My latest tested Baby, she climbs like Maria Callas sings. An interesting head, ergo and beau… a strong shaft and the possibility to climb anything, any angle, anywhere.... Ice assassin or the claws of a heraldic beast legend?
So the world is mad, right, you know this. But is it getting worse? Probably but certain things mask your ability to judge, or even your will to judge. Do you have a job you don’t like, or is it worse? Do you have a job you hate, with a boss who perhaps tweaks your tight buns, and makes evil suggestions about the weekend. Yes, you do, don’t you. I knew it. You acquiesce in your prickly predicament because you have a mortgage, you don’t tell your slimy superior to stick it where the sun don’t shine do you? You’re not brave your normal, most likely, your more normal than normal, you’re spineless. I live in Italy, we are not spineless, we are just too well fed, and we have mamas who love us, that’s why we can’t get a rid of shameless presidents with huge Viagra addictions and worryingconnections with the underworld. The whole of North Africa is more than perturbed, its on fire, and we of course watch football!
Anyway the other day, or was it most of the last year, I did some writing for Mags, the net, and other nefarious, naughty, self interested bodies who would pay me. Get this and get this straight, I had no ulterior motive, yes my unworldly friends it was for gathering shekels, garnering guineas, gathering geld. It wasn’t to preen, I am past preening, I am a grumpy old sportsman, I don’t care about you. Or do I? Maybe yes, maybe no. Do you owe me money?
Anyway the other day I was too tired to run, and couldn’t be arsed to suffer the cold climbing, so went prospecting for attractive boulders to climb. Or do I mean drape my be-logoed, trim, muscular body over, and thus accrue a gaggle of grumpy divorced grannies, as a harem. So I walked down a cold valley, which had about a dozen unclimbed frozen cascades in, and was pretty psyched to think of those nice looking lines waiting for impoverished Scottish lads to swarm up. But I was looking for a boulder rather than a 200 meter waterfall. As I looked over a bridge, I saw eggs, giant eggs. They were clearly frogspawn affected by radiation, and had thus mutated into something strange, and subversive.What governments are not telling you is that earth has become a target, not just for extraterrestrials, but also for low forms of life. With the recent spread of the Internet, the universe at large is starting to understand how stupid humans are, and what an easy target they are. Not content with trying to kill each other for spurious reasons, like land, riches, oil for SUVs’ that they can’t drive, humans are now are trying to inoculate themselves against some fairly harmless viruses with more lethal consequences to themselves. The British government was conned into buying expensive flu vaccine, and then tried to inoculate an unwilling public with it. Pig Flu, Bird Flu, and now Frog Flu, but look what’s happened to the Frogs. Jesus, they are getting stronger, and bigger. Take care dear reader. But there is hope, a virus which was designed to make Anacondas smaller, and farmable, went wrong, thus creating a subspecies called Acconcaguares, these are very big snakes, and should we hope take care of the frogs. But what do we do with the Acconcagauras, surely they are uncontrollable being nearly 7000 meters long! Or are they 7000 meters high, I can’t remember, shit I am confused now, I better consult a climbing magazine for the truth.
So when the snow was high and joy was soaring, I realized what I needed to hit warp factor 5 was an old fashioned board the kind that aren’t made anymore cos everybody is too lazy. Lots of good designs in gear are shelved only too be replaced by shite that sells, no matter that it only does a reasonable job and not an excellent one, that’s why you get salopettes with 15 zips but you can’t actually walk in. In deep snow you need a long board, don’t let the makers tell you anything else. And it goes by weight, so if you are a big bloke you need a board with a lot of floatation. I ride 162 if there isn’t much snow, I go 175 for a lot of my riding, and I used to in the old days go bigger. People say you can’t ride boards that long but I do and what’s more I like too which is the point for me. I like being in the turn but love long curves rather than turns, and I don’t mind if I only enjoy the good snow at the top of the mountain. Anyway to cut a long story short I have a size problem! And I have a stiffness problem, if a board is too soft it bends to much in the turn and dumps speed. So what to do, I moaned and winged, couldn’t get what I wanted and then remembered I’d seen a display model, a bit of eye candy in a friends shop. So after appropriate Italian negotiations we liberated the board and I went surfing, and verily it was good, no scratch that it was great. So the board is 188, an old Regis Roland model swallow tail, never been ridden and is generally thought of as a difficult board.
This is the story of a great journey, the traverse of 303 mountains in Scotland England, Wales and Ireland by Mr Symonds. And of course I should mention his wife and kids supporting him for the 100 odd days it took. It’s a great book if not a great read, inspiring but exhausting, a totally fantastic reminder of what some fell runners in Britain have done and will keep on doing. This link or tour was done for his own ambition and to help a charity, please buy the book and find out more. The book starts off with the mountains in Scotland, a country I don’t like for its weather and midges but this book reminds you that there is a lot of pleasure for those who persevere. It almost tempts me back but somehow I think I might be better off in the Alps. The book has made me look at maps more and dream more and think that my life might have another journey left in it, so thanks very much Hugh. There are some useful appendices in the back which fell running nerds will find useful, but its Hughs general courage in the face of day in day in running and British conditions that is almost overwhelming.
The Tour in this case is very obviously the Tour de France, one of the greatest if not the greatest sporting challenge there is for semi humans. It is a no holds barred frank account of the cheating, drug taking, and general shenanigans, that rich events will inevitably encourage. Drug taking in top class sport is more than common but to general readers this honest account might put them off, please don’t be, it’s just time we all grew up and excepted it. I have been in comps were I have competed against drug takers and been fairly pissed off, but luckily my life didn’t suffer when I lost. Some of the people who took drugs in the Tour also lost, they lost their lives! Anyway this book is the best read I have had for many a day, it’s a kind off verbal comic, lots of humour and snippets of gossip. It’s a great book and a quick read and might make you buy a bike! I used to do a great deal of cycling and have cycled many bits of the Tour particularly the cols. Long live the Tour, an incredible test, and incredible story of cheating and everything that is both great and disgusting about humans. The book is much more interesting than normal books about sport but then it’s a big story it’s a big circle of kilometers, it’s a colourful pageant that speeds around one of the most interesting countries in the world.
This book is really for confirmed runners who like not just the outdoors but the mountain environment. Sarah Rowell has a good marathon time and writes for fell running mags nowadays, she certainly knows what she is talking about. The book covers cross-country fell running and multiday events, just buy it and you won’t really have a problem, it might open your mind to an interesting aspect of running that you never thought existed like Orienteering perhaps. It is crazy to think that until recently women were thought too weak to run marathons and weren’t allowed to run them, women like Sarah have certainly helped disprove this. One of the nicest aspects of this book are the small bios of good runners in each aspect of Off road running, this is delight and is in every case an inspiration, thanks to the individual people for being so good and thanks to Sarah for bringing them to our attention. Lots of training tips, facts and figures, buy it, and do it.
This book I recommend for beginner runners or people like me who haven’t run for years and want to catch up with modern thoughts about basic training, it’s not really for confirmed runners. It’s the kind of book to start someone off and perhaps introduce them to healthier habits of running exercise and health in general. I actually got more from it than I thought and appreciated the relaxed style and humor. There are some pretty shocking statistics about how unfit most people are how just a little running will help prevent a lot of heart attacks. There is a sequel book for confirmed runners which I have also read but that one won’t save your life, this one might if you are a fat over stressed city type, and so it’s here, and I recommend it, if not for you, then give it as a present to someone who desperately needs it, you never know you might save their life.
So, Pissed as a parrot, whose Mrs Parrot, has just pissed off with the Priatic Pompiers of Perpignan, I did some perusing of some perplexing physical philosophies. Needless to say you could perhaps interpret them in a different way, according to your particular prejudices or state of inebriation. As a prelude to this complex task I took a six pack of Ceres Strong Ale Export Alc. 7.7%, taken post work where none of my brilliant and totally practical ideas where taken note of. This delightful Danish brew taken prophylactically and to excess seems to speed and aid any mental task. On arriving home I ignored my normal methods of relaxation ie. www. Swedish Fetish Nurses Against Nuclear Disarmament, and did some surfing of other stuff. So I looked up the entries to a race I had entered and noted the numbers per nationality. These facts gave me some grave and enlightening information which may surprise and stun sober members of a more rational, non racial, and non-rotten minded member of Mankind.
Out of 500 entries to a one of the greatest trail races in the world which takes place in stunning mountain scenery, there are only 4 Brits! Brits are supposedly a great mountaineering nation with a great Fell running culture! The race takes place an Easy Jet flight away, cost half a pint of Bitter, plus tax! Contrast this with our Nipponese nibble footed Fell fellows. 13 Japenese will travel not across the channel, but across Asia and Europe. Naturally the home nation Italy, will raise 208 runners, but France its neighbor and our traditional enemysends 114, ‘a bakers hundredweight’to our 4. Our American cousins are sending across the pond, and not the channel 14, Canada British till only a few years ago and still across the pond manages 9, more than double the Brits, interesting again. Spain 48, tiny Portugal 6, Slovenia 1, Luxembourg 1, San Marino, who I previously thought of as a race of Sheep, are also sending 1. And least but not least, if I include myself as Gozotan and not French we get a few fantastic facts. Gozo with a population of 30,000 are also sending 1. Thus proving that Gozo, a tiny sea level island with no mountains is the greatest sporting nation in the cosmos. Long live the Gozotans we are good runners, brilliant drinkers and world famous for accurate statistics. Previously to this inquiry into world sporting endeavor I had thought of the Gozatans primarily as champions of cigarette smoking and wild and worrying hand gestures. Just goes to show how wrong you can be and the power of really strong ale.
Hi Guys, I got some nasty mail and had a few angry conversations with a few guides and people who work in the snow industry about my Avalanche blog. So to spread a bit more light, and give those guys a few more spitting fits here’s some more. Avalanche Bleeper’s don’t stop you being in an avalanche, it’s simple. Not entering avalanche areas will stop you being in avalanches, duh! You can either choose to be extremely conservative about your acceptance of risk, or be at risk to a greater or lesser extent. The Swiss ski Guides a few years ago decided to become much more careful about what they skied, and in consequence have had fewer accidents. They did this by not skiing loaded slopes above 30 degrees, this is my basic interpretation, please confirm it or disagree. Depending where you live, or what language you speak, it might be hard to get the information. I like powder and slopes above 30 degrees, so for me this is no solution, I would have to stay at home.
I thought I’d share a few facts to help you stay at home or venture out. If you are buried under snow your chances of survival are a lot less after 10 mins, and drop off significantly there after. To be found in snow debris, is almost impossibility without a bleeper. To dig two meters and retrieve a body in 10mins in anything but powder snow is asking for too much from one person. Brain damage is very evident after 14 mins, if you live that long. So first you must ski to the approximate location, if this is in a couloir bear in mind it might be stripped down to bear ice or rocks. Then you must locate the unfortunate and dig a very big hole. The hole is by necessity bigger than you think and will take time, possibly way too long. Many fatalities in avalanches are from broken necks and other severe trauma, you don’t just gently die a peaceful death. I am a fit man who knows how to dig, having worked on many building sites in my time, so I decided to do an experiment. I went to an avalanche, there are lots here to choose from, and we have had so called Spring avalanches from November. I assumed I knew where my partner was and decided to dig a hole to a depth of two meters. It took me twenty mins by myself. This was in hard snow with a very good shovel, a shovel that a few years ago was known as a Pisteur shovel and you are unlikely to be carrying one like this. The avalanche I was in a few days ago was windblown powder, and powder at altitude, so you would expect the digging to have been easy, but you are wrong. I travelled about 300 meters in the avalanche and by the time I stopped the snow was compacted and very heavy, it would have been easier to dig than my experimental hole, but still very difficult.
So you must have time get to the area, find the person with a bleeper, have a good shovel and dig a big hole, the victim then might need first aid, or flying out for major hospitalization. So you need a phone and a wilderness first aid competence, you need to know where you are. Bleeper’s shovels and probes are required by law in Off Piste skiing, but phones etc are not, why? And where do these requirements and regulations stop, most off the people I have seen recently with guides are poor skiers with no knowledge of how to help themselves in the mountains. So if the guide is taken out what happens. Anyway a bit to think about for you all. We live in a society that doesn’t think, and tries to make risky things safe, so really it should ban you from slippery surfaces in showers or make you wear a harness. And isn’t smoking still legal? Or maybe none of us should be born because, assuredly we will die. Good luck.
Joss is the title of the book written by Keith Richardson about the eternal Joss Naylor. For those of you who don’t know Joss, particularly American Ultra runners, the man could be summed up as, a Lake District sheep farmer who ran prodigious distances. Of course he was much more than that, he was a legend, to many fell runners he was the man who optimized living and working among the fells. Anyway a nice coffee table sized book with lovely photos of Lake District landscape.
Wild Trails to Far Horizons by Mike Cudahy, is another must read running nerds book, probably hard to find and out of print. Again non Brits will probably not know his name, but Mr Cudahy was instrumental in stretching the boundaries of what was thought possible in long distance trail. One day a running mag might write some of the history of our sport without too much preference for one country or another, but of course that would be too hard and require them to read the above two books. This book is probably a better read than Joss but both suffer a great deal, don’t get me wrong, they are very interesting, but if you’re not a nerd they will appear long. It’s very hard to write about running in an interesting way that’s why I hesitate in recommending them but I obviously enjoyed them both, but I had no wish to be entertained, I simply wished to be informed and reminded of how great these two men were. So for me the books are very good.
King of the World by David Remnick is a great book by a great writer about a great subject. It’s not about running, it’s about boxing, it’s about Cassius and it’s about Ali, two of the innumerable sides of one man who was heavy weight champion of the world. Ali transcended sport and boxing, and became something else, he became a symbol for freedom. I can’t recommend this book enough, I just wish it was about running or climbing, but there you go, our sports are just not like boxing or are they? If you read the book, you will understand that boxing is generally fixed, a bit like climbing I think. The best boxers come from a limited part of the population who don’t have much to lose and something to fight against. Climbing used to be a rich man’s sport but was taken over by the workers, it is now back to being the province of the dilatants and myth builders. An interesting case might be running, a sport natural to all humans but now often done by IT workers in America and not sheep farmers. Anyway no real point here perhaps a mag could make a point or at least provide me with something worth reading.
Ali for me is most famous for saying, ‘I ain’t got no quarrel with those Vietcong’ not for saying anything about boxing. He was drafted into an illegal war and refused to go, good on him, shame on America.
Moro, Urubko and Richards all submitted, well done. Gash 2 is thought of as an easy summit but nothing is easy in the Himalayan winter. Winter ascents used to be the preserve of hard ‘Poles’ and so it is pleasing to see lads from three different countries teaming up.