Welcome back to the In My Boots 2012 interview series. We’re jumping in the boots of each our team riders to get the lowdown on what their best trips and deepest days of the winter were. Hopefully their adventures will inspire you to get out on your own epic shred missions this spring and next winter.
Up next we have Luca Pandolfi, an Italian born, Chamonix local who’s radical descents in the Alps have distinguished him as one of the boldest and talented freeriders in the world.
Weapon of choice:
Flagship 168, Solution 168, Hovercraft 160
Where did you shred this winter?
Due to an exceptional winter, I mainly rode in the Mont Blanc range around Chamonix and Courmayeur. For me, The Mont Blanc range has the most accessible freeride and steep terrain in the world. I also visited the Lofoten Island in Norway for a 10 day trip and
now I’m off to Pakistan for a month and an half.
What was your favorite destination of the winter?
So far the Lofoten Islands in the north of Norway was the favorite trip but hopefully the best one will be visiting the Karakorum range in Pakistan.
Why would you recommend visiting the Lofoten Islands to other backcountry snowboarders?
I’d recommend a trip to the Lofoten Islands because it is such a wild and magic place with 600–800 m steep couloirs dropping into the green sea. There is still a lot to explore and there are endless opportunities for first descents. There is no one riding up there. I really appreciated it for the sense of isolation I felt and the local people are simply fantastic; definitely another world.
What inspired you to plan a trip to Pakistan?
Pakistan has been a dream of mine for a long time. The Karakorum hold the highest concentration of 8000 m peaks on the planet and nature reigns supreme there. I think that living ‘outside the world’ for a month and an half on a glacier in one of the wildest corners of the planet will be a great experience.
Did you visit any old backyard zones that were all-time?
I’m still in love with my mtn range – the Alps. It is so big and every winter is different, which allows you to work new sectors and ride new lines every year.
Favorite Line of the Season:
I had so many good lines. In Norway it was the first descent of the north face of the Stornappstind. In Chamonix, the south face of Les Courtes, a 800 m 45°-50° face/couloir exposed on 100 m cliffs with 40cm of pow sluffing everywhere. I also did rare repetitions of the south face of Moine and the Brenva shoulder on the Italian side.
Deepest pow day:
Chamonix! Mid-may on the north and west face of the Aiguille du Midi. I remember one Cosmique run with 1 m of fresh…just ridiculous!
Scariest moment of your winter:
I was climbing a beautiful couloir above the sea in Norway with my friend Paul. He was opening the track on the steepest part of the couloir and noticed a drastic change in the snow layers. Just as he realized this he took one more step and we heard “woooooooooommmmhp.” I heard him scream and lifted my head just in time to see his big body and a thick layer of snow coming my way. I tried hard to anchor my body with the ice axes but as soon as the snow hit me I got washed away. I remember the speed my body was flying down the couloir with the axes and crampons trying to grip and feeling like a cat on the window. Suddenly my crampons gripped and I performed one of my favorite tricks: the backflip. Tumbling I tried to push my body to the left where the couloir was wider. The snow was deeper on the left side which helped me slow down and finally stop before I disappeared over the rocky icy step below. Thankfully Paul had managed to stop 50m above me. I hurt my elbow and lost my helmet camera and an axe in the tumble, but I could have lost a lot more.
The saddest and most painful moment this season was to lose my great friend Felix Hentz in an avalanches on the Aiguille du Midi, another fallen soldier friend in the “conquest of the useless” (cit. Lionel Terray).
I learned a lot of things this winter. One of the things was that I trust my feelings and intuitions more. Going in wild places where every choice might make the difference between life and death I think the most important quality for a rider is to be humble, respectful and open to a dialogue with the mountain..stay in silence and listen.
Any people you would like to thank for another great winter?
Everyone who crossed my way and shared great moments on the mountain made my season special. At this point in my life, sharing an experience is as rewarding as living the experience itself ! Thanks a lot to Jones, Vertical Attitude, Mysticfreeride, Camp, Scott, Bern, Pow, Spark, Fitwell, Midland, Promosport and Wave Distribution.