Monthly Archives: December 2010

Chamonix Gear Guide: Jones Hovercraft

Neil McNab product testing. Photo by Jez Wilson.

Neil McNab is the consummate mountain man: mountain guide, badass climber, talented author, and a big mountain destroyer whether on skis or on his snow-sliding device of choice, a snowboard.

Over the many years he’s been out there shreddin’ the rad, he’s had more than a few boards beneath his feet and he’s come to know the subtle differences between what works and what doesn’t. So when I read the following review on his McNab Snowboarding blog it made me realize that the Jones Hovercraft is not just another cookie cutter snowboard. And what’s really surprising is that the board only comes in a 156cm and is recommended for riders weighing less than 65 kilos. What?! Neil is well over six feet and I’d say he’s carrying at least 85-90 kilos. Just sayin’, don’t let the girly length of this board push you away until you’ve tried it.

Date: 22/12/2010

Oh my God!Just back from a days charging steep and deep in the trees at Courmayeur on my new Jones Hovercraft 156! 

I played around on this board a few days ago on hard pack and crud and it felt amazing. It carves like a big gun with the turn-ability of a 156!

I was pretty impressed.

Today, however, (the last day of my first course the 3 day tech clinic) I rode the Hovercraft in fresh untracked (and tracked) steep and deep powder in the trees in Courmayeur and I was just blown away!

I don’t think I have ever ridden like that before. The speed and manoeuvre-ability through the tight trees was amazing. The stability in the powder, down pillow lines, drops, anything I could throw it at it just handled like nothing else I have ever ridden.

I seriously don’t think snowboarding has ever felt that good and been that much fun!

I feel reborn!

For sure, check out the Jones Hovercraft!

This is a pure freeride board, not a one trick pony like the Burton fish or a swallow, this board can carve it up with the best on the hard pack, steep ice and blasts through the chop. In powder its simply comes into its own, its like standing on a big gun, floating on air and then you just tilt your front foot, slam the power into the tail and it changes direction like f**kin road runner, release the tail and it charges back into the fall line as you disappear into the wave of snow kicked up from your edge.

For me today is what snowboarding is all about, riding with a great crew who are all going for it and eager to learn, having a good laugh in the process and riding some amazing snow. As a bonus, Courmayeur was pretty much deserted except for a few other Chamonix guides skiing with clients.

Well done to the guys this week, they have worked hard, improved loads and reaped the rewards.

Nice one!

Looking forward to trying the Jones Flagships 163 and 168 which should arrive Friday.

All is good in Chamonix!


Learn more about Neil and McNab Snowboarding by clicking here.

Neil McNab

School of Tongue: Answer Me Not by kzxc

Photo: Mic Devor /

Answer Me Not

Guest post by kzxc for whom English is a second language.

Like them or not, they will be there. They can be hard to face or pleasing to your mind. You receive them either way whether you want them or not.


They may come easily to hand or brutally visualize the truth you haven’t looked for. You can seek it for ages or it could be thrown in your face.

We all want to know. It could be the end of a long period of doubt, something that disturbed our minds for decades or a sudden happening that needs to halt. It doesn’t mean we are satisfied or that our knowledge has made us any better, we just know now.

Answers are all around us. We can grab them or simply refuse them just because we don’t like them. It seems easy and practical, like the choice to think about what has just been learned. An answer is the truth about a moment that has passed. Like it or not, it’s the reality.

It’s not there forever though. Circumstances change and what’s known becomes unimportant. The question arises again and an answer must be found.

You can turn every stone in sight, open any window and pass all the bridges but still not be satisfied. You are seeking the absolute truth, the ending to a mind-twisting thought which would put you in total calmness.

If you seek this, you are willing to do anything for the good and for the bad. But to be surely confident with the truth of an answer you will have to light the candle at both ends.

It’s only the good questions and the happy ones that give you that look of confidence. The ugly ones will only put another wrinkle on your face.

But it’s worth it. We have to know. Inside our bodies we’ll feel a cleansing, a glimpse of the truth, and we know what has caused us to wonder why.

How much can we trust another person’s explanation? You know it’s only the answer to his own question even though he thinks he’s got it perfectly right. Are you satisfied or is it only simpler to believe in someone else’s thoughts? If it ended here, the future is history.

Understanding is part of the solution. My answer might not be the same as yours, but if we believe in the same thing then we are stronger and our thoughts are pointing in the same direction. Our minds are at ease and things look brighter.

Walking the lonely alley and not seeking trust in others will put those aging wrinkles on your face. It’s often sad to have known someone who was alone and could not put trust in the thoughts of others, who couldn’t understand the answers of his companions.

When you grow old and pieces fall together, stones can rest and moss can grow. You can lie down and the wrinkles on your face are from wisdom. Then, and only then, have you understood that there is no way to live life without the experience of understanding.

Photo: Paul Lang

Answer Me Not is the second in a three-part series by kzxc.

Chamonix Ice

15 December. Eva Eskilsson of Mountain Spirit Guides in Cogne, Italy.

For those of you who’ve been wondering what the ice conditions are like in Chamonix, Seb Montaz’s video of Korra Pesce climbing Nuit Blanche (WI6) in the Argentiére Basin does a fair job of answering your question.
Of course, Seb’s vid also does a great job of explaining what snow conditions in Chamonix are like as well. Stay tuned for what will no doubt be another blower powder video from Seb in the next few days.

The crew from Mountain Spirit Guides have also been out and about and reporting good conditions in Cogne and Trient.

Mountain Spirit Guides in Cogne, Italy

Mountain Spirit Guides report: "the left ice fall, E Totto Relativo (4+ max), in good condition."

15 December, Mountain Spirit Guides, Cogne, Italia.

15 December, Mountain Spirit Guides, Cogne, Italia.

Mountain Spirit Guides – Trient, Switzerland

16 December. Mountain Spirit Guides report "Le Psychiatre, well formed."

16 December, Mountain Spirit Guides, Le Psychiatre, Trient, Switzerland.

Seb Montaz’s Chamonix Snow Report

Last week was far from ideal – rain down low and strong winds up high. But as you’ll see from Seb Montaz’s latest video report, that didn’t keep the truly dedicated from finding a few powder turns. With a 50cm base at 2000m and 10cm of fresh, Seb and a couple of buddies were able to score some nice turns.

School of Tongue: It’s Very Healthy Asking Questions by kzxc

Photo: Mic Devor /

Editor’s note: Received this contribution back in early autumn, been meaning to get it posted ever since. Man, where does the time go? English is the author’s second language. In order to conserve the original prose I have intentionally refrained from a heavy edit.

It’s Very Healthy Asking Questions

by kzxc.

Summer is taking its last warm breaths. Maybe the receding glaciers around us can get a break from their unstoppable retreat. Some went high and far, some went low and some are gone.

I’d like to think that we didn’t lose ourselves but that we gave ourselves away to the summer activities that we seek so much.

Seek and destroy, leave it in peace, let it go and pave a road behind you that the less fortunate can travel if their desire is to follow. Did you leave any rubbish behind or only sweet crumbles for others to taste and enjoy?

Make a track so gentle that others can feel the sensation of pioneering. Why would you have to do it in another way?! If your preference is to awake the crowds and get your 15 minutes of fame please become a footballer or a TV face.

If your goal is to become money rich, don’t worry. There’s enough out there that anyone could become a millionaire. There ain’t nothing there to stop you. It’s easy and it’s common, so all you got to do is to pick up the instructions that you can gather along the way.

It’s nice to be simple. It makes life easy. Life rolls on in the commuter lane. Time is at hand. You can almost control it.

Be rude, be nude, be prude you can even be glued to your 52″ HDV TV set. Roll a stone over and make some questions, keep it rolling and ask even more.

It’s very healthy asking questions. The answers might not be the ones of a microbiochemist professor’s latest cure for brain cancer but only a napkin to weep your runny red autumn nose with. Still quite satisfying.

Questions could be left unanswered. If this leaves a black hole in your soul don’t try to stop that stone. Let it roll and no moss will ever grow green on it again. It will stay young in its mind, ready to shoot another question at something that is bothering.

In the elements of the nature humans will always be exposed, so is nature to itself too. Not much growth can be found on the stones high above.

Unanswered questions can be revealed by the force of the challenge the elements have given us. They can disappear, diminish or be dissolved by a more concrete mind, focused on minimizing any forthcoming accidents.

When an accident becomes present and instant new questions occur. Those questions must be braced though answers might be hard to find.

Then again, it’s time to let the stone roll.

Photo: Paul Lang

It’s Very Healthy Asking Questions by kzxc is the first in a three-part series for School of Tongue.