Archives: This is Sheffield

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…

Searle

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…..so 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…

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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Introducing….

Introducing….

Ed Thomsett…

Not gonna lie, when I first met Ed I thought he was a southerner…. but looking back, this was probably because he was polite and said Hello instead of grunting (Stokes)

He’s smooth on a bike and looks like a ninja, in his all black steeze. You’ll be seeing him on the site and at the races if his loan stretches that far….

He’s never had a tv in his house, loves Balti King (filth.), travelled to London to see the Saturdays and got beaten up by a bouncer for wearing lycra.

Looking good.

Check out Duncan Philpotts short edit of Ed (and friends at the end) :

Here’s some shots from him aswell:

Someone also sent in this funny story about Ed getting the shit kicked out of him by Swiss farmers:

“i was having a bit of trouble with this, i cant really think of anything really hilarious that has happened to ed, HW, this is a good tale which involves him.
Swiss farmer story-
In summer 2009, while staying over with ed for a few weeks while he was on a season, a group of us decided to go over and ride at champery. After riding the wc track, we then decided to go ride a piece of single track that guy and chris had seen on a map. Getting to the trail involved a real long hikeabike up to the top of the hill it started on.
So we began riding down this trail and it was real sweet, after about 5 mins riding we got to an electric fence with a young swiss farmer stood behind it. He started shouting at us, and said that he wasnt gonna let us continue riding the trail through his land.
Our friend Alex, who has lived in france for a long time started shouting at the guy in french, this lasted for about 5 minutes and resulted in alex calling the farmer an ‘ignorant swiss fuck’, at this the farmer pulled out his phone and called sum of his boys up, we were like fuck you and walked back off up the trail. So after a half hour climb our group reaches the top of the descent and now faced the prospect of a further half hour push back up to the lift station home to morzine or an easy cruse down the fire road to get a different lift home.
At this point alex claims that we should not go down the fire road because the farmers round there were real inbred and wud not mind fucking us up, we ignored his advice and all decided it would be better to just bomb the fire road back to the lift.

We ride past a real shit restaurant and sum guy pops his head out on his phone, we think nothing of it then ride down a connecting bit of single track which misses out a big loop of road, when we reconnect with the road a car screams to a halt in front of us. Out jumps this little prick swiss farmer we had argued with earlier and his fucking gorilla dad, who was going totally wild on us.
Then another 3 or 4 farmers come out of a nearby barn and start getting involved.
So we are a bit stuck, the car is blocking the road and his kinda split the group in half, chris, alex and guy on one side, me and ed on another. The gorilla turns on the larger group first and tries to take chris’s bike off him by roundhouse kicking him! Monkey starts squaring up to him in an old school fisty cuffs stance! Then alex, guy and chris manage to escape. While all this was going on I leg it back up the trail and hide, shouting at ed the whole time to do one. Then, when about 50m back up the trail, i look back and see ed shitting himself, frozen to the spot. Then the farmers start on ed, They start proper teeing off on him and goin mental, ed is in a little ball and the farmer is punching his fullface and trying to rip it off his head!! mad shit! then i walk down the trail after hiding my bike and try get the farmer to calm down, this fails real bad and i just end up on the floor with ed while the farmers surround us and contemplate where they are gonna dump our dead-tourist-fucking-biker bodies. they keep screaming at us and me and ed just shout back at them in english making prayer signs at them with our hands! loads of bikers and walkers came past while all this was happening and did totally fuck all, they just looked at the floor while they walked past and allowed us poor bastards to just continue getting schooled by Switzerland’s most inbred farm G’s. It was pretty scary stuff because we were really in the sticks and there were no police or anything for miles.
We were saved by some swiss woman who came out of one of the buildings a fair while later and managed to calm the farmers down to a certain extent, but they were still mega pissed and it was real tense walking out of there after going and retrieving our bikes. Then after finding the others we got followed by the farmers on a quad and we had to run the border out of Switzerland, up a real steep trail while constantly shitting ourselves that they were gonna bezz up behind us on their quad and murk us.
eventually we got back to morzine, no one hurt, no bikes nicked, and a real good story! “

Race Report: Steve Peat Steel City DH

What a Weekend!

Sorry for the delayed post.. to be honest i still haven’t come back to reality on what actually happened…

A moggy March morning is what it all came down to.. After weeks of preparation from our very own Joe Bow and Nick Hamilton, with help from Steve Peat and plenty of others (sorry, i don’t actually know who was involved but thank you all) the race was finally upon us and ready to go..

An incredible atmosphere was buzzing around the Greno woods, as soon as sign in was completed my heart started jumping, i hadn’t been this excited by a race event in a long time.. maybe it was because i had entered my self in Pro-am for, ‘the laugh’ to see how id fair against some top riders.

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