Chena River looking fluid, 5 days out

With Sonot Kkaazoot race director, Bob Baker still homeward bound from Norway, Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks head groomer, Tom Helmers, made an inspection of the Chena River near where the River opened up during the 2016 Sonot Kkaazoot. With today’s temperatures predicted to be in the high 40s at the airport, current conditions don’t bode well for the traditional start and finish area for the 32nd annual Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot.

River1

Overflow in middle of Bob’s trail where river broke in 2016

River2

To right of trail looking upstream

River3

View closer to upstream bank

All photos were taken by Tom Helmers.

With temperatures at Birch Hill today already at 49.6 deg F shortly after noon, our training tip for Sonot Kkaazoot skiers is to ski on the UAF trails (that were groomed this morning) where temperatures are more seasonal. Alternatively, rest up for tackling a more challenging course than normal on Saturday.

Skiers warned to stay off the Chena River

The recent snowfalls and warm temperatures have combined to create overflow and possible open water on the Chena River sections used for the Sonot Kkaazoot. Skiers are strongly advised to STAY OFF the Chena River until groomers can assess the course for safety. 

Sonot Kkaazoot race director, Bad Bob Baker will be back to assess Chena River ski trail safety on Tuesday, 19 March 2019. He will resume grooming IF his drilling and observations indicate ice conditions are safe for skiing.

All skiers should stay off the Chena River until ice conditions can be determined.

Sonot Kkaazoot training tip

Sonot Kkaazoot Training Tip for Friday, March 8, 2019: Ski the Sonot Connector, a section of the Fort Wainwright Trails that 40 and 50 km skiers traverse twice. If you don’t pace yourself on the uphill, you may find yourself struggling by the time you return 26 km later.

Sonot connector sm.JPG

Photo by Bill Husby 3-8-19

Enjoy the spring skiing in Fairbanks during Spring Break for Fairbanks North Star Borough and UAF schools.

Entire 50 km Sonot course ready to ski

All the trails that are utilized for the three Sonot Kkaazoot events were brushed and groomed for the first time last week in preparation for the 32nd annual Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot. Thus, the courses are available for skier training.

MAKE SURE THAT YOU CARRY YOUR GOVERNMENT IDENTIFICATION WITH YOU AT ALL TIMES WHEN YOU SKI TRAILS ON FORT WAINWRIGHT. You could be detained if you do not have appropriate identification with you. Last year, we were informed that a skier was detained and questioned for 20 minutes after being unable to produce appropriate identification. Remember, we are guests on the FWW trails and we need to abide by the rules of a U.S. Army facility.

After my last posting, Bill Husby did additional brushing in the pond area below the Fort Wainwright ski area, so the SCUM checked out the Fort Wainwright trails and the Chena River on Sunday.

SCUM on pond smSonot skiers and volunteers on pond sm

Ski conditions on the river Sunday were quite good. Donovan Granger skied the entire 20 km river section of the Sonot Kkaazoot course Sunday (after skiing the White Bear) and found no overflow or open water except for the obvious areas seen on Friday. However, be cautious if you ski on the river and it’s a good idea not to ski alone.

Of course, if you want snow in Fairbanks, you need to send your groomers to Hawaii and Norway, where they can’t help skiers when snow falls overnight. More snow is forecast for later this week, so EXERCISE EXTRA CAUTION IF YOU SKI ON THE RIVER after any new snow. The weight of the snow can cause more overflow.

Don’t worry, Tom and Bob will return before the Sonot Kkaazoot to groom everything to perfection. In the meantime, Bill and Ken will be grooming at Birch Hill using “old school” equipment (snowmachines pulling rollers, drags, or track sled) until Tom returns to pilot the piston bully. The Chena River and FWW trails will be skier groomed for the next couple of weeks.

Enjoy our long March days and make your commitment today to ski the 32nd annual Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot. https://sonotkkaazoot.org/register/

Grooming Fort Wainwright Ditch & Pond

Bill Husby and Bob Baker also worked on grooming the Fort Wainwright Ditch and Pond that form the trail system that 40 and 50 km Sonot Kkaazoot skiers traverse between the Chena River and Birch Hill Recreation Area.

All photos in this post were taken by Bill Husby, who points out that a lot of whips and brush still need to be removed from the pond and ditch. So take some clippers with you on your ski to the river from Birch Hill.  Bill plans to attack the brush with chain saw and loppers soon. Remember to have your government identification with you.

Pond before

Pond before grooming on 1 March 2019

pond-after.jpg

Pond after trimming whips and brush then grooming.

Newly rolled ditch

Newly rolled ditch

Ditch groomed

Bill is hoping that the rolled trails set up overnight so that he can run a small drag over the ditch. Today the snow pack was quite soft when two SCUM skied on the ditch trail.

Bob Baker’s last grooming report until 18 March

From Sonot Kkaazoot race director:

Friday went well on the Chena River.   The entire 20 km is flat and fast.   We will see what the next two weeks bring weather wise.  With the Chena River packed, and cold overnight temps, the ice should get thicker.  Today I broke through in two places, very obvious!  So, be aware and cautious if you ski on the Chena River. Enjoy, it’s very fast! This afternoon and tonight will be the best skating, before the snowmachines tear it up.

I’ll be back from ski racing in Norway on March 18. And will groom again then.
–Bad Bob
Chena River cordoroy.jpg

Chena River corduroy

1 March Chena River grooming sm

Chena River grooming on 1 March 2019

20 km turnaround on 1 March sm

20 km Sonot Kkaazoot turnaround

Sonot volunteer skiing home

Sonot blogger checking out the trail

Awesome Chena River skiing today

1 March 2019: It was +16 deg F and sunny at Denali State Bank at 11 a.m. as I headed out on the 20 km Sonot Kkaazoot course from start to turnaround. Groomers Bad Bob Baker and Bill Poles Husby had been out since 8 a.m. Skiing was awesome including under the highway bridges where Bob had dragged snow earlier and through repeated dragging had ground up the jumble ice. No need to use rock skis today! Today will be Bad Bob’s last grooming of the Sonot course until he returns from Norway on the Tuesday before the Sonot Kkaazoot.

Bad Bob and his drag on Chena River_1 Mar 2019sm.JPG

Bad Bob and his drag on his pass toward town as I headed out around 11:15 a.m. today

Below are some photos I took during my 20 km ski. I was way overdressed and by the end, I was skiing without a hat. Bad Bob made an additional pass on the trail after I skied out, leaving the trail much wider and more level. On my return to the start, it was virtually an all V2 ski.

Only climb on the 20 km course sm

Only climb on the 20 km Sonot course

Bad Bob removing toe grabbers on 20 km turnaround sm

Bad Bob’s technique for removing toe grabbers on the 20 km turnaround trail

Bad Bob grooming turnaround sm

Bad Bob adds a kick as he grooms the 20 km turnaround

Bob and Sharon Baker will be out skiing the 20 km Sonot Kkaazoot course this afternoon. I highly recommend that you do the same. It will top off your Vitamin D stores and will definitely encourage you to sign up for the 32nd annual Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot today.

March skiing in Fairbanks is simply unbeatable.