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CONTENTS SNOW MOUNTAINS The Alps Mont Blanc Pistes AVALANCHES Slab Sluff Wet SKIING Brief History Off Piste Carving Cross Country MEMORIES



CONTRIBUTORS: Fergus Knox Poppy Newman Nina Anderson Jack Walker Samuel Porter Tim Scott Maeve Bhavan Joe Youens Mo Langmuir Cate Langmuir Roddy Langmuir Sasha Bhavan Sophie Doyle 3

INTRODUCTION This book will explore the phenomenon of snow, the majesty of the mountains, and the people who enjoy them.



SNOW The precipitation in the form of flakes of crystalline water ice that falls from clouds. The process of precipitating snow is called snowfall.

Types of snow can be designated by the shape of its flakes, description of how it is falling, and by how it collects on the ground.



Hexagonal Plates


Irregular Crystals


Spatial Dendrites

Capped Columns

Hexagonal Columns


Stellar Crystals


“Snow provokes responses that reach right back to childhood” Andy Goldsworthy 12


Once on the ground, snow can be categorized as powdery when fluffy, granular when it begins the cycle of melting and refreezing, and crud or eventually ice once it packs down into a dense drift after multiple melting and refreezing cycles.


When powdering, snow drifts with the wind, sometimes to the depth of several metres. After attaching to hillsides, blown snow can evolve into a snow slab, which is an avalanche hazard on steep slopes.



“The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world, and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment, where is it to be found?� J. B. Priestley


A blizzard and snow storm indicate heavy snowfalls over a large area, snow squalls give heavy snowfalls over narrow bands, while flurries are used for the lightest snowfall.


“There’s just something beautiful about walking on snow that nobody else has walked on. It makes you believe you’re special” Carol Rifka Brunt






The winter playground for millions of tourists from around the world. Alps are the youngest and highest mountain system in Europe. They stretch across the western and southern part of the continent in a broad arc. The Alps are about 1,000 km long. The highest peak, Mont Blanc, situated on the border between France, Italy and Switzerland, rises 4807 meters above sea level . Other famous peaks are the Monte Rosa, the Matterhorn, the GroĂ&#x;glockner and the Zugspitze.



The central Alps lie between the Great St. Bernard and Lake Constance.

The western Alps lie west of the Great St. Bernard Pass and include the highest mountains.

The whole mountain range is divided into three sections:


The eastern Alps stretch east of Lake Constance into Austria, northern Italy, southern Germany and Slovenia. They are the lowest section of the mountain range .



Once again Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs, Which on a wild secluded scene impress Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect The landscape with the quiet of the sky. The sounding cataract Haunted me like a passion: the tall rock, The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood, Their colours and their forms, were then to me An appetite: a feeling and a love, That had no need of a remoter charm, And I have felt A presence that disturbs me with the joy Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime Of something far more deeply interfused, Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, And the round ocean, and the living air, And the blue sky, and in the mind of man, A motion and a spirit, that impels All thinking things, all objects of all thought, And rolls through all things. T.S.Elliot






Monte Bianco/ White Mountain It is the highest mountain in the Alps and the European Union. It rises 4,810 m above sea level. The mountain lies in a range called the Graian Alps, between the regions of Aosta Valley, Italy, and HauteSavoie, France. The location of the summit is on the watershed line between the valleys of Ferret and Veny in Italy and the valleys of Montjoie Valley and Arve Valley in France. The Mont Blanc massif is popular for mountaineering, hiking, skiing, and snowboarding.



“I guess what makes the mountains a bit of magical place for me is their wild unpredictable nature on such a huge scale. Every route that you take, their size and shape changes� Nina Anderson 35


“I love the extremes in weather. It can be blue skies and sun to white out in the same day. It’s unpredictability is the thing I enjoy.” Sasha Bhavan


“Whenever I see snowy peaks it gives me chills of excitement. I love the stories the mountains hold. The everchanging conditions that turn everyone into an explorer.� Fergus Knox




THE PISTES Some slopes are steeper than others and require more control. They are catagorised into 4 colours: Green - Blue - Red - Black -

Easy Medium Difficult Very Difficult


“In an alpine landscape, even the infrastructure of power lines can look spectacular.” Cate Langmuir 45

AVALANCHES An avalanche is a rapid flow of snow down a sloping surface. Avalanches accelerate rapidly and grow in mass and volume as they entrain more snow. Although primarily composed of flowing snow and air, large avalanches have the capability to entrain ice, rocks, trees, and other material on the slope. Avalanches are not rare or random events and are endemic to any mountain range that accumulates a standing snow pack. Avalanches are most common during winter or spring. In mountainous terrain, avalanches are among the most serious objective natural hazards to life and property, with their destructive capability resulting from their potential to carry enormous masses of snow at high speeds.

“The first thing you hear is the roar. It’s a terrifying sound, instantly recognizable. Your head jerks up, and you see the thundering cloud of ice blasting toward you. There’s no time to do anything but race to the nearest house-size block of ice and dive for cover behind it.” 48



Slab avalanches occur when a harder layer of snow sets on top of a softer and weaker layer of snow. Some times the weak layer can barely support the layers above it and when additional weight like a skier or boarder is added to the upper layers, the weak layer collapses and the snow pack fractures and a slab avalanche occurs. Slab avalanches often involve large volumes of fast moving snow.

SLUFF AVALANCHES Sluffs are cold snow powdery surface slides that typically are the least dangerous type of slide; however, sluffs can injure skiers and boarders by pushing them over cliffs and rock bands in steep terrain.




WET AVALANCHE Wet slides occur when warm temperatures melt the surface snow layers and saturate them with water. The water weakens the bonds between layers and avalanches often occur. Wet avalanches move more slowly than dry avalanches but they can still be dangerous. If temperatures have been above freezing for extended periods then wet avalanches will most likely occur If you squeeze a hand full of snow and it makes your glove wet or if water literally drips out of the snow, the snow may be prone to avalanche





BRIEF HISTORY A ski is one of a pair of long, slender runners, made of wood, plastic or metal used in gliding over snow. The word originated in 1885 from an old Norse word, ‘skid’, meaning a board or piece of split wood. According to the history of skiing this activity was considered to be a practical way of reaching from one place to the other. Sondre Norheim has been named as the father of modern skiing. During the 19th century Norheim forcefully tried to improve the bindings that will enhance a better turn during skiing on the hill slopes. Originally purely utilitarian, skiing became a popular recreational activity and sport, being practiced around the world, and providing crucial economic support to purpose-built ski resorts and communities. The techniques of the skiing were re established in the year of 1970. Bindings were firm with the feet of the skier and they proved to be more effective. This paved the way for the development of Alpine and down hill skiing. 60

Hugh and Jill Knox, 1957 61


ALPINE LIFTS Aerial passenger ropeways were known in Asia well before the 17th century for crossing chasms in mountainous regions. Men would traverse a woven fiber line hand over hand. Evolutionary refinement added a harness or basket to also transport cargo. The first recorded mechanical ropeway was a bicable passenger ropeway in 1616. The technology, which was further developed by the people living in the Alpine regions of Europe, progressed rapidly and expanded due to the advent of wire rope and electric drive. World War I motivated extensive use of military tramways for warfare between Italy and Austria.



The world’s first three ski chairlifts were created for the ski resort in Sun Valley, Idaho in 1936 and 1937, then owned by the Union Pacific Railroad. The first chairlift was installed on Proctor Mountain. The chairlift was developed by James Curran during the summer of 1936. Curran re-engineered the banana hooks with chairs and created a machine with greater capacity than the up-ski toboggan (cable car) and better comfort than the J-bar, the two most common skier transports at the time—apart from mountain climbing. His basic design is still used for chairlifts today.





DOWNHILL SKIING Primarily a recreational activity, alpine skiing is also considered as a form of sport activity. Skiers in this type of skiing glide down slopes with the help of sleek and strong skis. The origin of alpine skiing is cross-country skiing which is also a popular form of skiing activity in the world. Like cross-country skiing , alpine skiing is also a sport that is famous in Europe and in the USA. Alpine skiing came as a development when ski lift facility begun at the various ski resorts and skiers were towed to the top pf the snow-clad mountains. Skiers enjoyed gliding down the snow-covered steep slopes to gather smooth skiing experience. Skiers are taught various methods to control their speed and direction while alpine skiing . Some slopes are steeper than the others and more steeper slopes, more is the required control. 69

“It’s an indescribable rush. It’s just a thin layer of plastic between you and the snow, so you feel everything. You feel the movement up through your body, the speed you’re travelling, the change in terrain.” Joe Youens



I’m very good at skiing. I have a kind of knack For I can do it frontways And also on my back. And when I reach the bottom I give a sudden flop And dig myself in sideways And that’s how I stop. By Marchette Gaylord Chute


OFF PISTE SKIING Skiing on ungroomed and unmarked slopes or pistes, including skiing in unmarked or unpatrolled areas either inside or outside of a ski resorts boundaries. Unlike groomed cross-country and alpine skiing, the land and the snow pack are not monitored, patrolled, or maintained.



The terms backcountry and off-piste refer to where the skiing is being done, while terms like ski touring, ski mountaineering, telemark, and extreme skiing describe what type of skiing is being done. Terms for backcountry skiing exist according to how the terrain is accessed, and how close it is to services. Backcountry can include: Frontcountry: off-trail within ski area boundaries where ski lifts and emergency services are close at hand. Slackcountry: terrain outside of the ski area boundary that is accessed from a lift without having to use skins or bootpack. Sidecountry: terrain outside marked ski area boundaries yet accessible via ski lift. Typically sidecountry requires the skier to hike, skin, or climb within ski area boundaries to reach or return from the sidecountry area, or both. Backcountry: skiing in remote areas not within ski area boundaries. Ski patrol, marked ski runs, grooming, snowmaking, and ski lifts are absent. Backcountry and off-piste skiing can be hazardous due to avalanche, exhaustion, weather, cliffs, frequent rock falls, crevasses, and tree wells. 77


“Skiing powder is a sensation akin to flying” Roddy Langmuir 79

“I love the tracks left in the snow, a collection of different marks, a representation of yourself left behind� Sasha Bhavan






“For me, personally, skiing holds everything. I used to race cars, but skiing is a step beyond that. It removes the machinery and puts you one step closer to the elements. And it’s a complete physical expression of freedom” Robert Redford 85

“I love the freedom skiing gives you, going to new places every day. You’re able to remove yourself from reality and normality by transporting yourself into a completely different environment and world!” Jack Walker 86



CROSS COUNTRY SKIING Cross-country skiing can be opted both as a hobby and a sporting activity. As a hobby, it is very enjoyable and relaxing but as a sport is exhausting and burns up lot of calories. There are special ski equipments used in cross-country skiing . The skis are long and sleek for agile mobility of skiers. Two ski poles are used in cross-country skiing mainly made of aluminum or fiberglass. Gliding is made faster by using variety of waxes on the skis in cross-country skiing . Classic, skating and telemarking along with skijoring are the various styles used in cross-country skiing with suitable ski equipments adapted to each skiing style . Various competitive events are also hosted for crosscountry skiing and are one of the most preferred forms of skiing in the world. 89


“I love the mountains so much that I have chosen to live and work (as a ski teacher) in the Alps. When the first snowflakes fall at the start of each winter, the excitement I feel takes me back to my childhood. Maybe it was early experiences of sledging and skiing in my native Scotland, but it’s hard to pinpoint where the thrill comes from…it’s just there! Skiing gives me a buzz unlike any other sport, whether I’m carving down an empty piste, skiing Spring bumps or floating through bottomless powder.” Tim Scott 93


“Skiing through the mountains is like a game, you can’t predict the bumps, twists, turns, sights that are going to get thrown at you especially at speed, so you have to play with your senses of vision and touch to find your way down.” Nina Anderson 95


“One of my favourite parts of skiing is the apres ski. After a long day on your feet, taking your skis off, getting a beer and drinking with your mates in the sunshine.� Jack Walker



“The main thing for me is the satisfaction of making it down a difficult run, especially for someone who’s not that great at skiing.” Poppy Newman 99


“I lost my ski school group at the top of the mountain when I was 5, because I was enjoying the view. After being lost for 2 hours I found another ski school, who took me back to the resort, and one of the French kids in the group gave me half his chocolate bar because I was upset�


“I was lucky enough to ski a dream descent of over 2000 metres after being dropped by helicopter 4000 metres up in the Italian Alps. It was a perfect blue sky day with no wind and awesome waist deep powder snow. After skiing each pitch, I remember the look of utter joy on everyone’s faces…..pure, simple, happiness….40+ year old men looking like kids in a sweet shop!!”


“I remember at five years old, with as many days experience, me and a friend were lost in a whiteout, forced to conquer the steepest, iciest slope I have ever seen! We made back to tell our comrades the tale and more importantly enjoy a big hot chocolate (with cream)!�


“Falling down the hardest black run was the most terrifying thing that has ever happened to me. I didn’t think i was ever going to stop rolling!”

“When I was younger, my ski instructor skied with me sitting on his shoulders, skis still on, down a piste because I was too scared”

“When I think back to learning to ski as a child, I just remember the endless shuffling without poles, all one after another, like a colony of penguins waddling along in the snow!”


“My parents lied to the ski school about my age so that they would put me in the same ski group as my older brother. I’d only just turned three, all the other children in my class were five!”




“The thought of going down a red run with no previous experience or guidance terrified me.” “I’d say my outlook on skiing is somewhat tainted by my introduction to it. Being the only girl in my family, I’ve always been thrown in to things at the deep end, golf lessons, rugby, the list goes on. I was about 14 at the time, and we arrived at the resort on a Sunday, so there was no ski school, having hired out our skis, my dad took me and my two brothers up the mountain, to the top of a red run, helped me in to my skis. The thought of going down a red run with no previous experience or guidance terrified me. I bent down to fasten my boots up, and as I looked up, I couldn’t see my dad or my brothers anywhere, so came to the conclusion they’d gone down without me. Terrified, I made my way to the edge of the almost vertical slope. I always thought that parallel meant slow, so I started skiing down parallel, picking up a ridiculous amount of speed, completely out of control, screaming the whole way down. At the bottom, there was a sharp turning, I missed the turning, and slammed in to a massive mound of snow at 20mph, everything flew off, I couldn’t breathe, and the whole thing was really traumatic. Once I managed to get up I heard my older brother calling after me, “what the fuck are you doing? Are you trying to kill yourself?”. It transpired that I’d skied off on my own without them all.” Poppy Newman 109


“We tend to forget that life can only be defined in the present tense... The nowness of everything is absolutely wondrous.� Dennis Potter


All illustrations drawn by me, with exception of illustration on page 4, drawn by Carlos Mollino, from the book ‘Country Architecture in the Upper Aosta Valley, Casa Del Sole’ by Napoleone Ferrari. All photographs are my own with the exception of images on pages: 58 Taken by Fergus Knox 61 Taken of my Grandparents 78 - 79 Taken by Cate Langmuir 82 - 83 Taken by Carlos Mollino 84 Taken by Cate Langmuir 92 Taken of Tim Scott 102 - 103 Scans of old ski passes 104 - 105 Scans of old ski passes 107 Old photograph of me 107 Taken by Fergus Knox Images taken in locations: Gressoney, Italy Chamonix, France Flaine, France Melibel, France Val D’isere, France St. Anton, Austria Avimore, Scotland

Alpine book FINAL  
Alpine book FINAL