Words & photography by Daniel Wildey
I hadn’t truly seen grace and style on a piste until I skied with Fletcher. His turns were as controlled as they were effortlessly powerful, and he was getting more air than the combined talents of an entire X Games roster. It was hard not to compare my descent to his, despite the fact he’s a White Tailed Sea Eagle, unencumbered with such prosaic things as ski boots and a one-sided relationship with gravity.
I was in Val d’Arly Mont Blanc, one of those perfectly French, unknown areas that remain under the radar while Brits target the surrounding mega-resorts. And where small pockets of magic are to be found, such as the Festival Aigles a Ski.
“People think we can’t live with wolves and bears and eagles but I want to prove we can live with predators…”
The Skiing With Eagles Festival could easily have been like a cheesy sideshow to a third-rate village fete, but for a few key ingredients that lifted it high above the ordinary: the most obvious being the backdrop of Mont Blanc, clearly visible through the crisp spring air. Even more awe-inspiring was the surreal experience of being able to keep pace (to some extent!) with Fletcher and observe his aerobatics at relatively close-quarters as he swooped and glided down the flanks of the mountain.