I’m grinning ear to ear and I can hear Steve laughing out loud ahead of me. We’re skiing the Vallee Blanche, it’s my first time, and I’m loving it. The winter is just getting better and better with everything building up to this moment where I am making fresh tracks in knee deep powder, weaving between bottomless crevasses, and not another soul in sight.
The mind is a muscle and, if you don’t use it, it atrophies.
I have taken the foot off the gas a little recently in all aspects of my life. I’ve needed to regroup and also just take it easy for a while. I’ve been focussing on fun things like skiing, moderate climbing, and just having fun. The New Year, as with everyone though, was a kick up the butt to get back onto things and start making progress on long-held goals.
But I keep failing, falling off the wagon, and getting angry that I’m not committing to things in ways I have before.
Out of my depth? Me? Again? Never.. well, of course I was. Sitting in a room with 40 highly experienced personal trainers and coaches, all silently absorbing every word Dan John, this animated and open American, was saying and I was quietly wondering how I had ended up here.
Amazon, Apple, and Google are just a few of the many great businesses that started in garages. Now we can add to that illustrious list: The.. um.. Mountain Foundry. Joking aside, this feels like very big moment for me. From the moment I started training people, the idea of having a space with my own equipment and vibe was constantly been at the back of my mind, now it is a reality.
Ski touring in Chamonix is mandatory and not having a touring set up limits not just where you can go but who wants to ski with you. It might sound strange but I now fully appreciate where this comes from. The phrase ski touring was completely unknown to me just a few years ago. I remember watching from ski lifts, people slogging their way up mountains, completely unable to grasp why they wouldn’t just get on the lift and save themselves some trouble. Now, however, I am a total convert, with my eyes opened to not just the health benefits but the scope that getting yourself up a mountain provides.
‘Tis the season, on social media, for celebrating the year gone by and making grand declarations for the year to come. Posts sharing users’ most popular photos, highest viewing blog articles, or just favourite moments are everywhere and it is wonderful to see. Promises of new regimes, hopes and dreams are flooding my feeds and everyone of them is an inspiration. I’m afraid this post, however, is a little different.
Fear. The persistent feeling that I’ve not been able to shake for the last week but we’re here now and there is no way out. It’s the night before we set off to climb the Comici on Cima Grande, one of the classic Great North Face routes but it isn’t the route I’m scared of, it’s letting my partner down.
In June 2015 I officially launched The Mountain Foundry, my new business that is working with everyday athletes to elites by training them in strength and conditioning for the mountains. Training both face-to-face in Chamonix and remotely via the magic of the internet, my goal is to make people stronger, more confident, and safer in the mountains by providing their bodies with a suit of armour.
Climbing the Frendo Spur is high up on many alpinists dreams when they arrive in Chamonix. A striking line that towers over town, rising right underneath the Aiguille du Midi telepherique in full view of all the camera happy tourists. Described as a mid-grade classic, I’ve had my eye on this route for several years and finally had my chance.
The weather in Chamonix is typical early summer weather – amazing sunny mornings then, between 1pm and 2pm, the clouds come in and shortly after a storm kicks off. It is pretty much like clockwork. Jesse and I set off on a rock climb up high that would easily get us back to safety in time. Until it didn’t.
People travel from all over the world to come and climb in what is now my back yard, Chamonix – it is truly exceptional with so much variety; from sport climbing to ice, to alpine mountaineering to alpine rock climbing. It truly is a climbing Mecca.
One thing I’ve missed, however, is single pitch rock climbing in the Peak District – the sort of climbing where you can go and experience so much variety, really challenging yourself both physically and mentally. Nowhere – well, at least according to most Brits – is that more true than in the heart of England on grit.
I have been so excited about coming back to London to study and hopefully qualify as a personal trainer – it is the culmination of several years hard work, life changing decisions, and listening to that little voice deep inside me. As exciting as that is, I knew I was going to be missing Chamonix, the mountains, and the training that being based there enables. Not one to be dissuaded, I have managed to keep on top of my training with the awesome help of some people.
Recently my blogging buddy and running inspiration, Runner Beans, wrote a great piece about her Top 5 Running Moments – she is a prolific marathon runner and her list included the London Marathon twice, Berlin Marathon, New York Marathon, and a beautiful sounding Valentine’s day run with her other half. Inspired by this, Stuart Storr wrote his list, he has been running a little while now and was at the very first London Marathon in 1981!
Now I reckon it’s my turn. What are yours?
Last week I made it to the halfway point in my intensive personal training course at Fitness Industry Education and passed my tests as a gym instructor. The course has been really eye opening – I knew I would learn a lot but some nuggets of information have been real keepers. I wanted to share them with you here.
Nepal was an incredible trip. Not only did I get to experience a wonderful and inspiring new country, I also had a massive amount of time to reflect on where I have been, where I am, and where I want to go. I have written about searching for my purpose, taming the swarm of ideas and inspiration, and my Very Hungry Caterpillar philosophy but it was the time alone in the Himalayas that gave me the space to let it all come together.