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Posts Tagged ‘skiing’

Back to Alaska

27.Aug.2012 by Patrick O'Brien

Last summer I was able to join APU and Sun Valley skiing at the Thomas training center on Eagle glacier.  (http://www.craftsbury.com/blogs/grp/?p=1910).  Getting quality on snow time during the summer months  is a huge asset to any nordic racer, and something still quite novel to life long Eastern skier.  This year I was again hoping get to Eagle glacier for some solid training. After a last minute spot opened up, I hopped on a plane and found myself back in Alaska. The weather last year was a pretty mixed bag. A few days of nice sun, some overcast skiing, and some days where you weren’t sure what direction the precipitation was coming from because you were in whiteout conditions and had no idea where on course you were. Fortunately this year the weather was much more cooperative.  Most days were cloud free t-shirt skiing and when the clouds rolled in hard, low overnight temperatures still made for much harder and faster tracks than the year before.  One thing I learned from my previous trip is to put the largest baskets you can find on your poles.  Racing poles are nice and light, but pretty useless when you are pulling them back out of the snow on every pole plant. Last year may have been slow and sloppy skiing, but this year the tracks were firm enough to delay morning training to allow the boiler plate ice to soften. Overall it was a great camp.  Lots of quality kilometers of training, technique tweaks, seeing how other ski programs operate, and getting to mix it up in intervals with a different group of guys than our normal summer group.  So without further ado, some pictures from my week on snow!

Alpine Air's A-Star helicoptor lifting off

Alpine Air's A-Star helicopter lifting off

And headed up towards the glacier

And headed up towards the glacier

View from the cockpit.  Despite being only a 40 minute drive drom Anchorage, and looking down on Girdwood the facility is still remote.  All food, skis, gear, and even the Pisten-Bullys have to be flown in by chopper

View from the cockpit. Despite being only a 40 minute drive from Anchorage, and looking down on the town of Girdwood the facility is still very remote. All food, skis, gear, and even the Pisten-Bullys have to be flown in by chopper

Passing Alyeska Resort on the way up

Passing Alyeska Resort on the way up

A typical scence looking out from the facility. The training ceter sits on the edge of a 1500 ft drop off. The yellow rope is there for a reason... Somewhere under the cloud cover is Girdwood and the Airport

A typical scene looking out from the facility. The training center sits on the edge of a 1500 ft drop off and the clouds often get hung up on the mountains below. The yellow rope is there for a reason... Somewhere under the cloud cover is the town of Girdwood and the Airport

Keith the main pilot "dropping off" the edge going back for another load of skier and gear. The A-Star kicks up some serious rotor wash. 5 minutes up 5000 ft. A few seconds later and he is back out of sight.  (photo: H Mooney)

Keith, Alpine Air's main pilot "dropping off" the edge going back for another load of skier and gear. The A-Star kicks up some serious rotor wash. (photo: H Mooney)

The view into town on a clear day. In the front of the picture are two of four shipping containers for storing all the maintenence gear during the summer and the grooming equipment during the off season. Everything is bedded on concrete and bolted down to withstand the high winds and heavy snowfall.

The view into town on a clear evening. In the front of the picture are two of four shipping containers for storing all the maintenance gear during the summer and the grooming equipment during the off season. Everything is bedded on concrete and bolted down to withstand the high winds and heavy snowfall.

Meltwater pond in the foreground, trails on the glacier way off in the background. All the water for the facility is pumped and filtered from the meltpond. Electricity comes from a diesel generator. The facility uses composting toilets. All trash is sorted into to two catagories. Burnable is disposed on site and the remainder is flown back into to be disposed of.

Meltwater pond in the foreground, trails on the glacier way off in the background. All the water for the facility is pumped and filtered from the meltpond. Electricity comes from a diesel generator. The facility uses composting toilets. All trash is sorted into to two categories. Burnable is disposed on site and the remainder is flown back into town be disposed of.

The loop starts with a fast 1k downhill from the facility

The loop starts with a fast 1k downhill from the facility. Thanks to a good snow year this winter, even the Bergschrund (the head wall) crevasse hadn't opened up like last year so we were able to ski down and back from the loop to training every day.

Bergschrund from last year

Bergschrund from last year

It was pretty nice some days at the end of the long ski to catch a ride back up the big hill on the back of the PB last year...

It was pretty nice some days at the end of the long ski to catch a ride back up the big hill on the back of the PB last year though...

Great tracks and great skiing

Great tracks and great skiing

Pete moments after some impressive klister grab had him doing a superman across the trail

Pete moments after some impressive klister grab had him doing a superman across the trail

Lots of skiing means big meals!

Lots of skiing means big meals!

A huge thanks to Erik Flora of APU and Craftsbury for making this trip happen! Only a few more months and we will be back on snow gearing up for the race season. Summer has really flown by!

What’s in Tim’s ear…?

22.Nov.2011 by Dylan McGuffin

As you might have heard, there is not an excess of activities here in Mounio. When I’m not skiing or eating or writing blogs, I’ve taken up a small pet project helping my friend Tim with a little problem. There is something blocking his left ear. We are not sure what it is, perhaps a buildup of wax from his flowing locks, or some foreign object that has been lodged inside. Could it be a bug? Or maybe a raisin? I am told that gnomes also make their home in this part of the world, and one could possibly have made a home inside Tim’s head.

Righteous Flow

Righteous Flow

No clues yet, but here are some of the dislodging techniques we’ve tried…

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Conventional ear wax dissolver... No luck.

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Old faithful Q-tip... nothing.

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Oh a dish soap bottle filled with warm water shooting into Tim's ear... yeah that didn't work.

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Really thought this last thing would work…

There has been no luck getting anything out of Tim’s ear thus far. We have determined that it is quite possibly water, but really it could be anything. If anyone has any old tyme remedies or gypsy magic that you think may help, feel free to drop us a line.

Eagle in August

1.Sep.2011 by Patrick O'Brien

This last week I was fortunate enough to join APU and Sun Valley for a week of skiing on APU’s Eagle Glacier outside Girdwood, Alaska. For anyone from the east skiing in the summer is an unusual, almost foreign prospect. The season in Vermont is short, and as a skier you spend more time cross training for your sport than actually participating in it.  While I was dubious about returning to Alaska after my three previous experiences (all involving       -15 F temperatures and inadequate handwear) I was lured all the way here by some incredible pictures of glacier skiing from the USST woman’s camp several weeks prior (http://www.craftsbury.com/blogs/grp/?p=1817).

A typical day on Eagle Glacier...

A typical day on the Eagle Glacier...

Although the weather for this camp wasn’t as nice as for the woman’s camp, the overcast sky and mix of fresh snow actually made for harder faster conditions which was a nice reprieve from mushy corn snow and disapearing ski pole baskets that we experienced the first day.

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Thursday afternoon classic ski on hardwax

Another addition to the camp was riding the new Pisten-Bully to and from training in the morning. A summers worth of melt coupled with a strong earthquake weeks prior had opened several large crevasses  between the main building and the ski loop. Riding the back of the PB up the big hill to the training center for a waiting meal at the end the long day of skiing was another huge plus!

Falling in one of these suckers would ruin your day!

Falling in one of these guys would ruin your ski!

Some of the ladies enjoying the sun at the end of ski

Some of the ladies enjoying the sun at the end of a ski

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Powder skiing in August? Can't complain about that!

By the end of the week the clouds had fully blown out and we were treated to some pretty spectacular views of Girdwood, Alyeska resort, and the surrounding mountains and snow fields

The training center looking out at the Eagle glacier off to the right

The training center with Eagle Glacier off to the right

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And the town of Gridwood, Alyeska resort and the Turnagin Arm several thousand feet down to the left...

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Hiking down to the edge of the glacier on Sunday morning

Down the scree field

Down the scree field

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Out the ridge towards Girdwood

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Gelso suiting up for the ride down

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And down the moss they go!

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Through the Alaskan Bush

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And back to the van and civilization after 5000+ feet of descending over a few miles!

One last great ski

19.Apr.2011 by Patrick O'Brien

This past weekend Ida and I headed north to Craftsbury to pick up some stuff from the farmhouse and squeeze in some of the seasons last real skiing. Aside from a 7 hour layover in my own bed before leaving for Sun Valley, I hadn’t been in Craftsbury since departing for Europe the 28th of February. Before we left for Europe, Craftsbury was definitely flush with snow, and from the sounds of the grooming reports the good skiing only got better by the time the Spring Tour rolled around.  I have to admit though, despite all of the snow this season I was very skeptical on the drive up up north. Warm weather and heavy rain this last week made quick work of what snow remained on the ground here in Southern Vermont.  I was sure that Craftsbury would fare the same fate. I was quite wrong though! Despite much of the snow melting off on exposed slopes and in the fields there was still considerable snow-pack on the core trails

Lots of snow still on the core trails!

Lots of snow still on the core trails!

All the snow farming from the fields onto the trails mid winter...

All the snow farming from the fields onto the trails mid winter...

means there is still great skiing into the middle of April!

means there is still great skiing into the middle of April!

Ida sneaking across the downhill on Ruthies where spring melt jumped the stream and flooded across the trail

Ida sneaking across the downhill on Ruthies where spring melt jumped the stream and flooded across the trail

Wilbur's field

Wilbur's field

PB grooming April 15th! Can't ask for much more than that!

PB grooming and fresh tracks April 15th! Can't ask for much more than that!

If your looking for some great late season skiing and are in the area make sure to hit up the COC. The snow is going to go fast this late in the year and there will probably be some bare patches but judging by the amount of snow left on parts of Race Loop, Bailey Hazen, and Lemons Haunt there should be skiing in Craftsbury for a while yet! Ski it while you can!