Charging the calculated mind

There are a lot of passionate skiers out there. There are even lots of extremely passionate skiers. But in Chamonix there is one skier, who exudes passion and positivity for the mountains more than anyone else, and who’s taking skiing to another level.

When Tof Henry talks about what he skied yesterday, or will be skiing tomorrow, and how he intends to get there, he could easily be mistaken for someone with a wild and vivid imagination. But listen carefully, and take a closer look at the meticulous planning, and you will soon realize that this is entirely normal for someone who has a burning passion for the biggest and steepest lines, and a calling to ski them in a way no one else does, or can.

— I want to ski the big lines faster than ever. Some people will do hours of jump turns, but my goal is to ride the lines with big freeride turns and style. To charge a line is not something you can just do though, which is why I train hard specifically for this kind of skiing, I also need to wait for the perfect moment and conditions.

To an average skier his ideas might sound crazy and they would only be able to focus on the risk or complexity involved. But Tof is no madman, far from it. Look beyond his boisterous and playful personality and you will find an experienced and calculated mountain mind which tends only to be found in people with deep roots in the mountains. Naturally, in this world there are risks, but like many big mountain athletes and steep skiers, he’s well aware of them.

— When the risk increases I have a little voice in my head that reminds me to keep calm, it immediately tells me there is always a solution, and that at this point experience is the most important factor. This is part of the love I have for skiing the big lines, especially in Chamonix, as you have to see the risk and play with it and make the right choice at the right moments.

To have love and risk in the same sentence would seem a contradiction to many, but for those who have a special relationship with the mountains, it is both natural and logical. It is perhaps even more logical for those who have lived their whole lives, like Tof, in the Chamonix valley. In this mecca to progressive big mountain skiing, the mountains are not just a part of life, it is life.

— I love to be in the heart of the mountains and the whole process of going to ski there. The organization, the approach, finding a beautiful spot for a base camp, waking up with the rising sun. Every moment is unique and you very quickly realize that when you’re up there, you don’t need anything except food, a good sleeping bag and good friends; simple things. It’s not only about the skiing either, I like to climb and make my own way up the mountain, which is why I use a natural approach and prefer not to use snowmobiles or helicopters — I adore being in nature too much.

Passion is by far Tof’s biggest driver, not fame, social media followers and likes, or opening up new lines. Those might be important to other groups and skiers, but not for this Chamoniard.

— I ski big lines for myself and for what it means to me, not for those at the bottom who may be watching.