Crust skiing at Birch Hill on 27 April 2022

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.

April sunshine on the White Bear–all photos by Joanna Fox
Water damage on the South Tower with bare spot to negotiate without skis

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.

Sonot Junction creek– will need a culvert to divert water from the road before next season
Dermot near Hilltop Junction
Happy SCUM, who all stayed on top of their skis for 7 km of fun this morning

Snowpack & SCUM going down fast

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.

Tucking on a downhill (shorter distance to fall) —photo by Dan Johnson
Joanna–photo by Dan Johnson
Bernardo–photo by Dan Johnson
Dr. Dermot Cole (upright and confident) —photo by Dan Johnson

The spring warmth also encourages skiers to seek their own trails through the crust-covered snow, researching stories to inform and educate us.

Dr. Cole investigating a trail less traveled
Why Dermot was missing from the group SCUM photo—photo by Dan Johnson

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.

Congratulations, Dermot!

Donate to the Trails Fund for great spring skiing

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.

View from the National Weather Service Fairbanks Office at UAF–photo by NWS Fairbanks

Please donate to the NSCF Trails Fund:

https://nordicskicluboffairbanks.wildapricot.org/Donate/

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.

Sunday without Poles

Sunday at SCUM corner without Bill–-photo by Joanna Fox

Sunday was a noteworthy SCUM ski. We had probably 4 inches of new snow that had been newly groomed and tracked. Temperatures were a balmy 8 deg F above zero. But our injured Creme de la SCUM leader, Bill Husby (aka Poles) was not skiing back and forth at the head of the pack. With his cracked lower rib and nondisplaced fracture of the right ulna, Poles will likely be Pole (singular) when he rejoins us. However, a half-strength Bill Husby will still ski faster and further than the rest of the SCUM.

PLEASE support Bill’s recovery by donating to the trails fund:

https://nordicskicluboffairbanks.wildapricot.org/Donate/

I’m willing to wager that Bill will be back on his skis and snowmachine sooner if he knows that his work is needed and appreciated.

Last ski of 2021

After a week of shoveling out from the two recent storms that dowsed the area with snow and rain, the SCUM were delighted to ski in firm PistenBully tracks today. However, the only photos taken were when they ventured off into the ungroomed snow.

Here the SCUM set “old school” tracks on the Old Tower:

Photo by Dan Johnson

And here’s what the White Bear trail beyond Sonot Junction looks like:

Mom, Joanna, and Norma decide against skiing WB--photo by Dan Johnson

Joanna and Norma were feeling adventuresome so took off and skied Moilanen Meadows following these set tracks:

Moilanen Meadow tracks–photo by Joanna Fox

In addition to finding two downed trees on the trail, they found a Winter Trails sign:

Joanna and Norma with Winter Trails sign–photo by Joanna Fox

Norma led them out of the Meadows and back to the Birch Hill stadium but the chilled SCUM had already headed home.

Norma enjoying Moilanen Meadows–photo by Joanna Fox

They’d return for their first ski of 2022 as part of the Ski Your Age in Kilometers event on Saturday.

Santa and SCUM skate FWW traverse

The amazing Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks groomers had packed and tracked all the major trails at Birch Hill recreation area on Saturday so we had infinite choices today. However, first Santa had to decorate a tree with edible ornaments:

Santa decorates his tree–all photos and videos by Joanna Fox
Brightly-lit Santa and Eric decorate the tree

As we were skiing in a winter storm warning, Santa came prepared. Brightly colored lights adorned his hat so that he didn’t need Rudolph or any reindeer for that matter. After skiing the Blue loop (where Dan momentarily lost his “Ho Ho” baseball cap), we skied Outhouse to midway and headed down the Sunnyside trail. At Powerline cutoff, we encountered a mother moose and calf above us:

Mama Moose above Mama Fox
B- SCUM arrive at Powerline cutoff

We chased Eric and Dan down the Sunnyside and Cliffside to the Fort Wainwright alpine hut. Then we headed up the Sonot Connector, where we found amazing glide even on the uphill sections.

We took a break in our climb when the seven SCUM found LOL ornament #7:

Seven SCUM at LOL ornament #7

However, this feat wasn’t encountered without mishap. Afterall, seven SCUM were involved. See video of how the incident played out:

One SCUM (Dr. Eric Buetow) down at LOL ornament #7
Pointing out our second of the LOL ornaments this week

When we got to the top of the Sonot Connector, we headed back toward the stadium with five of us doing Moilanen Meadows chasing Santa. When we got back to the Santa tree, we encountered the A SCUM.

All of us wish you a wonderful holiday season with family and friends. Plan to celebrate 2022 by skiing the 35th annual Denali State Bank Sonot Kkaazoot:

SCUM celebrating the warm weather and new snow around the decorated tree