Mid way through an amazing Autumn here in Chamonix and heading into what is being hailed as the big winter we’ve all been waiting for…
Only time will tell, but there’s already good snow high up in the mountains and things have started to fill in quite quickly after a very hot and dry summer which melted high mountain perma frost, perma snow and vast quantities of Glacial Ice.
I’m just back form a pre winter surf trip to the Canaries, 2 weeks of sun and surf and some great swell.
After battling the sea for the past few years, things finally started to click and my board finally started to turn and feel like a good day Snowboarding. I’ve a long way to go and the progression is, as with everything, endless, but I had a glimpse of a possible future and it was very exciting…work in progress!
I’m now back in Chamonix. It’s nice to be back in the mountains, I immediately feel relaxed and at home. I love to gaze up into the peaks and watch them change day by day and moment by moment. It makes me want to get out amongst them and I feel ready to start my winter.
Now I’m back home, I’ll drop into my routine of Yoga every morning followed by a run or bike ride, maybe some climbing and some strength work with the weights. I need to get my body up to full power for the winter ahead and it just makes me feel good to keep fit and keep my body busy.
I’ve been following an October Yoga challenge through my Instagram account @neil mcnab and will try to follow the November challenge.
If you’re looking for some inspiration to get fit with for the coming winter join me on Instagram and we’ll follow the progress together.
I’m already so excited about the coming winter and getting back on my board. I can’t hardly wait to feel the slide, the carve, the power under my feet. I’m so looking forward to that first backside powder slash, the cutback, ripping the tail of the board to the max and then the rebound of the release as you power through the white cloud that you have created…Hmmm, yep, these days are coming…
So what have I got lined up for the winter?
I’m starting out in Tignes, 14th December for my annual pre season shred fest. A bit of Technique to get the feet working, lots of Freeride shred and some Splitting into the Slackcountry to score some early season fresh…if its there I will find it!
Into the New year I’ll be running my Technical Performance Clinic here in Chamonix. I love running this course early season as it sets up your riding for the rest of the winter. It makes you more aware of all the small movements that you need to control your board and make everything smooth, efficient and fun. It gets you working in harmony with the mountain so that you can play and explore the terrain with your riding.
This course was full, but 2 people have just bumped over to a BC Intro and so there are 2 places available as of today!
I then go straight into a Slackcountry Course, a bit of everything type of course, were the aim is to just get out there and score the goods. We’ll ride the lifts, hike and use the Splits as needed. I love everything about this course…I guess that’s why I developed it…yeah, can’t hardly wait!
Following the progression and the hopefully deepening snowpack I’ll then go straight into my first BC Intro of the winter. Again, this is another fav of mine and a course that I’ve now been running and developing for 16 years after running the first BC Intro in 1998!
This course heads a bit further out than the Slackcountry course and uses the Splits in a more serious fashion to get us out into the Backcountry of the High Mountains, whilst looking at the skills and knowledge needed to get us in and out of there as safely as possible.
I’m already looking forward to getting out there and riding some of the Chamonix classics such as the Col du Passon, a route that hardly came into condition last season!
Keep your Fingers crossed for that good winter!
Next, I’ve thrown in a New course with the Advanced BC Freeride course.
This is one that I’ve been playing around with over the years, but this season have nailed down to a smaller group ( 1- 4) for a faster pace, which will allow us smoother access to deeper and steeper lines. This is one for Advanced experienced BC riders looking to get out there and score that next level ride. I have so many plans for these weeks, so many options…I’m excited already!
Following this I head off to Russia for my ‘BC Voyager Heli trip’ to the Caucasus mountains along the coast of the Black sea to Krasnaya Polyiana.
Krasnaya was home to the 2012 Winter Olympics and now hosts 3 impressive new Mega Ski stations, a far cry from the one lift resort that I used to visit on this trip many years ago. Heli skiing was shut down in the area during the development and lead up to the Olympics, but now it once again allowed and we have a new B3 Euro Chopper at our disposal and some 1000km of terrain waiting to be explored!
This will be a 1 – 4 ratio fast paced heli week of steep and deep!
We have had one last minute drop out on this trip so one space is now available…get in quick!
Next up we’re heading to a new spot in the heart of the Valais region of Switzerland for the BC Voyager Zinal trip.
This is one of those secret ‘local’ Freeride spots that has endless terrain right off the lifts and gets weekend traffic but little else. The resort is also linked to the neighbouring station of Grimentz, another local with a big Freeride reputation, but keep it hush hush ok!
Back to Chamonix for another Slackcountry Freeride course, followed by our 2nd BC Intro course of the season. Again, 2 very unique and special courses that take you out into the heart of the High mountains in order to find the goods and introduce you to the greatest Freeriding that the Mont Blanc Massif has to offer. Need I say more?
I then have my 2nd Advanced BC Freeride course with a 1 to 4 ratio. The days should be getting a little longer giving us the possibility to get out there ‘Further, Deeper and Higher’…I have plans…oh yes, I have plans!
After this we’re straight down the Aosta valley for the BC Voyager Gressoney trip. After last years trip, I just had to run this one again… Steep couloirs, amazing lift access Freeride terrain and endless BC Splitting…yep, this one booked up before it even went on line!
I’m then straight back to Chamonix for the BC Freeride course, the next level BC course following the BC Intro.
This course is for those that have done the Slackcountry or the BC Intro and now want more of the same with out the introduction to Splitting tours…This means we can get straight out there and hit the goods from day 1…you’ll definitely be needing a lie down by the end of the week!
After the BC Freeride course I have my BC Steeps course.
This is a serious course running at a 1 to 2 ratio so that we can move quickly and efficiently amongst the high peaks in order to try to access and ride some of the ‘Extreme’ Chamonix classics such as the Cosmiques couloir, the ENSA and the Rhonde…Not for the faint hearted, this should be an amazing week of riding at the upper end of the spectrum…Things are going to be in condition this year…I can feel it!
Following this we head off to frozen Norway for the BC Voyager Lofoten ‘Split and Surf’ trip. This is a new location for me, but is one that has a massive reputation for Ski touring and steep terrain. It also happens to be one of Norway’s best ‘Surf’ spots with regular powerful swell. At 4 degrees C the water is going to be a little cold for sure, but its got to be worth a look and if the waves are firing we’ll try to get a morning Split followed by an afternoon Surf…followed by a thaw in the local hot tub!!!
Back in Chamonix we then have a BC Splitboarders Haute Route starting the long journey from Chamonix to Zermatt. This world famous ski touring classic takes in some of the greatest High Mountain wilderness the Alps have to offer. It is a full on, carry everything, hut to hut Splitboard journey through the High Peaks with 8 hour days, on the move, a minimum and should not be underestimated! Big climbs, big descents, big climbs, big descents…you get the idea?
The rewards far outweigh the hardships…Feel the challenge…reap the rewards!
Finally, to cap the season I am once again running my BC Voyager expedition to the East Coast of Greenland.
After an amazing trip in 2011 I swore that I’d be back to the frozen Liverpool land peninsula as soon as possible.
With trips to Norway, Krygystan, Kamchatka getting in the way the last few years I have finally got around to putting this incredible trip back into the calendar.
This is the real deal, a real self sufficient expedition into Greenalands frozen wilderness.
We’ll fly into the deep expanse of frozen unexplored glaciated peaks to the South of the Peninsula and set up our Base Camp.
From here for the next 2 weeks, we’ll Split, Ride and explore the surrounding area, searching out first accents and first descents.
The terrain is very Alpine in character offering steeps, narrow couloirs and huge open faces.
With 24 hour sunlight we can get in 2 trips per day, exploring the different aspects of the terrain as the sun lights them up.
If we get anything like the conditions that we experienced on our last trip there we are in for a truly amazing experience…It’s difficult to explain or describe what its like to wake up to total silence, total solitude and to be surrounded by some of the most amazing Freeride terrain on the planet…with no one else in the queue!!!
So this is my winter season 2016…As you can see, there’s plenty in there for everyone and I should be kept pretty busy.
Right, now to get started on that fitness prep…Bring it on!!!