Archives: non-Bike

Winter 11 is dead….

…Long live summer!

Col des Courtes

I am actually hoping to keep skiing all through the summer this year, searching out patches of snow in hidden shadowy gullies and probably skiing into some rock climbs up high, but my proper winter skiing is over now. It ended on a high. T’other week I skinned up the Argentiere Glacier with long time Cham local Ross Hewitt and Dave ‘Milky bar kid’ Searle intending to ski the Ammone, a huge and very asthetic line that would have dropped us bastard miles from Chamonix in Switzerland. Due to the logistics of ferrying cars and setting up lifts, and our apparent inept ability to organise anything more than ‘first bin at GM’ we decided the North facing Col des Courtes could be a good, and logistically easyer line.

Searler on the leisurely approch

Touring up to the face was pretty cool, the going was easy with a firm snow surface and just a couple of inches of fresh made it a very social skin with the 3 of us side by side having some good man-chat.  It was all very leisurely really. As our line came into view it was all looking very nice, no tracks, fresh snow and beautiful runnels running down the upper part of the face.

Myself approaching. Photog cred:Ross Hewitt

The bergschrund was conquered after a small false start too far left, with skis on and roped up. Crampons on now for the duration of the climb. Ross put a slightly ascending traverse in, and then started up the face proper. The going was fairly deep. No bootpack in before us meant some hard work, with some steps sinking boot deep, some waist deep wallowing and a bit of swimming. At least everything felt stable and the deep snow offset the ever-apparent exposure as we gained more height on the face. The rock band was ascended through a short gully on some ice and then a wee bit more wallowing.

Myself about half way up the face. Photo: Ross Hewett

My ‘bomber’ belay at the transition

The snow started to get hard and shitty near the top so we decided to crack the skis on, and forgo gaining the actuall col. Ledges were dug and sketchy belays were improvised with ice axes and ski poles in the unconsolidated pow. The battle to change over from crampons to skis is never an easy one, frozen crampon straps, exposure, dynafiddles, the ever present risk of dropping something important has me taking my time here for sure. I don’t wanna’ rag-doll to my death while trying to take a piss ether, so that had to wait. Though thinking about it I could use a few more GNAR points…


Down time. This is what we are here for. Ross and Milky are much much stronger climbers than me, both technically and fitness wise, but I can ski well so its a level playing field again. I feel an equal again. Rather impressively Milky is first ready and skis the first turns. A bit sketch at first after a few cautious jump turns we all relax a bit. The snow is good. He gets to a safe spot so our slough doesn’t kill him and its my go. The snow is good. Still cautiously jump turning I start to link a few turns instead of stopping in-between turns. It feels steep, even in the perfect conditions we have it in. We estimate it at 55degree’s. Its pretty hard to estimate pitch though. Everything feels so different in different snow conditions….45degree’s feels nearly flat in perfect powder, but put even the best skiers in the world on 45* in icy conditions, and over fatal exposure and they will be shitting bricks. A few weeks earlier I skied Cunningham couloir (50*) in hard hard snow conditions….it was scary as shit. I stayed on the rope for a fair way… we figured if this feels steeper than Cunningham despite having perfect snow…it was definitely fucking steep.

Why does looking up always look flat? Searle skiing

Me just after the ‘choke’. photo: Ross Hewett

Ice axes in hand we got through the rock band with skis on, and ropes away which made it all a bit quicker and we soon found ourself on the lower face linking some nice turns. Little jump over the bergschrund and we were free. Awesome line! Looking back up Ross and I took the piss out of Milky Searle’s ‘epileptic’ and erratic tracks and then for his apparent loss of his ice axe somewhere on route. Truth be told, Searle is doing very good skiing lines like this after the amount of skiing he has done. He has a bloody good jump turn on him, and will become a very good skier for sure.

The ski-out wasn’t without its fun ether…there was pretty much no snow down low, so we linked up patches of heather and grass until even the Scots man had to walk.

Good end to the season! Bike time now…

Today I was…..cold….

Winter popped back out today to remind us that it isn’t done yet, high lines are still filling in with regular snow…..will the midi north face season come to fruit this year? Its looking like June could be good to go…

More new toys…..

Ok so while TIS basecamp has some new shiny Cotic’s to play with, I am still without bike in Chamonix…..I have however got some new toys to keep me entertained in the mean time.

Not so much toys actually but tools, tools to make the Chamonix valley an (even) better place. Watch this space…

Rob x

Jally pallez Franceh?

Although I fear writing about spring is very clichéd (note French thing on top of the ‘e’) I feel like I need too…. It seems to be every outdoor-orientated persons favourite season, the lights are getting nighter, the trails are drying up and the sun is coming out. Read on for a few words and a big ass picture dump….

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Ed T 3rd at Pearce Cycles Round 1 Hopton

Ed T 3rd at Pearce Cycles Round 1 Hopton

This weekend just gone was the first round of the Pearce Cycles series at the classic venue of Hopton Woods. I was pretty excited to meet up with guys I hadn’t seen all winter and do some runs, but more importantly try and have the fastest trains down the hill and the most extended bow leggers over the stepdown haha!

We arrived on Saturday morning to blazing sunshine and a dusty track. The track started off with some nice mellow turns mixed up with a few little jumps and root sections. Out of the woods were some more flat out turns and a few tasty stump hucking lines, before diving back into trees. The turns of the old track had been taped off into a loamy straight line with lots of roots appearing over the weekend. After the last fireroad the track got really fast with a bomb down into a berm and over a stepdown into another berm before getting on the pedals for the final section; a bus stop around a fallen tree and a turn down into the finish tabletop. Practice went well and trying to hang on to the back of a loose brakeless norweigen certainly makes you up your game!

Overnight the heavens opened and first thing Sunday the track was rather moist. It was so wet that it rode really well, your wheels just cut straight through the mud. Some morning showers kept the track running fast for first race runs. I had a really good run for 2/3rds of the track and hit all my lines, but then near the bottom I washed out a turn and had to roll a jump, then further down I got a bit excited and braked too late into a bus stop and ended up sliding into a big stump missing the high line and losing my feet; so I was surprised when I went into 3rd.  The finish area was super slick as well and I took a rather graceful slide on my back trying to stop!

After first runs it didn’t rain again and by 2nd race runs the track had got pretty claggy and hard going and very few riders managed to better their first run time. I rode the top as fast as I could but realised it wasn’t as fast as my first run so I just sat down and cruised the rest of the track. After a slower second run I was happy to hang on to 3rd and get on the box for my first race as part of This Is Sheffield. The mandatory post race BK finished off the weekend and I’m looking forward to round 2 at Bringewood.

Thanks to Pearce cycles, This Is Sheffield and Royal Racing for the fresh threads!


Bolehills Summer Pump track race dates!

Bolehills Summer Pump track race dates!

Roll Up! Roll Up! For the greatest show on Earth…

Summer’s a comin’ and with it the smell of dust and glory in the air. Who will be crowned the Bolehills 2011 pump track king or queen? Who’s looking quick? Will last years champions retain their titles and keep their eyes on the prize? Will there be a BBQ? Who knows?

Courtesy of Phil Reed -

Camus and Co have been working on the new track layout and digging hard to provide us with a canvas for some of the most action packed events in the Bolehills calendar.

This year the winners will be decided over a new five round series so sharpen your elbows and slap these dates in your calendar, phone, computer, diary or on your fridge:

Round One – Saturday 16th April
Round Two – Saturday 14th May
Round Three – Saturday 4th June
Round Four – Saturday 16th July
Round Five – Sunday 7th August

Keep an eye on for more details on entries, rules and general information.

Downhill Fantasy goes live!

Downhill Fantasy goes live!

My good mate Sam Mcqueen who is our technical wizard over at ThisiSheff, has released his long term project,

Spend a million, 3 guys, 1 girl and dominate the races this season. Totally FREE and easy to use, with prizes at the end…. spot on.

Click the image and go get signed up now!

Or join the facebook for updates HERE

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