photos: Peter Matlashewski

Riding the Horstman glacier this year is a bit of an ethical project. On any given day an army of personnel and machinery digs and pushes and scoops huge sections of snowpack out of the hillside. Their job is to prolong the summer season as far as possible. It sort of begs the question whether that’s really worth the trouble.

The sections of dirty blue ice visible on the glacier are like huge lesions in the mountainside. Meltwater drains constantly over them in cascades that are audible from the Horstman t-bar line. A puddle the size of a backyard swimming pool is growing slowly near the entrance to the showcase t-bar line. Folks chuckle sarcastically at the risk of a crevasse – one that usually appears in September or October – opening somewhere under Momentum’s park lane. I am reminded that it’s July 7th and the sarcasm feels like another way of expressing the idea: “ehh, this seems kind of fucked up.”

Nick McNutt | Photo: Frida Berglund

But okay, stop and think for a moment. It’s July, and we are here a couple thousand metres above sea level, skiing. We’re in a fortunate position, so it’s only fair to take in the experience. Furthermore, the hill is alive with all types of skiers.

Camper Benny Osnow | Photo: Frida Berglund

On a given day on the glacier you’ll see blurry hordes of young skiers weaving down the slopes. They spin and switch up through the segregated lanes that mark out each portion of the glacier. In the COC lane, the coaches stick out amongst their campers. They spend most of their days lapping with the kids and then at some point some campers will fall off and some will go home to the hotel, and the coach will be left with one or two talented kids tagging along. It’s a nice thing to watch the progression of a group like Maude Raymond’s, whose girls were spinning off of rails and sending backflips by the middle of the week.

Maude & co

Rob Heule

Edit: Peter Matlashewski

On a given day on the glacier the camp coaches will stay late and hold a sunset session on the biggest jump. The glacier, in the evening, takes on an unearthly mood. As the rocks start to glow with the pastel colours of the sunset, the temperature drops to a more manageable degree and the lucky few who remain are witness to the serenity of the mountains. The hill gets quiet; the perpetual motion of the day ends, and the runs are emptied. Taking the t-bar at this hour is almost meditative, and the riders cover the hill in a huge loop. Their orbit through the park lane and up the t-bar takes roughly 15 minutes. In a quirk of the system, no rider ever seems particularly interested in the sunset shoot. It might be that someone who was involved in an ad sale is trying to get him or her to demo a product. A lack of synchronisation between the riders in the shoot and the people organizing it doesn't help either.

Nick McNutt switch 5

Jarred, Sandy, Khai mid-train

Written into these snapshots is the impression that the heyday of summer ski camps might be past. It’s not for a lack of passion on the part of the people operating them. The problem is that there is less and less to be passionate about.

Ken and Doug

Except for that on certain days on the glacier the conditions will call the shots. On these days it doesn’t matter either way how much snow there is. There are no new tricks to learn, no upward progression to speak of. The fun wrap up party you had planned is now rained out, and most people have just gone down. For those farsighted enough to have brought outerwear to camp, things could be worse. For those who brought only a t-shirt, there is a lesson to be learned or else a new level of perseverance to be gained. Every errant block of snow becomes its own feature. This is the kind of day when Ken puts on the Steve Miller band and everyone acknowledges to their self or to others that it is “the right call.” This is the kind of day for flatspins on the t-bar, and mercifully it’s the kind of day that can snap you out of your apocalyptic funk to just enjoy it while it’s here. As Jarred Martin put it, with a grin: “just another day in paradise.”

Sandy, Rob and the clouds