Why Begin Cross Country Skiing this Winter? It’s the perfect boost for your running fitness
Cross country skiing (a.k.a. Nordic skiing, or ski de fond) is currently enjoying a serious renaissance. Like the boom in road cycling and ultra trail running that’s taken the UK and US by storm in recent years, it’s no longer just nerdy endurance geeks and burly army boys who are hooked on this now-fashionable-again winter sports pursuit. Unlike their Scandinavian forefathers, today’s Nordic newschoolers are decked out in on-trend, technical gear (from brands such as Oakley, Maloja and Salomon), while events such as the Vasaloppet in Sweden have attracted celebrity participants including Kate Middleton’s sister, Pippa. The Swiss Engadin Marathon – one of the biggest XC Ski events (even looks cool in writing!) has between 11,000 and 13,000 participants every year.
Snowshoeing using the latest lightweight equipment has opened up a whole new world to those who previously thought mountain walking was only a summer activity. Snowshoeing is neither technical or complicated and allows access to a wonderful snow covered playground. You don't need any prior experience to snowshoe in the Alps, just some warm clothes and a sense of adventure! With a little guidance you can soon pick up the skills: we regularly see whole families wandering through magical snow covered forests or across high meadows enjoying the views normally only afforded to mountaineers or skiers. There is also the myth that it's all hard work. Indeed, if you happen to have to break the trail it’s a bit of a workout, but if there is a trail already there, and there often is, then it's really no harder than normal hill walking.
Our Family Walking Tour around Mont Blanc with Tracks and Trails was a really fantastic experience. We started the week feeling rather nervous about what lay ahead of us, but once we had done our acclimatisation walk to Lac Blanc and got to know a little bit about our really helpful, fun and nice guide, Julia, I felt much better and more confident about the whole thing. The first day was great, and we saw our first alpine animal- a chamois (a sort of mountain goat), which was really exciting!
For the first time this autumn we are offering a week of Nordic walking and yoga in a gorgeous chalet in the Aravis area of the French Alps. Our base is Chalet le 4, with its great food, endless swimming pool, decking for yoga, gym and massage room, and, of course, the mountain location which is truly breathtaking. We love it there!
Nordic skiing and snowshoeing in the Alps and Norway can be amazing value!
Making a trip across the Atlantic for a winter break cross country skiing or snowshoeing doesn’t have to be expensive. It’s a misconception that venturing to Europe need be a once in a lifetime endeavour! In fact now’s a better time than ever to make the most of a great Dollar/Euro exchange rate that works in your favour - the US Dollar hasn’t been this strong against the European single currency for 10 years! Norway too is more affordable than ever for our guests from the United States ($1 bought you less than 6 Norwegian Krone last year in 2014 - now it’s up more than 35% in the past 12 months to just over 8.5 Norwegian Krone!).
Running is so perfectly simple – if it’s good weather, all you need are your shoes, t-shirt, shorts, socks & you are ready to step out the door!
Ben Arogundade of the Daily Telegraph has written a great piece on Julia’s trail running camps in the Chamonix valley. Ben admits to a little nervousness at first about the running that lay ahead; whilst the distance was not a problem, trail running (off-road across undulating terrain in Chamonix at altitude) might well prove to be! For Ben trail running was a very different experience from anything before, however, our guests were all helped by an amazing team of specialists including a massage therapist, yoga and Pilates teachers and Neil Maclean-Martin, the Chamonix-based physio of the Team GB Olympic squad, all of whom assisted with everything needed!
Twice in the Norwegian media in one week!
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.