It's glacier time! Every summer hundreds of racers descend on Government Camp, then ascend up this famous volcano in search of reps and extended coaching. A quick look around on snow recently would have seen plenty of SYNC athletes and coaches including Redneck Racing's Tucker Marshall and Sandy Vietze, Andrew McNealus, Nolan Kasper, and coach/big mountain skier Conor McDonald. We caught up with Conor for an update on this year's scene.
SYNC: Thanks for taking some time to catch up! Who are you out there with?
Conor: No prob! I am here with the USST men’s devo camp which includes some of the fastest kids from all three regions (West, Rocky/Central, East). The ages attending the camp range from 14 to 18.
SYNC: You've been going up there for years! Anything changing?
Conor: Hood life has not changed much in the 16 years I have been coming here as a racer and a coach. This is the place to come to see familiar faces and people enjoying some summer training. The only big change is that the Huck shakes are now 9 dollars, every year it feels like the get more expensive, but good treat for after the hill.
SYNC: Damn inflation. How about the snow?
Conor: I don't track the snow well enough to know if it is changing much but from my personal experience the snow is going very fast this year. This may be due to the fact that the glacier ice on the Palmer is no longer there so the snow doesn't stay as cold and now it is less of a glacier and more of a farmed snow field.
SYNC: Gotcha. Same sad story on glaciers around the world. What have you been doing off snow?
Conor: Tons of options for dryland training at Mt Hood! Lots of swimming and hiking to places like Mirror Lake, Trillium lake, and the waterfall hike “Tamanawas Falls”. If you bring out other fun toys you can go rock climbing at French's Dome or you can go mountain bike the Post Canyon area. Lastly are the field sessions full of fun games such as ultimate frisbee and speedball.
Also, on your day off it is well worth the drive to go raft the Deschutes river or go paint-balling outside of Sandy.
SYNC: Life is good in the mountains huh? Any gear you recommend to racers making their first trip out?
Conor: Coming from Alaska I can't live without my Dump Truck duff. The thing is a legit dump truck, it is very easy to get an over size bag charge from the airlines. The longer zipper range on the lid makes it super easy to pack compared to the North Face and Patagonia bags.
PONCH IS LIFE!!!!!!! Everyone is boasting on the cool new Element Shell tall rain layer and the poppin logo. Hood is notorious for wind and rain. This piece is a must have for ski camps at hood.
Good bibs are a must as well. As a coach I can rock my bib with with all my coaching gear in tow. they carry my range finder, Leatherman, drill holster, radio holster, sunscreen, lip balm (Burt's Bees), bag of left over bacon from the Huck. The kids make fun of me because when I hit the buffet line I can store my drink cup, napkin, and silverware in the chest pockets and carry two plates to the table so I only have to go through the line once!
SYNC: That's a piece of feedback we hadn't heard yet on the Pro Bibs, but hey, that's why we add handy pockets. Thanks again for your time and have a fun and productive rest of the summer!
Conor McDonald hails from Copper Mountain, Colorado. Most people know him as Da Bucky. When he wasn’t pursuing his outdoor adventures of climbing, hunting, and backcountry skiing, he ski raced for Team Summit. As a junior athlete he won all four disciplines in the Junior Olympics and qualified for the US Ski and Snowboard Development team. He then followed his dreams to Alaska where Sparky Anderson gave him a spot to join the UAA Seawolves. After completing his undergraduate, Bucky discovered he loves to see how much others enjoy the sport of ski racing and is coaching for the Alyeska Ski Club while chasing big Alaskan peaks in his free time.
Special thanks to Andrew McNealus, Tucker Marshall for photos