This summer has been one of the best we Fairbanksians have had in the past few years. No smoke from forest fires, clear skies most of the summer, and no horrendous bees. But for us skiers, roller-skiing is only bearable on the same traffic-free smooth roads for so long. So when a three-day-weekend approached, a few of my buddies and I took a trip down to the Alaska Range to search for some pre-season skiing.
Nothing came to be spectacular of the drive down, other than we were really dying to get on some snow. When we finally approached our camp site on day one, the conditions were looking sketchy with high winds and near whiteout conditions. So we went on a 5k exploring ski. Afterwards, we found a nice relief from the wind and set up our camp there. Then we hit the hay it was already getting late.
To our surprise, the clouds broke the next day bringing the cloud level up to about 2000 feet, and the winds were tolerable. We decided to move up the basin. Note in the pictures that there wasn’t much snow at the base of the basin, but as we began to move up, the snow depth got much better. Around 2000 we got into the cloud level, but broke through almost 500 vertical feet later, to reveal a gorgeous basin ready to be skied.
After moving up farther into the basin, we found a nice plateau where we packed down a 2 kilometer loop and classic skied that 4, maybe 5 times before the repetition got boring and we decided to move on.
The rest of the way up was more of a slog than a ski. While we didn’t get too much more striding in, we were still sucking wind to get to the top. At the top, my watch gave an altitude of 1770m, I guesstimated that we skied up some 3000 vertical and probably put in a 20-25k day in. We had an enjoyable ski down, and then hiked out to the comfort of a nice cozy car and a midnight drive home.
Setting up camp.
After breaking through the first level of clouds.
Looking out onto the delta river basin before moving into whiteout.
Cutting some turns on a little bump up top.