The North American Women’s training camp up in Alaska was ALL KINDS OF AWESOME! I’m not sure if my favorite part was skiing in the sun in shorts and t-shirts on the glacier, cross-country rollerskiing under bridges during a 50km ski, having a crazy fun dance party with Kikkan, Chandra and Rosie, or getting to nail down some technical classic work and getting klister goop everywhere.
It was definitely a blast getting together with the Canadians, USST and APU girls plus guests from out east, and we had a ton of fun. We also got super tired by the end of the glacier week – putting in a little over 25 hours in 7 days. You know you’re doing a lot of training when you’re easiest day is a 3 hour “recovery distance” ski! So right after I leave Alaska, I’m due for a little family vacation and some quality rest. But the camp was super quality training and I owe a huge thanks to the coaches and APU staff that worked so hard to make the whole operation possible.
I’m pretty excited to be able to give an outsider’s perspective on the Eagle Glacier. The Alaskans are always telling us how sweet it is up there, but we were all curious to see for ourselves. And it was even better than I’d expected! When the sun was out, it was super hot and you could ski around in shorts and a t-shirt. When it was foggy, you couldn’t see much but the tracks were still good and it never got cold enough for me to keep a jacket on. We’d go out and skate for a few hours in the mornings, and classic in the afternoons, on a 7 km loop that was always really well groomed.
The training center has a big kitchen and we split up into cooking groups to make some extremely tasty dinners. All the food has to be helicoptered in, but that doesn’t stop APU from bringing up some quality ingredients! We slept upstairs in bunk rooms centered around a living room with a small strength area, and downstairs we would watch movies and technique on the tv.
You’d think after a week of isolated training, everyone would drive each other crazy, but it was the other way around! Everyone really bonded and we had some good times chilling out in between training sessions; playing guitar, dancing and watching Gossip Girl (yeah, this was definitely a girls camp).
One of the biggest highlights was getting to ride up in a helicopter! For about half of us, it was our first time ever and the ride up was really scenic and a little scary when the wind tilted the helicopter. But that’s what made it fun.
When camp was over, a small group of us hiked down and everyone else flew out. If you asked the pilot to do a “pushover”, he’d tilt the helicopter and dive over the edge of the ridge. It was super cool to watch! I wanted to dive bomb in the helicopter as well but turns out hiking down was a crazy adventure all it’s own.
015 (This is a video I took in the helicopter – hopefully the link works!)
Our trek down took 3 hours and I’m pretty sure Sophie and I were slightly delirious by the end after so much training. We started by roping up and crossing the glacier, which was super cool because the ice was crystal blue and you could hear the water rushing underneath you as you slid across. Although there’s a couple of crevasses that you can see on the glacier, I didn’t manage to fall into any of them. Whew.
Then we scrambled down and over rocks, till we got to traverse the mountain which gave us some pretty nice views.
099 (A video Flora took of the group glissading down the mountain)
Then we slid down a super steep, slippery, grassy slope (I accidentally threw in a cartwheel as I got going out of control) and crossed this river that winds down through the rainforest. That part wasn’t as much fun for me because all the plants were taller than me and most of them were prickly. But we made it through without running into any bears, and after we got to the road we jumped into the river to ice bath.
All in all, it was an amazing experience and I hope we can do it again!
NAWTA – North American Women’s Training Alliance. It’s a thing. A very, very good thing.
Because we get faster when we train together. And most importantly, we have a ton of fun! Which is why we do what we do.