Pietro De La Pierre Des Ambrois - Interview
Pietro De La Pierre Des Ambrois is a humble boy, cultured and in love with the mountain. When he talks about his greatest passion, powdersurf, his eyes shine. With his cousin Lorenzo Boutall and with the help of Andrea Gallo, a videomaker who loves winter sports, he created the Powdersurfs Footprint with which he designs and manufactures powdersurf boards in a traditional way to surf on fresh snow. Unlike snowboarding boards, they are as free from bindings as in surfing. Pietro is very focused on this project and at the same time he is working with the alpine guide Enrico Piotto on new particularly light and entirely hand-built wooden skis. His love for the mountains has solid roots. One of his ancestors, Joseph Zumstein De La Pierre, was the first to climb Punta Zumstein, a peak of 4563 meters above sea level, the third highest of the Monte Rosa massif, 200 years ago, on 1st August 1820. Furthermore , old Joseph was also an important naturalist, fabric dealer and pioneer of ibex protection.
Pietro graduated in architecture at the Polytechnic of Turin with a thesis on alternative solutions of living on the move, also bringing his experiences in the mountains, between tent camps and bivouac stops and alpine refuges. Among her landmarks are Charlotte Perriand and Richard Horden. But how did the passion for powdersurf come about? “It all started in Gressoney in the Aosta Valley, where my family has a home,” explains Pietro, “I spent many winters there with my brothers, cousins and friends since I was a child. We always went skiing, but most of all the thing we liked most was when we came back to ski and went to the meadows around the house to jump on the snow with bobs or even skateboards.
It was a game, pure fun. And that in my opinion was the input from which I then developed the idea of dedicating myself to powdersurf. In the past I have done a lot of skateboarding also on a professional level doing several races, and towards the age of 11 I also started snowboarding and later surfing. All fundamental bases for what I am doing today. With snowboarding, however, I never felt completely comfortable. With attacks, for how you move your weight. Then one day I saw a video of Japanese powsurfers on the internet and I felt like building a table myself: I went down to the cellar where I had some carpentry tools, I cut three pieces of wood and I printed a rough board. I then went to try it with my cousin in front of the house in Gressoney, there was a lot of fresh snow and we had a lot of fun down the walls. We gradually expanded the equipment for the molds, building everything ourselves by ourselves, and thus the Powdersurfs Footprint was born.
We started developing the boards, different woods, but always for us, and then experimenting with them on the mountain terrain. Today there is certainly a good interest in this sport but many know nothing about it. Those who understand powdersurf better are surfers: they too are looking above all for new sensations and experiences, they know how to wait for the right wave, as in powdersurf they expect the best snow conditions. At least a span of “dust” for maximum fun, but of course you can also surf with 15 centimeters of snow, although on small slopes ». The boards, mostly made of beech and birch wood, are carried on the shoulders, as splitboards, snowboards or skis in freeride and ski mountaineering. The concept is simple: looking for the right place and spending a day trying and trying to surf again, it doesn’t matter the descent but the moment, the action is concentrated and lasts relatively little, but the emotion, the feeling, is more important than everything the rest. And then in powdersurfing the relationship with nature is important, knowing how to immerse yourself in the mountain environment, in the woods, on snowy slopes, alone or even better with your friends.
«Andrea Gallo for example is a friend who lives in Gressoney and who has” introduced “us to the best places, which today are our favorite spots. Andrea is a videomaker, he also helped us a lot to communicate our project. So Enrico Piotto, a friend of ours who works as a mountain guide, is collaborating with us to design and build wooden skis for freeriding. They are still in the testing phase, but we hope to be able to produce the first specimens soon. Also in this case we adopt a particular method: the powdersurf boards are all unique and custom-made pieces. Before proceeding with the realization, we meet the client and talk to each other to understand his needs and expectations. We then take all the measures and only then can we start working».
Written by Guido Andruetto