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Tuesday
Mar092010

Sylvain Saudan "Skier of the Impossible"

This year has been amazing on so many levels.  I am regularly crossing paths with my ski heroes, one of these heroes is the 73 year old Swiss ski mountaineering legend, Sylvain Saudan.

I met Sylvain in Srinagar Kashmir at K Salama Tailors.  We share the same tailor and love for Kashmir so I thought it was just a matter of time before we cross paths in this Himalayan city.  I walked into the tailor one day to get a fitting for a overcoat and there he was, the man, drinking a Carlsberg at 10am.  We started chatting about the complications of flying helicopters near the disputed boarder of India and Pakistan and soon after I had a beer in my hand as well.  He was returning to Kashmir after a 2 year absence following a helicopter crash in 2007.  Now things were lining up for him and his employees (French mountain guide and Swiss Pilot) to take clients heli-skiing in the Indian Himalaya.  He bases his operation out of the Grand Palace in Srinagar, the former residence of the Maharaja.  Now a 5-star hotel with incredible grounds, the Palace lets him land his helicopters on their lawn and the guests ride powder all day long and return to the lush, warm city in the afternoon.  Over the next few days we were able to hang out, chat, drink and eat.  During dinner one night I thought I'd ask a more personal question, so as everybody got up to go check out the dessert table I asked "Were there ever any lines or mountains you wanted to ski but never had the chance?"  He says with total satisfaction and peace in his voice "No, I got them all"  It made me feel really happy for him, as this peace and satisfaction is something I hope to find.  The perceived accomplishment of skiing radical lines does little to satisfy the soul.  With heavy doses of adrenaline and danger, extreme skiing is more about the thrill than the accomplishment.  The thrill is super addictive and only makes you want to push it even more; steeper, icier, higher until there is only the absurdly dangerous left.  For me, I feel no satisfaction in climbing or skiing ridiculous lines.  I only feel thrill and focus, and relief when it is over. Because I know that luck is just as important as skill.  When things get really rad it is just a roll of the dice on whether or not you make it back. Peace and satisfaction come from something else, I don't know what or where it comes from.  But I hope to find it, just like Sylvain.                Sylvain Saudan Wiki

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    Dave Watson - Home - Sylvain Saudan "Skier of the Impossible"
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Reader Comments (12)

how great Dave!! what a great story....

March 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn

Nice post Dave... I just linked to it from AdventureSkier.com . I hope your time in Kashmir was gratifying this season. It was great to bump into you in Utah back in Jan. Check your email for a couple of pics from the runs we shared. Think snow.

Brian

March 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBrian Mohr

Hey Dave cool insight into the legend that is Sylvain!
Cheers,
Paul

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