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Zoe's Haig Glacier Camp with CCBC
By:  Zoe Braul   (2007/08/03)

I skied on real snow in July!! All BC Team members are lucky enough to ski on actual snow (no wheels required) in the middle of July. This is because they go to the massive Haig Glacier near Canmore, Alberta every summer. A helicopter flew our gear and food up to the glacier and dropped in on the helipad. Luckily the weather was good, or else the pilot would be forced to drop the load due to wind.

The athletes, of course, don't get to take a helicopter up to the glacier. We instead hiked/ran the 18km trip to the camp. Being in the Rocky Mountains, the risk of seeing a grizzly was high, so two people were armed with bear spray.

It was my first trip up to the Haig, so I had to clue what to expect. I was expecting that our home for the next week would be a run-down shack in the middle of the snow. However, we were greeted with what was hardly a ghetto, but a well-equipped cluster of decent-sized buildings on smooth rock.

Every morning we would take a Rusko test to monitor our morning heart rates. After breakfast, we would hike an hour to the actual glacier. Many of the athletes wore their iPods hiking up to help them focus on staying in Zone 1. It is crucial to stay in Zone 1 when training at such high altitudes because you can tire yourself out much quicker. If you become very tired at high altitude, it can actually have a reverse effect on your training.

Jon Frosst, the Head Camp Director, cooked gourmet meals for all the starving athletes. When the outhouses got too full, he would have to set the inside of the toilet on fire. (And trust me; the smell of poo on fire is not a pleasant once, especially if there is a strong wind blowing the scent around camp). All the athletes had chores to do throughout the week. But some boys who shall remain nameless forgot to do their chores one day. So they were punished with the wonderful task of scooping out the grey water out of the dirty water tank with their bare hands. They wore gloves that went up to their armpits. It was certainly entertaining for the others!

The Glacier is one of the biggest in Canada.† Jon groomed the glacier at night. The groomed trail is about 4km in length because it runs up and down the glacier. Most days we just worked on technique, but one day we did some head-to-head sprints. The athletes would ski anywhere from 1.5 hours to 4 hours. The best part of the glacier is the crust skiing. We skied to the end of the glacier the views were spectacular. Because of the heavy snowfall last winter, the mountains were still covered in snow. On the last day we had team slalom races down one slope of the glacier (the glacier gets quite steep on one side).

For recovery, we went "swimming" in the ice pond. During the day it would reach as hot as 35 degrees so the snow around camp would melt and form pools of icy water. I only managed to stay in the water for 3 minutes, but after my muscles felt incredibly relaxed.

After that week, I had an awesome Brikos tan, was blissed out, tired, and I was one happy camper.

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