A Tale of Two Cities

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Aztech Mountain Gets “Chamified” in Chamonix

Each winter, Aztech Mountain is proud to visit retail partners throughout the Alps. Of all the towns we have visited, none leaves us in awe more than Chamonix, France. Cham native and World Cup ski racer Blaise Giezendanner puts it frankly, “Chamonix isn’t a normal ski town, it’s a town at the base of Europe’s biggest mountain.” For most skiers, stepping out of the caves at the top of the Aiguille du Midi is a life-long goal. You’d be hard-pressed to find more exposure at the top of a “ski lift” anywhere in the world. Even experienced alpinists rely on the knowledge of local guides to navigate ice fall, seracs, and crevasses throughout the glaciers that blanket the Mont Blanc Massif. The valley is steep in every direction and the skiing is harrowing. They say that in Chamonix you’re not really skiing if you’re not wearing a harness and carrying a rope. A day on the Mont Blanc seems to redefine the sport we grew up within Aspen.

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Blaise Giezendanner in the Sopris Quilted Shirt Jacket

This season, Aztech Mountain is partnered with several personalities at the forefront of skiing in Chamonix: an up-and-coming World Cup downhiller named Blaise Giezendanner, a next-generation big mountain skier named Christopher Baud and an organization of elite high mountain guides. “Beginning with Bode Miller, we have been so fortunate to work with best in class athletes,” says Aztech Co-founder Heifara Rutgers. “Now adding an all-star cast from the birthplace of steep skiing provides us with incredible feedback that fuels the development of our products. Designing apparel that meets the standards of the world’s most demanding athletes ensures that Aztech Mountain is at the pinnacle of design and production each season.”

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Christo Baud in the Hayden Shell System

Aspen’s most passionate alpinists and skiers regularly make the journey to Chamonix in search of adventure. Most return home with a new perspective on mountain sports and a deep desire to return, an effect known as being “Chamified.” Aspen native and World Cup downhiller Wiley Maple knows the feeling. After almost 30 years of skiing Aspen’s four mountains and traveling the world competing on skiing’s grandest stage, Maple has spent the spring ski touring in Chamonix. “When you grow up at the base of Aspen Mountain and travel the world racing the Hahnnenkahm and the most intimidating courses the World Cup has to offer your pretty comfortable clicking into your bindings. But, skiing in Chamonix can humble anyone quickly. The scale of the terrain and the level of consequence are a world away from what we experience in Aspen. But there’s a familiarity in the community that is tangible. Cham locals and Aspenites share a deep passion for their hometown that I’ve rarely seen. I felt completely out of my element and right at home all at the same time.”

Aspen’s connection to Chamonix started long ago. The two mountain towns are formally united as “Sister Cities” as part of a post-World War II program that was started by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956. Much like Walter and Elizabeth Paepcke sought to do by creating the "Aspen Idea," Eisenhower intended to unite cities around the globe with the common goal of improving the world through the international exchange of people, ideas and cultures. Aspen’s specific “Sister Cities” initiative was adopted in 1966 and remains today as a robust exchange program that allows Aspen students, medical professionals, and ski patrollers to immerse themselves in the Haute-Savoie while the local Aspen community welcomes Chamoniards to the Roaring Fork Valley. Christopher Baud, a born and bred Chamonix ski guide and son of legendary alpinist and skier Anselme Baud, visited Aspen as part of the program in 1996 and quickly fell in love with Aspen. “The link between nature, sports and mountains connects us and brings us closer together. The love of mountain sports and outdoors make these mountain villages, Aspen and Chamonix, twin sisters, separated by kilometers but always connected in the same state of mind,” says Baud.

Capital Peak

Headed up the gondola in Charmillon in the Capitol Peak Parka and Team Aztech Pant

Whether you’re traversing the Haute Route between Chamonix and Zermatt, summiting Highland Bowl at 12,092 ft, stepping out of the Silver Queen Gondola on Ajax or peering into the Abyss off the Aiguille du Midi, you’re sharing in the very passion that drives us all. This shared purpose was born generations ago throughout the Alps and formalized in the heart of the Rockies as part of the Aspen Idea. At Aztech Mountain, it inspires every product we make and every trip we take. We’ll see you on the slopes in the new year.

Happy New Year