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Twice in the Norwegian media in one week!

It caused much amusement with our guests that we were targetted by Norwegian TV, and then by a Norwegian newspaper. Essentially, both media were interested in why we had chosen to spend Easter in Norway. Easy answer - because it is a fabulous place to cross country ski, and the home of the sport.

We spent three weeks with our guests on three different trips, a week centre based at Venabu, then two journeys, the Peer Gynt Trail, and the Trolls Trail. All of these will be featured again in 2016 and dates are already on line for the Peer Gynt and Trolls Trail. They proved hugely popular with our guests this year, and were a joy to guide.

This New Year we will be adding a special week at Venabu, which is a great base for 6 days of cross country skiing. Kick start your New Year with some cross country skiing - fresh mountain air and good exercise followed by perhaps yoga, sauna, or simply cake and coffee! Our hotel arranges a very traditional Norwegian New Year programme on the 31 December, and we can assure you, you will have a brilliant start to 2016. This trip will be on line very soon, and is pitched at our 'beginner plus' level, in other words those of you who have completed our beginners Italian Ski Break, and now wish to take your skiing further with a week in Norway.

The following article about our coffee stop at Vendalen on the Peer Gynt trail will, of course, only be accessible to those of you who speak Norwegian, but nevertheless it amused us to be featured. We had stopped for our lunch at the gorgeous traditional cafe beside the fishing lake at Vendalen, where many Norwegians were enjoying the Easter weekend. The journalist was intrigued to find out why there was a team of non-Norwegian cross country skiers in the area. Doing the Peer Gynt, of course!

If you are Norwegian, maybe you can tell us what the article actually says....

Styrer sjappa på Vendalen

Med barna som salgssjefer og fersk vaffellukt fra bakrommet har vi suksessoppskriften.

HÅKON ODENRUD

Det sier driver av Vendalen kafé, Ståle Nyhus. Sammen med kona Eva, har han og barna Paal(12) og Sivert(10) drevet kafeen i flere år. Helt siden han tok over i 1986 har han tilbragt hver påske der. Ferske vafler, pølser og både kald og varm drikke av mange slag lokker turistene, men også lokale til kafeen kun et steinkast fra Vendalsvatnet.

KUNNE IKKE BLITT BEDRE

En vanlig dag på fjellet i påsken er mildt sagt hektisk. Det kan være så mange som 200 personer innom kaféen. De to sønnene Paal og Sivert er storfornøyde som salgssjefer, men innrømmer at det tidvis kan bli litt mye.

I forgårs fikk vi ikke lov av pappa å gå ut å leke litt engang midt på dagen. Det var så mange folk her, sier Paal og får et mutt og bekreftende nikk fra lillebror Sivert.
Men går greit likevel da, vi kan jo spise litt vafler, sier de. I går spiste jeg vafler for nesten 200 kroner, hvisker Paal mens pappa Ståle er ute i kafeen en liten tur.
Etter stengetid klokken 1700 byr det seg likevel muligheter for å leke ute. Da går gutta opp på Vendalshaugen og fester bindingene på snøbrettet.

På veg ned hopper vi på kulene. Det er kjempeartig, smiler Sivert.

GENERASJONSFORETAK
Ståles besteforeldre var det som startet kafeen. Martha og Martinius Nyhus hadde på 60-tallet ei hytte på Jomfrusto og begynte kafedrift der i det små. Interessen ble større og større og de så seg nødt til å utvide drifta. De kjøpte derfor en stor, tømra driftsbygning fra Steberg og tok med seg stuedelen til Vendalen. I 1971 var drifta i gang for fullt.

Kafeen på Vendalen ligger fryktelig sentralt. 17 kilometer til Gålå, åtte til Fefor og det er heller ikke lange stubben til Kvitfjell. Til disse stedene er det kun mulighet for å gå på ski, noe som gjør området veldig populært, siden vi slipper så mye støy fra bil, sier Ståle.
Det er også ei lita gulrot for ungene å komme fram til kafeen når en familie er ute på skitur, føyer Eva til bak grytene inne på kjøkkenet.
Mens folk kommer inn og ut og en hører det veksles språk fra mange ulike land, forstår en at populariteten har vokst de siste årene.
Det ble kanskje ekstra populært under OL i 1994. Da kom det utrolig mange turister hit, spesielt fra Kvitfjell, sier Ståle.

PÅSKERENN OG PØLSEFEST
Over årene har ting forandret seg. Mens Martha og Martinius drev på 70-tallet kan vi tolke Ståle som at det var lystigere stemning på Vendalen i gamledager. Martha ivra veldig for å ha fester på kafeen. Det ble det naturligvis god stemning av, sier Ståle.
I dag er det påskeskirenn for barn i regi av Søre Lia Hytteforening. Rundt 60 barn deltar på to ulike løyper, den ene på 800 meter og den andre på nærmere to kilometer. Gratis pølser og saft gjør slitne barn blidere etter målgang. På 70-tallet var påskeskirennet for folk i alle aldre. – Da var det langt sterkere dråper som ble servert i løypene, humrer Ståle.

«Vi blir ikke akkurat solbrune i påska».

Ståle Nyhus

INTERNASJONALT BESØK
Folk kommer fra over hele verden for å besøke den koselige og særegne kafeen. Ilana Magder, Alison Smith, Angie McDonald og Lindsay Cannon er fire damer som nyter en kopp kaffe i solveggen på Vendalen. Tre av de fire har reist fra forskjellige land i Europa, men Magder har tatt turen helt fra Canada. Vi er en gjeng på 14 personer som er på tur til Norge nå. Enkelte her har aldri før gått på langrennsski, så det kan bli morsomt, sier Smith fra England. Superlativene spares det ikke på, og selv en kar fra OL-byen Chamonix i Frankrike er strålende fornøyd med fjellområdene i Norge.

Jeg har aldri vært her før, men det er utrolig hyggelige og imøtekommende folk her, samt frisk og god luft. Denne påskesolen her takker vel ingen nei til, sier Blaise Verien som innrømmer at luften av ferske vafler frister såpas at han må forlate intervjuet i noen minutter.

IKKE BARE KAFEDRIFT
Hele påsken er familien Nyhus oppe på Vendalen. Men det ble påskekos selv om det var hektiske dager. Kafeen er oppe fra 10:00 til 17:00, men etter den tid utnytter de muligheten for å gjøre andre ting enn å bare stå bak vaffeljernet.

Jeg vant «fire på rad» de ti siste gangene, sier pappa Ståle på trass til de to i sofaen. Unnskyldningene er mange fra guttene, men en kan med sikkerhet konkludere at familien har konkurranseinstinkt.

På påskeskirennet de to forrige årene var det jeg som vant, sier Paal stolt. Sivert på sin side argumenter flittig i mot, men kryper til slutt til korset.

Ja, vel.. Så har jeg blitt vandt til å tape da, sier han. Tap og vinn med samme sinn er kanskje ikke moralen for familien Nyhus. Men neste år møter de på ny opp ved Vendalsvatnet med kaffe og rykende ferske vafler.

Bildetekst: Paal og Sivert Nyhus betjener kundene på kafeen. Her med de lokale kundene, Iver, Bjørg og Vinja(7) Steig.

På taket: Ståle Nyhus har hatt ansvaret for kafeen siden 1986. Med skue utover Vendalsvatnet er det kanskje ikke rart folk kommer innom på kaffe og bite ti.

Brettkjøring: Paal og Sivert er ute med snøbrett og twin-tip-ski etter stengetid i kafeen. – Utrolig gøy å kjøre på kulene nedover fra Vendalshøgda, sier de.

Fire på rad: Konkurranseinstinktet er til å ta og føle på når Paal og Sivert setter i gang sine faste runder på «Fire på rad».
Turister norske: (f.v) Trond solem og sønnen Einar Solhem(4), Nicolas Kvedalen, Hans og Ruth Ørnulf var noen av de som nøt sola på Vendalen i påska. – Vi kom i dag, så vi har enda ikke fått testa ut skiføre, sier de.

Utenlandsk: Ilena Magder, Alison Smith, Angie McDonald, Blaise Verien og Lindsay Cannon har tatt turen fra andre Canada, France og England. Sammen med ti andre utforska de påske-Norge forrige uke.

We are pleased to confirm that Performance Nutritionist and Clinical Dietitian 'Rebecca Dent' will again be joining us on our 2015 summer Alpine Trail Running Camps.

During our camps Rebecca will be on tap to help you achieve your goals by offering:

- Easy to apply nutrition advice to suit your individual requirements what ever distance/level of your running/running goals
- The opportunity to have a body composition assessment, giving you a bench mark of your current health and fitness status
- On hand practical information whilst running the trails
- Plenty of time for informal discussion, questions, one:one advice during the week
- Take home resources including shopping lists, menu plans, personalised nutrition goals

Rebecca will not be making a note of what people choose to eat and drink, she is there as a resource to ask questions and gain a better understanding of healthy eating and nutrition for running. All meals provided on the camp are both nutritious and delicious and will provide the energy and nutrients you need to fuel your running for the week. Rebecca has overseen the menus provided by Chris at Runners Refuge and of course this is a holiday so puddings, wine and beer are served with the evening meal!

At the end of the summer Rebecca will be taking part in the Gore Tex Trans Alpine Race. Her plight is to ‘walk the talk’ gaining even more understanding about nutrition demands of endurance sports, to then be able to provide even better practical advice to runners for 2016!

Rebecca will be running the event as a female pair and will mainly educate/tweet/blog on nutrition requirements for women in adventure sports. However most of the information will be relevant to both sexes. Some key topics Rebecca will be covering are increased iron requirements for endurance sports, micronutrients, body composition (lighter is not necessarily better!), meeting energy demands in relation to; menstrual function, reproductive health and bone health. In addition, carbohydrate and fat as fuel sources, training nutrition, race strategies and the all essential nutrition for recovery. You can follow her twitter here or read her blogs here.

We wish Rebecca well on her quest and look forward to seeing her in June for our first 2015 camp.

***This trip is guaranteed with places available***.

Rebecca Dent RD, BSc, MSc, IOC Dip
Performance & Vitality Nutrition

Traverse of the Chablais

A fabulous week dicovering the skills required to guide a group across a stunning winter landscape.
A winter training course is part of the route to gaining the International Mountain Leader Award and in March 2014 I attended one on the mountain plateau of Hardangervidda in Norway. The course was provided by Plas y Brenin (http://www.pyb.co.uk), one of the UK's National Mountain Centres. It was led by British Mountain Guides, Simon Hale, Martin Chester and Steve Long, and included such delights as snowshoe journeys, micro navigation, transceiver work and animal tracking.

The IML award qualifies leaders to guide trekking groups in all mountain areas, except on glaciers or where alpinism techniques are needed. An IML can also take groups across snow covered mountains in winter, allowing access to some amazing scenery. In the debrief to my training course, and in preparation for the assessment, I expressed an interest in observing a qualified and experienced IML using the required skills 'for real'. The work of Tracks and Trails was immediately recommended to me, so that I might witness the best practice possible. And so almost a year later I found myself traversing the Chablais in the Haute Savoie with Lindsay Canon and Alex Langdon, as they guided eight clients through dramatic scenery in some exciting snow and weather conditions. The recommendation had been a good one.

The Chablais traverse itself was the brainchild of Lindsay. It's stats are impressive. In 6 days participants clock up over 90kms through snowy terrain - 5310m of ascent, 4710m descent—and, due to the shortness of daylight hours, this is all completed in as little actual walking time as 40 hours. The selected route takes in some impressive scenery, from high cols, ridges and optional peaks to forested valleys. In good weather there are views over to the Mont Blanc Massif, the Cornettes de Bise and Northwest to the Jura. And just when you feel the route can’t get any better, you come across the beautiful winter-deserted villages that make up the high Alpages and enter magical forests with trees transformed by snow into mythical creatures, before starting the descent via a balcony route to the shores of Lake Geneva: a final masterpiece that is entirely satisfying. Careful logistics mean that the clients luggage arrives ahead of them each day and a great selection of hotels provide three course meals, hot showers and comfortable beds, and the occasional jacuzzi and sauna. Did I mention free wifi?

These were the delights of the journey - but of course the trip was full of challenges, too. All participants were required to make each step towards their goal with a level of commitment not necessary on simple day walks. Basecamp was moving and so must they. This is why I was so privileged to be on this walk, both individually and professionally. No view was the same and neither was any decision that needed to be made. It was great to watch Lindsay and Alex using their skills to judge the constantly changing weather pattern of the week in relation to the route. It is hard to catalogue all the excellent practice I observed, but it included a teaching session on snowshoes and avalanche transceivers, group/expectation management, route and day planning in relation to the forecasted and actual snow conditions, liaison with taxi and hotel staff, as well as the soft skills of encouragement and genuine care for client welfare. All this took place in the context of winter conditions, with sometimes thigh-deep snow, when rigorous route finding and navigation skills were needed to minimise the clients' exposure to some truly harsh conditions and to allow for the extra fatigue involved in snowshoeing.

The happy smiles of the group each night, when - after being blasted by dramatic weather and amazing views -they arrived safely at their well-earned hotels, said it all. The sense of achievement by the shores of Lake Geneva were bitter sweet, as it is after all journeys that are completed in such style. The goal had been reached, but the fun was over and it was time for the parting of new friends. And as for me, I can only be truly grateful to Tracks and Trails for allowing me to be part of such a fantastic week, for the advice, instruction and encouragement received and for a clear demonstration of the standards required for the IML award, which has put me one step closer on the journey towards qualification.

David Barber, Trainee International Mountail Leader

In 2007, aged 30, I began to follow my passion for Nordic skiing and start the journey of adding it to my sports coaching skill set.

With the encouragement and enthusiasm from both Nigel Williams (my previous employer at Scotland's National Outdoor Training Centre Glenmore Lodge) and Tania Noakes (now an IFMGA guide and BASI Nordic Trainer) I qualified as a Nordic Ski Instructor through BASIthe British Association of Snowsport Instructors.

Some 7 years, several courses, assessments and sliding on white stuff later I am now delighted to have reached BASI's highest Nordic Ski Teaching level. Having then completed further modules & courses including a second snowsport discipline I am now a member of the International Ski Instructors Association. Yeeha!

As part of the ISIA students must complete a research paper on a element of snowsport teaching. Using my background as a personal trainer and interest in health and fitness I chose to research age in relation to snowsport. My study appropriately entitled 'Is 72 the New 30?' explores the ages of those participating in snowsport, the physiological signs of ageing and how we can stay fit & healthy on the slopes later on in life.

My research did of course did conclude that ageing is not something that we can hide from, but we can reduce some of the physical effects of ageing with a balance of a healthy eating and taking regular exercise, which therefore has positive results not just in respect of our snowsports but throughout life.

If not teaching I certainly plan to still be skiing at 72 and hope you do to!

Julia

You can download my research project here. Thoughts & feedback most certainly welcome.

NEW FLASH!!! We are delighted to have our Alpine Trail Running Camp featured in the Telegraph's lifestyle magazine Stella Magazine today. Ranked as top in ten fitness destinations around the world find out how running & holiday can be used in the same sentence when journalist Ben Arogundade joined us for a week of sunny trail running, healthy food & fun times with like-minded people. If you missed the hard copy you can still download part of the article here: "Destination: A New You!"

During long winter days when the temperatures are below zero often energy snacks freeze in your pockets, resulting in a jaw breaking battle to eat them! Here are some simple ideas and tips to help you fueled up and on the move:

1. DIY trail mix - add more nuts than fruit and cut up dark chocolate into small pieces so it melts in your mouth quicker.
2. Sports waffles/wafers are less likely to freeze such as honey stingers wafer bar made by PowerBar
3. Shock Bloks from Cliff Bar do not freeze
4. Whole grain crackers spread with peanut nut butter (e.g. oat cakes)
5. Wraps filled with peanut butter and banana or cheese and meat: cut the wrap in half and fold up - they're small and compact.
6. Use a sports bottle and add cooled boiled water to delay freezing. Additionally adding a sports powder/drink will lower the freezing point of the water.
7. Invest in a small Thermos: add hot chocolate / soups as a warm snack.
8. Often a home made chewy granola bar filled with nuts, seeds and oats is less likely to freeze than a sugary sports gel or bar.

Practical Ideas
1) Place snacks in an inside pocket next to your body but within easy access.
2) Get used to unwrapping snacks with your gloves for speed, efficiency to prevent hands getting cold.
3) Cut up snacks small before heading out.
4) If using a sports bottle an insulated sleeve (can be home made with a square of carry mat) to wrap the bottle.
5) With a bladder system an insulator sleeve and hose insulator will help. Cut the length of the tube to the shortest length (to minimise freezing) and always blow back down the tube after taking a drink.
6) Nalgene bottles with a wider opening can be filled with boiled water can be covered with an insulator sleeve and stored upside down to prevent the ice from forming at the opening of the bottle.
7) Nalgene bottles also make great hot water bottles for over nights in cold huts or tents.
8) Place the water bottle/bladder pack close to your body.
9) If using a small back pack then this can be worn underneath your winter jacket.

Written by Rebecca Dent - High Performance Dietitian - January 2015
@Rebecca_Dent
rebecca@rebeccadent.co.uk

Cross Country Skiing is a great way of staying fit for other sports.

Jim Wilkinson, a guest of Tracks and Trails, talks about how cross country has made an impression on him, and his training as a rower. He joined us last winter for our Italian Ski Break, and then a few weeks later for our Haute Savoie Ski Safari, making an impressive progression from 'beginner' to confident 'intermediate'.

"My passion, my sport, is rowing. I’ve always loved water sports, swimming, windsurfing but always rowing. There is so much technical stuff to master and then there’s the satisfaction of all the effort too. There’s always something to perfect. A couple of years ago a friend suggested we try cross-country skiing and last year I had some spare holiday so booked on one of the Italian Ski Weekends. Oh boy was I hooked! I booked a second, longer trip with Tracks and Trails returning to the frozen water just a couple of weeks later.

What gripped me, apart from the amazing scenery, get company, excellent tuition, was the similarity with my passion sport. So many of the coaching phrases used by Lindsay and Julia could have been aimed at a crew. In last month’s issue of British Rowing’s magazine there was an article about cross training - lo and behold cross country skiing was featured.

Just like rowing novice I started off using a lot of effort and no technique. I had to work hard to keep up with the group. Getting to grips with the drive, just like the rowing 'catch', started to tip the balance from grunt to grace; well, in my mind at least. I’m back for more this year, so much to learn and an awesome workout!

I challenge you to try to keep up with Lindsay and Julia; as they cover far more distance each day skipping from the head of the spread out group to the tail and back again.

If you want a balance and core workout in a different environment I heartily recommend cross country skiing - but only with Tracks and Trails!

James Wilkinson, Coach and Captain of Pengwern Boat Club, Shrewsbury, Shropshire"

Two new transport options launched within weeks have made getting to the Alps even easier this winter. Eurostar recently announced a faster, more direct train service between London and Geneva, and now easyBus is to launch a new bus service on 20 December. The new bus line, developed by the 'easy' brand will run 32 times per day between the international airport in Geneva, Switzerland, and the alpine capital of Chamonix.

Bookings will open on Monday, 1 December, with the first 15,000 seats being offered for only 2 Euros each. The timetable offers plenty of opportunity to meet even the early morning flights with the first bus leaving Chamonix train station at 0415hrs, and the last leaving Geneva Airport at 0045hrs. The service is direct, and non-stop.

To launch the service seats are available for only 2 Euros each way, with normal fares starting at 5 Euros. The later you book the more expensive it will be, so it will be interesting to see what it is likely to cost for an average fare, and one booked just a week beforehand. We will be watching with interest!

Already a number of local companies offer airport transfers between the airport and Chamonix, such as Mountain Drop Offs with the average cost being around 30 Euros each way. These have for many years offered a very efficient service, and we hope that they will continue to do so, even if the new bus service appears to beat the price.

This is easyBus’ first Continental European service, operating in partnership with one of the existing transfer companies, Chamexpress. The Geneva to Chamonix route was selected because of the high volume of demand that exists between the two locations.

According to Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the “easy” brand owner: “For too long Alpine sports fans have found airport transfers expensive and difficult. We will provide a high quality service for them and their equipment, at a value-for-money price. I’m confident we can make a big impact on Chamonix’s year-round skiing, climbing and hiking holiday seasons.”

It is inevitable that the new bus service will impact on the local transfer companies, but hopefully there will be enough business for everyone to contiinue to improve the transfer service to Chamonix which in turn can only benefit the local economy as a whole.

www.easyBus.co.uk

Performance Dietitian Rebecca Dent joins Tracks and Trails to give us top nutritional advise on how to eat to keep eat ourselves healthy this winter!

"As the Winter season is about to commence now is the best time to think ahead and get ready for staying well and thriving during the coming months. What you eat from day to day will impact your energy levels, recovery from a long day on the snow, level of ability to ski day after day and overall health and well being. Those who have daily eating practices that emphasise good quality food, who are fuelled and hydrated adequately will be guaranteed to improve their performance on the snow, increase recovery, reduce the risk of injury and reduce occurrence and severity of illness.

Top Tips:-

1) Plan ahead - Create a shopping list of nutritious food items and plan daily nutritious meals to eat and healthy snacks to take to the mountains.

2) Eat enough energy! Make sure you are eating enough energy to sustain you for the full day, or recovery and refueling ready for the next day on the slopes! Carbohydrate is the preferred fuel supply at altitude so it is important to eat foods rich in this nutrient e.g. oats (porridge/muesli/homemade flapjack or energy bars, oat cakes with peanut butter/boiled eggs), potatoes (frittata, sweet potato fish pie, sweet potato mash with salmon), rice (chicken curry, brown rice with tuna and avocado, brown rice with chick pea and spinach, rice cakes with cottage cheese).

3) Eat nutrient dense foods as part of each meal and snack to make sure your body is getting what it needs to support exercise and health e.g. oily fish, red meat and offal, milk and Greek yoghurt, eggs, green leafy vegetables, potatoes, dark chocolate, berries, nuts and seeds, citrus fruits, avocados and olives, garlic and turmeric.

4) Eat iron and antioxidant rich foods: Living and exercising at altitude also places a greater demand on the body for particular nutrients such as iron and antioxidants. Make sure your daily diet is rich in foods containing these nutrients. Iron rich foods include; red meat, offal, pate, lentils, kidney beans, green leafy vegetables, apricots, dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, quinoa and brown rice. Antioxidant rich foods include; berries, citrus fruits (lemons, limes, oranges, tomatoes, kiwi), dark green leafy veg (spinach, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, cabbage), nuts & seeds, red grapes, sweet potatoes, avocados and green tea.

Eating well day after day will also help you reach your full fitness and skill potential of your winter sport and also maximise the enjoyment of your day."

Stay tuned for Rebecca`s next blogs;

i) Breakfast suggestions (start the day as you meant to go on)

ii) The pros and cons of snacks portability, energy content, ease of digestion (freezing weather/breaking teeth!)

iii) Maintaining hydration at altitude and in the cold.

Produced by: Rebecca Dent - High Performance Dietitian November - 2014 www.rebeccadent.co.uk Twitter: @Rebecca_Dent

 

Great news for train lovers this winter with a new Eurostar train service from London to Geneva. Although it has been possible to take the train to the Alps previously, the new service makes it a whole lot easier. Until now taking the train from the UK meant a change in Paris, arriving at Gare du Nord before departing from Gare de Lyon. During busy times this transfer can take up to an hour.

The new service, working with TGV Lyria, means you only have to switch platforms at Lille, with a maximum wait of 30 minutes. In total London to Geneva is possible in 6 hrs and 18 minutes, at least one hour shorter than before and considerably easier.

Tickets went on sale on October 9. with the first service leaving London on December 14. According to The Telegraph "A refurbishment of Lille station is underway, in order to accommodate more connecting passengers. Eurostar will operate four daytime services each week, carrying up to 900 passengers to and from Geneva’s central station."

The new service is the result of a survey which revealed Geneva as one of the most popular destinations in Europe for travellers from the UK.
As well as being a gateway to the Alps and the European headquarters for the United Nations, Geneva has a rich and colourful history of religious turmoil and revolution, a handful of fascinating museums and grand monuments, as Sophie Butler reported for Telegraph Travel last year.

The route will also mean easier access to other Swiss cities, with connections which will benefit our guests, to towns like Aigle, Martigny, Sion, Sierre, Visp and Brig.

Research has shown that more and more people wish to travel by train to reach the Alps. With the ability to travel from city centre to city centre, and a generous baggage allowance it is expected the new service will prove popular.

Already a number of our guests use the Eurostar/TGV to reach our desinations for our snowshoe and cross country ski holidays.

Lindsay

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