I'm a woman

I'm a woman
Photos copyright Laurence Gouault
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Sunday, 17 August 2014

Scarpa Techno X climbing shoe, by Stevie Haston.


So here's a boot which I wouldn't normally look at, or think of reviewing. It's a straight lasted or flat normal climbing shoe it's not turned down! So why have I got them, and what's it to you? Well straight lasted are way more comfortable for most recreational folk, and I was looking for a shoe I could do a bit of crack with. This translates into a all day shoe, but the Techno X doesn't feel floppy, and has a good heel. For all day shoes or Trad shoes most people should consider laces as these primitive string things allow you to tighten or loosen your shoe! 

The shoe has Edge rubber which isn't my favourite, but gives more cross torsion, and protects the foot somewhat in cracks. The upside of Edge rubber is its good on sharp nasty holds particularly at the end of a day when your feet are tired.


This is a good photo showing the rubber on the toe area, this bit is the bit that gets shoved in the crack and gets twisted around, this toe is very good  and works well on most other climbing too, like toe hooks. Make sure you get a good fit though as you can't tighten it right to the end. Remember in climbing shoes fit is every thing. In general this shoe is a good all day shoe that I will be using it on cracks, its comfy and well made, and as I say its not my normal choice shoe. You might consider it if you don't like turned down toes, or tight shoes.  The Techno X is extremely comfy, the tongue is soft and padded, and as its better than a great number of boots I have done hard routes in the past it will defo do for most people up to hard bouldering grades, or climbing, good luck with it.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Scarpa Nitro Gtx by Stevie Haston.

So here's a handy shoe for most purposes, and most seasons if you live in the north or are having a bit of a damp time. Its a  gortex socked shoe, with  a swede upper and very robust, I got it at the moment just for going to the crags as its really damp this year and I got fed up of having wet feet and socks etc. So it works very well in that respect, it's very smart so you can walk around town etc with out looking like you are in the tour de france or an athletic meet like some shoes. I didn't get it as an approach shoe/guides shoe, even though you can use it for this purpose if you wish. 


The sole is very functional in my opinion, the lugs are big enough to handle gravel and scree, and other rough terrain without having hot spots and pressure points like when you have a more spiky tread. Its comfy in town, and the last has a slight roll to it. The sole is sticky at the front and more hard wearing at the back and cleaned easily going through damp soil, its kinnda got a self cleaning lug profile or just stamp them on the ground or kick a tree root and the sticky mud thing should drop off.

Like I said its not for running although it's got a duel layered EVA sole, you could get away with a gog, or a warm up, or kick a ball around with the kids. The toes are protected by a nice sticky rubber box which should last well. The swede should protect the gortex part as its 1.5 thick, it looks good but unless you have a bit of a layer here your goretex sock will effectively punter very quickly, this is worth thinking about when you bush which through thorns as the effectiveness of any waterproof membrane generally doesn't like thorns! So there you go, I thought it was very good, with a wide fitting, and it should last a fair while.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Anorexia , drugs, and no rational control. By Stevie Haston.

Christian Bale, 8b version on the left, 9c on right!

Charlotte Durif the great french comp and cliff climber has written an amazingly critical open letter to Grimper mag in France. In it she discusses the widespread anorexia that she sees in competition climbing and compares it to doping. She also criticises the competion organisation and format. Here is a link to the original in French and a google translation. Her points have been made before and many people agree with her, so what will be done, the answer is nothing! If you have a child or a friend who is anorexic whether they are a climber or not make no mistake it's very serious. Whether it's as serious as Honnold soloing a big wall or an alpinist soloing a north face is also a matter for scrutiny. There has to be some kind of free will in life or our lives aren't ours. In some sports like Body building people take drugs and become very very thin, it's the only way to win or compete. Is every sport like body building, well no, there are a few who don't take drugs, let me try and think of one that doesnt-shit for a second I thought of one, but championship knitting isn't a sport.
What does this all mean to you, you might ask. Well if you have a child in sport not just climbing but say mountain bike riding, you have to consider the risk they will be partaking in and how responsible you want to be! There is not just the risk of tumbling off a bike, or cliff, but the risk of being sick in some way due to drugs or a very odd diet. Now then there are lots of magazine people who read my blog and they are fairly guilty in not talking about any of this, if they do talk they just do a shallow piece and earn their money. Climbing is a very weird sport, it's susceptibility to a small amount of drugs and light weight taking the laurels is really really high. In fact the lighter you are the more change you can have by small amounts of drugs, so children who take drugs and anorexics who take drugs will have the highest success, so in future our sport will be dominated by anorexic or very light weight people who are either sexualy immature or both, if that hasn't happened already. 
And by the way I was commissioned to write about the Charlotte Durif controversy when a commercial web site started a hatchet job on Charlote Durif  for supposedly fibbing, I was reluctant to do this job even though I was short of cash as I knew ultimately that the truth would be illusive and it was just about entertaining the masses. One of the key elements of this so called controversy was a route called PPP, a huge 9a that people said Durif couldn't do. Well strangely that 9a wasn't 9a anyway so it brought it down to more than very possible that Miss Durif could have styled it.
Years ago the best french sport climber and competition guy said that he wouldn't be able to compete any longer without some medical help, as he was feeling big pressure from former eastern bloc climbers, he retired and became plump.
An interesting aside is that this anorexia thing will never go away, it's there at the very heart of climbing, but at least you can see it. You can't see the drugs. I have no right to preach, and every body takes drugs, but the playing field is not level, and, and, and..... 
Another interesting aside perhaps is that Laurence was working with a Tri Athlete recently, who commented that nearly everybody in a famous local race was drugged to the max, its a famous race but winning it won't pay your drug bill for a year. The same week my grand kids who are really into sport and are really into winning were over for a holiday, they really want to be good at hill running, and when they were enthusing I was nearly crying, because fell running is just pharmaceuticals. Still I smiled and marched them up that hill!

If you want some good advice about losing weight in a sensible way, check out Steve Edwards blog  this guy is a climber as well as a sportsman. Good luck Steve. 

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Designer fitness. By Stevie smart Haston.

Was staying in a swank hotel, which even seemed to care about my veggie food requirements, and bumbled into the Gym. It was a very good Gym, I have to say, no people in it except a very buff young man, he instantly accosted me as to my needs. Anyway after he explained everything, he told me I looked ok for a man of my age, then he kindda arched one eyebrow and asked me some questions and he put int into his machine and gave me a little routine. The routine was ok, I said thanks and went over to the Lat bar, I maxed it out and did a couple of pulls and Mr Buff was on me,  He explained I was doing it wrong! Anyway Mr Buff was a nice guy, and the hotel was nice and all, but the cleaning guy has got more usable strength than Mr Buff.
The boulder problem called Jade has been repeated by a girl-a strong girl- but a girl. I seem to remember this route being touted as a very burly prob by the dudes etc Dave Graham and crew failed etc! Next up, forget the boulders and get on Action Direct, I am dying for this to be done by a girl. Oh and instead of all the Mr Buff training programs in the mags can you please down load what the girl does as I might like to try her program as it seems to work. Thats what its about right, results!
My own personal climbing journey is starting again, so I am up for receiving ideas. I have 8 months before I go to the States, is 8 months enough to get me up the two routes I want to do? Planning my Wellness gentle regime today, penciling lots of Kale smoothies, absolutely no power pulls.
Congrats to Alex Puccio for doing Jade.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Pierre Allain, genial genius. by Stevie Haston.

Ask an American who invented bouldering, and they will normally say John Gill if they don't say Sharma. Anyway perhaps Pierre Allain one of the fathers of bouldering at Font deserves a little credit for doing a few things before the star spangled banner. I have one of his carabiners in my hand in the above photo and this biner the first alloy biner, and the PA rock boot were undoubtedly responsible for many of the improvements in the big game of climbing.
I have been playing with this biner lately, it's real beautiful,  especially compared to older less light biners made of steel, which also used to cut your finger on the gate. Sadly I don't have a pair of PA's, or their decedent and better, the EB which were the initials of Pierre Allains business partner. The EB was the boot which did all the work in the development of our sport, all the improvements from grade 6 to 8, and it was a boot that took a lot of time to improve on!
Anyway I asked a good friend of mine who PA was and they didn't know, how sad I thought. Routes like the North Face of the Dru, the Meije face, and a bunch of obscure little sandy boulders in a forest somewhere, thank you Pierre.
PA was born in 1904 and so was lucky to be the right age to miss the Great War, he died at 97, playing with puzzles and games. I wished I'd met him, but at least I'ave done some of his routes. The North Face of the Dru was done in 1935, three years before the Eiger and the Walker spur. Anyway there you go, PA.  

Monday, 28 July 2014

Kids in the mountains. By Stevie 'big kid' Haston.


This photo has nothing to do with the mountains but everything to do with the wonderful way kids see, they see so bright and quick, full of surprise, and full of emotion, And I guess the point is that we help them see. My grandfather, a man of very few words and hardly any education, taught me to see, he could really see, and his eye sight was very poor.  





So we all saw lots of things, clearly little Leo is Seeeing cake mainly. We are doing a faster than guide book time on this mountain walk which I have to say is a very odd thing and must mean that most people in the world today deserve to live in cities and travel underground like worms.



This is a bilberry field, I have never picked bilberries so easily and with so much pleasure, the dog caught on quick too and was begging, we were covered in bilberry stains, mouths like vampires or old drunken dames who had crookedly applied a bad shade of lipstick.



The kids trying to use sticks. We picked up a few bits of litter from townie tourists but in the last few years even hill walkers and climbers are getting bad. There was a good article in an american magazine about this a while ago, and how the new generation need help and teaching. There were even mentoring classes for people coming out of the gyms and taking their first steps in the hills or on the crags. 




We shared the mountain with a few hill walkers, thousands of sheep, a few sheep herders who stay up there for months, some mules some donkeys and some horses. The animals  didn't leave litter the hill walkers did! There was lots of toilet paper around which attracted the kids attention to piles of human bongo, not nice, not nice at all smeagol.



These are the kids in a little shelter on the mountain where we spent the night, the floor was soft sheep droppings, there were mushrooms growing in the corners, edible ones. Leo is 7 and got to the summit first with me, he was proud of himself.






We had mist and got down next day before torrential rain and thunder. The kids saw some big drops but were more scared of the big horses and mules. In the bivouac we had two donkeys coming in.
We had a chat with one of our village friends who spends three months up there taking care of sheep, he might be  one of the last to do this. He is a man very much like my grandfather, few words, but sees everything. He saw the dog on the lead near the sheep and said a quick thank you and told us how we were the first walkers he had seen with the dog on a lead. He told of the dogs being scared way round the mountain and sheep with broken legs. 
Anyway seeing is a gift.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Scarpa Booster S, by Stevie Haston.


My Booster S arrived and I took them for a test drive, really good precise shoes. I tried them on at the summer show, with their famous designer Heinz Mariacher. He very modestly said they were a very good shoe, I'll go a bit further and say they might very well become the most popular high end shoe on the market! Any way I couldn't wait to try them on rock, steep rock, precise footwork type of rock, real French humiliating graded type of rock! I got a bit spanked, the shoes excelled!


The sole of the shoe has a few ripples on the heel which helps when your walking around on slabs but the photo is to show the band that pulls the toe down in an arch and gives you foot power on the small holds. The heel is better than on the Scarpa Stix, and won't come off your foot due to the velcro straps. These two straps really crank the fit down, completely eliminating any internal slipping or turning. The internal sole is supposed to be the lightest on the market but I don't think that is as important as it's doing its job so well.


The colour is reel cool and you seem to pay your foot work more attention in consequence. It edges inside, outside, and toe very firmly, yet it doesn't feel clunky when you use the pad for big friction dishes. The rubber is Vibram sticky which for me is the best rubber I ave used, its very sticky but doesn't tear through when you push hard on crystals or small edges.



The boot is very comfy, the elasticated gusset under the two straps also lets out a bit of sweat.  Depending how you size them they could be an all day shoe. I sized mine half a size bigger than my Stix as these are shoes rather than slippers and have a stiffer feel. Take care sizing your boots, I can't stress this enough, there's advise on the Mountain boot site for British buyers, but the fit is really super important.


I wore my Stix on a warm up, and then used the Booster S, and noticed a difference on small scoops, and edges straight away. You stand taller in the Booster and the toe doesn't deform to the shape of the hold as much as the Stix, I will carry both pairs around, but on edges the Boosters are best. 


There's lots of toe rubber which is completly correct, with a few little ribs and roughness to add to its toe hooking ability.


These boots will score big on longer routes with lots of precise foot work, they invite attention to your toe push and because of there turn down will excel on overhanging rock. There's nothing to default as even if you like the softness and suppleness of a slipper these will work in that department too. Hopefully they will make me climb as smooth and flowing as the above picture of the river near the cliffs. It was 30 degrees today, not so cool but the shoes were, even if I was not.