“I found myself naked in a cave with a woman who spoke no English chucking buckets of hot water over me…”
Snooks Co-Founder, Sophie, took a solo trip to the High Atlas Mountains to make the most of the May bank holiday…
This year I thought I’d set myself a goal of climbing a mountain that wasn’t in the UK! Not that I am particularly experienced at climbing mountains in the UK, but hey, the challenge sounded fun! So on New Year’s Eve, when a friend recommended Morocco, I thought why the hell not and bought some flights for just little old me to see what this solo adventure thing could rustle up as an experience! Safe to say I did not know what I was letting myself in for!
After a brief, vibrant, crazy couple of days hanging out in the over-whelming souks of Marrakech, where the air is rife with merchant chants, snake charmers, street performers, henna artists, spices, perfume and enough street food to tease the tastebuds to the moon and back…. I tottled along to the foothills of the mountain to go say hey to the top of Mount Toubkal. The night before I left the hostel, I overheard a Candian Guy Jimmy speak about the Toubkal trek (this little hill I planned to conquer in the morning) and said “hey! I am leaving in the morning, want to come with!? He was super on board, and off we left at 7am the next morning…me and my new mate Jimmy! A bus ride away to the village Imlil where you begin at the foothills of the mountain we eagerly began the slow and slightly daunting ascent. Luckily we were stopped by some local berbers who almost laughed at our ill preparation and lack of gear and higgghly recommended we rent some crampons and at least a sleeping bag. Yes we thought this sounds like a good idea. Turned down the offer of a mule to carry our things and headed along the dusty and winding trail. We were on our way!
3 hours in I thought okay, a slightly tougher stroll than I had anticipated. Half time oranges:
6 hours later we arrived at a 5 star accommodation for the night.
Okay it looks VERY basic bus after a heck of a walk, the hot plate of food and open fire and prospect of a bed was hugely inviting! Back to basics and no wifi here and it was great! (Apart from the 60 year old german couple who coughed and spluttered next to me all night but I was just too impressed at the fact that they had summitted that day to even be annoyed!)
7am the next morning. Ohhhhh that’s what the crampons are for!
By 10am we were close to the top, hit with a bout of altitude fever, I had a little moment to talk to myself where I felt at this point I maybe couldn’t go on. The wind was against us and my head felt up my arse! The summit was so close but so far! Will power and determination and the prospect of a view over the Hight Atlas Mountain range and across North Africa dragged us through. Needless to say, despite the wind nearly blowing us off, the views were breath-taking!
Now for the long 7 hour walk back down to the bottom, where at this point, I decided I fancied staying another night near the foothills of the mountain, found a berber guide who said I could stay in his guest (ahem, mud) house near the bottom of the mountain, and Jimmy and I went our separate ways. See ya on your visit to England Jimmy you legend! Anyway, here I proceeded to have a lovely dribble of a hot shower, exquisite hosting followed by top notch food poisoning a traditional berber hammam where I found myself naked in a cave with a woman who spoke no English chucking hot buckets of water over me, (I also had food poisoning at this point but that is a WHOLE other story) I trekked on down the mountain feeling invigorated, refreshed and serene, (and slightly violated after the hamman, and a little bit sick from some real dodgy stomach situation, but I don’t think this is the general aftermath).
Ok so it’s not every everyday we get opportunities like this BUT everyday does have the opportunity to have an adventure. WE thought we’d some get some outdoors motivation for all you girls who just need a little nudge to hop across the garden fence. With the weather in the UK getting warmer, who says you need a whole week, a trip abroad or lots of money to get the adventure going!? Think about it, you work say, 9-5, there’s still 5-9 of time to go somewhere! Get lost! Explore what you are capable of!
You’ll be surprised how many new places you can find practically on your doorstep….
Adventurer, explore and motivational speaker Alistair Humphrey’s concept of the microadventure is certainly pioneering; he’s won awards for it! It’s all about encouraging people to get outdoors, explore and step out of that comfort zone because lets be honest, it’s a beautiful place but nothing ever grows there! Even it is half an hour away from your house, get off the sofa, and fill your lungs with fresh air,
grab a mate and go watch the sunset. If you are feeling super brave then get yourselves a bivvy bag and to hell with it. Sleep under the stars! Try it, you’ll feel invigorated. Life is not blessed upon you to pay the bills and die, ha brutal but it’s true!
We recently attended an event where we heard one of the best and cheekiest adventure stories from Squash Falconer on how she began her journey of exploring. She decided she wanted to motorbike to South of France, climb the majestic Mont Blanc and paraglide off it, making her the first female to do so. She told BMW she had this awesome adventure planned, supported by the BBC and the told the BBC she had this unbelievable adventure planned, supported by BMW. Before she knew it both were on board and she was off. You go Squash!
I mean YOU could even just have a quick googlemap to the nearest place where you can find water….and jump in! Get out there girl, there’s a whole there out there you know!
Snooks love x
Continuing the Guest Blog Series!! It is our pleasure to welcome one of our sponsored riders, Angelica Sykes, to the stage!!! Here’s what she’s got to say….
Occupation: Pro Freerider
Sports: Freeride snowboard, MTB
Skiing or Snowboarding: come on!
Hobbies: Snowboarding and working out- I love the gym. Other than that I am very much a family gal so hanging with family, friends and the dog is just what I love.
Worse Job: Holiday Rep for ski and snowboard holidays. You literally couldn’t make up some of the crazy things you see and hear. I learnt so much and I LOVE telling the stories to people!
Who inspires you: Kjersti Buaas is an incredible athlete. She embodies the image of female empowerment. She is strong and wise and I really look up to her in my career. Not to mention she is the nicest gal ever- well so I imagine. They say, never meet your hero’s but I think it would be incredible.
Secret Talent: I can twerk. Like upside down against the wall twerking. It’s my party trick. I look ridiculous but I secretly enjoy it!
Favourite Quote: “ Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. Albert Einstein”
Guilty Pleasure: New Girl- It doesn’t matter how many times I see it, I find it hilarious and I feel seriously shady watching it now for fear of being labelled a total loser! That and eating Lotus biscuit spread straight from the jar!
So it is that time of year again. We start scouting the internet for the best deals on new board boots and accessories, we’ve been to the ski show in London and we see what Netflix has to offer in the ski and snowboard movie department! We find ideas, pictures and videos on social media that give us that preseason stoke.
This winter, unlike last year, there is an element of suspense, an air of promise- after all, for us northern hemi riders, anything has got to be better than the terrible winter that was season 2015/16. I had a miserable time and I am not afraid to admit that. My career went come being British Freeride Champion to hurtling at 100mph into a pit of debt and boardem. I am very happy to simply right last winter off. In any normal “Career” people would expect to have low points and times of quiet reflection, well last season was that time for me. I have done some soul searching this summer, probably while I was working 5 jobs and not actually having a day off in 6months and I have come to conclusion – This winter is going to kick butt! I have saved money (and paid off the bank of mum and dad from last winter) I have reached a level of physical fitness that I am finally happy with and with a new positive outlook and some awesome people behind me (Like the snooks gals) I know this winter is going to be a success no matter where I place in the comps. I want to give this winter all the energy and resources to ensure I get to where I want to go; I am just not sure where that is yet, I do know I want to inspire females to take up freeride and become involved in this sport that I believe is so deeply empowering it its nature.
I am embarking upon filming my all girls freeride project too with two amazing filmers/photographers- I have every faith that these two will help me bring my vision to life. I want to show every stage of freeride day:
“The planning, the fitness, the equipment, the hike and everything leading up to that all important descent!”
This way I can show girls how incredible off piste riding is and why it teaches you about life as well as the technicalities of skiing and boarding. I find the mountains to be my place of worship, where I meditate and think about life and what I want from it. I can feel all the happy hormones released as I head down the mountain-riding the powder like a white wave. Most importantly, I would say is that Backcountry riding helps you feel strong, powerful and puts your knowledge, intelligence and patience to the test. Any stereotypes about females will surely be shot when people can see how we handle the pressure in the offpiste and end up on top like the total badass queens we are!
Anywho, follow me on Insta, Twitter and Facebook using the handle @angelicasykesuk and on snapchat- angelicasykes. Follow me on my journey, hit me up with your questions. I am out in the mountains as we speak and would love to hear from you!
By Angelica Sykes
Thanks Gels. Legend x
We are stoked to introduce, the first of our Guest Blog Series!! Check out these mountain moves from Sam Scott, content Manager at Snow+Rock Group! But first, a quick profile so you can get to know her, keeping it real:
Occupation: Content Manager @ Snow+Rock Group
Sports: Snowboarding, Surfing, Running, Cycling, Swimming, Yoga and Pilates
Skiing or Snowboarding: Snowboarding
Ambitions: My aim is to spend my summers teaching yoga at a holistic retreat somewhere hot by the coast, and my winters teaching snowboarding in the cold mountains
Hobbies: Writing, reading, music and sport
Worse Job: Data entry at an Engineering firm. Oh my! Watching paint dry would have been more entertaining
Who inspires you: Too many people to mention but someone who I met very briefly recently but follow her religiously on social media now is Squash Falconer. It’s not only because she is doing amazing things but it’s her attitude to life. It’s inspiring!
Secret Talent: I used to compete in tournaments in Martial Arts for the country when I was a teenager.
Favourite Quote: “I am not born for one corner, the whole world is my native land.” Senaca
Guilty Pleasure: Dipping sour laces into English Breakfast tea
Yoga for Skiers and Snowboarders on and off Piste
As a seasoned skier or a newbie, there are moments when you’re standing at the top of the mountain, whether it’s a blue or black run and feel overwhelmed by fear and doubt; you’re not alone.
As someone who spends most of my time near the city, I find that high altitudes can inhibit my ability to breathe calmly. Just like skiing, yoga requires focus and strength and can allow you to calm your mind when irrational fear kicks in. But also helps prepare the body for the up and coming winter season.
Despite my active lifestyle in my day-to-day life, burning quads, sore shoulders and cramp in my calves are my normal ski experiences. To counteract this I practise these following yoga poses before, during and after my daily runs down the mountain.
Before and Apres’ Ski Yoga
Whether you’re based in the mountains or the city, the following asanas are good for a before or apres’ ski yoga practice to help the body recover and get the blood, oxygen, and heat flowing back to the body.
Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation)
This series of movements is used mostly in hatha yoga traditions, practised 2-6 times in a row, traditionally at sunrise but can be lovely way to end the day..
Keep it slow and simple with long holds, moving with your breath.
2. Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior 1)
Hold for at least 30 seconds or more, Warrior 1 helps strengthen your shoulders, arms, legs, ankles and back as well as opening your hips, chest and lungs. It also improves focus, balance and stability whilst encouraging good circulation and respiration.
3. Utkatasana (Chair Pose)
Does this one remind you of something? Showing similarities to skiing, the benefits of chair pose are toned legs muscles, strengthens hip flexors, calves, and your back. It helps to stretch out the chest and shoulders and stimulates the heart, diaphragm, and abdominal organs.
Try it with long holds, and add on a twist to the left and right with your palms together in front of your chest, or airplane arms (arms open towards the sky and the earth).
4. Gomukasana (Cow Face Pose)
One of the best poses you can do for opening tight shoulders and hips. It creates a deep stretch into the hips, ankles, shoulders, chest, deltoids and triceps as well as aiding chronic knee pain. It also strengthens the spine and abdominal muscles and helps decompress the lower spine during the forward fold variation.
5. Garudasana (Eagle Pose)
Eagle pose gives you stronger arms, legs, knees and ankles and opens the shoulder joints, helps to create space between the shoulder blades. It also allows for the hips and IT bands to open, whilst increasing circulation to all joints and improving digestion, balance and focus.
Squeeze the elbows to open the shoulders and raise the arms, and squeeze the knees together to feel the maximum effects of the opening effects of this pose.
6. Supta Baddakonasana (Reclining Butterfly Pose)
A great restorative pose to open the hips and the lower back. It’s benefits include the stimulation of the abdominal organs, heart and improve general circulation, whilst stretching the inner thighs, groins and knees. It is definitely one of my personal favourites.
For a modification of this pose you can use two folded blankets under the outer thigh for support.
7. Savasana (Corpse Pose)
In Savasana it’s essential that the body be placed in a neutral position. Lie on your back, let your feet fall out to the side with your palms facing up and relax.
Savasana helps calm the brain and helps to relax the body and reduce fatigue. Just what your body needs after a day of shredding the powder.
Yoga On The Slopes
While you’re on the slopes, you can stay focused and calm by using your yoga techniques:
1. Pranayama (One-To-One Breath)
Breathe in 2, out 2 (or 3, 4, etc.) By focusing your breath, you also focus your mind and help oxygen flow.
2. Uddiyana Bandha (Upward Abdominal Lock)
Support your core and your spine by engaging the muscles of the belly. This will help keep your lower back strong by strengthening your abdominal muscles to help support your lower back, whilst stimulating the blood circulation in the abdomen and blood flow to the brain.
3. Ardah Uttanasana (Half Forward Bend)
This is a great pose for stretching your torso, strengthening and relieving your back and legs. Use your poles with your arms fully extended, then fold halfway. Let the head hang and the neck relax. I promise you, this will come in real handy while waiting in the lift line. If you find your hamstrings to be too tight, a modification is a slight bend in the knee.
Photo credit: http://www.yogapaws.com/yoga-blogs-yoga-paws/
By Sam Soat
Thanking you Sam!
P.s Winter is coming eager beavers. YES! Snooks love x
With the season looming we are getting super excited to get out on the mountains! What else better to get you buzzing than some serious inspiring playlist tunage. We’ve put together a list of some of our faves so turn up the volume and imagine yourself, lungs fresh full of mountain air on a bluebird day, shredding till your heart’s content!
1. C2C – Happy ft. D. Martin
2. Disciples & David Guetta – No Worries
3. Boys Noize – Yeah (Original Mix)
4. Run DMC – It’s Tricky
5. Grits – My Life Be Like (Oooh-Aaah)
6. Rudimental – Not Giving In ft. John Newman
7. The Kooks – Bad Habit
8. Nneka – Heartbeat (Chase & Status Remix)
9. Alt-J – Dissolve Me
10. Major Lazor – Get Free ft. Amber of The Dirty Projectors
11. Chase & Status – International (Skrillex Remix)
12. Christine & The Queens – Tilted
13. Bomfunk MC’s – Freestyler
14. Adele – Rolling In The Deep (Jamie xx Shuffle)
15. Red Hot Chilli Peppers – Can’t Stop
16. Mos Def – Travellin Man
17. Skrillex & Diplo – Mind ft. Kai
18. Bob Marley – Is this Love (Montmatre Remix)
19. Jack Garratt – Suprose Yourself (Live)
20. Darkside – Paper Trails
21. Ed Sheeran & Rudimental – Bloodstream
22. Klingande – Jubel
23. Knife Party – Boss Mode
24. Gossip – Standing In The Way of Control
25. My Nu Leng – You’ve Been Gone (Chris Lorenzo Remix)
They’ll soon be more vids uploaded to our YouTube Channel so keep your eyes peeled. Enjoy!