Planks People: Tignes & Val d'Isere Seasonaires (Part 2)

SHRED THREAD // 30th Jan 2020

30th Jan 2020

We're back with the second part of our Planks People: Tignes & Val d'Isere Seasonaires blog. In part one we interviewed young blood seasonaire Joss Balwin and OG seasonaire, Planks Founder, Jim Adlington. For part two we will be speaking to backcountry beast Tim Blake from Val d'Isere, and talented photographer Sam Box from Tignes.


Tim Blake - Ambassador in Val d'Isere All-Year-Round

What is the best part about calling Val d'Isere your home for the winter?

I call Val home all-year-round now, but I came out for the skiing originally. I was lucky enough to ski in quite a few resorts while I was growing up, both in Europe and North America, but Val always had something more to offer than others. There is just so much good skiing here.

What is a standard ski day in Val d'Isere for you?

I’m lucky enough to do a job that allows me to ski every morning. For me, this is perfect as I can always get first lifts on powder days, which is really why I’m here. Nothing beats a powder day.

Photo by: Sam Box

What backcountry mission is the highlight of your season so far?

It’s been a weird season so far. We had great snowfall early on, but it didn’t really bring about great powder days. With the wind and temperature changes, it's not been the best season for perfect backcountry days. I’ve been here long enough which means that not much is new to me so nothing that stands out just yet. Me and two friends are hiking a couloir tomorrow, that I haven’t skied before, so that is most likely going to be the highlight so far. Not to say we haven’t had great pow days this season but it takes a bit to top list for me.

What is your funniest memory in the backcountry?

So many to choose from, from sunrise hikes to opening favourite lines to perfect tree days. Two days stand out though. One was in my first season when one of the top skiers in the resort took me for a day of dropping big cliffs. It was the perfect day to drop and we hit two really big ones in between 40ft-60ft. Unfortunately breaking my neck the next season but an end to dropping such big stuff but it was such a great day. The other one is being able to ski one of the favourite tree lines top to bottom in perfect conditions, which is very rare as it has a difficult traverse in it that is rarely covered enough to ski in one.

What is your scariest experience in the backcountry?

Losing a ski while charging out of a couloir when I already knew the apron before the entrance had cracked and was sliding. As I was mid tomahawk all I was thinking about was the amount of snow that was about to come down. Thankfully, although it was enough to take me a bit further down I luckily stayed on the top and just ended up being buried to the waste.

Photo by: Sam Box

Why is the backcountry skiing is one of the most exciting way to explore the mountain?

I don’t think there is one thing that I can say that encapsulates everything that is great about the backcountry around this area and for that matter backcountry in general. For me, it’s just escapism and the adrenaline rush you get from skiing through powder down an untouched line.

Where are the best backcountry lines in Val d'Isere?

Sorry but I can’t tell you that. There are a lot, some well known and others not so well know, but I don’t want to give away my best spots.

If you could control the conditions what would your perfect day on the mountain look like?

It doesn’t really matter about conditions if the snow is deep and you’re getting face shots. If it is snowing and bad light then you head to the trees. If its bluebird after snowing all night then you hit up the bigger lines up top. As long as its perfect powder it doesn’t matter. It can be down an un-pisted La Face first up if it's deep enough.

Photo by: Sam Box

What are your ski goals for the rest of the season?

Keep on hiking and touring to untracked snow.

What is your go-to piece of kit for shredding powder and why?

Apart from my skis, obviously the Yeti Hunter Shell Jacket and Bib. Have to say they are getting better and better every year, and I should know as I think I’ve had most of them. Except for one season when I went for the Good Times outfit. The small changes this year with the pockets really work and the fit on the bib pants is really well. Also, never go shredding pow without your transceiver, shovel and probe. It’s not fair on the people you ride with.

Photo by: Sam Box


Sam Box - Ambassador & Photographer

What is the best part about calling Tignes home for the winter?

The huge amount of options you have to ski are amazing. You can ski trees, couloirs, pistes, open faces and more, all in one day.

Tell us about a standard ski day in the life of a Tignes seasonaire.

There is no standard ski day as everything depends on the conditions. This is why having versatile gear is important so you are ready for whatever.

Photo by: Sam Box         Skier: Caitlyn Kennedy

What backcountry mission is the highlight of your season so far?

A ski tour to Rocher Du Genepi, it was really great to get out for a bit and changed my understanding of the geography of the resort.

What is your funniest memory in the backcountry?

Whenever someone else tomahawks.

What is your scariest memory in the backcountry?

Whenever I tomahawk.

Photo by: Sam Box         Skier: Caitlyn Kennedy

How and why is the backcountry skiing is one of the most exciting ways to explore the mountain?

Imagine a vista with untracked runs and not a punter to be seen - this is the backcountry. It also feels much more freeing and limitless to not be following a piste. Backcountry is also much more testing, often with varying conditions which are a great challenge.

If you could control the conditions what would your perfect day on the mountain look like?

Five-foot of fresh, avalanche risk is somehow -1, it's a bluebird and no one but me and the squad has realised.

Photo by: Sam Box         Skier: Caitlyn Kennedy

There is still plenty more of winter left, what are your ski goals and plans for the rest of the season?

Tour more, shoot more, ski with more people.

Photo by: Sam Box         Skier: Caitlyn Kennedy

What is your go-to piece of kit for shredding powder and why?

Snorkel, to breathe. A close second is the Yeti Hunter Bib as they make it almost impossible to get snow in the wrong places!

What is your favourite feature within the Yeti Series?

I was going through at least one pair of salopettes every season. I'm now well into my second season with them and these puppies somehow look almost new; they are so rugged!

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