Damien is a Chamonix local, ski patrol and the newest member of Simply Chamonix.
Damien will be using his in-depth knowledge to connect our followers to activities & specialist people in the region who are doing incredible things and providing Chamonix visitors and locals alike with unique experiences.
We asked Damien to share his thoughts and feelings about living in one of the most important areas in the world for Alpinism.
Damien has lived here since 2004 and champions Chamonix as a very specific region that is not just a ski resort but an International ski town that speaks 57 different languages and offers activities all year round.
Not comparable to anywhere else in the world – Chamonix pulls in 100,000 in the winter and 150,000 in the summer.
Chamonix attracts the best alpinists in the world and the level of skill and ability is on a totally different level – but it is low profile, not a show-off place.
People come here to practice alpinism and ski alpinism without the stigma of who you are or what you have – what is important is the pursuit of real happiness; a happiness that fills the human soul to a level that cannot be maintained in mainstream life.
Chamonix is often described as living in a bubble. Here, social status is not that important, because when it comes down to it, we are all the same.
Chamonix is about humility. When you are at the top of that mountain, you can push aside your rocky finances, your business worries or your love pain. We all become the same.
The Mountains teach people values. To sit and gaze at them opens up a world of thoughts and possibilities. When you get to the top its the point where you feel most free and happy all at the same time.
You can forget about your life struggle and connect in a way that makes everything seem possible. The speed at which you go to navigate your way down the mountain, the freedom, the anticipating of what is going on around you when you travel – it is the best way to learn about yourself. You learn to deal with risk management and where your limits are as a person.
Chamonix is a place of training. It is a place where people come to train in order to climb the greatest mountains in the world. It is like a school.
To see the greatest mountains in the world ordinarily you would go to the Himalayas where it would take you a week to walk to see them. In Chamonix you can get a lift to the top and see one of the 7 wonders of the world.
To Ski the Valley Blanche is one of the greatest experiences in the world. People have always and continue to challenge themselves and experience the great valley Blanche.
Chamonix changes people. Once you have connected with the mountains in this way you can feel disconnected from the life you once knew. Challenges change people.
When you live in such a town like Chamonix you don’t have Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Every day is the same. Here you can party on Friday night or a Sunday night and its the same. There is no gloomy feeling on a Sunday because its back to work on Monday. We party as though its the same. It simply doesn’t matter.
When you live in Chamonix you are not connected with the same types of things people have to connect with in more urban life.
We are a little bit disconnected with world problems. We feel free as people.
In Chamonix there is something almost mystic about death here in the mountains. Everyone has experienced losing a loved one, but here when people die doing what they love doing, and what they have a passion for, it is seen and dealt with differently. It is almost like a destiny of fulfilment. Mountains are dangerous places even for professionals.
For example when you are leaving in the morning to go and do something that is going to be daring, dangerous and challenging, you know that you are putting your life at risk. Even if you are limiting your risk because of your knowledge, even if you are well prepared you still cannot manage your risk to zero – there is always a chance that you may not be coming back.