this case though, things were different. In this case it was enduro legend, Jerome Clementz, I was asking along. 'Mostly rideable' could actually be a true enough claim this time. Even in a place like Chamonix.




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bigquotesI do have a problem with mountains... When I see a summit I like to go to the top and check the view from there and also how the trail feels on the way down. So I frequently head off by myself or sometimes with friends on some big mission.Jerome Clementz


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bigquotesI just like the mix of effort to get to the top, the view and quietness of being in the wild. Then on the way down the challenge of riding any trails is for me a good source of satisfaction and fun. Chamonix is definitely an inspiring place for the kind of MTB that I enjoy most. There are some places that are not accessible but many areas that are fitting exactly what I love and the views are just an other level from anywhere else.JC


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Jerome hauling the rig up to the epically scenic, Croix de Fer, on the Swiss border for last light.


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bigquotesChamonix was on my list a long time but a good moment to get there with my bike never came along before. I did an event in St Gervais and Les Houches, but otherwise it was just a short time spent on skis. I already need to come back to check more zones I've spotted, some areas that look really worth a try for another visit.JC


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bigquotesThese days all kinds of bikes are awesome to me. I probably ride my trail bike and my e-bike the most, but I also love road, some pump-track, a bit of XC, bike park laps as well as longer enduro rides. Lately I even built a gravel machine. I would say I still ride 70% analog and 30% electric, or some ratio like that. I just love to always be mixing things up and adapting my choice depending on what I feel like riding or exploringJC



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Sunset turning the ice of Mont Blanc's Bossons Glacier straight to lava.

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bigquotesWhen I started MTB, bikeparks didn't really exist and I loved this feeling of adventure exploring mountains. I like to be out in the wild where there is not too much manmade structure. I quickly developed an attraction to alpine riding where it's not only about speed, but reading lines and learning how your bike is going to react over roots, exposed switchbacks and off-camber single-track. It's quite rewarding when you nail a section that doesn't look rideable. And plus, my legs are short so I hate to walk down.JC


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A new day and a chance to roam around the hidden single-track of the forest above Chamonix.

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bigquotesIf I miss racing it's only the relation with other racers, the trails and vibes at the venues. But I don't really have this fire in me anymore, I don't care about being the fastest rider (or even the fastest I can do) on the day or pushing the limit to the max like that. I'm more happy for a big old adventure, getting into the unknown for a ride "a la cool" as we say in french. I like to mix all kind of riding and type of bikes and the exploration of Chamonix is definitely the type of thing lighting a fire in me when Nathan invited me. I don't mind a race here and there, to challenge myself, but no way I'm wishing to be back full time racing.JC


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Even the steepest and tightest turns the woods had to offer were all a breeze for the real JC.

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bigquotesMan this single-track section was awesome. First of all it was fresh and loamy so that's already a good start. I always like a steep trail I can attack, but the catch berms helped it to flow and the natural features added an extra dose of fun. It was instant magic in the forest with the morning light skimming in through the ferns and the trees.JC

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Jerome making shapes with the energy of a man packed with 2 to 3 fresh croissants minimum.

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Back up to the high mountains we go, with a little help from the Autannes chairlift and Le Tour.

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It was hard not to feel a slight smugness whenever the man finally did surrender and swing the bike back up on his shoulders.

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What is this a trail for ants? Up here, those certainly are the only type of trails.

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'Steep' is hardly even the word for the final slog up to the refuge, and little red drips of paint the only clue as to where the trail was intended to be.



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bigquotesWow that was an impressive afternoon. At first our target at the top, the Albert Premiere refuge, looked pretty close but after grinding away a long time, mostly with the bikes on our shoulders it somehow looked exactly the same size. Eventually we made the top and were happy to get our coffee and a bite of myrtille tart.JC

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Jerome admiring the views finally at the top of the trail next to the Albert Premier winter room.

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bigquotesApproaching the glacier, the ice wall looked bigger and bigger until you could really appreciate the scale. We felt so small next to this massive ice field with all it's crazy crevasses. It was epic to finally be next to it, the light reflecting on the blue ice and hearing it cracking. Riding the sketchy moraine in twilight with the glacier to the side was something I will remember for a while. As well the rest of the descent in the dark back to the valley floor for sure.JC


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Sunset didn't treat us too kindly after all that with one of those all-but-inevitable cloud-bars. Luckily the sheer epicness of JC versus these blue ice giants was well worth it, even sans golden light.

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True to the title, Jerome went and destroyed the entire moraine section, surfing the extremely sandy dirt and loose boulders without dabbing so much as a foot. This enduro legend's still got it.

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A last stoppie for the fans. Bon appetit and bon nuit.


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37 Comments
  • 49 0
 This is my dream. To be rich. Live in these mountain ranges for a little and scale these mountains. Having a problem where normal walking/hiking begins to take a toll on my body, bikes fill the gap. I just want to start at 3 AM and make it to the top of a peak for sunrise. Someday. Thank you for this article. Very jealous, but now motivated for the future adventure. Haha
  • 13 0
 Do it as soon as you can ... life is short !
  • 6 0
 @blacktea: so are glaciers!
  • 44 0
 Jesus, this collection of photos is one of the best I've seen on PB in a long time. Long live the Photo Epic!
  • 6 0
 Yeah, I was thinking that too. Epic indeed. Great job photog.
  • 19 0
 The Cham sections are fantastic and well shot, lets hope that we take care of our Earth a little better so that the glaciers are there for the next generations
  • 8 1
 Sadly by the look of these photos the glaciers are going to be gone in a Geological blink of an eye...
  • 3 0
 @ddmonkey: Sad but true...
  • 17 0
 Yes! More big mountain epics on Pinkbike please. It's hard work, so not for the masses, but boy is it appealing to see!
  • 13 0
 It's tough to beat stories told through pictures. Videos are cool but I much prefer this. Awesome all around.
  • 10 1
 in my world these are Alpinestars catalog pics
  • 4 0
 Amazing images, now which one to choose for a wallpaper... Also reminded me that Jerome Clementz was the 1st EWS champion and raced on a 26" Jekyll.
  • 4 0
 I haven't been so enamored by a photo selection in a long time. Incredible work Nathan! Love to see JC maintaining legendary status.
  • 5 0
 AMAZING photography Nathan! The Nikon was killing it this shoot!
  • 5 0
 Best photo epic in years. Long live the photo epic!
  • 3 0
 The ridgeline shots are unreal. First time in years I've thought "I want that photo on my wall."
  • 3 0
 The Alpinestars Mad Men will be happy today. Namaste.
  • 3 0
 这海拔肯定很高,还能骑车,肺活量很强!
  • 4 0
 100%
  • 1 0
 Great job Nathan and JC, a story perfectly written(and captured).
After saw Gee and now this, i wondered how they climb those ridgeline with clippless shoes?
  • 2 0
 Yes!! Love this. Great work Nathan and Jerome
  • 1 0
 C'est magnifique! Thank's Nathan for those awesome photos.
  • 2 0
 Those Mountains...
  • 1 0
 Long Live the Photo Epic! Incredible shots, Nathan, chapeau!
  • 2 0
 Great content
  • 2 0
 More of this, please.
  • 1 0
 excllent pics…awe inspiring and worth bookmarking
  • 1 0
 Wish I could upvote articles..
  • 1 0
 Awesome shots... I love these places. Hard to ride but so beautiful.
  • 1 0
 That guys the man!
  • 1 0
 Incredible shots
  • 1 0
 these shots are SICK!
  • 1 0
 Stunning captures!
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