Cory Wallace has a way of finding himself in the most interesting training situations. Of all his adventures, playing shinny on a frozen Himalayan lake in the rarified air at 5,100m elevation has to be one of the most Canadian moments in the history of cycling training camps.
It’s not just the highlight reel, skating on a frozen lake with Mt. Everest as a backdrop, that sets Wallace’s training camp apart. The hockey game capped off a unique cross-training program that saw him hiking through remote regions of the Himalayas for 36 days.
Cory Wallace and a high-altitude Himalayan hockey game
At a time of year when most Canadian pro cyclists are headed south to warmer climates for easy base miles – locations like Hawaii, California and Arizona that would double as very nice vacation spots – Wallace is usually in some far corner of the map, far from the creature comforts of major urban centers.
The Jasper, Alta.-raised mountain biker is clearly comfortable adapting to the unexpected, even in situations where others would be uneasy, if not very uncomfortable. The past few years have proved the Canadian’s resilience. Locked down in Nepal? Why not do an Everesting in the shadow of Mt. Everest to support a local monastery? Stuck in South Africa by sudden travel restrictions? Perfect opportunity for an FKT on Mt. Kilimanjaro and bikepacking base miles through the Serengeti.
Wallace’s latest adventure took much more planning, though. The Canadian first spotted Gokyo Lakes, and their potential for high-altitude hockey, two years ago. When he returned to Nepal this year for winter training, and another swing at the Yak Attack MTB stage race (he won), Wallace packed a stick and skates in with his bikes. A friend then sent the gear by plane from Kathmandu to meet Wallace high up in the mountains, where he carried them on his back for the final week of his 36-day trek.
“It made the pack pretty heavy. I had to hang the skates outside, same with the sticks,” Wallace recalls. It also attracted attention. “Everyone was pretty stoked. All the foreigners were pretty excited, all the Sherpa thought I was going skiing.”
Wallace put in three days on skates across a string of different lakes. After testing the ice outside the main lodge on the first day, Wallace headed even higher.
“One of the lakes was at the base of Mt. Cho Oyu, one of the 8,000m mountains,” Wallace says….
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