Back to Alaska

FasterSkierJune 21, 2009

Happy Fathers’ Day and celebration of the summer solstice! I returned on Friday night from our first week long on-snow camp at APUNSC’s Eagle Glacier training facility. We take advantage of this Alaskan glacier to maintain our snow-feel and ski-specific training over the summer. We’ll be up for three weeks total over the summer: one week each in June, July, and August. Following are some snapshots from the week:

Due to low cloud cover, Alpine Air dropped us off lower on the glacier than our facility is located. So our coaches drove down in the Pisten Bully and picked us up as we arrived. This is one of the college students on our team, Kate “Fitz” Fitzegerald, getting a ride up on the back of the Pisten Bully. Fitz has improved so much in both technique and fitness since we started training together three years ago. It is really cool to watch our whole team improve over the years.

Some of my team down at the intersection where we drop clothes and water bottles and meet for speeds or intervals.

Because of the Mt. Redoubt eruptions this winter we have a layer of volcanic ash over the glacier. This has caused a REALLY fast melt rate, last year we had many many more feet of snow depth up here. It also makes the snow dirty and abrasive to ski bases. While it’s not the classic glacier beauty, the ash does play an interesting visual dynamic across the snow.

The APUNSC Team out playing a game of speed ball. Or maybe they’re just playing follow the leader. Usually it’s foggy like this, so for all the moments that you can actually see farther than 400m, there’s hours of not knowing what’s happening outside.

Laura Valaas, ready to ski.

There are moments skiing out here when I am overwhelmed by the natural beauty. Watching the way the clouds move in and out. We’re skiing on the top of a mountain and we get the rapidly changing mountain weather.

One of the markers for the finish of an interval was a Coke can next to the trail. I’ve never been so glad to see a can of coke each lap and I didn’t even get to drink it! (I’m sure someone did though.)

This was a sign Duser put up on our mirror. What a nice note to brush your teeth to in the morning.

Becca Rorabaugh, ready to ski.

The one glitch in our camp was that on the second day the Pisten Bully broke down. So for the entire week we classic skied on snow machine set tracks. By the end of the week I was starting to worry about overuse injuries from the repetitive motion but I think we all made it through the many hours of classic skiing unscathed.

I do love my klister skis!

After returning on Friday we had the weekend basically off to recover and get refreshed for another training week starting on Monday. I took a trip to explore some more parts of Alaska. Alaska is unbelievable, you can get out into wilderness so quickly from Anchorage. And it is beautiful. I love having the training opportunities up here and then having the adventure opportunities on my days off.

This is one of the many beautiful examples of a medial moraine. When two, or frequently more, glaciers merge their lateral moraines combine to form a ribbon of debris tracing the path of the glaciers down valley.

On this trip we went out to explore an ole gold mine. We tramped around on old trails finding slag piles, steam pipes, mine shafts, old leather boots, and all kinds of abandoned mining equipment. It was so cool to try to recreate in our imaginations how the mine functioned and what life was like here for the miners.

Hydro-electric generators, circa 1912. These things look pretty sweet, if I had a water feature in my yard I’d put in some hydro-electric generators for electricity. Why did we move away from this type of free energy?

On to the next adventure!


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