Sunday, 30 December 2012

Winter seems like it should be already half way through after 3 weeks of fresh powder riding before I even started work mid December and yet it isn't even January!

I've been over in Tignes for a Freeride Clinic mid December, which once again, as last year, turned into another week of riding deep fresh lines as over a meter of snow fell during the week. A great week with a great crew of guys, a mix of riding deep fresh in white out blizzard conditions, storm riding in the trees, fresh lines in the sunshine, a intense technique day which brought about some amazing results and an amazing last day of sunshine and steep and deep.

Home to Chamonix for Ruth's Christmas party which saw our house filled to overflow with over 70 guests and what seemed like hundreds of bottles of Champagne.

This was followed by a few days of Christmas for recovery (4 days minimum requirement after my annual drinking binge at the party). Christmas unfortunately brought about a drum set for Loren (age 5) which didn't help the after party recovery very much at all.

Some rain, another snowfall and then straight into a 3 day Splitboard Intro.


First day in a snow storm and then 2 days of great slack country touring around Le Tour


 and then Flegere/Brevent.

It got warm yesterday, almost spring like conditions, clear skies last night and pretty icy after a freeze overnight. The pistes are in good condition, but firm in places and up high there is still untracked powder in abundance for those that know where to find it.

I have a 3 day tech clinic next week, the first week of the New year, followed by an Off Piste Freeride clinic and then a Private group for a Splitboarding week, another 3 day Freeride clinic and then away for Kashmir.

There have been a few cancellations for courses so I have updated the courses availability page on the web site, so check it out for further details.

I leave you with this latest video from yesterdays final day of the Splitboard Intro course up around the Lac Noire.

Not a bad start to the winter all in all…Looking forward to 2013 so Happy New year to you all, lets make sure it a good one!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Just heading over to Tignes in a few hours for the pre season freeride clinic, looks like we're in for a lot of snow again this week so should be a great ride!

Winter came in pretty quickly in the end, after a slow build up and a great Autumn winter hit hard with about a meter of snow in the valley in the first week of December! It's pretty much been snowing ever since.

Courmayeur was first to open and provided some amazing riding. I headed over there with my mate Tosh and fellow Jones Team rider Luca Pandolfi and rode lines in solitude that we'd normally have to wait until late jan/feb to ride.

A few days later the Bochard on the rand Montets opened for the first time this season, again we were there for a massive locals only day, its amazing how quickly the mountain still gets tracked with only a coupe of hundred local skiers and rider up there. Everyone knows exactly where to go and ski and ride so strong. Another great day and riding with friends who I've not ridden with for years.

Next I headed over to Diableret with Luca to ride with the boss (Mr Jeremy Jones) and some of the Jones crew. We checked out next years kit, which looks amazing…
and rode some of the freshest lightest powder with an inspirational crew…Jeremy, Chad Perrin (global brand guru), JF Pelchat (one bindings guru) and LucaPandolfi.


With not many lifts open the 2nd day we hiked, again the ride down was crazy good.

Jeremy and Chad talked us through the new range, which as I've said looks amazing and also we looked at the new Jones pack which look bomb proof and include a Snowpulse compatible 30L pack which should be nice!
After the meeting we headed back to Cham, with long time friend Jeremy Sladen, head honcho at the TSA with us with plans for some more fresh riding in the morning. With mixed weather though and knowing there weren't many Jones boards left unsold this year, instead we quickly headed to the Jones factory for a raid and I grabbed a load of new splits for the test fleet whilst Jeremy grabbed some 164 Carbon flags for the The Snowboard Asylum shops…these are like gold dust this year so if you want one get in touch asap!

For the Split fleet this season I have a selection of Twins, a Hovercraft, a Mothership and the Solutions all in Split versions.

I'm heading over to Tignes in a couple of hours for the first of my Freeride clinics. There's about a meter of snow forecast this week so its a 'Snorkles are us' week and I'm packing some seriously deep conditions kit right now.

Right, I'd better go get my packing done, should be a great week with a great crew!

All in all not a bad start to the season…

yeah, not so bad!

Bonne fete a tous!


Thursday, 6 December 2012


First day riding today, over in Courmayeur, with Blue skies and fresh powder!

A massive powder avalanche on the Aiguille Noire de Peutrey today.

Its been dumping massively the past week or so putting the snow depth here in the valley from 10cm to about 150cm in just a few days and winter has definitely rushed in and settled.

My first courses kicks off in about a weeks time over in Tignes, If I'd known we'd have this much snow over here I'd maybe have run it in Cham, its always nice to go ride different spots though and Tignes has the same snow as we have here, if not a little bit more!

Should be good

.A great view of the CHamonix Aiguilles

Riding today was great, amazing powder everywhere and super quiet. A great first day and my legs felt good and strong. I was surprised though, as is the case everyyear, by the power needed to drive those deep heel turns, especially on the piste when sitting deep into a heelside carve or cutting sharp on a steep face to control some edge speed…Feels great!

Anyway, a short time ago I was asked to write a piece on fitness for Skiing and Snowboarding and I came up with the following essay.

You'll all most likely be Snowboarding as soon as you can so it's definitely time to push up the fitness and power levels if you want to get the most out of your riding this winter and if it carries on snowing like this it'll definitely be worth the effort.

Have a read and see what you think, get inspired, get strong and ride hard…This is my advice to you and here's how to do it.

Read on...

Once you get past your teens fitness starts to become a choice rather than a gift. The older you get the more you need to work at your fitness making it a lifestyle choice rather than something taken for granted. I always find it impressive and encouraging that most of my older Snowboarding clients these days are, more often than not, also my fittest.

Skiing and Snowboarding are both very dynamic, active and physically demanding sports that require a good level of overall fitness including strong legs, solid core strength and in case of mishap, good flexibility. Most alpine descents are long and the movements required to ski or ride them with speed and at a good level are continuous and relentless requiring repeated fast acting short burst power endurance muscle movements both for balance and control.

Whilst not massively aerobic, so not requiring the endurance fitness of a long distance runner or cyclist, both Skiing and Snowboarding are a lot more physically demanding than most enthusiasts appreciate and today’s often inactive lifestyles don’t always offer the best form of preparation.

Winter is fast approaching and the time to slide and ride is near, so if you’ve not already begun your preparation and you’re serious about your performance on the hill, now is the time to get busy.

Both skiing and Snowboarding require similar muscle movements of the legs with big flexion and extension movements, more often than not loaded on one leg at a time, the outer leg when turning a ski and the front then rear leg when executing a turn on a Snowboard. In both cases the upper body is used for balance, with core strength being used to counterbalance the movements of the center of mass towards the inside of the turn, with the arms, which should remain relaxed, needed for fine tuning balance adjustments requiring fast acting extension and flexion movements from the muscles of the upper arm and shoulders.

In effect then as well as an good general overall level of fitness to gain the required stamina and effective muscle recovery whilst on the move, we also need to target three excessively used muscle groups, which are the legs (thighs and glutes/buttocks), the core and arms/shoulders.

Your legs are going to do the brute amount of the work, without strong legs you have no foundations from which to control your skis or power your snowboard.

For me, the key to gaining strong legs are the big power exercises such as squats, powerlifts and the leg press. This is not to say that you should rush into the gym and get stuck into lifting big heavy weights, but the exercise that you should focus on should build up to mirroring the movements of flexion and extension that are used for both skiing and Snowboarding with or with out the use of weights. (Bare in mind however that the forces applied to your legs during a turn on the mountain are greater than the forces applied by only your body weight when completing your exercises).

Lets start with some preparation…

Cycling provides a great preparation work out for the legs using very similar flexion and extension movements to skiing and Snowboarding whilst keeping the movements flowing and smooth, it is also an aerobic endurance sport and so is great for overall fitness. Running also targets the leg muscles and whilst being more impact orientated, prepares the leg muscles for the impact movements that we might have to endure when skiing or riding on bumpy terrain.

Both cycling and running are great key exercises for gaining overall fitness and for preparing the relevant leg muscles for Skiing and Snowboarding. Either one should be included in your pre winter slide work out, either as a 30 minute warm up before a muscle specific work out or working up to an hour as your full fitness session. If an hour on the treadmill or exercise bike doesn’t fill you with enthusiasm try looking for a spin class, a running club or simply get out on your bike. If you’re pushed for time find a set of steps and run up and down them 2 steps at a time or two feet at a time (but be carefull!)

To make the best fitness gains you need to build up slowly but surely and not over do it during the first couple of weeks. Try to target 3 hour sessions per week and build from there. Don’t work to hard but hard enough to get a sweat on, to feel your heart rate and your breathing build and to feel some effort in the relevant muscle groups. Recovery is key, so reward your-self with some well earned rest in between training days.

Initially focus on overall fitness with cycling or running until you feel ready to progress to the specific muscle groups exercises, the legs, core and arms.

Always warm up with half an hour of aerobic activity such as running or cycling and then get stuck in…

The most important thing when performing your specific muscle group exercises is to hold the correct form, this means using the correct movements.

For legs I personally target the forward and sideways lunge, the squat (narrow and wide stance) and deadlift movements. All these exercises need great form so unless you’re familiar with them seek out supervision from an expert.  No weight is needed at first, look to move smoothly and dynamically.

If you are going to use weights start light and build up. It is more important to hold the correct form than it is to lift heavy weights, so start light and build up slowly. Very light-weight, hand held dumbells or even 2 bottles of water are great for starters, remember focus on the form of the exercise and look for 8 to 10 perfect repartitions.

As you increase the weight lower the number of reps. As a target, a good athlete should be able to squat their own body weight with out too much trouble.

For your core stability look at floor exercises such as straight leg raises, crunches (sit ups) and oblique twists (twisting sit ups). Work with big set repetitions until you feel the pain and the gain and recover fully between sets. Try to flatten your stomach as much as possible before performing these exercises this will help develop the smaller side stability muscles surrounding your core.

Your arms don’t need the power of your legs, as the movements used for dynamic balance are quick but light. Focus on the shoulders and the muscles of the arms with dips, press ups and the bicep curl, the straight arm lateral extension/raise and a simple shoulder press.

You can make your press ups harder or easier by adjusting your hand width or arm position or assisting with your knees, to work your core at the same time try raising one leg off the floor.

Warm down with some easy stretching, spinning or even a walk and go recover and re-hydrate.

Set yourself some goals each session, how many miles you’ll do, how long you’ll run or ride for, how many repartitions you’ll make. Remember you’re working towards that goal of a higher performance on the mountain but as you begin to feel the benefits of your efforts in your day to day life, also remember that fitness is a lifestyle choice and definitely not a gift!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Winter is coming at full speed now, the snow line is rapidly creeping down towards the valley and the temperatures are dropping and in the high resorts the season has began.

We’re into final prep here in Chamonix. The Snow tyres are on and last minute kit requirements are in order.

I have a whole new fleet of ‘Jones Solution’ Splitboards on order, a full range of sizes and this year will be upgrading to the ‘Karakoram’ binding system, which I tested out on last season Splitboard trip to the Lyngen Alps in the Northern fjords of Norway, with favorable results.

Most courses are looking fully booked, but as always, a few changes occur at last minute so it’s worth checking back from time to time to se if anything new has come up.  I’ll also be posting availability and up to date news on the McNab Snowboarding Facebook page and the McNab_SB twitter feed so sign up to both of these for last minute news.

At the moment I still have one place available on this years Splitboard trip to Kashmir. I last visited this region about 4 years ago, it is a very different experience to riding in Europe or the modern resorts of the Western world and I was very impressed with the amazing terrain potential.

With Splitboards we should be able to maximize our use of this terrain and this should be an amazing voyage of discovery that goes way beyond the experiences that we’ll have on the mountain.

We’re approaching the deadline for visa apps and flights so if anyone is interested in joining this trip they should get in touch asap.

There are also still a few spaces available on the Splitboard touring courses in April. These should be great weeks, the plan being to get out and explore new terrain and spend some time ‘out there’ up in the mountains. The idea with the Splitboard touring courses is to gain access to great riding and visit new locations, slightly different to the idea of the Splitboard Haute Route, which follows the classic high mountain journey from Chamonix to Zermatt.

I’m starting to get very excited about the coming winter season and am now looking forward to getting out there on my board. It’s snowing again today up there so as soon as the base is good enough I’ll be keen to get the Solution out and get splitting and there’s only 4 weeks or so to go until my first course in Tignes!

It’s been a great Autumn over here in Chamonix, it started a bit wet, which put down a lot of snow up high and started to put a good base down on the glaciers.Then the skies cleared and the Autumn colors came out...

 Aiguille du Mid from les Gaillands

Lac de Gaillands

 The Grepon through the trees

The ruin at lac de Gaillands

A typical Autumn view in the Aravis

The Autumn is always an amazing season for cycling so I've been out on the bike loads getting fit and ready for the winter and the Autumn track season...

The World Cup Domancy climb...a local test piece.

I managed a quick trip down to sample the warmer climes and great riding terrain around Mont Ventoux and then another cycling trip, superbly disguised as a family holiday to Feurtaventura.




I’m now fully gearing up for the track season at the Velodrome in Geneva, which should get my legs super strong for all the Snowboarding to come.

On the subject of gearing up for the winter, I’ve just contributed for an article on getting fit for Skiing and Snowboarding for ‘Ski & Board’. I’ll post the article I wrote online shortly as the magazine will probably only use a small portion of what I wrote.

Being fit for the winter is super important in order for you to get the most out of your riding so I’ve just put down some super simple exercises that will get you ready to ride. Look out for the link to it on Facebook and in the articles section on the McNab Snowboarding web site in due course and remember…being fit is a choice not a gift so get working at it…

Anyway, enough for now, the weather is starting to clear as I write this to reveal a very snowy looking Aiguille du Midi and I’m going to take advantage of the break in the downpour to get out on my bike with the dog.

You can start getting very excited about the winter riding soon to come…

I think its going to be another big one!!

All is good in Chamonix…


Thursday, 27 September 2012

Woke up this morning to Snow on Les Houches…yes Les Houches! Its got to be the first time I've seen snow on Les Houches in September ever!!

I'm sure it's not a first but with snow down to 1400m this morning the CHamonix valley is looking very wintery and its kind of a bit of a wake up call to the fact that the coming season is actually just around the corner…Shit, I've tons to do before then…better dig this 60m trench for a new phone line before the ground starts freezing!

I've just done 2 weeks of cycle guiding for GPM10, a perfect Tour du Mont Blanc followed immediately by a Trans Pyrenees, again in perfect conditions. 2 amazing trips and I came back with super strong legs just in time for no one else to be around for me to smash it up with…

The Track cycling season is just starting. I went down there a couple of days ago for a quick spin, had forgotten how intense it is just riding around and around. I looked down at my heart rate monitor after a couple of short max sprint intervals and thought it must be broken. How can it get that high when there are no hills to climb? Great fun, I've a new Dolan DF3 frame running and it feels fantastic…come on legs!

The Snowboard movie premier's are doing the rounds and I'm going to be at the Tamworth 'Big Bang' event this weekend giving a 'Jones Snowboards BC safety' presentation. Just spent the last 2 days cramming and preparing for it thinking I had to leave today only to wake up this morning and see I'd got the date wrong and leave tomorrow…Great, another day on the bike before I go…I'll start that 60m trench when I get back after the weekend…or the winter…who needs phones and internet anyway!

Things are slipping into position for the coming winter. Ruth has been busy sorting out accom etc for the Tignes pre season course so those joining me on that can start to organise and get excited about it.

Those on Kashmir will need to start to think about applying for visas pretty soon. I'll start to look at all of that after this weekend…my October mission is to get everything ready for the winter…I'll dig that trench in November?

Ok, anyway, all is good…I need to get on with some internet browsing now, pick out kit for the winter and drool over bike and boards before this temporary phone line breaks…Ok, maybe I need to get on with that trench today?

I'll leave you with this shot of the group leaving the camp in Greenland 2011. I love this shot, it shows how remote the camp is, the perfect snow, how big the area is, the slopes in the background, the 'Evening light walls' are about a 2 hours access hike away!

You have a great view of our first descent lines of 'Couloir of the Gods' centre back and the 'Little Alaska face' Back right.

Everything is way bigger than it looks. The first time we headed over there we thought it would be about a half hours hike, a couple of hours later we were still looking across the Glacier at it all wondering if we'd ever get up there. Once the track was in and we worked out the best way up there we got it down to a 2 hour trip to the drop in. Of course midd trip it snowed again and we had to start all over again, putting in a new access track and re tracking all those descents of untracked deep fresh powder under perfect blue skies with no one around for thousands of miles…Obviously it was hard work but we managed it…

Until next time,

Take it easy'ish!


Thursday, 16 August 2012

Ok, so most of you have already seen that the courses are now on line!

Yep, I finally coaxed Ruth back into the office and we're off and taking bookings for next seasons courses. 2 days in and we had over 50% of our places taken, once bookings are confirmed with deposit payments then I'll update the courses page as to what is still available but if you're looking to get on a course next season then don't leave it to late as spaces are disappearing almost as quickly as Alpine Glacier Ice during the summer months!

It's been hot over here in Chamonix the past few weeks, mid 30's and rising. The mountains are looking baked, the winter snows have gone, the ice is bare and the rock is dry. Great for rock climbing (which is what I've been doing today) but every summer there's less and less perma snow and more and more dry ice and rock fall. There's an artists impression of what the mountains will look like in the future without the Glaciers and it's looking more and more real every year.

Of course, the Glaciers have been receding for a long time so its maybe not anything new, these glaciers used to reach out to near Lyon some 250km's away and anyway with todays rapidly changing climate it'll probably snow tomorrow!

The summer has been amazing so far, I worked hard early on so that I could take August off and spend some family time and practice my DIY skills armed with my collection of one shit slightly bent saw, a really sharp tree saw, a hammer and a drill. So far I've built some steps and a Tree house (or a tree platform as the girls rightly pointed out made form my Bouldering wall which was dismantled to make way for a cycling and squats gym). So far the tree platform has held 3 people at the same time, a new record!

Whilst I might be annoyingly obsessive about detail and precision with my sporting performances, this gene seams to have skipped my DIY skills and whilst the tree platform still stands for the moment I'm not convinced of its longevity.

I've been cycling tons, out most days melting in the heat and I also started running up mountains with the dogs (for rest days off the bike), you know the old saying, 'a change is as good as a rest', well thats a load of rubbish because I tried it with a couple of hours running up to the Bellevue and I didn't feel rested at all.

I've also been hitting the squats quite a bit, inspired by the Olympic track cyclists performance and feeling keen for the coming track cycling season and winter Snowboard season so I'm working hard on increasing my leg power, strength and endurance.

Obviously not managed to curb my training addiction yet!

It's still mid summer but its quite interesting to start to hear about people talk of the coming winter season. The shops in Chamonix are starting to sell off their summer ranges and the warmer looking kit will soon be creeping back in. I put my order in to Mr Jones for Boards the other day, should be some exciting new additions to the range such as a Carbon Flagship, a 160 Hovercraft Splitboard, the Mtn Twin has had some major tweakage and there's now some female specific sizes and constructions. I'm personally looking forward to the Carbon Flag 163W and the Hover Split. There's talk of a bigger Hovercraft joining the range at some time in the future, I'm gunning for a 164 Hover…how good would that be!!!

I've another few weeks of cycling work coming up in September, just before the track opens in Geneva, so hopefully I'll be going strong through the Autumn track sessions. My winter season kicks off in mid December again over in Tignes before starting here in Chamonix Christmas week and then full speed ahead for the winter. I'm looking forward to it already, in particular the Kashmir trip, the new Slackcountry courses, the new Haute Route and the Splitboard courses…so that's pretty much everything then I guess! Lets hope the weather plays ball again and we get conditions like last season!!

Anyway, enough of my waffle, I've 'Destroy It Yourself' projects to get on with!


Thursday, 2 August 2012

This is a provisional list of the dates for next winters Courses.

Most courses remain the same format but I have included a new Slackcountry Off piste freeride clinic.

This will be in-between the Off Piste and BC Splitboard intro with a mix of the 2. Easy access Off Piste and an intro to the BC, such as runs off the Midi, short hikes and maybe a day tour but without the need for Splitboards, the focus being on riding rather than hiking, hence the 'Slackcountry' focus.

Tech clinics remains the same, a pre season clinic in Tignes and a couple of 3 day clinics over Christmas and New Year should help those with the need and desire, the chance to sort out their early season riding ready for the season ahead.

Off Piste clinics remain the same, concentrating on the progression from On Piste to Off Piste technique and beyond.

The Slack country Clinic then follows on from this with the emphasis less on technique and more on just Freeriding.  A kind of relaxed playful sort of week!

BC Splitboard intro keeps the same format, but Board hire will be through Zero G or your own responsibility.

BC Splitboard Freeride is for those that have already Splitboarded and now want more, this is a Chamonix based course focused on riding the Chamonix classics.

BC Splitboard touring is for those that have Splitboarded before and want to get out amongst the peaks and explore some new terrain, this course will take us further afield and involve nights away in refuges as needed.

The BC Advanced remains the same at a 1:3 ratio. Anything goes!

The new Splitboard Haute Route speaks for itself. We'll follow the classic Chamonix Zermatt route with alterations to suit favourable terrain for Snowboarding. A big undertaking only for the fit and efficient!

The Kashmir Splitboard trip takes us back to the low Himalaya peaks around the city of Srinagar where the basic single lift ski station of Gulmarg offers up some amazing terrain and spectacular Splitboard opportunities.

The Splitboard Mont Blanc course remains the same as we try to scale the mighty Mont Blanc and ride back down to Chamonix. Often underestimated, definitely our most demanding course on the calendar!

So here it is, you can't book yet as I haven't managed to lure Ruth into the office as yet, (best try calling on rainy days) and I haven't put the courses on line yet as I'm still playing around with a couple of dates etc. But this is the provisional calendar so you can start to have a look and work out what you fancy and when it will be.

Courses should be on line early next week and then we're off!

Dec –
pre seasaon tech clinic – 17 – 21
3 day tech – 26 – 28

3 day tech – 2 – 4
OP freeride clinic – 7 – 11
Slackcountry Freeride clinic (mix of off piste and BC split intro) - 14 – 18
3 day OP freeride – 21 – 23

Kashmir – 31 – 10
(Maybe  a 3 day BC Splitboard freeride 13 – 15)
BC Splitb intro – 18 – 22
BC splitb freeride 25 – 1st

BC Advanced 4 – 8
Splitb intro – 11 – 15
Slackcountry Freeride clinic  18 – 22
Splitboard Freeride 25 – 29

Splitb touring 1 – 5
Splitb Touring 8 – 12
SplitB Haute Route – 17 – 22 (dates not confirmed yet)
Mont Blanc 28 – 4th May

Dates for bookings will be on line soon!

Get ready for some of this!!!