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Home Forums Trip Reports Above The Arctic Circle: A Return to the Brooks Range

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    For my final ride in 2010 I decided to travel north, back to the Brooks Range to rebate myself on my dream to snowboard above the Arctic Circle.

    Earlier in March I had wild ideas of snowboarding in the Arctic while simultaneously hunting for caribou. I was successful in the hunt but had reached what seemed like the threshold of survival in the process and thus never did link my boards to make some turns in the Brooks Range

    It was the final week in May. Knowing that the sun had been shining hard on the shallow arctic snowpack, and aware that Southern Alaska likely had much better snow sliding opportunities at the time, I was wary to commit to the trip plan. I had no idea what the snow would be like in the far northern land of endless sun. On one hand, I assumed that since it was “The Arctic” it must be cold and that there would be plenty of snow. On the other hand, I was aware of the immense warmth occurring over the month of May. It was a gamble.

    Working my way into the far north the day temps were in the 70’s. It was hot and snow was sparse. I stopped several times to fish for grayling on the drive.

    Upon arrival to the Brooks Range the weather was beautiful but the snow situation was bleak.

    Heavy melting had occurred and there were slim pickings for easily accessible, rideable terrain. I spent some time scouting my options and settled on the most promising looking zone I could find. I began climbing up this ridge.

    Hiking was good. It was simply nice to be out exploring the Brooks, absorbing the ambiance of the Far North, taking in the views.

    As I continued up the fun class 3 ridge line the unique snow sliding potential of the Arctic terrain began to reveal itself.

    Here’s a look back down the ridge I climbed with the road below

    Onward to the summit (notice the receding tracks of a fellow ridgeline traveler of the recent past—lower left).

    Yes, it is obvious that Shih’ Tthoo the great bear of the north had explored this ridgeline soon after emerging from his winter den (notice all of the caribou hair in this scat, likely from a successful spring hunt or the scavenge of a discovered winter/wolf kill carcass).

    My trail on this aesthetic ridge.

    From the summit I can see a wild expanse of mountains. The amazing thing is that the Brooks Range is the furthest northern extent of the Rocky Mountains. Wow, I am in the Rockies! To think of how many peaks in the Rocky Mountains I have climbed, I have skied, from South to North. On this summit I realize that I just need to go make turns in New Mexico now and I will have covered every US State and Canadian Province that contains the Rocky Mountains on my splitboard.

    After spending some quality time enjoy the place from high above, I drop into some quality Arctic corn.

    The snow gets much softer as I descend. As I enter a couloir I start a small wetslide which rolls through the entire route.

    Whatever; It’s the end of my season; its late spring and I am stoked to be doing what I do. The ride ended up being sorta sloppy but good. Here is a view of my route.

    Its been real for sure; spending time with the caribou and wolves in this place earlier this year and now returning in spring. Despite the intense sunlight and warmth, The layer of permafrost serves to remind me of where I am; a splitboard nomad on the arctic tundra.

    2009-2010 has been a good season. I started out riding cold sugar snow and log rides on a 12” base in the birch trees of the Sub-Arctic boreal forest, ended up in the Caucasus mountains of Russia, then the the Brooks Range of the Arctic for hunting and winter camping, then to the rider’s pinnacle of the coastal Chugach to live the dream, then to the interior Alaska Range for rugged splitting adventures, and then back to the Arctic for one final lap. Now I retreat from the tundra, to the forests below for some more fishing and camping. I cook black bear ribs over my fire and reminisce about it all; I can’t help but dream up more splitboarding schemes for the future…

    To be concluded.


    Incredabule! I want to head up there some time!


    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your adventures and TRs this season Savage! Thanks for sharing! Reminds some of us lower 48ers how much we take for granted well developed THs, Pit toilets, short direct routes and (relatively) short drives.

    But…we don’t get a lot of black bear ribs around these parts 🙂


    You picked a sweet run. Those early pictures made me think you were gonna get skunked. Still got your gnar on, right on.


    Splitboard nomad…love it, you crushed it again man!!! :clap:

    Ribs are looking good, anything unusual?



    I’m really impressed, it looks incredible up there.


    I enjoyed this report too! I’m a sucker for late season riding and this put me there with you. Thanks! :headbang:


    I dig how you keep throwing in some “earn your meals” with your turns. Especially of the flesh variety.

    I’m still waitin on the big horn…… :thumpsup:


    Funny, I ran into a guy who said he rode that exact line a few years ago
    Ha! 😀

    Nice one man. Stickin’ to the paleo diet I see. I’m about to grill up a grass fed rib eye myself (but I’m gonna have some starch too)

    Good to get that line done cuz once the “collapse” comes you ain’t gettin’ back up there (unless it’s to hunt for meat.)
    I’m hoping I can squeeze out one more heli trip up there before things get hectic. I’m gettin’ a feeling ya know. But this isn’t the time or the place to discuss life altering events. I just want to slay the gnar in AK again and live vicariously through your TR’s in the meantime.

    Don’t forget to get your daily dose of A. Jones too!! 😆


    That line is SICK! Man, late season snow searching is so rad!

    Your shots of the tundra are incredible. Its very interesting how there is literally feet of ice under the surface. God help us when all of that melts!

    surface hore

    looks like a lovely line… lacking berries though. You shoulda scouted some out on the way.


    Thanks for viewing and commenting all.

    Russman; yeah trippy stuff the perma-frost. It looks like what I came across there was breaking up and melting but I am not sure if that was because of a normal cycle or via increased warming. What I wonder is how the soil got on top of all the ice??

    As far as food goes; bear is wonderful and healthy providing you harvest em’ when they are on the berries and roots; not fish. I was saving those ribs for a special occasion. The bear was taken last fall in a river system which drains the southern Brooks Range, so its very local–loco-vore .

    Right On BG: I could see that someone would have rode that line, being that it is by far the easiest access zone from the road, and in my case the only thing with snow that was not miles away; as you likely know my original plans were to do something much more extensive but…”Global Warming” you know??

    yeah tryin to keep it Paleolithic; however starches are hard to drop, especially for fueling hard work in the mountains. …Make sure your “grass feds” are not being finished on corn, as they often are….see for more beta.

    No joke—Follow your intuition (and the daily numbers) and its obvious that we are in the midst of IT; the tipping point may be gradual or totally abrupt (i.e. major event that throws everything into upheaval such as Gulf leak type thing but with a more immediate impact). If it turns out to be the former scenario, rather than the latter, I think we got a bit of time;

    I just got back from down south and I am thinking of making Haines the 2011 program….looking absolutely sick down there.

    Btw; for anyone who is into single track shredding Carcross/Whitehorse Yukon Territory is going off! Ripping lines; 8” single track everywhere; super fast; stunts; drops; air; bridges; log rides….just got back from there and killed it. Did a line called “Mountain Hero”; off the chain Alpine xc/downhill , world class stuff; hit me up for beta if your ever in the area.

    On the way back up north I came across a semi flipped over that was hauling fresh sockeye salmon to Seattle; hundreds of thousands of fish dumped all over the tundra; everyone was scrambling to salvage as much as they could; I scored huge and got enough fish to make it through the winter on a solid Omega 3’s diet…. Homeland Security was letting everybody bring the fish over the border too, which was cool because, in the light of the current state of the nation, I was gonna snap if they made me throw the salmon away…..would ended up on the ‘no fly’ list fightin’ em for that salmon…

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