Bruno Compagnet and Layla Jean Kerley took an American friend of theirs into the sacred lands accessed from the Aiguille du Midi. A homecoming that would resonate deeply with Bruno…

I am no religious fanatic, not even a good Christian but more like an old pagan. The title of this little piece, and the allusion to rebirth, simply comes from a profound happiness that I experienced during certain days in the mountains accompanied by Layla and Brenden, an American friend who earns his crust setting off dynamite on the slopes of Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Layla Jean Kerley

Today the mountain revealed itself more beautifully, bright and grandiose than ever before after days and days of storms, closed roads and waiting for the ski lifts to eventually open… This soft blanket of snow rolling under our feet and a setting beautiful enough to bring tears rolling down my friend’s cheeks feels even more special after weeks of patience. Runs in the forest are nice, euphoric even, especially when you ski in a gang like a pack of wolves marauding through the woods but I was missing something.

We live in a wondrous world drenched in mystery that we set out to destroy like unaware children. The signs of climate change are alarm signals that the world is throwing at us and you’d have to be crazy to ignore them. I am fully convinced that that which affects the world also profoundly touches us. How can it be any other way?

After weeks of snow, wind, rain, reheat, rain and snow we were finally able to get back up there for the simple pleasure of seeing all that fresh snow sparkling in the light of the rising sun with the promise of sharing the most exhilarating of moments. I’ve been exploring this range and these mountains for over 25 years and the emotions remain the same. It’s a strange feeling and much stronger that what is felt inside a temple or church no matter how grand and intricate they are because this is the work of nature and in spite of all his folly, man will never compete with that.

Layla Jean Kerley

I am moved, touched to my soul that my personal history is linked to these mountains, populated by good and bad memories that have made me the man I am. I never need to go to church to hear someone talking to me about life and how I should behave. For me, real religion is practised simply through a passion, a calling, through the relationship with your kids and everything we transmit throughout our lives…It’s an attitude towards others and to things.

When I’m in the mountains, I leave all my problems in the valley, all my conflicts, contradictions, errors and the bad choices that I made sometimes and the negative feelings and anxieties that wake me up in the middle of the night and stop me from going back to sleep. I leave that all underneath me to become a free and happy man again.

What I’d really like is to retain this feeling, this state of mind, when I come back down into the valley. I know it’s there, inside me, inside us. I have been lucky enough to know this experience well, to live it and feel it within every fibre of my body. It’s something that makes me profoundly happy and that I wanted to share.

Go skiing.


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