Dangerous avalanche conditions are expected ahead of Arctic Man
Next week, hundreds of snowmobiles will descend upon the Hoodoo Mountains north of Paxson for the annual Arctic Man event, and avalanche forecasters want them to know that conditions are especially unpredictable this spring.
“The mountains are shedding.” warned Debra McGhan of the Alaska Avalanche Information Center. “It might be stable in the morning, but by afternoon things are letting go.”
It’s a transitional year for Arctic Man, which will not be hosting its classic ski races this year. The unusual race has been held nearly every year since 1986, but interest has slowed. After 33 years, the popular Arctic Man Race of teams of two – a skier and a snowmobile, is ending. The race had the skier in each team, going down the mountain, being towed by the snowmobile uphill again and then skiing back down for a second time.
The Skeetawk ski area located in the Hatcher Pass will get funding for its first ski lift. The Skeetawk is a great area now for sledding but by Christmas next year it will have a downhill slope served by a lift.
The name Skeetawek is a phonetic spel of a Dena’ina word – Shk’ituk’t that means ‘where we slide down’ as per Louisa Branchflower, board president for Hatcher Alpine Xperience (HAX).
Amy O’Connor, the Executive Director of the non-profit group HAX in charge of building the Valley’s first downhill resort in the Mat-Su said that it will be a 1,200-foot triple chairlift with a 300+ foot of vertical drop.
Partnering with groups such as Rasmuson Foundation and the Mat-Su Health Foundation and thanks to also some private donations, HAX has got the $1.2 million it needs to purchase its first ski lift that will be put up in the next summer. The group will need $750,000 to cover installation costs.