Nocta Project Episode Two: wild nights

Bruno Compagnet and Layla Jean Kerley, accompanied by Flo Bastien and Julien Casagrande filmed the second edition of Nocta Project in the darkness of the Chamonix Valley. In places that are easily tamed by day, the blackness casts a veil of mystery and murkiness, wrapping the world in a mystical wilderness.

I watch the sparks from the fire glint and fly up into the night. At one point I thought they’d go and join the stars twinkling in the sky above our clearing. But they ended up going out, transforming into invisible dust particles. Some might even become the central point of moisture supercooling around which a snowflake might form. In vain I try to remember certain passages from the Book of Transformations while drinking a generous dram of whiskey. I can feel the amber liquid slide down my throat and warm my stomach. I pass the bottle to Layla. Julien has joined us and Flo is on his way. The gang will soon be complete for this long night ahead.
We move into a silent world filled with sound. Strong breathing from the exertion and a muffled, almost unnoticeable sound of skis sliding on the snow accumulated over the past hours, still with an incredible freshness to it…Occasionally the wind stirs the branches in the trees. Of course, no one is talking, no one feels the need. Communication is established in other ways amongst the pack. There are still some zigs and zags to be made in the middle of this combat zone before the forest thins and gives way to the alpine lawns. We will soon change our direction; the time has come to stop fighting gravity and to play with it instead.
We quickly peel our skins off our skis. Our poles point out openings and escape routes. The terrain that reveals itself in the beams of our headtorches is playful and varied. The excitement gently builds within the group.
We go for it. In the space of a few turns the rhythm is set. Fast, fluid, the cadence increases in tune with our body heat. In the forest, through snow that flies and explodes all around us, adrenaline and instinct overcome us. It’s something that reaches far beyond skiing. This is a ritual that has its roots in the dawn of time, when the shamans of the great north and the Siberian forest dreamed up this mode of transport for hunting, fighting and surviving the winter. In our time, in the dead of night, we still carry out this sacred dance in the midst of a swirl of snowflakes. Without doubt it cures us, if only for a few hours, from the modern world.

Bruno Compagnet


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