Here are a few photographs from our “adventure” ski at Birch Hill this morning. We were treated to a red fox on the Tower Direct, but the only other skiers we saw were Nanooks.
With temperatures dropping just into the low 40s overnight, the crust is not overly firm so light poling and flat skis were essential.
Taking off our skis at the bottom of South Tower was worth the effort, because the climb had remarkable glide, making for a fast ascent.
White Bear has one major water hazard outbound from the Sonot Connector junction but skiing to Hilltop was fun as long as you didn’t bury your poles.
With predicted daytime highs in the 50s, our record snowpack is going down fast. With the pistenbully down and waiting for a part to be trucked from Reno, Tom Helmers has been grooming icy trails with the Sherpa and drag. Although less effective than the pistenbully, this grooming allows skiers with marginal technique to still enjoy the sunshine and fast trail conditions.
The spring warmth also encourages skiers to seek their own trails through the crust-covered snow, researching stories to inform and educate us.
UAF will be presenting Dermot Cole a Doctor of Humane Letters degree on
Friday, 29 April 2022 in the Davis Concert Hall, beginning at 5 p.m.
When the SCUM gathered for the start of the 35th Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot several weeks ago, no one was out warming up for the 50 km version. Only two had signed up for the 50 course, and neither finished it.
For comparison, just 22 years earlier, a dozen SCUM finished the 50 km Sonot Kkaazoot including Carl Hemming, the only remaining primordial SCUM in Fairbanks. Thumper, as Carl is better known, has been training with the SCUM for all 25 ski seasons:
Carl skied the 30 km event this year. Early in his SCUM career, Thumper finished the 50 km Sonot Kkaazoot by skating the Chena River portion and classical skiing up the Fort Wainwright alpine hill and all the Birch Hill trails. Carl strategically changed ski gear at FWW, figuring that even considering the time it took to change ski boots, he would end up ahead.
Here’s a photo taken of the Y2K SCUM during a Sunday workout. How many can you recognize?
Only Poles, Thumper, and Susan are part of both photographs taken 22 years apart. However, both Poles and Mom no longer are skiing on the original equipment knees.
Some of the SCUM reappear only for Springtime skiing as yesterday Kent and Mike joined us for Sunnyside adventures:
Springtime skiing is the best for skiing and socializing. Make sure you’ve donated to the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks grooming fund so that we can continue skiing on our record snowpack:
Eric Troyer displaced me as Sonot Kkaazoot caboose this year, and now I think he’d be a perfect replacement for me as the Sonot Kkaazoot blogger. He’s a far superior storyteller and makes me seriously question why I am working on an MFA in creative writing.
Here’s the URL to Eric’s 35th Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot, alternative 50 km:
Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks skier, ski instructor, supporter, and volunteer, Owen Hanley has been named to the U.S. Masters team based on his performances at the 2022 Masters World Cup Races in Canmore.
See our previous post on his efforts in Canmore:
Congratulations to the top three skiers in each of the new Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot distances:
Men’s 50 km: Galen Johnston with a time of 2:35:05.8; Wells Wappett, 2:36:30.2; and Alex Morris, 2:39:12.4.
Women’s 50 km: Rosie Fordham with a time of 2:43:15.8; Kendall Kramer, 2:48:08.3; and Alison Arians, 2:49:55.5.
Women’s 30 km: Meredith Schwartz, 1:53:00.5; Mallory Presler, 1:58:11.4, and Inga Peterson, 2:52:35.9.
Men’s 30 km: Kieran Kaufman, 1:37:05.8, Owen Wooller, 1:40:10.1, and Thomas St. Clair, 1:42:06.6.
Men’s 10 km: Elias Engman, 32:38.0, Peter Delamere, 33:59.0, and Reid Merrill, 35:41.2.
Women’s 10 km: Hannah Delamere, 41:55.1, Lilli Bond, 41:55.5, and Ellie Abrahamson, 43:02.2.
The National Weather Service Fairbanks posted this graphic on their Facebook page today. It indicates that we have the snowpack for great spring skiing, provided you contribute to the trails fund so that the groomers can continue to buy diesel for the Pistenbully.
Please donate to the NSCF Trails Fund:
When the SCUM group started 25 years ago as an uncoachable group of men, mostly over 40 years old, the final exam was to ski the 50 km Sonot Kkaazoot. This year, 25 years older, slower, and perhaps, wiser, none of the SCUM finished the 50 km course yesterday.
The new 50 km Sonot Kkaazoot course had an additional 20 km of hilly Birch Hill trails instead of the flat Chena River. After a La Nina winter of unusually cold weather, abundant snowfall and record rainfall, those of us who remained in Fairbanks all winter, had spent more time shoveling and scooping snow than skate skiing.
Yet, the 35th Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot was held under glorious spring weather so all of us, 10- and 30-km Sonot Kkaazoot skiers and volunteers were sore and exhausted today before our post-Sonot workout.
Still dealing with Sonot Kkaazoot organization duties, I was late for today’s workout and hoped that the group would have left without me. Alas, they were still in the stadium discussing whether predator-prey ratios in the ocean are mathematically determined. Some SCUM don’t understand the meaning of retirement.
I headed off down the White Cub and White Bear toward the Sonot Connector that none of us skied on race day.
The Sonot Connector descent was exhilarating and the views from the FWW alpine hill were stunning.
However, the real SCUM antics surfaced when they discovered a new avalanche patch on the Cliffside trail and in their delusional states from yesterday’s Sonot, thought they saw a body near the bottom of the avalanche requiring investigation.
First Joanna skied toward the avalanche and fell, so Carl attempted to rescue her. but decided against it.
Then Dermot tried to approach the avalanche on foot.
and discovers the SCUM hat belonging to Susan that he propped up on his ski pole:
before discovering how tiring walking in deep snow can be:
Sufficiently recovered, the SCUM skied up until they found a snowy patch that they thought might be suitable for snow angels. Robert demonstrates a face down snow angel:
Amazingly, we eventually finished our military transit from White Bear to Sunnyside and back to the stadium in under 2 hours on the morning after the Sonot when trails were icy and fast. All bets are off on whether I would have been found with my hat in the Cliffside avalanche today if I had attempted section 3 of the 50 km Sonot Kkaazoot.
Thanks to everyone who volunteered for or participated in the 35th Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot. The trails were awesome and the spirit of everyone on them was fantastic. Enjoy spring skiing.
The 35th Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot introduced skiers to three new courses, all at Birch Hill. These courses led to interesting demographics with respect to skiers’ hometowns. In the 10 km event, we had seven skiers from California (Los Angeles or Palmdale) and one from Connecticut. The 30 km course was dominated by local skiers with only one skier from Anchorage and one from Port Angeles, Washington. In the marque 50 km event, we had 10 finishers from Anchorage and the Mat-Su area, two skiers from Estonia, and one from New Hampshire.
We hope that out-of-town skiers return for the 36th Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot and bring your families and friends. Hopefully, we can safely return to having the celebratory awards ceremony with our handmade age-class woodels.