We go to the mountains to find clarity and to simplify, to move in nature in the company of friends...
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Endurance athletes, myself included, spend a lot of time training alone, logging countless miles and meters of vertical, either on our skis or in running shoes. We have goals and ambitions! We have a drive for continuous improvement, and to achieve our objectives, whether those take the form of a race, FKT or other mountaineering goal. But it’s natural for one’s motivation to keep pushing to ebb and flow. Sometimes as the training load intensifies or the goals seem distant, I find myself looking for additional motivation and inspiration. Or simply needing a break from the daily grind of training.
With a season that included racing 11 times (from the end of Decemeber through the end of March) in Canada's skimo race circuit, where I was able to place first in all my races except the North American Championships Individual race (finished 2nd), I was certainly in need of a break. My hut trip to Purcell Mountain Lodge (near Golden, British Columbia) with fellow La Sportiva athletes Janelle Smiley and Nick Elson was a welcome mid season reprieve that allowed me to dial back my training for some low intensity mileage.
Powder Break in British Columbia:
I met Janelle last year at World Championships in Italy’s Dolomites, and immediately knew she was someone I wanted to get to know better. Janelle is a highly skilled mountaineer who has an infectious energy in the mountains. You could see her light up with each spectacular view or awesome powder run. She brought the energy to the group with her impromptu dance parties and funny jokes.
I have known Nick for many years as we are both on the Canadian National Ski Mountaineering team. It is always a privilege to get out in the mountains with Nick. While outwardly calm and quiet, he has a confident way of navigating the terrain. He is a truly humble athlete, but also a world class runner, climber and skier. Fortunately, Nick also has a good sense of humour, and Janelle and I had fun teasing him like pestering sisters.
A hut trip is really the heart of what I love about ski touring and why I started doing it in the first place. It takes you to beautiful places, allows you to ski fun lines and hang out with great people. It is an opportunity to shut out the hurry of life and just ski for no other reason than IT'S FUN!
Each day at the hut we woke around 8 AM, fueled up with a hearty breakfast and set out with the crew to for a full six to eight-hour day of skiing. As skimo racers, we are used to travelling fast and light with minimal breaks. However, this trip was different. We slowed the pace, making time to chat, took breaks and ate real food when we felt like it. The only rule of the trip: no crossing another person’s tracks. Fresh tracks all day!
At first it was difficult to get used to the slower pace, but we soon established a good rhythm. Each day we would arrive back early afternoon for gourmet après ski snacks, sauna, shower, chat and then meet up for an awesome family style dinner followed by dessert, games, reading or just chilling out. Then we would all retire to our soft and comfy beds with dreams of more powder skiing the next day.
As endurance athletes, it is important to schedule some downtime into your training routine. It refreshes you both mentally and physically. The trip to Purcell provided a great location to come back to the heart of ski touring, develop deeper friendships and recharge.
Photos and Video: © Studio Dialog
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kylee Toth Ohler is a member of the La Sportiva Ski Team.
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