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

Skiing the White Bear on 23 April

In spite of a couple weeks of daytime temperatures in the 50s and 60s, our deep snowpack is allowing the trails to freeze overnight as the ground is still colder than the air. Thanks to Tom Helmer’s grooming efforts this morning, the remedial SCUM skate skied the White Bear on 23 April, a full 6 months after we started skiing in the fall.

It was 46 deg and sunny when we left the stadium at 9:03 a.m. being urged by Nick Crawford and friend that the optimum skiing time had been at 7:00 a.m. We took off down the White Bear access delighted with the glide accompanied our efforts. In a flash, we were down to the bottom of the White Bear, where we found the big, slow mosquitoes and a temperature of 40 deg.

SCUM at the SCUMometer at 40 deg w/ mosquitoes lurking–all photos by Don Pendergrast

At the base of Heart Rate Hill, we pulled over to let a young shirtless skier and his friend pass us. After our photo documentation, we were prepared to climb slow and steady through the slush and sunshine:

We haven’t started the climb yet, but Don’s windbreaker has already been removed

It is a SCUM ritual that if we climb Heart Rate Hill without stopping for a rest break we get to poke the tree at the top with our ski pole. Even though I was supposed to be doing an easy distance ski, my heart rate slipped briefly into level 4 as the slush made the going tougher than it would have an hour earlier. Being SCUM meant that not stopping took precedence over keeping my heart rate in level 1. This means I have to do a distance ski tomorrow to record as my LOD in FXC Masters virtual training. Just don’t tell Christina.

Only Bernardo still was wearing his hat after Heart Rate Hill

The skate skiing is the best that it has been all season. The mean age of our workout group today was 71 years old and we had a blast! Don’t miss out on the best skiing of the season.

Minus 2 deg F at Birch Hill, no April Fools

I don’t think I’ve ever classic skied on Start Tar green (and had too much kick) in April. The remedial SCUM skied the black loops today (once the regular Sonot route, then the Tommy Knocker so we could do the final hill twice), because we knew the dowhills wouldn’t be frightening. All of us were using chemical handwarmers (commenting on how many cases we’ve used this season) in APRIL and wishing we were more dermotized.

Here are the elder SCUM, all of whom are skiing on classical skis without skins:

SCUM with handwarmers and skis without skins

As we were chatting after finishing up, Dermot was starting out. We were able to convince him to reconsider skate skiing:

Dermot reconsiders skate skiing on a crisp April day

Temperatures had warmed to above zero by the time Dermot switched skis, but I’m sure he wasn’t overheating. No snowpack melting today, and the National Weather Serice is predicting 8 to 12 inches of snow this weekend. My supplemental Trails Fund contribution will be well spent this month.

Bad Bob speaks about Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot

I went up to Birch Hill this morning (Monday) and traveled around all the Sonot Kkaazoot courses and removed all the kilometer markers, banner, and any other course markings, officially putting a close to this year’s courses. While I cruised the courses on my Skandic SWT with my 6′ groomer, leaving behind nothing but corduroy, I ran into Tom Helmers with the PistenBully, freshly regrooming the entire Birch Hill trail system.  I also got to follow a young bull moose for quite a spell down near the biathlon range. My other task today, was to GPS next year’s courses, which will hopefully include Sunnyside in both the 30 and 50 k, and on the 2nd lap of the 50 will take in half the Sunnyside again, along with Cliffside to the bottom, then back up Sonot Connector to White Bear. My measurements came out within a small fraction of a kilometer of being spot on!   

Let’s all hope that we’re back to a mass start, socially mingling, feed stations, award banquet kind of SONOT… Thanks to all that got out there and enjoyed the skiing over the past 2 weeks.  DON’T forget to send in your stories and times or whatever, to by this Wednesday, March 31.  

Also, there are still 2021 SONOT  POSTERS available for a $50.00 trail donation.  Contact Bad Bob to arrange for one of these cool posters before they’re gone…..(907) 455-6689.  If I don’t answer, just leave a message…

Troyer skis 50+ km virtual Sonot Kkaazoot

Eric Troyer, head media volunteer for the Sonot Kkaazoot, skate skied his 50+ km virtual Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot on Sunday in corrected time of 4:40.22.

Eric writes (at 4:53 p.m.): “I did my 50k Sonot today, completing the Sonot Hat Trick (10, 30 and 50k versions). My time was 5:14:22. That has got to be one of the toughest just-shy-of-50 50k races out there! I was darn happy to see the 48, 49, and 50k signs right there at the Timing Building. Another 3k, especially if it had gone down into the Black Loops would have killed me. I tried to convince myself that the last 10k was flat, just like in the original Sonot, but my legs and lungs argued otherwise. Thanks to everyone for putting this on, especially to those awesome groomers (tracks and trails were outstanding!)!” 

At 5:53 p.m. Eric adds: “Whoops. Corrine pointed out that I screwed up. I did the Black Loops twice! I just checked and I actually did 53.5 kilometers. Corrine checked my stats and says I spent 34 minutes in the Black Loops on the second round, so I guess I’ll take that off my time.” 

Eric never responded in my request that he submit his final official 50 km time so this current English major will do the math for him getting a final adjusted time of 4:40:22.

Eric Troyer is still smiling after skiing the black loops twice during his virtual 50+ km Sonot Kkaazoot

“Kneed to Ski” members complete all 3 virtual Sonot Kkaazoot courses

By finishing her 30 km virtual Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot today, Susan Sugai joined her “Kneed to Ski” teammates Bill Husby and Byron Broda in completing the Sonot Kkaazoot hat trick (all three of the official 2021 virtual Sonot Kkaazoot courses). When Bill, Byron, and Susan skied in the 2015 Turkey Day Relays, “Kneed to Ski” had the oldest skiers with the youngest knees because all three skiers have had bilateral total knee replacements. (

When Bill and Byron completed the 10, 30, and 50 km virtual courses, some of them more than once, the pressure was on Mother SCUM to ski the 30 km this weekend. She skate skied the 30 km virtual Sonot Kkaazoot in two segments, 15+ km on Saturday and the remaining trails on the 6 deg snow this morning. Her combined time was 3:18:51.

On Saturday, temperatures warmed from 22 to 26 degs as Susan skied the start loop of the South Tower and Roller Coaster Bypass, then completed all the black loops, blue, Outhouse, Tower and Medevac trails:

On Sunday, temperatures were in the low single digits so Susan utilized some of Christina Turman’s power hour training to doublepole in the tracks when it was faster than skating on slow snow:

Photo by Bill Husby

Norma Haubenstock, who wisely chose to classical ski, motivated me to ski faster and more efficiently so I wouldn’t lose the distance I gained on the downhills and graduals quite so quickly on the steep uphill sections. Watching younger skiers ahead of me pause on Heartrate Hill and in Moilanen Meadows convinced me that my pain was real.

However, once the finish line was in sight, I knew I could doublepole across it. The pain of having to doublepole and single stick uphill in subzero new snow at UAF in Christina’s power hour FXC Masters class made my finish today possible. My legs thank you Christina! (However, my wrist is complaining).

Mother SCUM (left) and Norma,awesome motivator after Sunday’s ski–photo by Don Pendergrast

Dr. Don’s 10 km skate ski & excuses

Don Pendergrast, who was Sonot Kkaazoot organizer for a number of years, skate skied the 10 km virtual Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot today. Don’s official time was 54:00 after subtracting time spent chatting with friends after starting his watch, but before he started skiing.

As a former Sonot Kkaazoot organizer, Don is entitled to excuses, which he shares below:

“Upon reading the glowing reports from Saturday, I figured I’d skate, and picked out two sets of skis waxed for warm and warmer conditions.  I did not check the temperatures. Don’t trust antidotal evidence, check the facts.  Major error.

In the same vein, I dressed for warm spring skiing. When I arrived the temperature was 10 F. Plus there was new slow snow on the ground.  

The combination of cold snow, improperly waxed skis, and new sharp snow, made for a slow, not much fun ski.  

At nearly 75 I don’t expect to ski fast, but I could ski smart.  Not today.

After those excuses, I do want to say a BIG THANKS, to Bob the Bad, Mother SCUM, the fabulous groomers, and all my skiing cronies. I have managed to ski a total of 50K this week, 10K classic, 30K classic, and today 10K skating. In spite of today’s whining it’s all been good.”  

Within a couple of hours, Sonot Kkaazoot organizers and skiers over 70 years old always forget why they swore that they’d never do this race again. So, they continue to volunteer for this event and ski in it because the Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot is part of our spring ritual in Faribanks. During the COVID-19 pandemic, being able to participate in the virtual Sonot Kkaazoot and safely socialize with other skiers has been an awesome piece of normality in these uncertain times.

Hannon skis virtual 30 km after three tries

Robert Hannon, a local journalist and radio broadcaster, is somewhat geographically challenged so it took 3 tries to finish the 30 km virtual Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot in 3:21. In between the start of his virtual 30 km and his finish, he probably skied another 30 km. His virtual 30 km Sonot Kkaazoot was done on his classical skin skis.

Robert explains in his Sunday email: “Here is the hopefully last leg. Just over ten minutes, plus the 1:10 from yesterday and the 2:01 from last week make it something like 3:21 for 30 K.”

On Saturday at 12:14 p.m., Robert wrote: “Well, the attached image tells the tale. My watch paused seven minutes in. But you can see the start time and end. My route was as we discussed: the blacks, blue, relay and all the warm up.”

On Saturday at 2:05 p.m., he wrote: “Yikes. Spaced out the South Tower RC Bypass, but I did do all of the Warm-up. Oh well. If I make it tomorrow.”

 On Sunday, March 21, Robert skied the 20 km Sonot Kkaazoot loop with the SCUM, and wrote: “My watch is wacky. My time was 2:01:07”

Congratulations, Robert! Your persistence paid off and you’ve finished the 10 and 30 km classical Sonot Kkaazoot courses.