Only a few days ago I arrived back in civilization after the second training camp at the Beckie Scott High Performance Training Centre or also known as the Haig Glacier. In Canada a week of training at the Haig is a rite of passage in the Cross Country community. Every athlete in the National Program has spent weeks at a time training up at the glacier.
Usually every August the Para-Nordic team would go to the Snow Farm in New Zealand for three to four weeks for an on-snow volume and technique training camp. This year I decided not to go to the NZ, instead I wanted to training with Rocky Mountain Racers.
In the afternoon of July 8 I begin the Canadian cross country pilgrimage to the Haig Base Camp. I
didn’t know how I would react to the trip in, so my teammate and I took it slow, or so we thought. We finished in a blistering fast three hours, which puts it in the category of a very fast ‘hike’ in. When I arrived there was some time to hang around with the rest of the RMR team that had hiked in three days earlier before supper was served. Soon after supper I knew it was time for bed. That first night at an altitude of 2250m was rough. I would get a couple of hours of sleep and then be awake for 30 to 45 minutes before starting the cycle over again. In the morning I thought that this could be a long camp if that would continue. But I think all that was forgotten once I was skiing. To get to the ski trail there is a 45 minute hike up another 350m of altitude. The first hour of skiing was on firm, almost icy trails with the sun only hitting the far edges of the trail, but as the training went on the sun quickly rose higher and bathed the entire trail in warm sunshine. At that point the ice turned into slush and the classic skis came out in a hurry.
The afternoons were spent recovery which consisted of many different card games, watching movies, eating and drinking and video analysis. I would like to thank my body for adjusting to the altitude and allowing me to sleep like a baby for the rest of the camp. There was one other memorable thing at night and that was the sky. If you could time it just right and wake up to pee between two and three in the morning, it was worth it. The sky never got that dark up there for some reason, but the stars were the brightest I have ever since in my life. Seeing the Milky Way as clear as day that will be something I will remember. When you think of something that is a rite of passage you expect an experience that is like no other. By all means the Haig Glacier succeeds in providing an experience never to be forgotten. With all memorable experiences, there is always food involved. The Haig is no exception. The food there is incredible!
With a very successful first time up at the glacier I had to go for more. You could say I’m addicted. The first week in August was the second Haig camp for RMR. This time though, I went in on the first day and stayed for the entire week long camp. The camp again was incredible. Fantastic training, with a backdrop that most people only see in postcards and a great group of friends and teammates around, what else could you ask for. There was one quite unique experience at this glacier camp and that was the Rocky Mountain Racers Haig Camp Boat Race. The rules! Change every year. The materials! Whatever you can find at Base camp (without breaking something useful). The Race! Toss your creation into the glacier river, wait 30 seconds to admire how well your boat floats (or not), then after 30 seconds use the biggest rocks you can l
eft and ‘encourage’ your boat to go faster or ‘encourage’ other boats to sink. My broken toilet seat jumped ahead to an early lead… until a 30lbs boulder was thrown right on top of it. Needless to say the toilet seat broke (even further).
With the end of August approaching everyone prepares for the final three months of training before the racing season begins. The summer training has been a great benefit for me and I look forward to ramping it up for the fall training as I prepare for the upcoming World Cups and World Championships. I’m feeling positive and in better shape than I was last year, and I’m sure it will only be a few weeks now before I get that feeling of wanting the race season to begin. Also with the end of August, most athletes begin dreaming of early snow- last year’s Thanksgiving weekend snow storm will be quite hard to beat but would be greatly appreciated by the skiers in the Playground.