CampsTrainingFar West Summer Camps Recap

FasterSkierSeptember 4, 2008

Even though there’s still a few weeks of summer, the Labor Day weekend traditionally marks the transition to the Fall training season, and Far West Nordic has wrapped up a highly successful series of summer Junior training camps for 2008.

JUNE LAKE CAMP (recap by Nancy Fiddler)

Our first “all-comers” camp of the season was the ever-popular, traditional June Lakes Camp, held in the beautiful eastern Sierra Nevada area in July. Led by Far West’s Head Coach Ben Grasseschi, with able assistance from Nancy Fiddler and Martin Benes, twenty four Far West Junior athletes from Truckee to Bishop gathered at the Oh! Ridge campground for 4 days of training, including running, strength, hill bounding, swimming, hiking, and even some rock climbing.

The icy waters of Alpine Lake (Photo Credit: Peter Taylor)

On Saturday, the group split into two for some extensive high-altitude hiking. One group summited 13,700 ft. Mt. Conness in Yosemite National Park. The hike began with lots of wildflowers and mosquitos during the ascent of the vertical meadow, and then the group was treated to great views of the Yosemite backcountry, some high exposure on the way to the summit, and endless boulder hopping. Back at Alpine Lake on the descent, everyone plunged into the water (56 degrees!). Meanwhile, the other group was circumnavigating (and climbing) North Peak, via McCabe Lakes. The descent into the turquoise Conness Lakes was exhausting enough to warrant a good swim and some fun cliff jumps. After dinner, some of the group went off to test themselves on the famous “Bachar Boulders,” while the rest stayed in camp to play possibly the world's biggest Apples to Apples game.

The Mt. Conness crew on the approach (Photo Credit: Peter Taylor)

On Sunday, it was smooth skate rollerskiing out on the Benton Crossing Road under a welcome cloud cover. After an hour and a half of drills and easy skiing, the group convened at the ball fields for some ballistic stretching and strength training. The exercises kept coming until, at last, the coaches ran out of ideas on how to test the muscles of the athletes.

Former Far West Junior Sophie Leonard double-poles near Crowley Lake (Photo Credit: Peter Taylor)

The success of any training camp is based on the attitude and effort of the attendees. June Lake 2008 was an exceptional camp in that the work ethic stayed strong for the duration of the camp. The ages (13-18 yrs.) of the athletes was as varied as the ability and experience, yet there was lots of mutual support for every single kid. There was lots of training, lots of fun, and lots of inspiration.


After a 4 year hiatus, Far West decided to re-visit the popular Marin Headlands venue near San Francisco for their August “Low Elevation-High Intensity” camp. Open to only Junior Olympic-qualified juniors, this camp is designed for athletes to get a real taste of interval training where the air is nice and thick, and not of the rarified High Sierra variety.

Justin Ondry rolls up from Rodeo Beachl (Photo Credit: Mark Nadell)

Wednesday morning featured a 3,000 meter time trial on the beautiful track at the College of Marin, where almost every athlete produced a personal best for that distance, but were still humbled by Coach Ben’s overall fastest time for the day. After a long Ultimate Frisbee tournament, and then a grueling strength session, the crew headed over to Sausalito for a ferry-ride to the big city of San Francisco for an exceptional Thai dinner and a walk to the famous Pier 39.

Specific strength in the Headlandsl (Photo Credit: Mark Nadell)

Bounding intervals in the fogl (Photo Credit: Mark Nadell)


The final event of the summer season was the traditional Labor Day D.L. Bliss Park Camp on the shores of the incomparable Lake Tahoe. Designed more for younger Nordic athletes, this camp featured a little bit of everything, from running to kayaking to peak climbing to rollerskiing.

Spectacular cliff jumping at Indian Head Rock (Photo Credit: Mark Nadell)

Rollerskiing Blackwood Canyon (Photo Credit: Mark Nadell)

Sunday dawned bright and much cooler, and after a night of howling winds, plans for the climb up to 9,183 ft. Rubicon Peak near the park were finalized. Although technically not a difficult peak or a long climb, the trail to the top features 2 miles of distance complete with 2,200 feet of elevation gain, making it seem like over an hour of straight stair-climbing to the summit. Once there, athletes were re-visited by the gale-force winds of the night before, and scaling the final 100 feet of class 3 rock scrambling meant holding onto the rock for dear life as strong gusts buffeted the peak. Given the conditions, it was a somewhat remarkable achievement to get every athlete to the top, and then it was the steep downhill back to the car and camp. Lunch, some swimming and kayak-play in the beautiful Lake Tahoe, and then it was time to hit the holiday traffic for the trip back home.

The Bliss Camp Crew (Photo Credit: Mark Nadell)

After such a successful season of summer camp and high-level workouts, the Far West Junior athletes are looking forward to the Fall and Winter training, culminating with the rest of the nordic-oriented country visiting them on their “home court” at Auburn Ski Club for Junior Olympics 2009 ( ). We’ve included a small selection of photos from the camps, but for lots more images from this summer and more, go to the Photo Gallery pages on the Far West Nordic website, .

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