SUP Fitness: The Stand-Up Paddleboarding Bug!

How It All Began

My buddy Jane and I have a habit of entering events without really knowing what they entail – and my discovery of stand-up paddle boarding happened in just this way . I messaged Jane and suggested we enter an alternative triathlon (as quite frankly we are both terrible swimmers ) where the swimming was replaced with this activity called SUPing – which looked pretty cool in a ‘surf dude’ way.  Entries done, kit packed we headed off on our girls weekend away mini adventure!

On arrival we quickly realised what this first section of the event entailed – stand up paddle boarding 3km around a Welsh lake in rather a strong wind…we had never even seen a paddle board before …. nothing like a bit of winging it !!!

We set off from the start line on our knees, wondering how the heck we were actually supposed to stand up, let alone steer this wobbly SUP we were on.  A lot of cursing , minor panics about crashing in to the edge and a huge amount of slightly hysterical laughter  –  we braved it – we stood up!

We then braced ourselves ( feet planted !) and cracked on with trying to paddle without propelling ourselves off . 3km later we returned onto dry land…charged up the bank with a huge smile ready to jump on the mountain bikes.

I can’t deny it was a slightly awkward experience to start with, but it was also truly brilliant !! The sense of adventure and excitement from the start was quite unique, we were buddies out together on our paddle boards in the middle of a glorious wavy lake – laughing hysterically at each other , getting equally frustrated at times at our inability to do it, and yet feeling like we were amazing super humans at the same time – simply because we were doing something so unbelievably different , and actually achieving it !

That hour on the paddle board is what got me hooked. I felt totally refreshed yet physically tired after an hour of paddling  – but most of all, I wanted to go again and soon !

female sup fitmess
When you exercise on land you have a nice firm base ( ground !)…..but then transfer those same moves to a wobbly platform, and boy is it new challenge!! 

Fast Forward: This Is Where The Exercise Part Comes In

Paddle boarding is pretty cool – you can simply hire or buy a stand-up paddleboard, and take it for a tootle around a lake or down the river , and almost anybody could do this and get that lovely sense of freedom and escapism the water gives you …….but if that’s a little sedate…. you can of course take it a little further !

SUP Fitness (SUPfit) does just that. We lose the walls and take your workout to the water on the paddle board, giving you an effective full body training session, in a location that gives a sense of space and freedom.

 When you exercise on land you have a nice firm base ( ground !)…..but then transfer those same moves to a wobbly platform, and boy is it new challenge!! 

The exercises improve:
your core strength
your cardio performance 
and tone those legs superbly!

Add that to the back and shoulder muscles required to actually paddle the board, and you leave a session really feeling the benefits.   Plus of course you are outside in the fresh air and sunshine – and simply nothing is better then exercising outdoors for your mental and physical health.

What to the sessions actually involve?

A standard SUPfit session is effectively a circuit training class on the water.  We use cardio exercises to up that heart rate, bodyweight moves to get those joints and muscles working and also add resistance bands to the boards to give us additional strength core workouts.  We mix the sessions up to include sections of stretching and controlled work, with high intensity bursts to keep us on our toes !! 

Workouts can also be tailored – so if you’re a private group wanting to take it a little slower, that’s totally fine, we can strengthen and stretch at sunset and all the benefits can be achieved at your own level.

So if you fancy something a little different, want to keep your workouts fresh and want to work hard and laugh at the same with your friends – why not try the fast growing sport of paddleboarding, and give SUPfit a try ?

If you enjoy it as much as I love teaching it – you will leave the water a stronger, happier and more chilled version of the person that arrived!

Tallington Lakes offer SUP Taster Sessions to introduce you to the basics of stand-up paddleboarding. More information here, or call 01778 381151

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Ronix Happy Hour Modello Wakeboard Review

After four years of riding the Ronix One Timebomb wakeboard I decided that it was time for a change; and with so many new pro-models hitting the shelves this season it was a tough decision. The reason for grabbing Massi Pifferetti’s new pro model, the Ronix Happy Hour, was simply because the ‘Poolside Blue’ graphics stood out to me. The graphics have a super playful feel, replicating his incredible style and reminding us all that the board was designed by arguably one of the world’s greatest riders; who previously rode the One Timebomb. I was excited to see if he had taken all the great features from the One series that I love, and incorporated them in his new awesome looking board.

ronix happy hour Modello poolside blue wakeboard
The reason for grabbing Massi Pifferetti’s new pro model, the Ronix Happy Hour, was simply because the ‘Poolside Blue’ graphics stood out to me.

The 2018 Happy Hour was no let down and honestly I am taken aback by its performance on the water. I had always believed that the One Timebomb was untouchable! Well done Massi; this wakeboard really does do it all; it has given my wakeboarding a new feel and will definitely make this season a fun one.

The Happy Hour wakeboard costs nearly half the price of the One Timebomb and by no means does this inhibit its performance on the water.

The Happy Hour is the only board with a continuous rocker in the Ronix line of wakeboards. I would like to begin by clearing up the rumors; many people believe that wakeboards with continuous rockers lack ‘snap’ when leaving the wake and so are less ‘poppy.’ I do not believe that this is the case with this board; the take offs are really smooth. The continuous rocker simply allows the rider to take tricks further into the flat water, whilst still allowing for smooth landings. The first thing that I noticed was the speed of the board, due to the clean rocker-line, which enables a consistent release off the top of the wake. This is so helpful as I feel more confident on the approach to the trick because I know exactly what to expect. Having a defined rocker-line and a continuous rocker allows the board to lock in, and stays on its edge on approach to the wake, making going big easy. In conclusion, I believe that the continuous rocker gives the board a more mellow lift off the wake. However, this is definitely made up for by a faster more consistent glide on approach, leading to a more predictable, effortless take off.

The core of the board is ultra-stiff. I believe that this is great, because it allows for a takeoff that always feels the same, and enables the rider to easily point the board into a turn. Not only is this board lightweight, it also has the highest strength to weight ratio that has ever been tested by Ronix.

The more durable construction gives the wakeboard a stiffer ride, which I believe is preferable as it adds to the regularity and feels more stable. The flex rating of the board is 6.5/10 which means that the energy off the wake is closer to the instant end of the spectrum. Thus making jumping as effortless as it can be: and  allowing for maximum pop whilst maintaining its free/fun feeling.

Beginner and advanced riders can ride this board, as I believe that it is perfect for all levels of riding. The board feels awesome on the water! It’s unlike any other wakeboard I have ridden, in that it has an incredibly fast glide speed allowing me to ride for longer periods of time because there is less stress on the body. Having two sets of fins (1.0” fiberglass fins and 0.7” ramp fins) allows for increased versatility and allows the rider to customise their set up. 

This and other wakeboards can be found in-store or online at Tallington Lakes Pro Shop.

Thanks Mitch (UK National Champion 2018)

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Brixton All-Terrain Transport 20 Cargo Shorts Review

Tallington Lakes is pleased to announce the arrival of Brixton clothing to the Pro Shop. A collaboration of three friends; Brixton clothing has a ‘clean, classic design’ with a ‘modern yet timeless feel’. What attracted us was their All-Terrain Collection: clothing built for adventure on land and on water!

All-Terrain Transport 20 Cargo Shorts

One such ‘All-Terrain’ item is the Brixton Transport 20 Cargo Shorts. The shorts are made from 4.5 oz ripstop nylon (98%) and elastane (2%); and have a water-repellent coating. The cut is an athletic fit with a straight leg of 20”, and adjustable waistband. There are some nice features, and additions, which make these shorts stand out. A good number of pockets, which are zipped, is very practical; and they have even included a small ‘pocket size’ dry-bag to keep your wallet dry – however I’d be tempted just to have few notes and coins rather than a bulky wallet. Another nice addition is the ‘knot book’ (a handy, roped together,  collection of cards). This simple practical guide takes you back to your scouting days; and makes you hunt out a piece of rope and practice figure-of-eights, clove hitches and more!

knot book cards
Brixton Knot Book. This simple practical guide takes you back to your scouting days; and makes you hunt out a piece of rope and practice figure-of-eights, clove hitches and more!

So it seemed appropriate to review the Transporter shorts whilst rock climbing; to see how ‘all-terrain’ they are!

First impressions, when you put them on, are ‘very comfortable’; partly thanks to the elastane but also the cut. The reinforced seat reiterates you are going to be active; so once the climbing harness, helmet and other equipment was on, I was ready to ascend the gritstone crag. Still comfortable under the harness; the shorts allowed unrestricted movement. The lightweight material keeps you cool, even when things get tricky on the tense crux of the climb. What goes up must come down; and the shorts were equally comfortable during the abseil!

abseilling
What goes up must come down; and the shorts were equally comfortable during the abseil!

Comfortable and unrestrictive the Transporter 20 shorts performed well on the gritty rock face; and I believe they will perform just as well behind the wheel of a speeding wakeboard boat, or leisurely paddling a stand-up-paddleboard. So are they All-Terrain, yes they are, both on land and on water!

Check out the Brixton clothing range at Tallington Lakes Pro Shop here.

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Black Diamond Mission Shell Jacket and Sharp End Pant Review

The few that have kept skiing, even when the lifts have stop turning to ‘earn their turns, spring has been a quick and warm few months!  The ski season is well and truly over with the last of the spring snow gone; and now the skis are serviced and the batteries are removed from our trackers it’s time to reflect. Here are my thoughts on Black Diamond’s Mission Shell Jacket and Sharp End Pant

Coming into this year’s ski season I was super keen to increase the hours I spent touring; so a nice lightweight breathable outer shell setup was going to be a must. However, moving to Vail Colorado, one of the world’s largest ski resorts, with ‘day in day out use’; protection from the elements and durability where going to be a key factor.

I have not personally used any of the extensive clothing range from Black Diamond, but I am familiar with their climbing gear. And I was confident that their commitment to producing excellent climbing hardware would be transferred to their clothing; so I decided to try the Mission Shell snow jacket and Sharpe End snow pants.

Being almost 6ft 4in tall I often find that technical apparel never quite fits right; having to wear larger sizes to accommodate for the extra length, but then finding it way too baggy everywhere else. With Black Diamond I settled on ‘large’ for both pant and jacket, although I could have been a medium in the pants. The large pant gave an extra 2.5cm inseam, and with the integrated belt system tightening up the waist, the large was the better fit. The large jacket was a great fit right from the start, with the under arm gussets giving a great range of movement. The super adjustable cuffs, powder skirt, and Cohaesive cord-lock technology hood all contributed to sealing up the jacket from the elements. Full Gore-Tex construction gave both the jacket and pant excellent waterproofness and breathability, needed to keep the metres of powder snow at bay and disperse all the heat from those warm spring days or sweaty mid winter ‘pushing-the-envelope’ moments!

skier on mountain slope
Full Gore-Tex construction gave both the jacket and pant excellent waterproofness and breathability, needed to keep the meters of powder snow at bay and disperse all the heat from those warm spring days or sweaty mid winter ‘pushing-the-envelope’ moments!

After six months of clattering through tree runs, being stuffed in a bag, ploughed through countless feet of snow, and some rain, this setup has proven its worth many times over. And still now, all be it not smelling quite as fresh, it looks as good as it did when it came out of the packaging.

So if you’re looking to progress into the off-piste and earn your turns, ski groomers all day, or go get buried waist deep and send powder shots overhead this Black Diamond Mission Shell jacket and Sharpe End pant combo will keep you dry and warm on the way down; and well vented and breathable on the way up. From freezing chair lift rides, to climbing across cornices, it’s great to have 100% belief in the kit you’re using – and Black Diamond didn’t disappoint. And not having the extra worry of being too cold or too warm; you can just focus on the objective in front of you.

Looking out for Black Diamond clothing coming to the Pro Shop this winter season 18-19.

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Carv Digital Ski Instructor Review

If I’m honest, I reached a plateau in my skiing some years ago; I kind of accepted that I’d reached the limits of my body. I wasn’t too unhappy with this as I felt that my skiing was quite good, at least for my age. But wouldn’t it be nice to get just a little bit better? Which is why I was attracted to Carv Digital Ski Instructor.

I’ve been skiing for almost 40 years – and, no, unlike my 14-year old son, I didn’t start at the age of 3! Perhaps I should have, as he’s now far better than me. I look at my son’s skiing with unashamed jealousy and wonder why I can’t be as good as him. Well, I’m not the kind of dad who simply rolls over and lets the younger generation through! No sir, I’ll try anything to regain my dignity and rightful place in the family hierarchy!

Carv Digital Ski Instructor

I think I’m right in saying that our sets were from the first full-scale production run for the product. I say ‘we’ because my son was so impressed by the concept that he also had to have a set – bah, there goes my secret weapon. At £250 a set, it wasn’t exactly an easy decision to commit to, especially as there were no independent reviews out there. But the concept was just so enticing (as was the desire to improve my skiing).

Carv is exactly what it says: it’s a digital ski instructor. It monitors your skiing performance turn-by-turn and talks to you as you’re skiing (of course, you can switch this off). Unlike a human instructor, who will tell you afterwards that you’ve done it all wrong, Carv tells you in real-time, so you can, on the next turn, change what you’re doing and get it right. Carv works with you on separate parts of your skiing: balance, angle, pressure, etc, but it doesn’t overload you with advice and information.

Carv comes in 3 parts: the insole (the core of the product), the tracker (essentially a battery and a communication device to connect to your smart phone), and an App. Let’s take a look first at the insole.

Carv Insole

This is the clever part of Carv. The insole is packed full of sensors that monitor various parameters of your skiing: edge angle, balance, pressure, G-force, and others.

carv insole
The insole is packed full of sensors that monitor various parameters of your skiing: edge angle, balance, pressure, G-force, and others.

Because it’s sized to your ski boot, if you had a crazy idea of sharing it with someone else they’d have to have a similar Mondo size boot. The insole doesn’t appear to have been designed to be moved regularly from one person’s boot to another –the setup video mentions to take care not to bend the insole excessively when fitting it, suggesting that it might not like being moved between boots frequently.

The insole fits between the boot shell and the liner. Before I took delivery, I was a bit worried about this as my son’s ski boots are fitted for racing and are therefore very tight. I was concerned about the insole raising the foot up and therefore squeezing the top of the foot against the boot. Well, that wasn’t an issue; the insole is amazingly thin, so thin that you don’t know it’s there. If you have moulded insoles (as I do) then don’t worry, they won’t conflict.

carv insole thickness
Well, that wasn’t an issue; the insole is amazingly thin, so thin that you don’t know it’s there.

Carv Tracker

The insole connects to the tracker (one for each boot) via a hard-wired cable to the insole. The cable needs to be disconnected from the tracker to allow it to be recharged. We recharged the batteries every evening so didn’t really road test its endurance. Suffice it to say that it wasn’t a quick charging process, so to avoid losing power when skiing I’d recommend recharging them daily.

carv tracker
The insole connects to the tracker (one for each boot) via a hard-wired cable to the insole.

Carv App

The brains of Carv is the App. We were using iPhones, but there is an Android version. The App provides you with lots of functionality, from drills, to challenges, to monitors, to free sessions. I started with the drills, but quickly (in my dreams) progressed to the free sessions.

I found the drills and challenges a mix of annoying and inspiration. The annoying bit for me was the Super Mario type sounds that resulted from achieving the goals, and not achieving these. But, this pales into insignificance when compared to the improvements to be had in skiing ability. It genuinely does up your game to another level – and beyond. I was able to work on those things that had held me back for years – remember my plateau comment? – and seriously improve my skiing. In fact, I’d honestly say Carv exceeded my expectations.

carv application
The annoying bit for me was the Super Mario type sounds that resulted from achieving the goals, and not achieving these. But, this pales into insignificance when compared to the improvements to be had in skiing ability.

Carv analyses your skiing and awards you a skiing IQ from each of your runs. This IQ is averaged and can be uploaded onto a leaderboard so you can see how good, or bad, you really are. It was very pleasing to see my IQ progress steadily as I worked through the drills and challenges. It was less pleasing to see my son improve faster and move into the top 25, leaving me down in the 80s!

I can see the Carv team continuing to develop the functionality as they learn more about the product. I just hope they don’t get it to the stage where it tells you that maybe you’d be better off trying some other sport – I’ll leave that to my son!

So, who is Carv suitable for. Well, I’d rule out beginners, novices and those improving to intermediate. You need to have become ‘one with your skis’ for Carv to be a benefit; besides, when you’re learning it’s so much fun in a class sharing each other’s experiences – Carv would simply get in the way, and it doesn’t laugh when you fall over. So, I’d suggest Carv is suitable for intermediate/advanced, and even expert. My son is using them to improve his racing skills to great effect.

Overall, Carv is for the dedicated and capable skier and it really is as good as their website claims.

Thanks Andy

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Protest Women’s Lole Softshell Snow Pants Review

As soon as I saw the Protest Lole softshell ski pants I fell in love. I admit it took a while to convince myself to buy them but I’m so glad I did! A week in Alpe D’Huez showed that not only are these trousers incredibly stylish but also warm and comfortable.

The petunia colour and slim fit make these a favourite for my winter wardrobe, and the stretch material made them extremely flexible while still being snug. Not only are they breathable but also waterproof which made for a perfect piece of ski gear.

protest lole softshell snow pants
The petunia colour and slim fit make these a favourite for my winter wardrobe, and the stretch material made them extremely flexible while still being snug.

There are multiple pockets which I could use for my sun cream and lift pass, with a Velcro adjustable waistband which came in handy after a big lunch on the mountainside! The knees and heels are made with reinforced material which made sure they were durable and the material, although unusual, I really liked as opposed to the usual waterproof material.

Skiing around for a week made me fall in love with these trousers and I would definitely recommend them to anyone who loves to look stylish while being sporty!

Thanks Charlotte (Ski Instructor)

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Capita Space Metal Fantasy Snowboard Review

Capita’s 2018 Space Metal Fantasy snowboard is a superb little snowboard; and absolutely great for its price. This snowboard is ideal for someone who enjoys playing around in the park, popping off kickers, and just all round mountain fun. The reverse camber allows the rider to do jumps with ease whilst at the same time floating in powder surprisingly well for its size.

I am particularly fond of the graphics on the 2018 edition; with the dove on a spacey backdrop. The glittery-shimmer throughout the board really sparkles, on those bright bluebird days, giving it that real ‘space fantasy’ feel; and will no doubt catch people’s eyes. 

snowboarder getting air
The glittery-shimmer throughout the board really sparkles, on those bright bluebird days, giving it that real ‘space fantasy’ feel; and will no doubt catch people’s eyes. 

With a 4/10 flex rating the Space Metal Fantasy is super soft for that flexible and playful feel, great for pressing; and turning with ease. Its especially great at jibbing! 

Although it is an all mountain board, and isn’t known to be the best for speed and carving, I personally came across no problems when carving at speed. 

Being a flexible board it is fairly forgiving over those uneven surfaces and even coped well down the mogully ‘Swiss Wall’!

Overall the Space Metal Fantasy is a great board for those intermediate riders looking to take their riding to the next level

Thanks Jess (Snowboard & Ski Instructor) 

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Salomon S/Lab Shift Ski Binding Review

There has been a lot of press about the new S/Lab Shift ski binding from Salomon. After nearly a decade of R&D Salomon has produced a ski binding that can deliver downhill performance with touring capability. A ski binding that gives today’s freeride skiers a chance to “earn their turns” by touring uphill and then charging ‘big lines’ on the descent!

Salomon can tell you all about the ski bindings here; and, as previously mentioned, the freeride peak hunting athletes’ are screaming “Holy Shift”. But what does a novice, rookie, greenhorn, virgin ski tourer think of the Shift ski bindings? Well read on.

Having never ski toured before I was both excited and apprehensive when Shep, Salomon’s friendly ski tour guide, introduced me to ski touring. First the safety kit, including a transceiver which was very reassuring. And then the 99mm underfoot QST skis with S/Lab Shift bindings, and skins. All I will say is; “if you are into Transformers you’ll love these bindings”. A ‘click here’ and a ‘click there’; and you transform a touring binding into an alpine binding, and visa versa – “simples”.

snow covered trees
 It was cold, windy, and in cloud; which gave my first experience of Sweden a rather ‘monochromatic’ outlook.

So with the skins attached and the bindings in touring mode, I managed to locate my boots securely. It takes a bit of practice, but I would have experienced that with any ‘pin binding’ – and you soon get the ‘knack’! We set off, nothing too adventurous  at the side of the piste, but enough to understand the technique of going uphill with skis – without the aid of a button or chair lift. Needless to say it was more tiring, but it was also more rewarding – I now understand the term “earn your turns”.

It was now time to, ‘click here’ and ‘click there’, and transform the bindings into alpine mode. This I am familiar with, and they felt as good as the bindings I have had on any of my piste/all-mountain skis!

The whole experience was great, and I managed to impress Shep enough to allow me to join a more adventurous trip the following day.

 Again it was cold, windy, and in cloud; which gave my first experience of Sweden a rather ‘monochromatic’ outlook. We skinned up much steeper terrain, with a customary ‘zig-zag’, and once again the bindings performed brilliantly in touring mode. Once again the pleasure of being away-from-the-crowds, that ski touring gives you, was delightful. But as Sir Isaac Newton eloquently said; “what goes up must come down”!

tree line skiing
I felt sorry for the trees, as we descended the powder fresh tree line. A twig here, a branch there; we became close friends.

If you have read my review of the Salomon XDR skis, you will know I’m not the most proficient off-piste skier; so with a ‘click here’ and a ‘click there’ I was ready to venture “outside my comfort zone”!

I felt sorry for the trees, as we descended the powder fresh tree line. A twig here, a branch there; we became close friends. Too close sometimes; but the bindings, in alpine mode, released with great aplomb! At the bottom it occurred to me, that while my colleagues made light-work of the tree line, it was I that was fully testing the bindings – as I ‘crashed’ my way down!

So what does a virgin ski tourer think of the Salomon S/Lab Shift ski bindings? Rather amazing actually! Here’s a binding that will perform in both alpine and touring mode; and will enable you to ‘earn your turns’ however extreme they may be!

Chad Blanc

Photographs Nigel Shepherd

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Whitedot Ragnarok Skis Review

It’s been an interesting season so far in Colorado, USA. It’s had record low snow fall, record high temperatures, snowpack instability, and winds ripping through the valley – not what the locals have come to expect from this staggeringly vast, peak fill, snow playground in the Rockies!

The Whitedot Ragnarok is the brainchild of Fred Syversen; and after a quick ‘Google Search’ it becomes very clear why these skis just want to charge everything you put in front of them! Originally the Ragnarok was a super stiff , but this second generation Ragnarok is a little more playful. With 118mm under foot, 143mm up front and 130mm in the rear the ski is definitely designed to float, and to charge face-first down powder lines and steep faces. Just looking at the skis; they scream “powder day”!

skier in powder
Just looking at the skis; they scream “powder day”!

However, like I said, “it’s been an interesting season”. So the deep powder days have been few and far between (although the snow is starting to come more regularly now) leaving sunny, chopped up half powder/half mogul filled runs, which isn’t really what most of us would call ‘ideal skiing’, but the Ragnarok has a different opinion. If you can manage to blank out the bumps, and your knees will let you, the Ragnarok will ‘smash’ through whatever you put in front of them.

But it’s not all ‘smash and grab’! The stiffness helps to add a fun ‘pop’ to the exit of hard turns; the minimal camber under foot is enough to carve corduroy with the best of the ‘short ski groomers’, and the rocker (both tip and tail) will make these big skis scrub their turns, through tight trees, with ease! Whitedot gave this ski its own category “The Fun Charger” and they hit the nail square and true on the head.

looking down at whitedor ragnarokskis
It’s as if the people at Swiss Army Knives gave the guys at Whitedot a pep talk before they designed this ski; it does everything!

I cannot say enough about how versatile this ski is; and that’s me having put standard alpine bindings on them! The Ragnarok has had me cruising Vail’s vast inbound powder fields, to boot packing out-of-bounds on East Vail’s endless selection of rolling pillow lines, open bowls, cliffs and tight trees. And not once did they disappoint! It’s as if the people at Swiss Army Knives gave the guys at Whitedot a pep talk before they designed this ski; it does everything!

And if you go for the Carbonlite Ragnarok, with a pin binding setup, those steep, remote exposed lines in your dreams will become a reality.

So it turns out us Brits, who live on an island, with a maximum height of 1,345m, and relatively little snow, make one-hell-of-a ‘big mountain’ charging ski.

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A Perfect Day in Paradise – Ski Touring up Pointe du Midi

The day began with a big bowl of bircher muesli (oats soaked in apple juice) and a peanut butter and banana smoothie. Once all packed and ready to go we skied straight out of the front door to get the car and headed to the Col du Colombiere. With the col closed in winter, the tour begins with a nice a steady climb following what is usually the road. Perfect to get the legs warmed up before the steep top. The temperature at dawn was -14C, which made it bitterly cold on the hands when putting on our skins. Hence it was in our interest to get moving quickly.

The sunrise confirmed the forecast of a crystal clear sky, and highlighted the mountain peaks with a orange glow. Once around the first corner we were pleased to see a group of five, about 15 minutes ahead, sluggishly putting the tracks in for us. Perfect! After starting from the car all still wrapped up with gloves, down jacket and a head band, we were starting to warm up nicely. Knowing what lied ahead, the pace was gentle.

ski touring
We made it to the top of the col with ease, but we knew from there the real climbing would begin.

We made it to the top of the col with ease, but we knew from there the real climbing would begin. Without wanting to get damp from sweating, and with the sun coming up over the mountains, we thought this was the perfect time to shed some layers, have a sip of water and get the sunnies on. To be efficient in the mountains, we always try and plan our stops and make the most of each rest break. This saves energy as well as time.

With the other group still in front, we were cruising along in their tracks all the way up to the point our couloir was in view. We cut off right, which gave us a good feel of the fresh snow, and got excited for the decent. After a steady climb of nearly 900 vertical metres we reached the couloir to the peak of Pointe du Midi. At which point two other skiers, coming from a different direction, had skipped in front. We weren’t complaining! Having been here before on an icy day, when we used our crampons to boot pack up to the top, today was a real treat. Soft and stable snowpack with a couple tracks up already meant we were able to stay on our skis and kick turn all the way up.

ski touring kick turns
Soft and stable snowpack with a couple tracks up already meant we were able to stay on our skis and kick turn all the way up.

Quick tea break and a speedy transition from skins to downhill and we were off into La Combe Sauvage (the Wild Valley). The ski down was without a doubt one of the best descents I’ve done so far. Everything came together to make it perfect. No wind, blue sky, a foot of fresh ice cold snow on top of a solid base, combined with a 40 degree couloir. We were in heaven.

backcountry skiing
No wind, blue sky, a foot of fresh ice cold snow on top of a solid base, combined with a 40 degree couloir. We were in heaven.

And it didn’t stop there! With huge smiles on our faces and after a quick look back up at our tracks we were in to transition number two. Skins back on, down jacket off and we were back to climbing. This time only a 300 metre ascent but taking us to a second peak with clear views of Lake Geneva in one direction and Mont Blanc towering the endless peaks of the Alps in the other. It was time to tuck in to our still warm veggie tagine and admire the views.

cave full of stalagmites
Inside were beautiful icicles from the floor to the ceiling, bigger than two of me.

Transition number three done and we were in downhill mode. Having read about ice stalagmites in a cave nearby, we headed over to an opening of a cave and lucked out. Inside were beautiful icicles from the floor to the ceiling, bigger than two of me. The ice stalagmites were just as impressive, growing up from the ground as tall as 6 feet. With the day warming up we were keen to get a move on, so after taking a few snaps we were back on our skis and had the rest of the descent to enjoy. Perfect snow, super fun terrain and the sun still shining.

The final push was a long but steady traverse of only 100 metres of vertical but around 3km in distance back to the car. We had two more transitions of skins on and off, by which point we were getting faster and wasting less and less time. Our total ascent was 1320m. We covered around 7km in distance. And our circular journey took us 5hr 45min. For us it was the perfect day!

Louise (Ski Ambassador)

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