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.
From Sonot Kkaazoot Race Director, Bad Bob Baker:
I groomed the entire 20 km Sonot Kkaazoot course this morning. Temperature was -5 degrees F with NO OVERFLOW or OPEN WATER. It’s roughed in, and even quite smooth in places. The Chena River is now SKIABLE.
I will be back down on the River early FRIDAY, and meeting up with Bill Husby (Poles), and will escort him up and down the Chena River. The forecast is for clear days with daytime temperatures in the 20’s and overnight lows around zero through next week. Now that the Chena River portion of the Sonot Kkaazoot is packed and groomed…it should freeze thicker over the next week.
BUT…as we all know…March is just around the corner…and if we get a lot of new snow or extreme high temperatures, it will become a day-to-day call as we approach race day. But, for now, things are looking quite good….amazing how just a week’s time can change conditions so much. If you do choose to ski on the RIVER, please use common sense, and stay away from anything that looks questionable. The Chena River is continuously changing, and what’s good today, may not be tomorrow. Right now it’s been groomed 12′ to 30′ wide…a little rough in spots, but should be much smoother after Friday’s grooming.
The temperature at the Sonot Kkaazoot race start this morning was much colder than predicted at -10 deg F. Bad Bob will be out on the river late this afternoon to determine ice thicknesses so that we can report the location of our race start at early bib pick-up tonight at the Doyon, Ltd. building from 5 to 7 p.m.
Bad Bob will drag the Chena River portion of the Sonot Kkaazoot course again this afternoon if you want to personally check it out before or after you pick up your bib.
Still trying to decide whether to sign up? Check out the awesome Sonot Kkaazoot informational flyer designed by Rebecca Heaton that is available for download on the home page.
Here are some photos that Bad Bob took on Wednesday:
Ramp down to the Sonot Kkaazoot start area (all photos by Bad Bob Baker)
Chena River trail three days out
Sonot Kkaazoot trail near Hamilton Acres
Wildlife captured on the trail three days out
From Bob Baker, Sonot Kkaazoot Chief of course, yesterday (3/5/18): “I groomed the Chena again today, and even set a rough set of classical tracks on one side. I finished all the brush clearing and widened the 20 km turnaround and it’s ready to go… Ft. Wainwright has groomed out the route from the ski area all the way to, and across the River Road and all along that ditch, too. Looks great! And now, they can even take the big grooming equipment all the way to the River’s edge.
The Chena River has developed some overflow and wet spots on a few places on the edges of where I have groomed. The temperature really shot up today to almost 20 deg. I think when the snow stops and the temps drop back down to the ZERO area over night, things will get much better again. No panic yet, just the Chena being the Chena. Otherwise, the Chena River was groomed with a Classic Track and a good 12′ wide Skate lane the whole 20 km.
Will do more next time the temp drops some more.”
So ski with care and preferably with someone on the Chena River. Do not wander outside the groomed trail. Remember to carry your identification if you plan to ski on Fort Wainwright trails and watch for traffic on road crossings.
From Bad Bob Baker: “All (Chena River trail) groomed 16′ or wider. I put the ramp in at start area too. River looks and feels great. Now is the time to check it out and ski!”
Skiers enjoying the sunshine and newly groomed trail
Ramp to the start area–all photos from Bad Bob Baker
Bad Bob Baker was out grooming the Chena River again today. He reports that it was “very warm, new soft spots” as temperatures rose above freezing in the low lying areas. Skiers should be alert to potential hazards, and conditions could change quickly if the predicted snow storm materializes tomorrow afternoon.
Photos by Bob Baker
From Bad Bob Baker: I skated the river this morning. The Chena is in great shape and fairly fast with decent snow under the bridges. All questionable areas were well frozen and in good shape. Ski with a partner and enjoy the smooth skating. Dress warm! Be safe.
Chena River near the Sonot Kkaazoot start area–Photo by Bob Baker
All photos by Bad Bob Baker during this morning’s ski