Way back when….

"Germaine Rabinowitch, who introduced me to ski touring, has some excellent stories of her youth as a student in Grenoble.  She recounts tales, set between the wars when transport wasn’t as it is today and where the less well off set off from the Grenoble suburb of la Tronche, on foot, to ski the Chamechaude.”

Somtimes in the spring, the approach was made on cycles. The bigger tours were also made after a long march, or cycle, on the road.  And so, in the year of our lord 1946, Pierre Bonfort and Auguste Morel left their workshop in St. Etienne.  The ride, on bicycles of course, with their skis and baggage attached, took all the night and the next day, Saturday.  Finally reaching the little village of la Grave where they climbed, on foot this time, to the Evariste Chancel refuge.

A few hours rest, and the next night they attacked the Dome de la Lauze. On Sunday at midday they removed their skis to cross the Romanache river.  There was still an afternoon and a night to reach their home. Monday morning and it was back to work.  40 years ago this wasn’t exceptional, it was just a fact of life for those who enjoyed the mountains.

Fast forward to the era of the couch potato and the search for the extreme and we can put the events of 1946 in place.  It wasn’t a bi, tri or even quad-athlon but what would be refered to as an ‘enchainement’ and would merit a double page spread in ‘Xtreme Pin Head Mag’. Maybe that’s progress?

Ski Alpinisme, V. Shahshahani et JP Bonfort, Didier-Richard, 1984

Bonfort and Shahshahani’s books are the bibles for ski touring in the Dauphine region.

Posted by davidof on Friday, 05 December, 2003 at 11:20 AM

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