I'm a woman

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

Thursday, 22 February 2018

New Horizon old vertical, by Stevie Haston.

I miss the mountains like an old lover, I miss the mountains like a lover I never had but hoped for with all my heart, I miss the mountains. They don't miss me ….they don't care…I am nothing to them.

 Italy looking and feeling like Nepal, even with burning leave smell, annual burning of chestnut pruning!

Returning to the hum drum of my small island after being intercontinental is sometimes depressing, a small life on a small pleasant island. Anyway some of the grandchildren came over to swim and climb.

 Grand children getting ready to lead me up a few routes.

Kids are always good to climb with, not always true, but this time yes. Nice to see they have improved with out me! So, I make them lead. Papi can be dragged up routes!

 this exit from a sea cliff route was too tight, damn my big chest, had to retreat, kids took the photos!

On a windy sea storm day two of the kids and I go for a little walk, and I solo down a little cliff and try to exit through a letterbox. Well-cant get through I huffed and puffed and my legs were dangling over the drop and the kids who where safely on top got a little concerned so I reversed. The waves got me, the waves had bombed the kiddies on separate occasions, they liked it, I will have to watch those kids,they don't like to wash but like to be sea bombed!

 Big cliff (140 meters) on a biggish day.

The powerful swirl of the sea seemed to draw us down, lots of routes to be done on this cliff but loose soft rock will make them fearsome.

 Little Leo, seconding a grade 5 which is a bit loose.

Leo my little grandson looks very like my father and is strong and shares his grandfathers logic, this is good and bad! He is a good little climber but also likes Canadian Kayak-well good he might get a strong back.

 Little Lilly giving scale to some of the mysterious Maltese Cart tracks.

On one day we went to see some interesting tracks, the mysterious Maltese Cart tracks. A new set of fantastic ones were found or rediscovered in an olive orchard.These tracks are prehistoric in origin and various ways for their construction have been put foreword because there is no erosion between the tracks and the tracks can often not be parallel. Nobody knows which in some ways is great, but sure leaves a puzzle, some people the animal that pulled the cart were flying birds!

Diego the little Italian Greyhound showing how perfect this track is.
These tracks are worth seeing, they remind me of Roman roads, possibly italians might have better ideas than us and the British who were here before.

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!

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.