End of an era for the SCUM

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.

SCUM rest on the White Bear on the morning after the Sonot Kkaazoot–photo by Joanna Fox
Joanna falls on White Bear trying to demonstrate how a high school skier tried to slow her down during the Sonot —photo by Bill Husby

The Sonot Connector descent was exhilarating and the views from the FWW alpine hill were stunning.

Dermot, Bill, and Susan look out to the Alaska Range–photo by Joanna Fox

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.

All that remains of some poor SCUM in an avalanche on Cliffside trail–photo by Joanna Fox

First Joanna skied toward the avalanche and fell, so Carl attempted to rescue her. but decided against it.

Carl attempts to rescue Joanna–video by Bill Husby

Then Dermot tried to approach the avalanche on foot.

Dermot attempts to approach avalanche on foot–photo by Joanna Fox

and discovers the SCUM hat belonging to Susan that he propped up on his ski pole:

Susan’s SCUM hat--photo by Bill Husby

before discovering how tiring walking in deep snow can be:

Dermot rescues Susan’s hat–video by Joanna Fox

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:

Robert attempts snow angel in early morning crust–video by Joanna Fox

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.

Blues skies and Ester Dome PRs after 1.5″ of rain

After several days of rain in Fairbanks, the SCUM were delighted to find blue skies on Ester Dome. There are no photos of the climb since Bernardo and Bill were moving WAY too fast. Bernardo had just returned from Palm Springs where it had been 109 deg F, so it was 70 deg cooler when we started climbing at 9 a.m from St. Pat’s. Seeing as Bernardo has absolutely no body fat, his “strolling” gait overtook all of us. Meanwhile, Bill was on a mission to get his ascent time under 50 minutes and achieved that by chasing Bernardo.

Bernardo and Bill in shorts had seasonal PRs on their Ester Dome ascents

After Bernardo was duly reprimanded for not using his poles correctly, we asked Robert Hannon to demonstrate good technique. Robert was just returning to action after being on the SCUM disabled list for a painful hip. Here’s his demo with his right leg:

and his not-quite-so perfect left side:

The SCUM were impressed by the cloud formations in the valley below us:

Awesome clouds below

before switching to conversations about state politics. Mom stopped to take photos of our more interesting local surroundings:

Robert urging Mom to hurry up

All of us agreed that the workout was amazing and even for those of us who fell short of making a seasonal PR, the effort, company, and beauty made the effort worthwhile.

The gray cars driven by the gray haired and bearded SCUM

Adapting to a little rain on Ester Dome

After a very dry summer, the recent rains have resulted in soft and slimey road surfaces with an occasional downed tree. SCUM attendence for today’s ascent (and descent) of Ester Dome was down in numbers and enthusiasm as seen in this first photo from the top:

With proper coaxing, they were able to smile and then show mud residues from their ascents.

Right footed Mom and left foot dominant Bernardo

Bill had sprayed some vegan bug dope with teflon on his legs before we started. Not only were mosquitoes repelled, but mud was too:

Bernardo without teflon (left) and Bill with (right)

Only Bill would be wearing white socks on a thoroughly wet day. However, he kept his socks and legs a lot cleaner than the rest of us did.

Descending into the fog, we celebrated another Ester Dome ascent as we can prepare for winter 2021-2022 and whatever surprises it will bring.

No rainbow with a pot of gold yet this morning

4 FWW ascents for the 9th of July (delayed due to smoke)

For the SCUM, each year increases the challenge. Last year, one 70 year old SCUM and two youngsters did 4 ascents of the Fort Wainwright chair lift trail for the 4th of July. (https://sonotkkaazoot.org/2020/07/03/4th-of-july-celebration-under-covid-19/).This year, we hoped to do better. However, last Friday (our normal ski walking day at FWW), winds blew smoke from the Munson Creek fire into Fairbanks so the air quality was hazardous. Thus, we delayed our workout until today.

Six of us left the Birch Hill stadium at 9:00 a.m., three were youngsters and three were over 70 years old. Robert Hannon, one of the kids, opted to just do 3 speedy ascents so he missed the photo documentation.

On their second ascent, Poles was leading Dan (hidden behind Bill) and Bernardo
Dan, the youngest of the SCUM, was working to draft behind Bill

And two-way traffic on the trail was spreading out as we used different pacing strategies.

Bill, Bernardo, and Dan head down as Carl works his way up for his 4th ascent

Temperatures stayed in the low 60s, but we were definitely overheating by ascent 3. However, all of us completed 4 ascents.

Dan, Carl, and Bernardo claim their 4 ascents

Billl had dropped his poles midway up his 4th ascent figuring that he’d go back down to meet Carl after he’d finished his. However, Carl ended up a lot faster than Bill expected so three of us accompanied Carl on his last ascent. Meanwhile, Bill had to go further back down the hill to retrieve his poles and to finish 4 ascents WITH poles.

Bill after his 4 full ascents with poles (and half without)
Mom and three SCUM ski walk with poles for 4 FWW ascents (photo by Bernardo Hernandez, who also did 4 ascents)

The lupines, roses, and irises have gone to seed on the trail already as summer speeds by. Will your carcass be ready for skiing by the time the snow covers the trails? The SCUM hope theirs will be.

Bad Bob Baker is planning new courses for the 35th annual Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot in 2022, and they will involve more climbing (including the Sunnyside trail instead of the Chena River) than in the past for all 3 distances. Start hill training now.

SCUM ski South Classics as Spring arrives

Just one month ago, the remedial SCUM made history by skiing the South Classical loops without anyone falling. (See: https://sonotkkaazoot.org/2021/03/12/historic-scum-ski-of-south-classical-loops/). Today as we left the stadium at 11 deg F with temperatures at Fort Wainwright still in the subzero range at 10 a.m., we knew Spring was around the corner. The tracks were feeling slick before we even left the stadium. However, by skiing both the North and South Classical loops within 48 hours in the month of April would be historical, too. All the SCUM fell at least once today. Only the wannabe SCUM (Norma Haubenstock and Joanna Fox) stayed upright for our Sunday ski of the South Classical Loops.

Here are some photos from the Chinook and Blackhawk Loops while we’re upright:

The end of the train in the Chinook–all photographs by Joannna Fox
Pondering SCUM
Norma, smiling and upright as she was for over two hours

And here are some photos when the SCUM were examining the snow on the trails:

Bernardo down
Dan getting up from his fall

Some of us were very thorough in our skiing of the South Classical trails in that we also skied down Little Bird (and back up again) from the intersection with the Blackhawk Trail:

The Little Bird skiers
Bernardo returning up Little Bird

Those of us not using magic skin skis had to work hard for our kick as the temperature on the Blackhawk was 26 deg.

Mom overheating to get kick

Unlike when we skied the South Classical loops at -16 deg F, all of us were overheating today. However, we definitely enjoyed the sunshine, warmth, and great April skiing. Thank you Travis Kulp for grooming these trails! We had a great time–the long downhill out of the Blackhawk was especially sweet as we finished our tour.

A suggestion to skiers interested in following us. Blue kick wax wasn’t providing enough grip, but +2 on the magic skin skis was.

9 FXC Devos skate 10 km Sonot

Max Kaufman sent along a URL to an album of awesome photos he took of FXC Devos, who raced the virtual 10 km Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot on Sunday. He wrote that 9 skiers opted to do the race and Coach Tjarn Bross timed them. We haven’t received the names or times of these skiers, but, we wanted to share the photos.

Here’s Max’s album:

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1MkLOZMYsU8uzkHqrdN_cIChPmm2q24gv?usp=sharing

And below are just a few of Max’s action photos.

Check out Max’s album at the URL above. These FXC Devos are definitely skating with intensity.

Celebrating Norma’s birthday on the Nordale Flats tour

As care coordinator for volunteers of the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks race events, Norma Haubenstock plays a huge role in making sure things run smoothly. So for her birthday on Sunday, the SCUM feted her during our tour of the Nordale Flats.

Norma cresting a hill–Video by Dan Johnson

The 20 km course had been carefully marked by Pat Lovely and John Estle, who had started at 0800 on two snowmachines to ready the course for the 1000 start by the slower skiers led by Don Pendergrast. The 1100 wave of skiers were led by John and finished right behind the last the 1000 skiers.

Here’s a map of our popsicle course, where the major climb parallels Heart Rate Hill at Birch Hill Recreation Area:

Map of course by John Estle

Leaving from John and Norma’s driveway, we walked down Wilderness Drive to the start of the trail:

Marching–photo by Bill Husby

When we left it was roughly 6 deg F at Birch Hill and -5 deg in the valley, so we started skiing to warm chilly fingers:

10 am start group —photo by Joanna Fox
Troupe–photo by Dan Johnson

By the time we reached a small pond (where you can see the North Star classical trail at Birch Hill), we stopped to sing happy birthday to Norma:

10 am start group–photos by Amanda Byrd
SCUM salute for Norma

With any group, certain individuals play key roles. For us, there was Don Pendergrast, our fearless leader, who made sure none of us got left behind:

In the foreground, Don Pendergrast, leader —photo by Joanna Fox

The cabooses, Susan and Bernardo, who switched off being the red lantern.

Red lanterns–photo by Dan Johnson

And of course, Bill Husby, the chief instigator of falls and crashes:

Bill, the Eddie Haskell of the SCUM–photo by Dan Johnson

As you’ll note, Bill had a face mask handy as he was not always social distancing when he was luring SCUM into potential crash sites with his phone rolling in video mode.

Some SCUM are definitely not right leaning– video by Bill Husby

By the time we had finished the loop and needed to ascend Heart Rate Hill again, additional kick wax was needed:

Rewaxing–photo by Amanda Byrd

The temperature and trail conditions were perfect for a several hour tour of woods very close to Birch Hill Recreation Area. Huge thanks go to Pat Lovely and John Estle for course marking (and take down) and John and Norma for hosting the group of very happy skiers.

Photo gallery from 32nd Sonot Kkaazoot

Photographer Jana Herzogova has generously shared over 250 photographs that she took of the 32nd Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot.

Below is a random collection of her photos from warmest and shortest Sonot Kkaazoot in 32 years.

All photos from https://www.janaherzogphoto.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jana.herzogova.5 ; Instagram: @janaherzogphoto

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Capture

Jana emailed Bob Baker (and all Sonot participants):

Pictures are located under 2019 events, free code is Sonotfree. It is good for 2 free pictures, watermark will automatically disappear after they clear it through the cart.
I hope I was able to create some good memories for you all. It was a lovely day.
Thanks again,
Jana
.
The Sonot Kkaazoot thanks Jana for use of her fantastic photographs. Please make sure to credit her.

Final day of Masters World Cup

Report from Sonot Kkaazoot race director, Bad Bob Baker:

We are all done with the World Masters. Last day was warm and mostly sunny for the skaters to enjoy.  We are now in Oslo, and will bus north at 5:00 am tomorrow to the start of the Norwegian Birkebeiner 54 kilometer Classic ski race. All participants are required to carry an 8 lb pack the entire way.  The five skiers on the Fairbanks travel team plan to TOUR the race together:  Bruce Jamieson, Chris Puchner, Donna DiFolco, and Sharon & Bad Bob Baker. We all plan on taking full advantage of the FEED STATIONS.  The race starts in RENA, and finishes in LILLIEHAMMER, Norway.  It crosses 2 mountain ranges and often has 8 or more side by side classic tracks.  The forecast is calling for mostly sunny skies, and 25 to 35 degree temps.  We sure hope so.  After the race we plan to tourist the town of LILLIEHAMMER, then catch a 2 hour train back to our Oslo Airport Hotel. Be back in Fairbanks Monday night.

Bad Bob

Donna DiFolco as part of USA silver medal relay team

All photos by Bad Bob Baker who didn’t supply captions for his Sonot Kkaazoot organizing underling