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Assignment Shoot: Dynastar Skis, Chamonix, La Grave // 3/05/2014

Forrest Coots traveling through France skiing La Grave and Chamonix.

Hans Saari’s death in the spring of 2001 stunned me. I remember where I was when I heard about the accident. I read many of Hans’ words about his adventures both around Montana and abroad. I was drawn to Bozeman out of high school because of the passion that Hans displayed through his writings and Kris Erickson’s images from their travels. I traveled to Chamonix for my first time when I was 22 to ski. I was like a penguin in a desert.

I’ve been fortunate to have visited Chamonix a number of times since that first trip. Each time my skill set progresses both in photography and skiing. Its a progression that is a natural journey. Thats the unique thing about my time in the mountains. It provides a chance to seek a positive progression. Its our choice to progress or sit idle. Mountains have provided some of my most intense moments in life. Living and breathing vibrantly in the mountains is what I have chosen. My body and soul is alive because of what mountains have given. They also teach us to deal with struggles. We can choose to take these struggles and use them as fuel. Friendships that are forged in the mountains are unique. Respecting nature and remembering that our approach must follow the path of humility in the mountains opens my eyes to seeing things differently, helping to shape and mold me. This path makes me a better human being. Maintaining a positive attitude that hopefully, will spark others to live with wild enthusiasm for life. This is contagious. This mind set will make our world a more positive place. It starts with me. It starts with you. Take a big deep breath of life and exhale a positive passion. Be kind to others.

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My recent travels to France with my good pal Forrest Coots provided some time to reflect on many different levels. The sense of community can be found in many places. The hustle and bustle sometimes forces me to look deeper to find that community aspect. TIme in the mountains can provide a stark contrast. At times, they are quiet and still other times they are savage. Chamonix is a unique place, in that, so quickly you can beĀ  deep in the mountain arena. We shared many days with new friends and old friends. We were accepted into a community that thrived on being in the mountains. The noise of Chamonix is contrasted by the opportunities for adventure 2,000M above the valley floor.

What we choose to do with our lives affects others, obviously. Climbing and skiing, often times, has a notion of being a self centered endeavor. Instead, if we focus our energy towards sharing our outlook and how we see the world through a life in the mountains we can encourage others to explore and learn about themselves. The broad goal of an objective in the mountains, to climb a mountain or to ski a line has to be broken down to small bites. This is life. Those that have gone before us show us what they have learned. We must give back in this form of mentorship. The mountains provide us a beautiful training ground to apply lessons that we learn to then be applied to our lives and to inspire others to live a life of love and kindness.

Forrest Coots traveling through France skiing La Grave and Chamonix.

Forrest Coots traveling through France skiing La Grave and Chamonix.

Forrest Coots traveling through France skiing La Grave and Chamonix.

Forrest Coots traveling through France skiing La Grave and Chamonix.

Forrest Coots traveling through France skiing La Grave and Chamonix.

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Forrest Coots traveling through France skiing La Grave and Chamonix.

We then traveled to the center of the universe. Skiing, at the center of the universe is just like you would expect it to be. Nothing like you could imagine. Every twist and turn something is revealed that you did not expect. Hidden alcoves that surprise you and force you to wonder. Progression happens, its required. Your soul is at home here in the center of the universe. The skiing is different, magical really. My soul was filled. This was my second time visiting the center of the universe to ski. My first time I wondered why it had taken me so long to visit. This time I wondered why it had taken me so long to come back. Magical moments in the mountains touch our sensors in ways that can not be described with images or words. The community that lives there, at the center of the universe, knows what they have. Its simple. Its skiing. Its about the connection with the mountains and with the people. Its respect for the mountains not the conquering of any mountain. La Meije glows and provides opportunities for everyone to learn about themselves. You have to listen, you have to be still and advance the flow.

Forrest Coots traveling through France skiing La Grave and Chamonix.

Hans got it.

“The Vibrancy of the line means everything. Like a cello, there is no sound until the string is taut. The more you struggle, the tighter the string, the greater the music.”

Thank you to both the communities of Chamonix and La Grave for showing us your vibrant music.

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