I'm a woman

I'm a woman
Photos copyright Laurence Gouault
No reproduction on other media without the photographer's permission.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

An Ordinary Run, by Stevie Haston

my roommate
 Yesterday was fairly ordinary. An ordinary day in a boring week, or a boring day in an ordinary week, I don’t know or care. So just before dinner I put my shoes on and went out into the dark fog. I was just going out for my very mundane ‘there and back’ little run, my filler in run, ‘my better do something run’. And you know what, it was great! As soon as I was out of the flat, watching my breath blow out like a small horse in the chilly air, I knew it was going to be good. Within a few breaths and paces I was doing what I call slow ‘breath of fire’ breathing. Breath of fire, from Kundalini Yoga, I find hard, but occasional, when running or doing DenivelĂ©, it really clicks. Anyway its uphill for 400 meters, round past a frozen river, then the cable car station, then the woods and pillowed slow on chalets and hillocks. It was dark and cold and crunchy underfoot, I kept my eyes peeled for the two foxes who live up that road, but didn’t see them. Mostly I concentrated on my breathing and felt prime. Wow if it was this easy all the time, my god, it was really running, not jogging. So at the turn around I normally concentrate on even slow safe pace, and instead I just flew home. 10 mn faster than normal, nice. 3 plates of cabbage soup later, my legs felt worked. It was a very nice ordinary run, and I stayed awake thinking about simple, lovely things, in a bemused, full kinda way. You don’t know what you got, till it’s gone, and it goes because you don’t look after it, and cherish it. Be warned. Look after the little but great things in life, like ‘breath of fire’, you are never as happy as the child playing.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

La Thuile bouldering Comp, by Stevie Haston

Local Bouldering comp took place recently with route setting by Alberto Gnerro. Typical climbing wall meeting/gathering which was enjoyed by many. Nice to see Alberto Gnerro a master climber in attendance. Alberto was one of the strongest guys I’ve ever seen and was a 9a climber. Alberto did the fist 9a in Italy with a route called Ground Zero at Toit de Sarre, a route that is total power endurance. Anyway photos of the comp at Grivels website.

Alberto Gnerro
(c) Lorenzo Belfrond

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Tor de Geants news, by Stevie Haston

2000 years old Via Romana, part of the Tor des GĂ©ants
Bad news for runners who wanted to enter what some people have called the best mountain trail run ever. The places are all full, the race people say still apply as there might be hope with people who pull out, but basically the 500 places are full. The 330 km 24000 meters of up race has already reached classic status according to the ultra distance magazine Ultra Fond from France. Looking at the entries there are some good runners entered but with a disappointing 5 or so from Britain.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

New Mixed Axes from Grivel, by Stevie Haston

Two great axes, very robust, different performance. I am totally spoilt for choice at the moment, these make the choice worse. The black one is probably the choice weapon for Scotlands hardest routes and a bit more, basically bombproof, also a great choice for the harder mixed routes in the Alps and beyond.

The Orange one is a comp weapon and for the hardest mixed routes. I would still use this in all the more normal situations but some people will find its swing a bit twitchy, it’s really a bit too well bred for ordinary folk. If you think you can handle the hardest routes, this one is for you.

Both Axes come out of our Race department Reparto Corso, which is doing incredible stuff. Stay posted there are more axes, one my personal favorite, I can’t tell you about or they will kill me, but I am bursting to share. Ciao.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Free Ride World Tour, by Stevie Haston

The Free Ride World Tour was set for Chamonix but due to a lac of great snow the actual riding was in fact done in Courmayer. Courmayer has had the best snow in Europe this year-guess where I am. And so I have seen a couple of great riders notably Jerome Ruby an old acquaintance from Cham-side, the best steep couloir slider ever, and Xavier de la Rue, MrFast. Xavier won the Snowboarding and you can check a vid out at the above organization, as usual he was fast and furious, a fearless man. He won 6000 dollars, nice one, and a pleasure to watch.

Marco Olmo, a lovely mutant. By Stevie Haston

MarcoOlmo is a very down to earth Italian man who has worked all his life, he has also won a great many trail races. The most interesting thing about him for most will be that he won the Trail de MontBlanc when he was 59 years old. I had heard about Marco years ago but like most was shocked and stunned when this old geezer won the Big Trail. He rather confirmed what I had always thought about age not being the biggest issue in lots of sports but you do need theories confirmed. He went on to win the Trail a second time and has also a particular ability to win desert races, all good eh. I was reminded of all this the other day when I watched a film about him, if you get the chance watch it. The film is about a man without pretension, a simple man, who had a very boring job driving trucks, and yet he is incredibly special to me. One of his lines in the film, “I may have won a few races but am generally a looser in life”, struck a very resounding cord. The documentary film is sensitive to the point of extreme frankness, it is almost a great film in normal meaning. Apart from being a winner, it is very easy to understand his need to run, his need to be alone, his need for the simplicity of a long distance to traverse to give him some peace in this crazy world. Anyway make a point to catch the film or google his impressive victories, I am sure you will fall in love with him. He is of course an inspiration to older runners and clearly none of us are trying as hard as him. I am 54 this year it gives me 5 years to get good, thank you Marco.
Here the link of the film of Marco Olmo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayvGM6r3pIk
Photo who knows this painter?

Post Avalanche postualising, Stevie Haston.

You can be very lucky with avalanches, but you only have to be unlucky once. I have been very lucky, I also have very good judgment, which I am still acquiring. Hopefully I will acquire a bit more, but don’t be surprised if I don’t, or if I get nabbed by an avalanghi.
Any way you can have the latest Avalanche transceiver, the latest carbon probes, and the latest lightest shovel, but how do these help you if you go out alone like I do. They don’t help you! The only thing that keeps you alive is avalanche avoidance.

Now then theres is a fine line between being careful and paranoid and thus doing yourself out of the joy of great snow. One day last week I was with a bunch of guys, some guides, a couple of top skiers and a champ snowboarder, the conditions were very bad. The guides turned round, while the snow slashers continued. I asked one of the guides what was up and he shrugged and said it was a group decision, I told him what he was going to miss and he shrugged again. We parted company and three of us slashed the slope like Zoro on amphetamine. It was great, where we lucky? Or where we stupid or did we even care?

I know we were right, however, theres always an if with avalanches, it’s a big if.

A few years ago I did a route and was kind of stuck with the getting off part, as a gale force wind, in the 5 hours I took to do the climb, probably dumped 3 meters in places at the top of the decnt gully. What to do? Sit there and wait a couple of days, phone for a rescue (no phone) or just snowboard the gully. Anyway I didn’t really have an option, no food, no pit. So I just snowboarded it and it was great. I cut thru the cornice and the snow was great.

So that was great. A few days ago I slid into a gully, clearly with a lot of snow in it and after a few meters the whole lot went. I was backside and for a while seemed to be going slower than the snow, so I kept using edge and hoping. More snow joined the fray, it went over the top of my head, I was under and could not turn into the fall line to try gaining speed, looked like it was going to be bad. I had a neck gaiter on and breathing was no bother but it didn’t look good, still I didn’t give up. I went over a little bump in the gully and a bit of a change in angle of my body put more snow behind me, this forced me off the bed, and then I kinda undulated my back and it brought me nearer the surface. Luck at this point struck again as the gully broadened, and my head popped out into air, but my board was un-turnable, stuck in honey as it was. Another bump under my tip turned the board for me, and I was away, safely under my own control. Happy, I enjoyed a great decent in bottomless powder.

If you don’t give up, you have a chance. It ain’t over till the fat lady sings. As an aside many experts and avalanche gurus have died in avalanches, I have lost friends and acquaintances, so clearly it’s not an exact science. The safest thing is not to ski, not to board and not to climb. You don’t buy safety, you pay for good days and experience, don’t pay too much, be safe.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Courmayeur snow sliding, Stevie Haston

On a good day!
Courmayeur snow sliding, Stevie Haston

I have had a sad, pathetic life for the most part, bereft of true contentment, but one thing is sure, I have had a shit load of powder. Today I had very deep powder, albeit with poor viz, in the end I was the last and only one on the mountain. I tried to enter a couloir near the station and couldn’t get in because of the wind and deep snow, I tried walking to the normal entry down the long stairs and ended paddling on my board and admitted failure when my eyelids froze together. I thought I couldn’t even get back and indeed had no clear idea where back was! After a while swearing at the wind gods I regained the Helbroner steps and hoped over the steps with my board tied to me, just in case it was caught by the wind and decided to imitate a helicopter. I did a thing called the Passerelle gully for the second time that day, this time was different from the first, a tadge fraught. No viz, wind born snow dumping at a rate I have never seen before, and snow sluffing all the time. Some very doggie side slipping, some real uncontrolled slipping, and some extra fast elevate or slides where I didn’t know what was going on. Anyway 350 meters later I hit good snow, did some turns, then had to stop turning where it got deep, cos you just coudnt see ,with the spray.
At the station they said hello and closed, I skied down thru the trees alone, dreamily, lovely creamy stuff to whooptydoo over, yea, it verily was good and just.
A good day, at a great lift in great mountains. I hope you had a beau thing going on to.