I'm a woman

I'm a woman
Photos copyright Laurence Gouault
No reproduction on other media without the photographer's permission.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Repentance, by Stevie Super Haston.

Have you repented? We need to repent! Are you a sinner? 
Do you know the route called Repentance Super? No matter if you don't, I'll give you a little picture with a few words. Repentance Supe is one of the best classic ice climbs you can do, and all the more worth talking about since ice climbing is so accessible to people today. Is it a classic, for sure it is, is it hard, well it can be, what level of joy and satisfaction do you get- big Big HUGE Satisfaction with big indelible memories.


  Sneaking up on Olie.

a few pitches up, with a little polemic, and a fall by another party, seclusion is now not always possible but ice reigns supreme.

"Why". this word was repeated slowly, I was waiting for Francois in the cold of the night, it was something very minus, and I was out side my flat in Italy! I only had travelling and work clothes, my boss Olie had successfully manoeuvred me into saying yes to a bit of Repentance and I was regretting it. Thin running tights with flashing silver highlights are probably not the best outfit for -12 and a red light district! Francois finally got to me before I froze or excepted one of the offered from the working girls. Like I said Repentance!


Repentance o the left.

I know the valleys of northern Italy fairly well but the high valleys of Aosta have been my home. Is Repentance my home? Well as a big sinner I have tried to repent and in truth Repentance I have done with the last ascent 6 times. I probably did the second ascent, at that time I was a very swollen headed and daft hombre, or if I am being kind to myself I just didn't care about reputations. Repentance was done by Grassi, Godfra Perrou, and Damillano, three guys who monopolised all the ice climbing press in Europe, when I did Repentance I thought it a very nice cascade, but only equal to Welsh Cascades done 20 years before. I wasn't that peeved, just noted down in my Black book not to trust certain people, and editors.

Walking up it looks really good.

Our team was Francois who lives  and works as a guide under the Matterhorn, and Olie my boss who lives in Aosta, and me the repenting one who once was a professional ice climber. At the carpark it was -20°C!I don't know about repenting, but I was regretting saying yes. As a man who lives closer to Africa than mainland Italy, the cold is no longer my favourite. We had the best gear apart from my clothes. My boots were summer boots, but were up to the task of -20°C which was not a surprise!
Francoise!

The walking along the main Cogne valley is flat and super beautiful with various cascades frozen into climbing perfection. I haven't climbed any of these cascades for many a year but know the valley from more recent runs, and snow boarding escapades. Even if you walk the valley it is still one unforgettable day. But if its a cascade on your mind, it really has to be Repentance.
We completed the climb to the top and abed off.

The team did well, we patted each other on the back, shook hands etc. My Boss was particularly pleased as I know he has wanted to do this for many a year! Francoise fourth ascent my sixth, just as good as the first time if not better. There was another team on it, they were great too, if you are reading this you guys from Torino, thanks. As for the young man who took a big whipper on the left side of the cascade, you looked solid going up the route on the right after you recovered, bravo.
the climbers bar afterwards.

We walked back sedately from the climb, very happy. I walked alone thinking of all the magnificent climbs I have done, thankful to my partners, thankful to conditions, and my very large portion of luck. If you see a chance take it as the song goes. Frozen cascades will be a rarity soon, they are the last Unicorn. For people who are gear nerds, we used Grivel ice axes, my companions didn't use leashes, I did. We all used G20 crampons, which it is simply impossible to beat, we used Scarpa boots, I used the Rebel which is really a summer boot but was good for me, the other two lads went one warmer. Grivel screws, a selection, but for me the 360° is still the best Ice screw on the market. All three of us used the Stealth Helmet which was great, its lightness makes it unnoticeable, I walked back with it on my head! My clothes were completely wrong as were my gloves!

Memories of Ice are sometimes very nice this was one of them!

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Training for Trade Shows, by Stevie the Pro Haston.

I will be at ISPO Munich trade show for the next few days followed by Italy with Grivel, I might even Ice climb!

 Sorry about this photo, it was a great route hope its not the sat of this quality that I do, it has left me feeling bereft, a funny feeling eh?


 Love this thing, yesterday I saw an octopus, a cuttle fish, two moray eels, a lobster and an unidentified non med fish. A good dive with nobody around!

 I hate logistics!
There has been a good bit of ice this year so Grivel should do well as well as the others, Big snow years big money. ISPO will be huge, it is huge, but  it will be huge-er, and there will be a wall built around it of plastic, the plastic we all put into it. Well no there won't, but... 

that crushing feeling when you are asked about equipment that is easy to understand and use!

Hope to see ya all at ISPO, I will be the overworked looking guy at the Grivel stand.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Exercise the beast,by Stevie Lana del Rey Haston

its morning time, time to salute the sun!

I was watching an exercise thingy on the net which was really just begging for money by two very dapper looking "trainers", and I was rather struck by their re inventing of the wheel!Well done chaps, money for old rope indeed!
 before it fully wakes up, just a few chickens and the odd dog awake.

I am a bit injured at the moment, a bit of impingement, this happens from time to time, so what should I do? Well says the doctor, you must desist from hurting it, or moving the joint, of impinging it more-clear? Climber says yes, and then climbs-continues to hurt it! Climbers are really dumb. Climbing trainers are sometimes worse. Beware of climbing trainers who wrap their Burrito in bullshit. If you see them on something that resembles a garden trellis with words that don't sound anglo saxon, or short-beware!

Climbing is utterly fantastic, and you don't have to ware a red dress, just red pants.

 Do you ever find your self singing, "I'ave got my red dress on tonight", and suddenly realise you are a barrel chested unshaven 60 year old! What do you do? Do you just continue? It's probably ok at the top of a climb, but I found myself singing this at the police station a while back. Anyway have you done your 3 training sessions this week? Have you done your stretching, yoga, or what ever? Have you visualised being better at things? Have you not continued to climb because really it is not making it better! I have switched from doing pull ups to doing dumbbell curls at the moment, they aren't the same, but at least the bicep gets a bit rather than the shoulder hurting. Have you noticed that nobody has bodies that are in complete balance for climbing except people who really work very hard for it, and the core of their work is moving in thousands of ways, and very strong fingers! Beware the Jubjub bird, do lots of work, put the runners equivalent of lots of miles in, in climbers terms do lots of routes. If you really want to improve use different hold shapes with different textures, climb out side on different angles, and different rocks. There is a  big plus, it's fun!

Friday, 12 January 2018

The turning point, by Stevie Haston.

Stop there, where you are, and be peaceful. If you can't, you are in a bad way, perhaps you should go somewhere else! I remember once, along time ago, giving my usual bit of shallow advice at a lecture, and a very nice man said, or questioned, "How do I escape"? I felt terrible because I knew he was trapped, what to say? I was stuck then just like him.

 To escape the path of ordinary life is hard, that's why we tend gardens, or even have a plant on the desk.

I just did an an hours yoga, and kinda disappeared. Some of you cynical people will probably say I disappeared up my own asshole, or naval. I recommend yoga for being able to disappear, it's a good trick if you can learn it, with out the hour of postures disappearing would be magic. With todays idiots in control, I more and more want to disappear. Yesterday, coming up from a scuba dive I was enveloped in a cloud of shit! Literally not metaphorically, they were pouring sewage into the sea! It was a bit fraught as I had to do my decompression stop, and had no access to my instrument watch, computer etc.


 The turning point! This is when my skin is not the outside of me but the beginning. No clouds of human shit here!

At the still point of the turning world.
Nether flesh nor fleshless.
Neither from nor towards,
at the still point,
there the dance is.
Where past and future are gathered.
Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline.
Except for the point, the still point.

T.S. Eliot.



 To  turn on a sixpence, or in the eye of a needle.

Go for a run, or a walk at lunch. Do a short little yoga thing. Be at peace. 

 A quite moment with the sea and the spiral of energy that goes around your spine and ascends on wings.
just another sunset. a turning point for  the earth

Sunday, 7 January 2018

How to improve at climbing, by Stevie striving Haston.

How to improve at climbing-its the 64 thousand dollar question! But it isn't impossible to answer. Try answering it yourself, and you will already get an idea how. It is not done by reading your Five hundredth bit of fluff on Mountain Dew Girl on the cover nonsense, it's done by appropriate work. Get going, do some work, it is easier than you think, but yes it does involve work. If your scared of work go back to staring at Mountain Butt Climber Mag.

 Find things you love, and love them. Climbing is great, there is only one god, and his name is Rock!

 Be honest with yourself, look in the mirror, look at the flab, look at the muscles you don't need for the job- can you live without the flab, can you live without those unnecessary but nice looking muscles.

 Statistics can be bad, these are death memorials to divers in Egypt, there are some gruesome memorials under mountains in the big ranges. Don't become a statistic. Injury stats are not as bad as death stats, but they hold you back-dont get injured!

 Dream by all means, but reality is better.

Prospecting for gold. True gold is your body and mind, there might not be much, thats all, but it can shine if you polish it.
this morning the sky was beautiful, training is also a beautiful thing, it is the road to improvement, for sure it's not always as good as this photo, and you can get lost, but keep on track.

Train in just a half decent way, and in 3 months you will be climbing one grade harder. Train in a super good way- 3 grades harder! Get started. Welcome to 2018. Go for something special, it doesn't have to be Gold. Training is a great habit, wear it like a many coloured coat. Eat a bit better, rest a bit better, stretch a bit better, learn how to move with a bit more flow, get strong, not just the big muscles, the little ones are often more important in climbing. Get going don't sit on your ...

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Gear and Birthdays especially Grivel, by Stevie Haston.

I work for a company that has made gear for 200 years! Its called Grivel, and I have been working there for longer than I care to remember numerically, but in deep way it has led me to a better understanding of our huge sport. I won't make you eat too much bullshit, but some companies are from the mountains, or even if they are not their people have the mountains at heart.

 In some ways I am an employee. Welcome to the office! Grivel is 200 years old.

 One of the best bits of kit Grivel has ever made, the Plume screwgate, it is still ridiculously light(37grams), it is old style, not our innovatory Twin gate safety carabiner, so even the most hard to change person cannot object to its simplistic supremacy as a "great bit of kit". 

here is the Grivel Plume Screwgate with a larger more cumbersome  dinosaur.

I am fundamentally a climber, I don't think anybody can argue with this, but over the years many of my ideas, whims and fantasies have found a place in climbing. Light is Right is some thing I have all ways pushed and proded through in design, it's not always right, but many cases it is correct for climbing. Yesterday I was one of several teams enjoying climbing, and saw only one person with a Grivel Plume, me. It was clipped to the inside of my chalk bag next to my harness you couldn't see it, you couldn't feel it, but it was there, and with that little bit of kit you can do so much. Accidents, or lots of them don't need to happen, "buy one and stop one", thats an old joke about people like me, and refers to contraceptives! Have a happy and safe New Year.  Lets all survive to our next birthday.


Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Scarpa Maestro Mid, review by Stevie Haston.

New Year came and went, I was climbing, just like I was climbing on Xmass day. New Years present were a pair of Maestro rock climbing shoes from Scarpa. What are they good for, well a lot it has to be said!

 The Maestro is a robust climbing shoe, a kind of 4 by 4.

Scarpa are very much known for their innovative designs in rock climbing shoes as well as in their mountain climbing and trail running, so it is almost a shock to see this retro looking shoe. Is very much designed with Traditional side of climbing, crack and granite  long periods of wear, and with a highish ankle cover and a little extra padding their for good measure.




 The Maestro is good looking show with lots of foot protection. This shoe will last a long time and should take a very good resole!

How chunky is it, how hard can it climb, is it good value. Lots of questions, lots of answers, but the answers and questions will be different for different people. Is it worth a look-most certainly. If this is your normal kinda shoe, for sure it is top end contender.


 Edge rubber not Grip 2, a very important difference, for sharp rock or crystal stepping.

I normally only climb in Grip 2 rubber but I have half my climbing here on Gozo on a sandstone like shoe eating rock! I will be using the Maestro on those particularly for guiding! Could I climb 8a in these shoes-yes but I would be way happier in something more suitable. The only really hard climbs I might try in these are Chamonix and Veedavoo type stuff, where to go without ankle protection is to invite skin grafts. 

 A solid heel, you will be able to back foot in cracks with confidence, and it is instep withe the rest of the shoe as for durability.

The Maestro is not cheap but it will out last many if not all shoes!With the right sizing it is an all day shoe, as always make sure it fits you, sizing and particle shape of shoe are the final deciders of whether you should buy.

 Here is the Maestro side by side with the Drago, comparing chalk with cheese here, but you should understand that it is horses for courses. Multiple shoes for a climbing enthusiast are a must unfortunately.

 Maestro on the left Drago on the right. There is a slight down turn on the Maestros toe box, which is essential on a precision shoe but the general Last or shape of the shoe is flat.

 Just enough protection, free at the back so you can point the foot down, a padded tongue and little pads around the ankles will all protect. The general feel of the foot containment is a bit boxish, due to generous amounts of rubber going along and down the fore foot for about 4 inches, this will lessen any feelings of squeezed foot in cracks and foot jams.

 The lacing system is very good  and is not flus with the top but recessed in, I think this is a very good feature and will prolong the life of laces and also prevent lace eyelet pain.

 The Maestro is a great looking shoe, is it for you? Does it fit your needs?
Who should consider this shoe? Well… anybody who wants an all day shoe, multi pitch, or long route climbers, sharp rock climbers, crack climbers, people who work -like guides. As always please spend a long time looking at the shoes before you buy them, correctly fit them,  and know what they are for.