Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 4:42 am Posts: 312 Location: Girdwood, AK!!!
If you go to Fairbanks you're F-d, uh, I mean you'll get a good education. If you move to Anchorage you'll get a lot more play time in, you're only a half hour from Alaska there. That's just my opinion.
_________________ If you had a moderate chance of being shot in a bar, would you go in? -Tom Kimbrough, former Utah forcaster
I'm in South East Alaska (Juneau). I love it here. We've been having good winters recently but it's kind of a year to year thing. Great BC access, great marine snow pack, not much sun. University of South East (UAS) is here but it's not much of an engineering program. DON'T GO TO FAIRBANKS!!!!!. I went to college there and basically quit snowboarding for a few years (only going 5-10 times a year). It's a dry snow pack. So dry you don't get a base. You can literally reach through 3' of snow and pick a stick off the ground. It's also a sub-arctic desert so it doesn't get much snowfall either. Local access is hills but the Alaska range isn't that far away (shitty snow conditions still apply). Additionally if you're from OR you are not ready for winter in Fairbanks 20 to 30 below is common and 40 to 50 below should be expected on occasion (sometimes for a 2 week stretch). I would check the Engineering Programs at UAA, UAS, and APU (Alaska Pacific University) and if they don't meet your schooling criteria then look outside of Alaska. Now for all the shit talking I did on Fairbanks riding conditions I will tell you it is a top notch school with great post graduation work placement stats.
_________________ It is diffucult to assess ones own fuckedupness Jones Solution 164, Fuse baseplates w/BM Bisquits, Salomon Malamutes
Okay all this Fairbanks bashing is coming from coastal ninnies It ain't so bad!
Yes, Anchorage has access to tons of fantastic terrain, consistently good snow, etc. and the best stuff is about 1-1.5 hours away. You've got Turnagain Pass which is really 1-1.5 hours to the goods. The mountains right up on Anchorage within 20 minutes drive are definitely ride-able and can be epic but are drier and windier and are not as consistent as Turnagain Pass. You've also got Hatcher Pass with a slightly more continental climate, an equally sick area to play in, 1.5 hours away. Both passes have some crowds, but it's manageable.
Fairbanks: You will indeed only ride local "hills" from November to January, there's no light and it's too cold. But............. from February to May it is absolutely epic if you are willing to work for it... The mountains here are actually bigger than the coast, but getting to the really big ones usually involves a 3+ day glacier trip with a 10 mile approach. That said, there is fantastic terrain that is very accessible within 3 hours drive. In February it seems you've got to get a bit lucky since the wind can be brutal, but later in the spring you are guaranteed long sunlight hours, chill camping spots with no regulations and no crowds, and yes I've seen deep pow in May here on the North-easterly aspects. The riding areas are basically focused on the "Deltas" between the towns of Delta Junction and Paxson, and some around Cantwell. Judging by your name, you may want to know that there are many "First Descent" opportunities around such as the west face of White Princess. You'll see that "snowsavage" has some trip reports in the interior, specifically an epic run called "Rainbow Ridge". In his TR he claims that the snow is rarely as good as he got it, but when I went up there in May it was at least as good and probably better, although we didn't get to ride it due to some whumphing and then falling in a frozen gravel crevasse which the cornice was pulling off the ridge... So if you're coming up you'll have to join us on a redemption lap in bottomless pow.
If you look on a topo the "White Mountains" North-East of town look promising since they're closer but it's bare-bones there. Plus there's wolves The Cantwell area and "broad pass" have some downright epic shit but you basically need a snowmachine (sled) since the valley is, well, like the name it's broad, the approaches are long.
You're also 7 hours from Valdez in Fairbanks. Last time we went to Valdez, it rained and the coastalites didn't know that up the road 5 hours towards Fairbanks was epic dry pow, served in 3000ft laps with only a 4 hour approach+climb.
Here's some local photos
Now I have to insert a rant about Fairbanks vs. Anchorage lifestyle as I'm a recent convert... Up here people have space, they have nice little cabins in the woods with gardens, they hunt moose in their backyards. In Anchorage you'll have mega-malls and 5 lane wide roads at your driveway in comparison.
Transform and roll out team
Well, I'm living in Fairbanks for the long haul, so if you're still around we can meet for lunch or something. Otherwise we can meet when you get back up. There's a sizeable ski touring community here, although of course many are more into it for the mountaineering than the pow. There is a little splitboard community though... small enough to be able to guess who's tracks are who's if you see them from the highway hehe
Transform and roll out team