Monthly Archives: July 2009

POC on the Bloc

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graphic design:

Hell yeah, Chamonix is a two-wheeled town. A quick spin through the streets and you’ll see everything from mountain bikes worth more than any car I’ve ever owned to punk BMXers to super-tech road racers to an eclectic array of coffee bikes (not to be confused with cafe racers). So when I say the CHX Massif is rollin large, yo, it really has nothing to do with any sort of gangsta activity at all (we could use a lot less o’ that actually), it’s all about the bikes, man.

So it’s nothing but hearts and flowers from our end when we hear about a new bike event in town. Seems as though new kids on the block, POC – the brand who not only brought high design to our high street but who also share our fanatical enthusiasm for bikes – have decided to throw a bit of a freewheelin’ fiesta in front of the shop.

This Thursday, 30 July, is going to be Magic. Magic as in, they’ll be building a big, magical ramp in front of the store that pro riders Remy Meugnier, Florian Gabit and the silky smooth sweet3tablemartinMartin Söderström will use to magically change themselves from surly, angst-ridden, disaffected youth into super-talented, high-flying stuntmen. Spoonbread and DJ Blo are going to be spinning their own kinda funkytown magic and there’s going to be wheelie and ollie competitions open to anyone with the self-perceived skills to enter. If all that doesn’t blow your hair back then you can watch the latest and greatest action sports vids on the big magic screen. Man, the POC crew have thought of everything (except, tragically, a ping pong table).

But for sure the best thing about this whole phat tire fandango is how local retailers have rallied around the event by donating prizes to be raffled off with all proceeds going to Wheels 4 Life, a non-profit organization set up by legendary rider Hans Rey that provides bikes for people in developing countries.

So big ol’ high-flyin’ doubkle shakas to POC’s Toya and Malin from the valley’s two-wheeled tribe. We’ll be hosing off the mud and polishing up the chrome in preparation for Thursday.


Call of the Yeti

Many of you might have noticed quite the flurry NickMeekYetiof yeti activity in and around Chamonix recently. Whether it’s the result of all those pesky tourists infringing on their natural habitat or the sudden and cataclysmic fermeture of the alpine slide that has caused the shy but fun-loving man beasts to venture further afield remains to be seen. Whatever the case, noted yeti groupie, Nick Meek, is hard at work on his soon-to-be-published book, Call of the Yeti, featuring photo documentation of the rare beast.

I’m making it into an interesting little art piece actually. It’s going to feel like something you might find in the vaults of the British Museum. There’ll be a story about a fictitious explorer that has been tracking the yeti for years. [The medium is] hot metal printed on old bible paper. The entire thing will be in an old folder tied together with an old piece of twine. We should have it finished in a couple of months.

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Men In Lycra


Alberto Contador - overall leader riding into Stage 16

For all you Tour de France fans out there you’re probably disappointed to know the shaved leg crew won’t be spinning through Chamonix. They will however be within an hour or two’s ride from here. Check out these stages:

21 July – Martigny > Bourg St MauriceMartigny-BourgPro

This 159km stage has two big climbs: the first from Martigny (547m) to Col du Grand-Saint-Bernard (2473m) Col du Grand-Saint-Bernard is an Hors Category 24.4km climb to 6.2%.

The second climb from Sarre (631m) to Col du Petit-Saint-Bernard (2188m) is a Category 1 22.6 km climb to 5.1%.


22 July – Bourg St Maurice > Le Grand Bornand (169.5km)BourgGdBornandPro

This is the Tour’s densest mountain stage with five passes that count toward the best-climber classification. The challenges will rise with the terrain and the relatively short distance promises a decisive struggle between the front-runners. The climb to Romme Pass, a Tour first, will make the ascent to Colombière Pass, which starts at Reposoir, even more gruelling.


July 23 – Annecy Individual Time Trial (40.5km)

Anyone who has ever ridden around Lac d’Annecy AnnecyProhas dreamed of this stage. It remains to be seen whether this stage will play a significant role in determining the race or if the winner will have been determined in the previous mountain stages. Regardless, this stage is sure to be a huge lake party. Don’t miss it.


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OutDoor With The Insider (Next Year’s Gear From the Halls at Friedrichshafenpfeffer)

It’s rare that The Insider ventures beyond the protective bubble of Chamonix but the lure of next year’s gear was just too much to resist. So off to the OutDoor show in Friedrichshafen I went.

Veteran showgoers were overwhelming in their opinion that there wasn’t that much new at this year’s show but the Insider is a hardcore gear junkie and a dedicated showfloor crawl turned up quite a few products that had his heart going pitter patter.


Although the left-handed spork (no, I’m not making this up) made a strong showing, it didn’t take too many rounds of hefeweisen for the Insider’s illustrious panel of judges to bestow this year’s highly-coveted Sex-On-A-Sling Award to DMM for their single stem, twin axle Dragon cams. Why? Well how about…

DMMdragon• hot forged lobes

• narrow 13.75 cam angle holds better over wider range

• replacement trigger wire system

• 6 sizes – 20mm to 114mm

• extendable 11mm dyneema sling

• available February 2010

Drawbacks: Stem could be a bit more flexible but we’re guessing this will improve in a coupla years when BD’s patents expire.

Spectre 2IMG_8771_2

Ever since DMM introduced the Phantom we’ve been a sucker for their unique blend of lightenss (25.5g), strength and functionality.

The new Spectre 2 uses the same I Beam construction as the Phantom but employs a wider 27mm gate and wider basket yet still weighing in at a meager 33g making it the biner of choice when light, strong and fast is the goal.

Five Ten

Over at Five Ten we ran into Owner / CEO Charles Cole Pythonwho gave us the inside scoop on a shoe that’s currently in the works and is being designed specifically for maximum sensitivity on overhanging routes. The shoe has a 2mm sole making it not only lighter but also greatly increases the ability to grip with your toes. And as if that’s not enough,  the new Mystique rubber compound makes it more durable than a normal 4mm sole. Potential names for the shoe are Tiger or the Python and it’s slated to hit retail stores in Spring 2010.

5.10TeamWhat else is new from 5.10? How about the new Team 5.10 designed for bouldering and cutting edge sport routes using a 3.5mm Mystique rubber sole.


Hell, there’s even a pair of Five Ten Yosemite jeans coming soon to a climbing shop near you. If you imagined that the stitching on the pocket looks vaguely familiar then you won’t be surprised to hear it’s an image of Half Dome where 5.10’s owner is responsible for a coupla nice lines.

5.10FreeriderAnd since we’ve gone this far we might as well also mention the flash new Freerider skate/downhill/parcours/chillaxin’ shoe. A coupla the mad slackliners were rockin these kicks and they seemed to be doing workin for them so why not, eh?

And speakin of slackliners…

Black Diamond

Right. Enough o’ that. Back to the showBDpoon floor and the next stop is our friends over at Black Diamond where the worker bees in the Swiss chalet sitting inconspicuously in the heart of Salt Lake Shitty have pulled a few more tricks from their tight-fitting sleeves. Witness the new stainless steel crampon. Why stainless steel? It’s lighter (up to 226g per pair), more durable, and less snowball prone because the smoother surface sheds snow better. Oddly, there wasn’t a word mentioned about how totally pimp the stainless looks, which was  a severe oversight if you ask me. But hey, back to the tech stuff … BD has designed these babies with a low pro heel bail, 5mm shorter down points that work better with today’s more flexible climbing boots, shorter, 3D rails for stiffness, and a narrower front rail for … erm … narrower ice and stuff. Maybe.

BDfusionPerched right next to the poons were a sick new pair of BD tools called the Fusion that look like the lovely offspring born from a hazy encounter between a svelte alpine tool and an overhanging ice/mixed meat hook after a long night of pole dancing at LeTof. The Fusion features a single-bolt head that can be changed in the field without additional tools, investment-cast hammer that adds versatility and balance, a stiff yet lightweight hydroformed shaft, an adjustable over-moulded grip, and a removable spike. These things look like a perfect tool for CHX ice and I look forward to personally reviewing a pair in the near future (hint, hint – anyone from BD in the audience?) for the greater good of our close-knit and highly-influential community.


Last summer at OutDoor, Petzl made a huge Petzlimpact with the show’s best party featuring a piña colada cow that had clearly been on a rum-intensive diet, and the notorious LaFouche (formerly 0f Chamonix) bangin out progressive house long after the show ended. This year, we missed out on the cow costumes but we found a new range of headlamps and the new, suh-weet looking Elia women’s helmet. This sky blue helmet with pink accents and adjustable leaf-shaped vents is more than just a pretty face. It has a unique Omega headband system that arcs in the back to accommodate ponytails, headband adjustment buttons on the side, and removable/washable foam padding. Let me just say that as a guy whose girlfriend/climbing partner hates her current helmet, I can’t wait til this thing hits the market.


ArcteryxAltrasFor Spring 2010 Arc’teryx brings us the Altras trekking pack which include a MonoFrame™, a rotating Load Transfer Disc™, and adjustable GridLock™ shoulder strap adjustment system. The Altras also features air-permeable shoulder straps and hipbelts and Vapor™ thermoforming components that conform to the user’s body. Altras will be available in 75L, 65L, and a women-specific 62L.


Also new from Arc’teryx is the Delta LT Jacket (right) made from lightweight, breathable Polartec® Classic Micro Velour Small Grid Fleece that. Like many Arc’rertyx pieces, makes it a great piece for both the trail and the bar.

Another nice piece to look forward to from the innovative Canadians is the Accelero Jacket that looks like it would be perfect for all-weather trail running. This full-zip, trim-fit jacket is built with a double-weave polyester for superior breathability, moisture wicking and stretch. It also features an inner layer of bamboo charcoal for moisture and odor control.


Or for those of you who get better results when you’re running the cyborg look, you’ll without a doubt be running the Shark Running Jacket from X-Bionic, the company that “turns sweat into energy”. In addition to head-turning style, the Shark features technology that you probably never knew you needed, including…

heat-diffuser ducts, SpaceFrame™ Technology elements, rib-structured special insulating areas, an anatomically-shaped shoulder that avoids the formation of wrinkles and, when required, a collar that can be opened to increase your neck protection against cold squalls.

Y’know, I’ve been in the mountains for more than a few years and I’ve never thought of opening my collar to increase my protection against cold squalls. It just goes to show the kind of things you can learn at a trade show, eh?

Light My FireSpork

And following along from the Shark perhaps this is an appropriate time to mention the latest innovation in backcountry dining technology, the left-handed spork from Light My Fire. Stuff a coupla these babies into your pack and the next time your partner spills his chicken soup on your new down sleeping bag and claims, “Whoops, sorry dude. Two left hands,” you can simply pull this sucker out and … stab him to death with it. There might be other uses as well.


Oh, but I digress. Back on track here and it’s a wander by the Primus booth and what did we find there but the new ExpressSpider weighing in at less than 200g. The pre-heating tube ensures that fuel reaches the burner only in gaseous form so there is no danger of flares. And its low center of gravity means less chance of spills. (If it’s starting to sound like I’ve got a bit of experience with the whole spilled pot thing, you’re right).

Sigg also introduces a stainless steel wide-mouth bottlePrimusSteelBottle which is long ocverdue in my opinion. Stainless steel is strong, food safe, corrosion proof and free from anything that’s going to turn your finely-tuned body into a walking cancer colony. And of course, the wide mouth makes it easier to the thing with electrolyte mix, soup, tea, ice cubes or margarita mix. It also features a smart dual lid with a wide opening which makes it easier to fill and clean and a small opening that is easier to drink from when you’re moving. Two different sizes: .6L that weighs 175g and 1.0L weighing 220g.

Compagnie du Mont Blanc To Appoint New Directeur Général


Big haps in Chamonix today as the Board of Directors of the Compagnie du Mont-Blanc announce the news they will meet tomorrow (Friday 17 July) at 11am to appoint Mr. Mathieu Dechavanne as the new Directeur Général.

Mr. Dechavanne, aged 37, studied management in France and the United States and has devoted most of his career to the automotive industry. In his last position Mr. Mathieu Dechavanne was Division Director of the German company OEM Mahle GmbH where he was in charge of four sites in Europe (Annecy – Scotland – Italy and Slovakia) and a technology center in England. Prior to that he was President of the site in Annecy that was won an award for best INSEAD factory in 2006.

It is expected that Dechavanne will officially take office sometime in September.

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