Snowkiting is an activity that is catching on in recent years, it can be practiced with the board or the skis on your feet. This second option is certainly more flexible because snowkiting can be combined with ski mountaineering to reach open and ventilated areas. A sail, controlled with a special bar, is bound to the person and provides for the traction.
The game is to ski pulled from the kite even uphill. My bet was to invest part of my activity as a mountain guide to set up a small snowkiting school. For some years now we have been doing basic and advanced courses. We wanted to believe in this different way of experiencing the mountain, convinced that a lot is still to be done and to be discovered.
In reality with the kite you get to ride positive slopes up to 12.000m in one day, practically on a par with a ski pass! The only constraints are those of not having too many obstacles since the sail flies about 25m away from its user and there is wind!
You don't need a strong wind, on the contrary a light wind is extremely more fun. The goal goes beyond finding an area on which to move, trying to go up with the sail where otherwise the skins would be needed, trying to ascend in a short time to then pack the sail and enjoy the descent. The goal is to ascend an altitude difference so high that it can be covered in a day with the skins only by athletes.
In the last few years we pushed ourselves even on more “hostile” lands such as the glaciers of Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa, an exciting challenge among often strong and gusty winds. An attempt to raise the bar!
The gear for a day of snowkiting? Well, the sail is the first element, there are different sizes to use depending on the intensity of the wind. A climbing harness to bind the kite, a helmet and ski equipment. Personally I use Grivel helmet and harness, free ride ski like the BMX 108 Kaestle with ATK Free Raider 1.4 bindings.
Article and pictures by Riccardo Olliveri, June 2019.
Riccardo Olliveri, born in 1975, enviromental engineer and mountain guide since 2002, is in the Grivel team since the end of 90's. Based in the Alps, he loves fighting gravity on ice, rock, dry tooling and even on skis.
Grivel favorite product: G20 crampons.