Saturday, March 24, 2012

Alaska Mountain Wilderness SKI Classic: the first two

This years marks the 25th birthday of the Alaska Mountain Wilderness Ski Classic, an event that begins early next month in the Brooks Range.

The first race was in 1987 across the Chugach Range from Eureka Roadhouse to Valdez. The route was the idea of a couple Valdez adventurers (Brian Teale and John Weiland), whom I thought would show up, if that was the route.

But they didn't show up, of course, and the route had avalanche danger, so the second year course was through the Alaska Range, "the Denali Dash".

The Dash Route (1988-1990) was the route I had envisioned since 1981 and the route that Audun Endestadt and I skied in 1986 in about 3.5 days, making two, 12 hour camps en route (Black rapids Pass; Susitna-West Fork Pass). That was an amazing ski trip and the route is a great nordic mountaineering adventure: up the Black Rapids, down the Susitna, over to the Gillam or over to the West Fork and the down the Yanert. This is the route Luc et al did in the summer classic across moraine, bare ice, and river by foot and packraft last summer in the 2011 Classic.

But as a ski trip in springtime it is a TRUE classic.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Last minute silly season planning: Arctic 1000 maps and miles

By the way, every square on the 1:250,000 quads below is six miles (i.e., 10 km, not five miles as some seem to think).

Walking up the Wulik was second choice. First choice would have us leave from Pt. Hope but bad weather prevented us from landing there.

Crossing De Long Mountains we saw much wildlife -- wolverine, bears, caribou, birds -- but not too scenic.

Fantastic walking on these ridges. Best a little below on subsidiary ridges that offer water to drink and less exposure to blasting wind.

After Ryan left, we headed east into boggy, tussock uplands between Colville and Utukok. Following the Colville wasn't much better.

Lookout Ridge was great walking. Saw another wolverine here.

Among the worst travel of the trip: tussocks off Lookout, swimming the Colville and Ipnavik, more tussocks, mosquitoes, and the first shin high willows. Also the remotest spot in the USA.

Bugs came out as green up hit so thankfully this was fantastic ridge and gravel bar walking.

The stretch into the mountains and across them to the Killik and beyond followed caribou trails for 20 miles, non-stop. Perhaps the longest continuous animal trails I have followed.

The grind into Anaktuvuk started fast then bogged down in tussocks and wet willow brush.

This is the Anaktuvuk to Haul Road stretch. Solo, fast and a bit sentimental. Also radically scenic.

So here's a little R graph. I plotted our cumulative distance as function of day since start, the fit a quadratic through the points and the origin after finding that the intercept was not significantly different from zero.

Even before that the curve was a nice fit, with an R-square of "triple nines".

So the quadratic gave me where we were from the start as a function of day, so the derivative gave me speed as function of day.

So on average we made 19.37 miles per day + 0.57 (miles/day/day)* days. That is, we accelerated as our packs lightened up by about 0.6 miles per day each day.

Not what I'd expected exactly, 25 years ago when I first dreamed a trip like this up, but heh.
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