Skiing is a passion and a way of life. 

If it's got snow on it, it's skiable - not necessarily sensible, but skiable.

In professional life, I'm a scientist, academic and entrepreneur. But my passion is skiing, and each winter season brings its own special adventures.

I'd rather be on the mountain thinking about science than in the lab thinking about skiing

To see what I'm up to, keep track, or to engage with others, follow me on Twitter @couloirjunkie


Research groups



The best places to ski

St Anton

In my view the best ski resort on the planet. Great atmosphere, incredible skiing, huge amounts of snow (usually), fantastic infrastructure, and enormous area. The off piste, back country and touring terrain is so varied, that under almost any conditions there's great skiing to be had. Good restaurants, great bars add perfect destination resort. See underneath for favourite couloirs!

Monte Rosa

The Gressoney-Champoluc-Alagna linked ski area provides some of the most wild terrain, awesome views, and steep terrain of anywhere in the Alps, and has a much better infrastructure, food and atmosphere than Chamonix. Also fantastic restaurants and wine bars. It also gives access to Monte Rosa huts - I've never summited it but would love to do some of the ascents.

Zermatt/Cervinia

Skiing in the shadow of the Matterhorn is always a special experience, but with the length of descents, and frequent powder traps, particularly on the Zermatt side, this is a fabulous area to ski. Much cheaper on the italian side but Zermatt has some of the best mountain food in Europe - try Chez Vrony for the best end of day eating anywhere. A nice groomed run home required given the amount of Prosecco required.

Alta/Snowbird

The greatest snow on earth, and probably the greatest runs I've ever had  with six feet plus of champagne powder allowing cliff jumps to be attempted with ease (and sometimes without knowledge). Also the home of some insane couloirs and some great friends.

Verbier

Incredible runs, swish (Swiss) organisation and fantastic touring terrain, but ridiculously expensive to stay there, or eat there. Backside is a truly hair raising lift served run off the cable car, and the size of the ski area, and accessible backcountry is fabulous.

The Alpine Arc

From 2012 onwards, I have been part of a group attempting to ski tour across the Alps. We started in Ischgl in Austria and have so far reached Bardonecchia in Italy, skiing one week a year from hut to hut (where possible). This incredible adventure is chronicled in the below pages

Part One. Ischgl - Klosters - The Silvretta Tour
Part Two. Klosters-Andermatt - the Thwarted tour
Part Three. Andermatt-Lotschental - The Bernese Oberland Tour
Part Four. Lotschental-Verbier - The Injury Prone Tour
Part Five. Verbier - La Thuile - The Reverse Haute Route
Part Six. La Thuile-Bardonecchia - The Sunny Tour

Pictures

 Recent skiing pictures

Favourite Couloirs

Links to my favourite couloirs, and ones I want to ski but haven't yet

Europe

Schindlergrat Chutes (St Anton)



Torli Couloir (Kapall, St Anton)

This avalanche prone couloir off the Schõngrabern lift is often too dangerous to ski, but in the right conditions is stunning 1000ft+ 37°+drainpipe of a couloir. Ski from Kapall lift into the Schafgilger powderfield on the skiers left of the t bar. Instead of taking the traverse right to Schõngraben ski down the powder field, but bear right 100m before the slope funnels into the usual Torli route. There are three entrances - the best is high above the small tree, which gives a lovely powder entrance - beware slides - a second round the tree to the right hand side, and a third which requires a launch - only to be attempted under exceptionally stable conditions.  You come out to avalanche debris in Schõngraben with chamois often seen up the hill.



ENSA couloir (Chamonix)

Arlenmähder Chutes (St Anton)

Nice and steep chute straight off the Zammermoos lift (left of diamond number 75) down to Arlenmahder lift. Unfortunately quite heavily sun exposed so can break up or slump easily. Not for the afternoon in spring!



'king Marley's Chute (Stuben)

This isn't it's official name, but what we call; it  - a beautiful north facing powder trap in Stuben directly accessible from AlbonaII lift (traverse round above the Marois See lake to the entramnce, then straight down towards the Arlberg tunnel ventilation shaft.


Grand Couloir (Courchevel)

Lanserlia Couloir, Parc Vanoise


North America

Blowhole (Whistler)
Hangman's Hollow (Mammoth Mountain)

Sudain (now Couloir Extreme, Blackcomb)


Pallisades (Alpine Meadows)
KT22 (Squaw)
Scott's Chute (Snowbird)

On my list to do (open to suggestions!)
Le Giraffe (Andermatt)
Malfatta (Alagna)
Marinelli (Monte Rosa)
Baldy Chutes (Alta)
Corbett's Couloir (Jackson)

Mountain guide links

Here are some of the guides I've skied with and would highly recommend
Oscar Cametti (Mountain Experts)
Kathy Murphy
Stefano della Gasparini
Bruce Goodlad (Mountain Adventure)

Skiing videos

Alta Sucks - a couple of days when Alta was at it's worst (i.e. still pretty good!)
Armada TSTs - taking out my Armada's for the first time.
Losing it Big - What happens when Westward Ho is really big at Alta
Family St Anton -  a reminder of what the kids were like 7 years ago!

My Kit

Skis - Armada TST 2013 102mm 183cm
Bindings Dynafit Radicat ST
Boots - Touring - La Sportiva Spectre
Poles - ColdPoles. With Rum or whisky

David Bates

couloirjunkie@yahoo.co.uk

Last edited, 2/4/2018