Sunday we head into the glacier for another week. Hopefully we have some snow.
This photo is shot from down glacier. The facility sits on the ridge in the middle-left of the photo and the ski trails we use go from there off to the right. We stay high up on the glacier because once you get closer to the foreground the slope gets much steeper and the cravasses get much more intense. The ash has made for some unique melting this summer and you can very clearly see how variable the weather is up there. The patches of white snow are where there's been snowfall recently. When we're out skiing we can go from sunshine to snowstorm or white-out as we move around the course.
I have officially hit the point of the glacier camp where I would like to go home. I am a little jealous of three of my comrades who flew the coop on Friday to attend a couple of weddings this weekend. The fact that we're completely socked in and I know I couldn't leave if I wanted to leave makes it even harder to be up here.
My body is getting tired of all of the skiing. Before this morning's threshold workout I almost told Erik it was too much. I didn't, I did the prescribed workout, and we laughed about it at the end but I am pushing up against the line of training too hard and too much this week. There is a risk of overstepping the line but if I succeed I get to move the line.
As of now there's a ski & strength workout this afternoon and a ski on sunday morning and a downhill hike in the afternoon to get back to Girdwood. Monday I do not have to do any training. I am looking forward to Monday. It's all the training though that makes the days off so enjoyable.
I also am not as content on the glacier today because my family is having a big party celebrating my granny's 90th birthday and I would rather be there today.
I am so pleased with my teammates. After almost a week living with 20 people in close quarters on the small place between glacier and cliff I really have no complaints.
It must be rare for a group of people to function so smoothly together so I am really grateful to my teammates. For example, the girls always bring over another roll of tp before we get to the end of a roll. That seems insignificant but it's indicative of the attitude we have-- the I want this place to stay nice and people to stay happy attitude. For another example, my chore group was on dinner clean-up and my group members worked so industriously that I almost felt guilty that clean-up was so painless for me. This I like.
We did strength Wednesday afternoon & as you can imagine getting all of us through a strength workout with one barbell and a set of plates takes some scheduling and cooperation. But we do it and people are pleasant and supportive.
All the same, I am looking forward to getting back to Jodhpur St and away from communal living. As much as I like bunk beds.
The glacier is alive and moving this week. The layer of ash that it received from Mt. Redoubt this spring has changed the way it melts. The ash coats the glacier and I am thankful for the new engine in the pisten bully which allows us to ski on a trail of white. The few ash spots we do have are enough to threaten to put you on your face.
Because of the rapid melting we already have crevases opening across the face of the glacier. Our trail avoids the aggressive ones . There's a pattern to how the glacier breaks apart and the trails are designed to skirt the largest. Still, we're skiing across fractures, the pisten bully plows a snow bridge over them in the morning but by afternoon they melt out and we can imagine the depth open below us.
The glacier is so huge it makes me feel so insignificant up here, skiing around on a narrow ribbon of its surface.
It was the perfect glacier day. Sometime in the night Erik got the pisten bully running and groomed the course for us and the generator was also humming when I woke up this morning. Because we had the pisten bully going, Erik was able to skim the ash off the course so we had absolutely fantastic slush skiing all day.
The sun even stayed out all day with not a trace of clouds or smoke in the sky. After dinner I took my book ( Ahab's Wife by Naslund) and went out onto the ridge to read. I had to come back in after awhile because the breeze was cool , but that has to be one of my favorite ways to spend an evening on the glacier.
Now I can hear the drone of an engine as Erik grooms us some skating trails for us to enjoy tomorrow morning.
We made it into the glacier in the most timely fashion yet today. Meeting in Girdwood at 5:30, I was moved back into my room before 6. None of the smoke that has been pestering Anchorage is up here so we merely had to wait for Keith to fire up the R44.
Once on the glacier things were back to normal. The Pisten Bully still hadn't run yet and the generator was broken so we don't have electricity. Which is fine because we have windows and sunshine. All is as it should be and another week of chasing the dream begins.
While we're all down enjoying some alaskan sunshine Erik & Casey are up on Eagle Glacier digging into the bowels of the Pisten Bully, looking like they're in blackface because they're covered in so much diesel. As one of our teammates said this morning, we're lucky Erik knows a thing or two about wrenching otherwise glacier camps would have been much more primitive. A coach's job is wide-ranging and time-consuming.
We are still up on Eagle Glacier, two more workouts and then we find our way down into Girdwood and then back to Anchorage.
Our second day up here the faithful Pisten Bully broke down so we've been skiing on tracks set with the snow machine. That's right, klister classic only all week. I had no idea my body was so unprepared for a week of classic skiing. We're all starting to ache-- arms, Lats, hip flexors, feet. We take off our boots and everyone has sores from where their classic Boots crease. Fitz is the only one with athletic tape up here and she's practically the Most popular person up here. My feet and body is surviving but I've been stretching after Every workout. Photos when I get home on Friday!
Our first day on the glacier was a day off and Erik decided to take advantage of the presence of 2o or so athletes to do some maintenance at the Thomas Training Center on Eagle Glacier. He wanted to be able to drive the Piston Bully up onto the rocks (recall this was the first day before it snowed and we built the snow road) for the winter so it would be easier to find in the spring without damaging it. I was pretty impressed by how quickly and well we could make a fairly flat incline for the PB with our random tools and no real experience among us. We also collected buckets of nails and random construction debris left over from when they built the facility.
So it snowed last Saturday night when we were on the glacier and Erik had this great idea to have us make a snow road so that they could drive the piston bully up to park it in one of the trailers over the winter. I'm sure it'll help keep down the wear on the PB but I'm also suspicious that he just wanted to keep us busy on Sunday after our OD and while we were waiting for a ride down in a helicopter (the snow made hiking not impossible, but rather unpleasant). It also means that they don't have to spend tons of hours digging out the PB next June. So we spent a solid chunk of time creating a 9' wide level path of snow between the glacier and the trailer so the PB could drive it without ripping its belt apart on the rocks. Anyway, we moved a lot of snow on Sunday. I haven't seen the coaches since then so I don't know if the PB ever actually made it into its garage. I hope so.
Here's a clip near the completion of the project when we took a break from shoveling to help pack down the driveway. There's something about seeing Lars Flora, Strandberg, Southam, Randall, & Ellis marching in a row that makes me laugh. Kalysta Schmidt is the one in the yellow t-shirt. At the end is a clip of Bobby Miller from the first day on the glacier showing what happens when you take nice boys from the suburbs of Minneapolis and transplant them to Alaska.
My, um, film making here is less than impressive... my computer is all in French which doesn't usually phase me but when I opened up iMovie and tried to do some editing the vocab requirements totally defeated me.
We finally made it back from Eagle Glacier. After more than a foot of new snow this weekend we didn't really have the option to hike out so we were dependent on the weather being good enough to have Alpine Air fly us down. Anders & I drew the short straws and were up on the glacier awhile after our teammates waiting for that one last helicopter to be able to come in and get us. I do have tons of photos to share. None of them actually of skiing but I'm sure you will enjoy them... tomorrow.
Here's a sweet video of Fleet Foxes on Letterman! I'm so proud that my cousin is getting to share his passion for music with a wider and wider audience.
I'm on Eagle Glacier from August 3-10 with the fabulous APU team!
I can't believe that it's already our fourth and last trip up to the glacier for this summer. It's August which means that we really only have one more quarter to work on our fitness before it's time to let the fitness level coast a little bit and work on our RACING.
In pretty much the most disgusting moment of the week, Miss Kassandra Rice drank a coffee mug of bacon grease. I think the incentive was $100 but I'm not positive. This is not how one should dispose of bacon grease.
Being right back up on the glacier last week made Morocco seem like a crazy dream. I was amazed by how quickly my body adapted from glacier weather to highs every day between 40 & 50° and back to snow flurries almost every day. I missed a few workouts due to getting delayed on the way back but it was still a solid week of training with some L5, L4 & L3 workouts as well as some good video sessions and feedback from Erik on technique.
I'm back from the glacier... it was an incredibly short trip. I had hoped, at the best, to get in Thursday, ski Thursday afternoon through Sunday afternoon and then fly out. It didn't work out quite like that but I still got in a couple of good on-snow sessions. I did the hike in to Eagle Glacier for the first time. The hike was a lot of up... According to Taz's watch we left the van at 1300' and got up to the glacier at 5500'. Maybe even a little more vertical since we actually descended to the glacier. Anyway, about 2:45 of hiking time although I think the record is 1:20 so we clearly weren't moving as fast as possible.
We even got to rope up for a small part of the hike. Which I thought was a fun addition. It wasn't something for which I would have thought to rope up but I suppose that if I was feeling responsible for all 20 of us I would have wanted people secured. We made it up uneventfully, I think that my legs suffered the next morning during our L5 speedwork though because of the hiking. So I think I would still opt to fly in when it's an option.