On the weekend of February 21st, 2014, I attended Balance Point Racing‘s (BPR) Winter High Altitude Training (WHAT) Camp for 2014 at Silverstar mountain. The camp was to be a 3-day affair which included some snowshoeing, swimming, and running at higher altitude than Kelowna. In comparison to Kelowna which is at around 300 meter elevation above seal level, Silverstar mountain ranges from around 1500-1700+ meters above sea level so it was definitely higher altitude than normal.
The first event of the weekend started with getting together and going on an night time snowshoe on Friday evening. Going into this weekend, my thoughts were that since we were at high altitude, we would be going on longer snowshoe hikes with lower intensity. Boy was I wrong!!! Normally there are perfectly groomed snowshoe trails and that’s where people go. Apparently that’s not eXtreme enough for the BPR people because we jumped into the backcountry right away. On the first day there were 8-10 of us and although I thought they were a little crazy, I trusted that they knew what they were doing and jumped in feet first… and got stuck for the first time.
After to get myself out of the snow hole, I quickly realized that although my snowshoes worked great for packed trails, they were not long enough to give me enough flotation in the deeper snow. Nevertheless, I traded snowshoes with the Guardian, who’s snowshoes were a bit bigger, and was able to get through the night. I got through it, but it was definitely one of the hardest, and funnest, workouts I’ve ever had to do.
Day 2 had us starting with a morning snowshoe, another 2 hour adventure in the backcountry, followed by a swimming session in the afternoon that Luke recorded for stroke analysis on day 3 at lunch. Day 2 started with some jumping around as can be seen in the video below and the still captures from the video seen above. Luke was nice enough to get me some awesome 36″ long snowshoes from the store so that I wasn’t sinking every time I took a step and these were exponentially better than the ones I used on the first day.
Even with the bigger snowshoes, however, I needed learn how to go up steep inclines and since the way the rest of the group was going was a bit too steep for me, my coach, Emma, and I split off from the main group and went adventuring on our own in the fresh snow. The next couple photos show some of the fantastic backcountry in Silverstar.
Day 3 started with a run session and once again, I was amazed that even though there was a perfectly good road to run on, Luke led us through the packed snowshoe trails. Let me tell you that this was quite an experience as well because it all fine and dandy running on the actual packed snow but if you accidentally deviate ever so slightly off the packed portion of the trail, you quickly find yourself knee deep in snow. We had a good 50 minute run after which I was adequately tired and famished and headed back to the lodge to get some food, rest, and change into dry clothes.
We spent our time waiting for the rest of the group who had gone cross-country skiing and Luke took each of us through the swimming videos he had recorded the previous day. After everyone had a chance to recuperate, we got ready for our last session of the weekend which was the third and last snowshoe session. Of course we jumped right into the backcountry right away and as you can see from the videos and photos below it was quite a hike. At one point I was taking a break, having some eLoad, and the rest of the group had gone ahead around a bend so I couldn’t really hear anyone else. It was snowing and I looked around at the trees and the landscape of undulating snow and felt like I was inside a snow-globe. An to top it all off, all the athletes who attended, who are in way better shape than I was, were so supportive and encouraging the whole time. Quite an adventurous weekend for me, eXtremely challenging, and very satisfying!