34th Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot


Athabaskan: Sonot (pronounced “SAW NOT”, “springtime”) Kkaazoot (“to slide your feet across the snow”)

Saturday, 27 March 2021 (Details this winter)

Meanwhile, check out Eric Troyer’s summary and compilation of results from the 2020 Virtual Sonot Kkaazoot:


Scroll down on this website for individual skier and/or group stories.

QUESTIONS:  contact@sonotkkaazoot.org

Sonot 2015 start_sm

Photo of the 2015 start by Chris Hemming

Banner photo courtesy of Retrospection Image.

Fun in the black loops on Friday the 13th

Although our fearless leader (and grooming hero), Bill Husby was injured and unable to join the remedial SCUM for our Friday workout, we prevailed in his absence. Bill had warned us that the downhills were fast, faster than anytime this season. So we decided to head for the black loops, where the lower volume of skier traffic would make the downhills safer.

Without Bill or Dan Johnson today (and with Dermot, starting well behind us), it wasn’t a popular decision to head down the black loops, but being SCUM, they begrudgedly followed. We found lots of tracks, fox tracks in the new snow, including around this den.

Fox hole on the N40 trail (All photos in this post from Joanna Fox)

As we were finishing up the N40, we had to make the decision whether to take the Black Baron cutoff or head for the luge run on the Black Hole. Being a cautious skier after multiple injuries, Mom headed down the Black Baron where a snow snake grabbed her ski. Uninjured, she got up without removing her skis or dignity:

Motherly encouragement by demonstrating how much fun the Black Baron downhill was

As we were finally extracting ourselves from the Black Hole, we turned around and saw Dermot Cole behind us. Unlike the rest of us, Dermot was skating so didn’t have the excuse of kick wax shearing in the tracks as an excuse for a fall. So to make the rest of us feel better, Dermot deliberately fell while standing in place:

Dermot down on Competition Loop near the intersection with the Tommy Knocker extention

In going down, Dermot jointed the rest of us who looked like we’d rolled in powder sugar:

Staying sociallly distanced as we individually roll in the newly fallen snow.

All of us agreed after skiing the black loops on Friday the 13th, that the trails were lovely and that conditions were perfect for our early season fitness. Here’s the smiling crew as we finished our recovery ski of 6.7 km with 185 m of climb.

If you haven’t already done so, please donate to the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks trail fund so we can keep having fun on the trails this winter while doing our part to flatten the COVID-19 curve.


You can also drop contributions (cash or checks) in the Iron Ranger as you enter the Recreation Area from the main parking lot.

Cautionary note on early season skiing

As one of the trail groomers for the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks, perhaps no individual spends more time on the Birch Hill trails during the winter than our own Bill Husby. On Wednesday, he was “at the office” as seen in this photo from Byron Broda:

Brother Bill at the office on 10-21-20sm

And on Thursday, Bill sent me this trail report:

“Went skiing on the White Bear this morning. Skiing on the trails with the current conditions are not for the faint hearted. Went down the W Cub, thru Range and around WB. Rather than returning the same way up the W. Cub backwards, I chose to travel through Biathlon Way backwards. Big Mistake! Caught a rock and did an instant face plant and snapped a pole. Fortunately no major injuries, just pride and money.” 


Although I’m sure that one of our local ski shops will appreciate Bill’s unplanned business, we are definitely relieved to hear that Bill did not injure himself in his mishap.

So, skiers, beware of hidden hazards.

What La Nina means for winter in Alaska

1st single digit day at FWW_sm

NOAA has indicated that the winter of 2020 to 2021 will be influenced by a mild La Nina, which usually means colder temperatures for Alaska. So although we’re still not skiing, you should start acclimating to colder temperatures by ski walking with poles if you want to enjoy the snow when it has covered the ski trails. 

Ask a Climatologist: What to expect when you’re expecting La Niña

SCUM participate in FNSB Trails Challenge

Socially distanced SCUM head up the stadium ramp on a sunny Friday morning

The remedial SCUM headed toward the Tower loop for our normal Friday morning workout of multiple ascents of the Fort Wainwright alpine hill. However, today we were greeted with sunny blue skies and decided to take a different trail to the towers. En route, we encountered one of the Fairbanks North Star Borough Summer Trails Challenge signs. However, we were upstaged by a cute bear cub:

SCUM snag a FBNB Trails Challenge sign but aren’t on social media so can’t promote their accomplishment.

Not wanting to be accused of harassing wild life, the SCUM left the cub to his gymnastics and went on to do their three ascents of the Fort Wainwright alpine hill. Afterwards, wayward Robert signed the rock to document his rock carrying efforts from 17June.Don’t you want to join the successful few who have carried the rock up the 0.83 km under the Fort Wainwright alpine hill chair lift? We’ll be back there again next Friday.

Debunking SCUM myths with science

In an attempt to add a fresh challenge to our ski walking up the Fort Wainwright ski hill, this season the SCUM added carrying “the rock” that Allen Doyle (former Equinox Marathon winner and Sonot Kkaazoot skier) used to slow himself down when training with the SCUM last summer.

As reported here, Bill Husby and Robert Hannon were the first SCUM to carry “the rock”, previously estimated to be 30 pounds:


Several weeks later, Carl Hemming carried “the rock” up the hill in a backpack.


Because Carl is a retired Alaska Fish and Game fish biologist, we asked him if he had a fish scale that we could use to weigh the rock. Being a professional at estimating fish by eye, Carl didn’t need a scale. However, Dan Johnson, our retired nurse and EMT administrator had one and offered to bring the scale and a shopping bag to hold the rock to today’s workout. So before we did our 3 ascents of the FWW ski hill, we officially weighed “the rock” and it was lighter than all our estimates at a mere 20.2 pounds:

weighing the rock

Bill Husby in official Sonot Kkaazoot orange tank top holds “the rock” in Dan’s fish scale

Bill was the only rock hauler that showed up for today’s workout and his estimate of the rock’s weight was the closest to today’s measurement (Carl was fishing and Robert was recovering from a tough night). However, the three gramps and I did three ascents of the FWW ski hill in the unfamilar sun today.

3 Gramps w ski poles after 3 FWW

Three Gramps wait on platform at the top of FWW ski hill for me to finish

We walked up Beacon Road and down the Tower Loop to the Birch Hill parking lot where our four silver Subarus awaited us.

SCUM w silver Subarus

4 SCUM owned silver Subarus (that match our hair color)

My car like my carcass was the oldest model at the workout today.

Join us on Fridays at 9:00 a.m. We also let skiers with blue and red vehicles to ski walk and carry the rock.

SCUM have no problem social distancing on Ester Dome

Without an Equinox Marathon in 2020, there’s no problem social distancing while ski walking on Ester Dome. Today Bernardo was so far ahead of me, I didn’t even see when he crested the top.

social distanced on dome

However, most of the SCUM still had their masks handy, just in case, we couldn’t social distance.

Masked on dome

All photos by Joanna Fox

Enjoy ski training outside, but make sure you are well separated from your training partners while breathing hard on the uphills. We had no problem with a group widely varying in age and fitness. Today we were able to climb above the fog, but didn’t really appreciate the sun above Henderson Road until we were heading back down from the dome.

Rocky II: the SCUM workout

With the prediction of yet another wet weather system engulfing the Fairbanks area this weekend, the SCUM had less than their normal enthusiasm for Friday’s Fort Wainwright hill climb. Thoughtfully, Dan decided to wear his rain jacket to appease the weather gods. By contrast, Dermot wore a classy sombrero in an attempt to confuse the weather gods.

Preparing for Rocky II

The prescribed workout was for 3 repeats of the hill and it was Carl’s turn to do it with the rock. He arrived with a camo backpack as he hadn’t taken his turn hauling the rock back in mid June when Bill and Robert carried the rock uphill on their shoulders:


After a warm-up hill climb without the rock, Carl did his hauling duty that slowed his hill climb time by 4 minutes.

30# is what percent of my body weight

and gave him reason to celebrate: with a V for victory. Dan provided moral support as he’s still in PT after his shoulder surgery:

V for victory

Bill Husby (aka Poles) also had reason to celebrate as he set a new hill climb PR on his second ascent with a time of 10:48:28. I took a photo of his Apple watch but it was blurred by the aura still surrounding him. He made a special reference to his time as a challenge for Joanna, “the kid” to beat next Friday.

Poles celebrates his ascent PR

Having used a backpack, Carl told us, “I am not 70 yet!” by hefting the rock without pack assist:

Rocky isnt 70

Back in the Birch Hill parking lot after the workout, “Rocky” kept repeating the same 5 words: “I am not 70 yet.” That will have to wait until March 2021.

4th of July celebration under COVID-19

During summer, the Friday morning workout for the remedial SCUM is ski walking up the Fort Wainwright alpine hill under the chair lift. Today to celebrate the 4th of July while taking COVID-19 precautions, we decided to do four ascents of the FWW alpine hill, a first for all of us. The day’s motto was “4 for the 4th!”

It was sunny when we arrived at the top of the alpine hill and dropped down to the start. Joanna, who ended up following Bill Husby up ascent #1, was already channeling her inner Eeoye as we walked back down. However, she found herself drawn up the hill three more times by one bionic kneed SCUM and pushed by the other,

From 2 to 4 looks like this

I can’t believe I climbed that alpine hill 4 times!

and she had the data to prove that she had done it.


While our fellow SCUM play in Denali or Homer, we celebrated our 4 on the 4th on the top of the hill

Celebrating the 4th under COVID

4 FWW hills for 4th

and in the Birch Hill parking lot:

Celebrating the 4th

Joanna had thoughtfully brought an entire case of Hawaiian beer expecting that our “definitely maybe” SCUM would join us. Because we had our hearts set on salty, greasy foods after our 705 m of climb today, the beer will still be in her van next week if you run out of excuses and decide to train with us.

SCUM hill training rocks

The COVID-19 has kept the SCUM close to home this summer. To keep us from going stark crazy, we’ve been hill training in preparation for crushing whatever mountain is put in our path.

Masked and social distanced while prepping for workout

Masked and social distanced in the Birch Hill parking lot, we discussed the workout objective: ski walking three times up the Fort Wainwright alpine hill (on the trail under the chair lift). For extra challenge (and bragging rights), a SCUM could carry a 30 pound rock down and back up the ski hill (a trick we learned from Allen Doyle last summer).

We accessed the Fort Wainwright alpine hill from the Tower Direct trail so we had a 1 mile warm-up before we descended  0.84 km to our first hill climb start. Bill Husby carried the rock down from the bench at the top (where it has been stashed since last summer), and then demonstrated on the proper carrying technique up.

On hill repeat #2, Robert decided to carry the rock. He tried to use gravity to roll the rock down the hill. However, having been a philosophy not physics major, Robert and the rock disappeared into the nearby woods.

Robert did eventually retrieve the rock and carried it on hill repeat #2 being paced by Carl and Dan.Carl & Dan pace Robert w rock on hill repeat 2

and finished hill realizing that gravity still ruled.

Robert and rock on repeat 2

Carl was supposed to carry the rock on hill repeat #3 (Dan was exempt because he recently had shoulder surgery), but forgot his pack frame. So all the guys did hill repeat #3 with just their poles:

Hill repeat 3 wo rock

This 8.0 km workout had 625 m of ascent (and descent) under beautiful blue skies and a light breeze. During those hill repeats, we were temporarily relieved from the stress of grim national and state news, and concentrated on just putting one foot in front of the other without tripping. Even the mosquitoes seemed to ignore us on the FWW alpine hill.

We’ll do it again next Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. if you want to join us. The groans and sighs at the end will be the best of the entire day.