mountain running and french music

I did a 2 day run last weekend as my ‘long run’ to train for the CCC – sleeping in an auberge in Champex d’en Haut at night. There were at least 15 other runners doing about the same, all getting ready for the CCC. There were groups of Italians and French, and me the solo American chick. I ran most of the race course, but skipped out a couple sections because I started later than I wanted to on Saturday.

I started at Arnouva at the end of Val Ferret, and headed up the Grande Col Ferret right away, which is followed by a long downhill and another smaller climb to Champex for a total of about 1120m of uphill. The last 2 years I did the race, since I run that downhill so fast (it’s my favorite trail downhill evah so far … grade is perfect, trail is relatively even and the views are astounding), I’ve gotten odd inner leg cramps when I started running on the flat again (which cleared up quickly but made me slow my pace) after running it and figured I should practice the longer downhill this year to avoid that. I followed the Tour du Mont Blanc to Champex d’en Haut (about 30km), and stayed at the Auberge Bon Abri which was really nice and made very decent vegetarian food. I ran that part in 5 hours 48 mins, including a stop at La Peule to buy and consume a Rivella to celebrate my arrival in la Suisse. Even though I thought I pretty much dicked around at La Peule, I managed to run this bit of the course 1 1/2 hours faster than my past 2 years when I was racing (granted it’s preceded at that stage by 17km of running but I still think/hope that 17km of tiredness would not make me 1.5 hours slower).

I arrived a lot earlier than I expected, so I took advantage and showered (yeah, hot water & ice cold water … I always ice down my legs and hips now after a long run) did a nice yoga/stretch session on the grass near two Herens cows grazing with bells clanging and laid out in the sun lounger chair until dinner time. I was in a 6 person room, but it was not full. Another bonus (especially as it’s high summer season).

Definitely could have gone for either of my two mountain climber roommates (who’d just done the Tour du Monte Rosa and climbed about 15 4000m peaks in 9 days and were telling me the benefits of high altitude training) at Bon Abri – one of the few times I’ve been at in a shared room that I a. found the people in the room attractive and b. was not kept up by the others in the room either snoring or farting. Score for me. Continue reading


Holla Back NYC

Just came across this great website – go girls ! Exposing perverts in NYC using their mobile phones and the powah of the internet 😉

Sometimes living in a small alpine ski town I forget what it’s like to be a chickaroo living in the big cities … but I did live in NYC and Chicago for nearly 20 years and all it took was a few of the stories here to bring it all flooding back to me . . .

Now my main annoyance is the mild sexism we find in Alpine France – guys who won’t let you change the windshield wipers on your car (I bought them and didn’t have time to wait at the garage for them to change them, and they would only let me leave with my purchase after I assured the guy selling me the wipers that my ‘husband’ would change them for me later), change tires by yourself (a flat tire in Provence on a small side road with me and a girlfriend changing the tire brought a quick stop from 2 guys who took over and changed it for us, overtightening the bolts pretty amazingly but all in all, at least they got their hands dirty instead of me) or measure the air pressure on my tires (yeah, I had a guy stop and get out of his car to take this job over for me too). 

Hardly a big deal since they genearlly seem to have no problem letting me take the lead on rock climbs …

The Addictive White Powder Which Makes You Tired

Wow – so it’s funny – hits dropped suddenly about a month ago – seemingly after a search engine removed referrences to my number one hitter Hot Sex Makes You Fat  post 🙂 …

BUT I still get more hits on the blog in general than in the months before I added that market trawling porn post. So I think my experiment in marketing for the blog worked.

Time for a personal report which is strangely, not bitter. The more time I spend in the outdoors the less bitter I am (temporarily of course). It briefly stops me from thinking about things such as how cruelly the Chinese treat dogs by beating 50,000 of them to death in front of their owners (and how they treat any animal in general) in their country and how shitty they are to Tibetans, how much general torture and evil is present in the world and how a 77 year old woman murdered homeless people to make money on insurance scams and about all the wars, tragedies and famine. What a crap world. And why does one of the most disgusting countries on the face of the planet get to host the next Olympics ?! I am still pretty sure this is actually Hell … but at least I do get occaisional glimpses of what it must be like to live in Heaven on days like yesterday.

I spent the day skiing massive amounts of powder and fresh tracks on a glacier in Italy. Other people in the world were working (or not or dying), and I was selfishly skiing and having fun. Indulging in the addictive white powder craze. I skied at a high altitude on a lift that as of next year will be closed for 3 years to rebuild it … so it felt special to do the last of the easy lift accessed laps possible on that glacier for a few years. Courmayeur will be rebuilding the 3 lifts that get you from La Palud to the Point Helbronner in a project that will costs tens of millions of euros – which is lots of money that will not be spent on imported Chinese products (thank god). They will change the bottom departure of the lowest station to start at Entreves in order to meet the rest of the Courmayeur ski lifts. This will actually make linked skiing between Chamonix and Courmayeur possible without taking a bus through the Tunnel du Mont Blanc or taking a bus from La Palud to Entreves … and will probably increase the value of both ski stations. I hope they leave in the midstation at Pavillion so that laps are still possible on the Tuole glacier.

Today, oddly my calves are very sore and even going for a quickie few hours skiing on the pistes at Gds Montets until the weather moved in did not clear the soreness. I have been skiing all winter, mind you, on average 3 days a week and have ski toured more this season than any so didn’t expect any major muscle soreness. But yesterday I suppose I could say that I ‘shuffled’ more than I have all season. We did not take touring skins to go uphill, but as we went off piste on a glacier, there were several short-ish sections where we needed to climb to get to the downhill, and so the skis didn’t go into touring mode, and since it was powder you could not ‘skate’ up the hill … so I ‘shuffled’ in fake touring style without releasing the heels, feeling a bit daft. I think this is what did it to my calves. Either that or it was walking kicking steps up from the bottom of the Mer de Glace to the top of the Montenvers train station (to avoid the long queues of French tourists with tiny dogs under their arms waiting to go back up to the train after visiting the ice cave carved into the Mer de Glace) which did it. Certainly now I wish they looked on the outside like they feel on the inside … then I’d have majorly sexy sculpted calf bulges 🙂

Another personal report and more ski porn – I have concluded through use this season that the new 07/08 model Dynastar Legend 8000s are the bomb in all snow conditions off and on piste. The ones I had from the year before (orange jobs, not this year’s brown pseudo gothic design) felt wobbly and unstable at high speeds especially on piste (and I’d gotten them slightly too short, as it turned out). So I sold ’em to a friend who doesn’t ski as fast as I do 🙂 And who can argue with the good feeling you get buying them, knowing that these skis are STILL manufactured only 20 minutes from Chamonix (well they are as of this season … who knows what will happen in future, as apparently they are having money issues and might have to sell up, which may mean outsourcing their production to China, and thus it would be the end of good quality skis from Dynastar ).

The new ones are either stiffer or the changed shape is better or both – speed is now no problem. Turning long or short is no problem. Powder is no problem. Carving is no problem. Crud is no problem. Ice is no problem. They are a great all mountain ski. I have toured in them (Naxo bindings I bought are a bit heavy) … but if like me you tour with a bunch of people who don’t competitively ski tour, and you are reasonably fit yourself, it will not matter and you will keep up (or even get ahead as the case may be). If you are like some other friends I know and tour with people who have light weight touring skis and light weight Dynafit bindings and like to do ski mountaineer races every other week … then yeah, you’d be at a disadvantage. But would you enjoy the ski down on your piddly little touring skis as much as you would on the beefy 8000s ?

No, didn’t think so.

Climbing should be starting soon – I mean it’s mid-April. But we’ve had great dumps of fluffy light cocaine powder – cocaine in that it is very addictive. Or was that champagne powder ? At any rate, by noon it’s more like thick clotted cream, but it’s still easy to ski and very very enjoyable. I did the hardest couloir I’ve yet done (which is not difficult to surpass as I have not done many!) on the Italian side of Mt Blanc … don’t think it has a name, but it was somewhere around 40 degrees sustained with bits of 45 tossed in to make your heart thump a bit (if you are me and don’t do this type of thing too often). But with the snow like it is … easy enough to ski as long as you can land a jump turn and land balanced, and not ski into the awaiting cliffs. I was proud of myself …  

Deep Bitters

Steep Trailer

 Steep (and Deep mmmm) … coming soon to a theatre near you. Makes Chamonix look cool. Well, it is cool so f*ing good job 😉

It’s a documentary about big mountain skiing by writer and director Mark Obenhaus and producers Kayce Jennings (widow of Peter Jennings) and Tom Yellin of the Documentary Group. The movie features great skiers such as Bill Briggs, Stefano De Benedetti, Eric Pehota, Glen Plake, Shane McConkey, Seth Morrison, Chris Davenport, Ingrid Backstrom, Andrew McLean, Lou Dawson, and sadly, Doug Coombs (RIP) who was interviewed only days before his death at Le Grave France last year.

Notebook Lurv

Moleskine I just love you . . . got my new 2008 Planner today. Yeah. I finally searched around town early enough to get the small day-a-page version (they were out by the time I tried to find it last year and I had to get a large one w/soft cover – yechy). Low tech and sooo lurvely – this one will fit more nicely into a backpack as well but it’s still thick and meaty enough to give me what I need in an agenda. Shockingly we now have a color choice of black or RED. I chose black. What can I say – I am old fashioned  . . .