Drilling team says Sonot start is safe

This morning, Doyon, Ltd, had a drilling team out on the Chena River in the vicinity of the Sonot Kkaazoot start determining ice thickness. The thinnest ice found was 8″ in one spot. Most was a 12″ – 18″ thick. They checked for several hundred meters from bridge and into the curve.

Groomers found that yesterday’s melting left a crusty surface this morning. They were able to chew it up into skiable icy snow. Again, the plan is to groom Birch Hill, the Sonot Connector, and the Fort Wainwright trails late tonight with the piston bully. Saturday morning, they will drag and set tracks on the Chena River.

Check this website before you leave for the start tomorrow morning. At 4:30 p.m. Friday,  conditions look great for the traditional start on the Chena River. However, if we have to move the start, we will post a notice on this website, and will start all events 30 minutes later than currently scheduled at Birch Hill Recreation Area.

Mother Nature holds all the cards, and Sonot Kkaazoot organizers obey.


Updates on trail grooming Thursday

While some of the Sonot organizers were buried with late registration and bib pick-up, the groomers were busy working on the trails. Here’s the Thursday update from Bill Husby:

“Today Tom took the ginzu down to the river and leveled the bumps between the RR bridge and FWW bridge. He also got above the RR bridge. We also added some snow by  electrical box along the road. As of now that 200 meter section is beautiful corduroy with no vehicle ruts. There are piles of snow by the crossing areas ready to be shoved onto the road with the piston bully (PB) on Saturday morning making for little or no shoveling for the crossing staff.

Ken and I will be grooming the river tomorrow morning. Expect an update with pristine photos😎. Tom will start grooming all the BH trails with the PB tomorrow evening. He will also PB the Sonot Connector, road and down to the river. Around 0700 he and Ken will drag and set tracks on the river and wherever else they are needed. This should prove the best 50K course in the state of Alaska this year.”

So that’s the most recent report. The Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks are working hard to make the 2016 Sonot Kkaazoot special for all skiers.

One final note: Sonot Kkaazoot volunteers will be drilling the ice on the Chena River to make sure that the ice will safely support skiers and run all our equipment on Saturday.

A HUGE THANK YOU to all our wonderful volunteers who have come together to pull off the 29th annual Sonot Kkaazoot, and our awesome groomers who have allowed us Fairbanks skiers to continue skiing through our winter drought.


Chena River groomed again today

The Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks groomers dragged the Chena River again today. Then Bill Husby and friends skied the new corduroy as captured by Bill’s phone:

Here Carl and Jerome are approaching the Fort Wainwright bridge:Approaching FWW bridge on Chena River.jpg

and here is the birthday boy enjoying the sunshine and fast snow:

Birthday boy below FWW bridge on Chena River


Chena River ski trail UPDATE

Bad Bob Baker finished regrooming the 20 km Sonot Kkaazoot course this morning at midnight. The course has been groomed 20 feet wide including the 20 km turnaround area. Up and down the Chena River, the course is as much as 40 feet wide. Because Bob was grooming in the dark, he wasn’t able to see if there were areas with dirt or rocks showing.

Ken Coe and Bill Husby hauled two loads of manmade snow down to the Fort Wainwright bridge and combined with river bank snow. Here are some photos from Tuesday morning taken by Bill after their work and that of Bob last night. The Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks groomers plan to groom the river tomorrow so we’ll get an updated report. However, as of now, it looks like no snow enhancement work party will be needed.

Photo from under the foot bridgeChena River narrow spot

ENJOY the fantastic spring skiing! Urge your friends to sign up for the Sonot Kkaazoot now.


This year’s conditions are perfect for those skiing their first Sonot Kkaazoot. Please note that on race day, classical tracks WILL BE SET on both sides of the skate platform.

Also, remember grooming doesn’t come free. Please donate to the Birch Hill trails fund:


We also are looking for more race volunteers so if you would like to support the Sonot Kkaazoot and the efforts made to groom the Chena River, please sign up at: contact@sonotkkaazoot.org


Update on Sonot Chena River Trail

Friday night, Bad Bob Baker took a skid-steer down to the Chena River and put a 10 foot wide snow path under the Steese Highway Bridge over the ice and rocks. The snow didn’t adhere well to the slick icy surface. Bad Bob will groom the river when he gets back to Fairbanks after Spring Break. In the meantime, there is now a snow path under the Steese Highway Bridge.

Chena River groomed again yesterday!

Work on your spring time tan by skiing on the Chena River. Sonot Kkaazoot 20 km course has been groomed by Bad Bob Baker to perfection. Here’s his first hand report submitted yesterday afternoon:

What a nice day to ski the Chena River, as I just finished grooming it at 3:00 pm today.  I groomed the start/finish area right up to the centennial bridge and it turned out much better than I thought it would, very flat and plenty wide for a SONOT START.   I also roughed in the 20 km turnaround,   The whole CHENA RIVER is groomed at least 16 FOOT WIDE, and wider in some places.  It’s very safe for skiing right now, as long as one skis atop the grooming.  There is bad gravel and ice under the STEESE HIGHWAY BRIDGE and the FT. WAINWRIGHT BRIDGE.  Taking you skis off for both of these are a must.  SO, Please, everyone get out on the CHENA RIVER and test out the SONOT KKAAZOOT course!

Visualize Skiing the Sonot Kkaazoot


To help the first time participant in the Sonot Kkaazoot, here are a few videos of the 40 and 50 km events taken by Dermot Cole in 2015. The first clip is the mass start for the 40 and 50 km freestyle events:

Here is the climb up the Fort Wainwright alpine ski hill to the base of the Sonot Connector:

and 28 km later coming down the same hill:

Remember, if you smile, it’s no big deal.

Here’s Robert Hannon, Sonot military contact AND coordinator for FWW road crossings finishing:

Sign up now for the lowest entry fees. Early registration ends in less than two weeks on 26 February 2016.