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The Haig Glacier Experience
By:  Peter Beisel   (2010/08/30)

      One of Canada’s premiere training destinations during the summer months is located near Canmore Alberta in Glacier Provincial Park on what is known as the Haig Glacier. The training Facility there was founded for nordic athletes to be able to train on groomed trails at altitude even during summer months. As a member of the Ontario Ski Team I was fortunate enough to be invited to accompany the National Training and Development Centre Team as they trained in Canmore and also skied on the glacier.
    We spent our first week roller-skiing and ski-specific training in Canmore, to acclimatize to the “low/med” altitude before we moved to "high" training altitude where we would be skiing. We also got to know the Canmore Nordic Centre a little better in preparation for Nationals which will be held there this year.

     After our week of dry-land we prepared ourselves to live in the National Park. We needed a helicopter to fly in our equipment / sleeping bags / clothes which we could not carry up and we were required to take a bear safety presentation before we were allowed to head up. So armed with our bear-spray and water packs we did the 2.5 hour trek and even came to a surprising but not hostile encounter with a Grizzly. Otherwise we stayed very relaxed to avoid over-exertion before camp really began.

    Once on the base camp we were greeted by modest but cozy semi-permanent shelters and bathrooms. These are under strict management by the park to have a small environmental footprint.  The base-camp relies on propane and solar power, and all waste is flown back out after.

    When we finally got on snow the next day, after a small hike to the actual snow, we enjoyed beautiful crispy skiing which warmed to a softer klister-classic snow around lunch. We were very fortunate that although there was some unpredictable and wet weather, that most of our skiing was done in the sunshine.

    When on the glacier, it is important to make the most of your time there, but also to be sure that you do not over exert yourself with intensity, because the high volume and altitude will catch up with you. Recovering with afternoon naps, early bed times and proper nutrition is essential to make the most out of your training.

    After one of the highest volume training weeks ever am definitely ready for some rest and recovery days! Overall the Haig Glacier experience was an excellent training experience and I would highly recommend it to anyone who has the opportunity and is looking to step up there ski-fitness!

The Canmore Nordic Centre

Base Camp

On Snow!

Skiing in the Shade!

Afternoon Jog to Round Off the Day!

Thanks for reading!

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