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.

“So Not” Chena River Update 2-20-19

From Sonot Kkaazoot Race Director, Bad Bob Baker:

11 am Wednesday Feb 20.  I  just got off the Chena River, temp on the River at 8:30 am was just below zero.  This morning I was bound and determined to start at the Cushman bridge and travel the entire 20 km route.  Success!  My Ski Doo Scandic SWT and I made it from start to finish without ending up below the Chena River ice. That said, the Chena River is still far from being a safe place to ski, walk, snowmachine or check out. 

As seen in these photos on the Chena River at the downtown starting area, I churned up slush and water for the entire first 800 meters.

Sonot start landscape 2-20-19

Photos of Sonot Kkaazoot start area on Chena River taken by Bad Bob Baker on 2-20-19

Sonot start area 2-20-19

Sonot start area 2 on 2-20-19

Had I stopped in a few spots, I felt that I would have broken through, or at the very least, been hopelessly stuck.  Countless other spots along the entire river portion of the Sonot produced similar results.  Needless to say. I did not attempt to pull my drag/groomer.

This year the Chena River is playing a game that I have yet to experience in my 32 years of grooming for the Sonot Kkaazoot.  I’m not calling it quits yet for a traditional downtown river start.  We’re still over 4 weeks from race day.  Late March is always a great time to ski in Fairbanks. No matter where you’re skiing, it’s always an awesome experience.

I head over to Norway on March 3rd.  I will give at least one more Chena River update before I leave, and will also will announce the race courses if the Sonot ends up all at Birch Hill.  We should have a final decision by the early bib pick-up at the Doyon building on Thursday March 21.  Until then, get yourself signed up for this year’s Sonot!  Whatever the course, it will be a great day to be out on your skis!!

Bad Bob