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Ski Trips:

2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 UBXC eBook
 
 
This web site is a skiers' resource  for exploring South-central Alaska on cross country skis.  Check the ski trip links above for ideas of where to ski backcountry winter trails and crust skiing venues.  Check the weather links below to determine what the ski conditions will likely be where you want to go skiing.  Scroll further down for skiing tips and more information.  Be safe, have fun ... and ski as much as you can!
 

~  Weather Links  ~

South of Anchorage

McHugh Creek webcam, shows cloud cover at the end of Turnagain Arm (click here: for temp and wind) Portage Lake Visitors Center webcam
Borealis Broadband Potter Marsh weigh station webcam Bird Point road cam and weather data Portage Road intersection webcam (where you can park to ski the Placer River Valley, click here: for temp and wind)
Portage hourly temp and wind Tunnel to Whittier cams in Bear Valley, shows cloud cover  at Portage Lake (click here for temp and wind: )
Whittier webcams Whittier FAA webcam Whittier hourly temp and wind
Whittier/ Passage Canal marine weather Prince William Sound tides Western Prince William Sound marine weather
Weather forecast (Girdwood / Portage / Whittier) Alyeska Resort snow and weather conditions Alyeska Resort webcams
Turnagain Pass hourly telemetry data Turnagain Pass snow depth graph
CNFAIC weather data: Turnagain Arm to Sterling Hwy Seattle Ridge (Turnagain Pass) CNFAIC weather data
Tunnel (end of Placer River Valley, near Spencer Glacier) hourly data Grandview hourly temp and wind data Seattle Ridge (above where Seward Highway begins climb from Turnagain Arm to the pass)
Summit Lake weather conditions and webcam views Summit Lake hourly weather data (good for Manitoba Mountain & Mills Creek)
Fresno Ridge (Summit Lake) CNFAIC weater data Moose Pass hourly weather data
Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center Sunburst Webcam (view north to Tincan, Center Ridge below) Moose Pass FAA webcam
 

In and to the East of Anchorage

Greater Anchorage area Mesonet weather data Glen Alps webcam Click for Anchorage, Alaska Forecast
Borealis Broadband Webcam Multiview of Anchorage and surrounding areas Anchorage weather forecast
Borealis Broadband webcam on top of Denali Towers North - great view of the Western Chugach front range Anchorage tide tables (tides near or above 30 feet will flood much of the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge)
Wundermap Interactive, for Southcentral AK Southcentral AK weather radar Chugach Mountains webcam - Flattop
Alaska DOT Road Weather cams and weather data map for Greater Anchorage (click on the site you are interested in) Lake Hood Alaska Airmen's webcam, shows Western Chugach Mountain cloud cover
Indian Pass hourly weather data, this site is at the high point on the Arctic Valley to Indian traverse Eklutna Lake (the AMBCS "MORAINE" station, 1000 feet above the lake on the Bold Ridge Trail, 5 miles down the lake)
 

North of Anchorage

Hatcher Pass hourly weather data.  Site near Park Service HQ building near mine Hatcher Pass NOAA graphical trends of snow depth, temperature and winds
Hatcher Pass Lodge webcam and weather data Gold Cord Mine (Hatcher Pass) webcam and weather data.
View north of cloud cover over Chugiak's Bear Mountain (from a DOT web cam at Glen Highway MP 24 at Thunderbird Falls) View north of cloud cover over the main Chugach Mountains (from a DOT web cam at Glen Highway MP 24 at Thunderbird Falls)
NOAA hourly weather observations (Select site: Palmer, Wasilla, Willow, Sutton, Sheep Mountain, Eureka) Palmer FAA webcam (views of cloud cover over Talkeena Mountains and Knik Valley)
   
Matanuska Valley weather Susitna Valley weather
Parks Highway (near Big Lake) webcam, temp and wind: Willow FAA webcam
Willow weather (also good for Nancy Lakes, west side of Hatcher Pass) Su Valley High School (at start of Talkeena Spur Road) hourly weather data
Talkeetna weather (also good for Sheep Creek, Trapper Creek) Parks Highway / Talkeetna Road webcam views, temp and wind:
Su Valley High School snow depth K2 Aviation Net Cam in Talkeetna
Broad Pass webcam and weather data FAA Talkeetna Aviation webcam
       
Alaska DOT RoadWeather webcams at Gunsight Mtn, shows what conditions are like near Sheep Mountain, Majestic Valley and Eureka FAA webcams at Sheep Mountain ...  and Tahneta Pass
Chickaloon FAA webcam Sheep Mountain weather/ Copper River Basin forecast
Eureka weather/ Copper River Basin forecast Lake Louise Lodge webcam and weather forecast
 

West of Anchorage

Borealis Broadband Mount Susitna webcam AnchorageWeatherCam: Mt. Susitna, Mt. Redoubt, Fire Island
Point MacKenzie snow depth and temperature Knik, Alaska airport - FAA webcams
 

Southcentral Alaska Information

The Alaska Snowmobiling forum on the Alaska Outdoors Directory web site often has current trail condition information.
 Anchorage Snowmobile Club - Southcentral Alaska trail reports
 

Statewide Weather Information

NOAA Alaska snow depth map Entire State of Alaska NOAA weather ... fast - just drag mouse over location
Wundermap Interactive - pan for entire state.  Double-click to zoom in.  Uses Google maps ... very handy. FAA weather cams at many airports around the State of Alaska
State of Alaska, Department of Transportation, RoadWeather camera and weather data site-map Alaska Mining and Diving's webcam links ... TONS of webcams from around Alaska
Alaska Railroad Telemetry Data ... click-able map for the whole rail system Alaska Medium Range Forecasts (Days 4-8)
Alaska Meteor Burst Communication Stations (AMBCS) - lots of statewide telemetry weather data (tabular and graphical) AK Ocean Observing System ... basically every federal government weather sensor and web cam in Alaska - on one web page.
       

Performance Backcountry Skiing Tips ...

Gear Suggestions for Performance Backcountry Skiing
Intro To Performance Backcountry Skiing: Where To Go To Give It A Try
Tips for Building a Single-Pole Skiing Sled
Consider Recycling Your Ski Wax - Here's How to Do It
Make Your Own Nordic Skate Sharpening Jig
basics.jpg (125739 bytes) Tip: You sure don't want to be many miles from the road, have the crust softening under the hot sun,  blow up a ski or pole - and have no way of repairing the damage.  To wade for miles post-holing to your armpits in wet slush would not be a fun experience!  So bring along the repair basics: duct tape, wire and a Leatherman tool.
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Tip:  If you blow up a ski - use the Leatherman tool to cut willows and wire and duct tape them to the ski.  Use the Leatherman pliers to tighten the wire if you use it. Here Tim Miller limps out of the Twentymile Valley on an emergency spliced ski.  Notice the waterproof hunter socks for wading streams. Tip:  Same with poles.  If you snap one, get to the willows.  Cut three or four small branches and duck tape them around the pole.  It won't look pretty, but it will get you back to where you started. Tip:  You can modify cross country skiing equipment to make better performance backcountry ski gear.  Click here to see how.

Tip:  Should you have the misfortune of breaking through ice into deep water ... you hands are the only thing that will save you.  You'll need your hands FAST ... to keep from going under the ice, to get your skis off, to use your pole tips as ice picks and maybe even to swim.  You won't have use of your hands if they are handcuffed onto your poles with modern day racing pole straps.  So use classic ski pole straps so you can easily flick your poles off and get your hands free.

Left:  Smart straps for performance backcountry skiing.  Easy to get off.

Right:  Very stupid straps for skiing off groomed trails.  They could be the cause of your death if you break through ice on a lake, river or stream.  Leave them at home !!!

 

Tip:  Bring along spare ski(s) and pole(s) and leave them in your vehicle.  If you break gear right at the get go ... you can quickly go back, reload ... and save the day.

Tip:  Buy a pair of combo (skate/classic) boots, put them in your vehicle and NEVER take them out!  That way you will never forget your boots when you go skiing.  It only takes one drive to Portage on a crystal clear, perfect crust day and then realize that you left your boots at home - to learn this lesson.  Damn ... I can still remember the day I did that !!!!

Tip: Keep your head up while spring skiing.  Skiers aren't the only animals that enjoy spring crust ...

Black bear tracks are shown in the picture to the left  The picture to the right shows a brown bear paw print.

When skiing in wooded areas or when it's windy, make a lot of noise so bears can hear you coming!

 

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Frequently Asked Questions
What is "Alaska Performance Backcountry Skiing"?  Alaska Performance Backcountry Skiing is the exploring of Alaskan backcountry areas using lightweight cross country skiing gear.
Where does the name "Performance Backcountry Skiing" come from?  The ski industry calls cross country skis that are one or two notches below top level racing skis - "performance" skis.  These performance skis are best for lightweight backcountry skiing.  Thus the name - Performance Backcountry Skiing.
What kind of skis, boots and gear do you use? click here
Where is a good place to try crust skiing or backcountry winter trail skiing? click here
How do you build your single-pole skiing sleds? click here
Any new skiing videos? No. That was a phase, that has passed.  Here is the crust skiing video.
 
Performance Backcountry Skiing Web Links
Pictures and Videos of Alaska winter trail, crust and spring skiing: 20142013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004
Skiing the north ridge of Mount Susitna, February 2005 - click here  And March 2009 - click here.
Example xc skiing overnighter trips:  Aniak to Bethel Kuskokwim River Ski, Susitna Valley Winter Trail, Skiing to Burnt Island, Skiing to Pt. Possession
Anchorage, AK Urban Backcountry XC Skiing - the Dark Side of Anchorage XC skiing: click here
Tips for making a Single-Pole Skiing Sled: click here
Tips for making better Performance Backcountry Ski Gear: click here


A Few Places to Backcountry XC Ski In Alaska ...

For information on most of the skiing sites mentioned below, and on many other skiing sites ... peruse the yearly trip report links at the top of this web page.

Kenai Peninsula

 
Placer River Valley Spencer Lake at the end of the Placer River Valley Grandview Valley
Turnagain Pass Center Creek Valley Twentymile Valley Grandview Valley
Johnson Pass Portage Lake Portage Lake
 

Western Chugach Mountains

 
South Fork Eagle River Eagle River Peters Creek Valley Glen Alps South Fork Eagle River
         

Susitna Valley

 
Willow Trail Committee Trails Curry Ridge Riders Trails Susitna Valley Winter Trail
 

Talkeetna Mountains

 
Dogsled Pass Bald Mountain Hatcher Pass to Houston or Willow Trail to Mint Hut
 

Matanuska Valley and Copper River Basin

 
Boulder Creek The Denali Highway Gravel Creek
 

Fairbanks Area

 
White Mountains Yukon Quest Trail
 

Northern Alaska

 
North Slope Brooks Range Kobuk Valley
 

Western Alaska

 
Iditarod Trail Kuskokwim River

 


Skiing West of Anchorage

To the west and northwest of Anchorage, there is often great skiing in the Lower Susitna River Valley, and beyond.  You can access this area from trailheads ranging from Knik to Willow.  But after a while  ... you could be drawn by the skiing possibilities even further west.  The catch is, there are no roads to get you there.  So say you've got a free couple of days and you want to ski an area 50 to 100 miles from the road.  You could take a small plane to get there.  But in my opinion this option is expensive and a hassle.  I prefer joining league with the iron dog.  Yep, strap your skis to a snowmachine, blast out 50 or more miles to your starting point, ditch the sno-go in the woods, ski as much as you want and end up back at the sno-go, change and head back.  You can ski lots of new country this way.

Snowmobiles can get you out past the bad conditions, like this bank to bank ice, to the good snow zones.  Note the ski bags strapped to the snowmobiles. 

Right: Besides being a lot of fun to drive, snowmobiles can cook your food while you drive.  Here Chris "Flash" Clark gets ready to bite into his first muffler cooked caribou hot dog.  Mmm Mmm !!

 

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  Wild Eskimo princesses live in this area.   Lots of wolves live here too.  
Skiing the north ridge of Mount Susitna, February 2005 - click here   And March 2009 - click here.

Skiing a circle around Mt. Susitna (March 2010) - click here.


Prince William Sound

If you want to try some unique spring skiing, especially in May or June, try Prince William Sound out of Whittier.  You can get their by private boat or commercial water taxis can drop you off and pick you up.  There are also guiding companies that can take you spring skiing in PWS.  Or you can kayak out to ski if you have the time.  When the weather is nice in the Sound, skiing there is spectacular.  Here are some pictures of skiing in PWS:
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The Colin-ator churns up a ridge high above Three Fingers Cove off Cochrane Bay. Skating above Cochrane Bay.  Noon and 70 degrees F. Sweet summer shredding (June 21st)!   From winter to summer - ski to the sea ... and then jump in!   Wow guy!  That sure is one sickly looking "Alaska Tan" !!

May & June Prince William Sound skiing pictures below:

Harriman Fiord
  

Three Fingers Cove (below)

Derickson Bay (above)  Culross Island (below)
PWS locals ...

Click on the picture above for 2006 Culross Island skiing pictures.

Click here to see a 2007 video of skiing at Culross Island.

(Above) Skiing east of McClure Bay in mid-June 2010.


Meteors give us remote weather data!

No, I'm not kidding!  Remote weather sites in Alaska often use a technology called meteor burst communications - to bounce radio signals off the ionized trails of meteors high in the atmosphere.  The bounced signal is then picked up by a receiver at a base station, fed into a computer and the data is then posted on the Internet.  A company here in Alaska put together the remote meteor burst telemetry systems referenced on this web page.  That company is Micro-Specialties of Wasilla (www.micro-specialties.com).  And the logo you see for the above telemetry sites is their logo.  For more information on how meteor burst communications work - click here.

 
This website is maintained by Tim Kelley for fellow South-central Alaska skiers and outdoors folks (and for people who just want to see how much fun we have up here in Alaska).  If you find any errors with the links on this web page, or if you know of good weather cams or data sites that could be included on this page, you can email me - tkelley a t alaska d o t com.   Good skiing (or mushing, ski-joring, snowmobiling, ATV'ing, showshoeing, snow hiking, snow biking, kiting or ... ? ) to ya !  Be safe.