The calling of the mountains is real, nowhere more so than Chamonix. Here, Europe's largest specimen stares you down at 4809m, drawing you in with sprawling, crevassed glaciers that, at one point, made it all the way to the valley floor. No wonder alpine pioneers, Paccard and Ballmat, were first tempted to the mighty summit from this small town back in 1786.
Mont Blanc is by no means the only peak venting this palpable invitation of exploration, the whole valley is alive with possible adventures for all kinds of outdoorsmen. Of course wheels will always have their limitations and maybe that keeps us mountain bikers out of trouble; away from the most remote, most exposed corners of the spectacularly treacherous terrain. The climbers, the speedflyers and the wing-suiters can divvy those up between themselves. Godspeed to those guys, they've earned their spot at the top of the big mountain food chain.
Still there's plenty for the humble mountain biker to devour in these climes. When autumn comes around in Chamonix, the pace slows for most, but a gold rush begins for those who ride. The hikers weaken their grip on the best spots in the valley just as the leaves turn and the sun skims low over the ridge-lines. Photo moments abound. Enter the sightseer, who has riding skills of the future and photography skills of the past... film that is.
|Nathan and I threw the idea of shooting in Chamonix back and forth all summer long, until I finally found time to pay him a visit and made it happen. In the end it was the last possible opportunity because just three days later the snow hit. I’ve never been to Chamonix before so I was keen to check out this beautiful place so many people told me about.—Peter Kaiser|
|I expected to ride a lot of hiking trails, but there's a more to this valley... and Nathan tells me we barely scratched the surface.—Peter Kaiser|
|The long missions up to the spots were rewarded with the most beautiful views I’ve seen in a while. We only had a two day window for everything we wanted to do so it ended up being quite packed. Getting to the spots wasn't so easy, figuring out exactly what to shoot, then trying to be at the right location at the right time for the light to be good was the other challenge. The two-man team effort was all worth it for getting these photos.—Peter Kaiser|
|I was well amazed by Chamonix so back at home I instantly developed the few analog frames I shot myself. Just crazy landscapes, so much atmosphere, what a place it is.—Peter Kaiser|
However, you might want to change the text saying this is the highest mountain in Europe. Its not.
It's a Cham classic to take the teleferic to Aiguille de midi and ski all the way down the Velle Blanche on the mer de glace glacier.
A few people die in crevasses there every year.
These pictures do the area justice, its amazing and it makes you feel like everything you do is Epic with those backdrops.
Emosson Dam is one of my top places to visit in the world, the view from the other side is just as amazing.
If you ever get a chance to explore it on foot or with your bike dont think twice go!
Quick tip. If you plan to venture towards Swiss side, stock up in France with food and petrol. You will feel like a poor man no matter what when you enter Switzerland
PS for the park rats amongst you, there is always Les Gets & Morzine 1 hr away (by car) so you can get your jump fix. Not too much of that round here, we're more natural techie trails. And if you really want to kick the arse out of it, Finale Ligure in Italy is but 3 hours south of us.
I recall a few years (well, a decade) ago they were pretty hostile towards our kind.
The town is pretty hostile to MTBs, but the neighbors (Vallorcine and Les Houches) are more open on the subject.
I am a Les Houches local and you will find most trails (official and unofficial on Trailforks). The MTB scene has literally exploded in the last 3 years with pro teams visiting almost every week in the season.
Another big perk of Chamonix is it's super central : La Thuile is 35min drive, Pila is 55min, Les Gets 45min, Verbier 1h, Samoens 40min
But just to reiterate: I‘ve got no idea what I‘m talking about
I ended up scanning just for internet use and making analog prints on paper. Printing them right is not easy, but when you find a proper paper and developer combination to get the right shade of black/white (warm or cold) it is something truly great.
They make me want winter to sod off so I can go and ride in the Alps again