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Mountain Camp 2017

Yesterday afternoon a large group of skiers emerged out of vehicles in the Richmond park and ride, with a waterfall of rollerskis, poles, shoes, and backpacks cascading out of the car doors along with them. After four days of dodging thunderstorms, ticks, tornadoes (for real) and more, everyone emerged with some great training behind them.

We stayed in a large condo in North Conway, and had great access to all sorts of trails and roads nearby. Although it’s quite a tourist trap complete with tacky gift shops and a million different ways to make a dime off of the White Mountains, North Conway is a great place to have a training camp. Short drives to all sorts of adventures, ample options for large-group lodging, an alpine mountain for ski bounding just down the road, and a Hannaford a stoplight or two away.

After unpacking our gear and checking the radar, we headed out for the first workout of the trip: a low-key hike up Kearsarge North mountain. Though it wasn’t sunny, we did get in a view at the top and got to check out a sweet fire tower.

Atop Kearsarge North, before we met up with Charlie and Timmy

Once we returned to the condo we got started on dinner, welcomed Charlie and Timmy, and began looking at the radar for the next day.

Pugs making sure to refuel for the training ahead

Friday was our hardest training day, and a few sessions that everyone who attended the first Mountain Camp had been talking about for about 365 days: The Kanc Roll and the bounding intervals. In the morning, the group toured the scenic Kancamagus highway by double poling to the top of the pass over the course of about 2-2.5 hours. The road starts gradual and flat along the nearby river before really spiking up at the end for more good views and a rewarding accomplishment.

The older, pink-shirted men’s group which you may have heard referred to as “Men-N-C”

Magda, Ali, Sammie, and Henry near the summit. Not a bad road to ski!

Made it!

The thunderstorms held off in the afternoon, but the humidity did not as we headed back out the door for a now-legendary workout: the Mountain Camp Bounding Intervals. Last year’s edition was held at Attitash, and this year we went right own the street to Cranmore. After a warmup jog and mobility, we did 2×5 min L3 skiwalking to get our climbing legs moving. From there it was on to 10×2 minutes of all-out uphill power!

Last year I inadvertently started the tradition of making a speech before the harder section so I once again tried to motivate the crew to dig deeper than ever. What was really interesting this year was that I felt like less of a loud, aggressive speech was needed. In fact, that was the theme of my speech: everyone in this club has done such a good job of supporting each other, and even moreso over this very week of Mountain Camp, that I only need to encourage and facilitate that support rather than force it or demand it.

Each night, Ben L had us go around the table and share a “high point” of the day and give a “kudos” to someone else, after which everyone would give a round of applause. That’s the sort of thing Sara or I could have sat everyone down and instigated, but it happened organically from the group and it happened every night, and even as everyone got out into the parking lot on the last day.

That’s not to say my talking points didn’t get heated at times…and I’ll leave it at this: we’ve been getting buzz as “up-and-comers” in the ski world, and this year we’re poised to show everyone that we’re done with the “coming-up” part. As I phrased it, “it’s time to be the club other people try to come up TO!”

And with that we were off up the mountain. Sweaty and gross, we only got one photo thanks to the kindness of the summit lift attendant. I think the fatigue is plenty evident:

Not only can you see the fatigue, you can almost see the humidity hanging thick in the air

On Saturday it may have seemed like a reprieve to have only one session, but when it’s a 5-hour loop that leads to the top of Mt Washington and back, it carries the weight of a few training days. On the way up we found SNOW in Tuckerman Ravine, and even passed two guys hiking in with skis to get their monthly turns in since it was July 1.

Snow in July!

Top of the cog railway above the clouds at the summit

We once again managed to hit the weather perfectly, getting a view at the top before only getting engulfed in rain during the last hour of the hike down. After we got back it was time for some much-needed rest. With tornado warnings on the radio and buzzing on all of our phones, we figured it would be a fine afternoon for some ice cream. We put on our rain gear and headed across the street to Lickety Spliz ice cream shop and had the place to ourselves given the forecast.

On our final day, we woke up and did an immaculate cleaning job to get the condo in better shape than we found it. But we weren’t done training! Like last year, we made a trip up to Santa’s Village for an out-and-back rollerski on a nearby country road the wound its way toward Lancaster. Different groups skied for varying amounts depending on how they were feeling, from 1:15 all the way up to about 2 hours. It was a nice sunny day and everyone put in a great final workout. After the camp, as Ben’s watch showed, it’s time for a lighter week!

Time for some recovery

It’s worth noting that a few of these workouts were the same ones as last year. Everyone crushed these particular workouts faster and with better technique than last year. We’ve got veteran skiers taking new strides, younger skiers embracing the sport and training lifestyle like never before, and even new friends from Brattleboro who we were psyched to have along (thanks Sam and Henry!). Already looking forward to Mountain Camp 2018!

More photos (Flickr album)

DP video edit:


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