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- June 9, 2012 at 2:45 am #577025
All you splitters out there in Alaska, what part are you in?
I currently reside in Oregon and just finished my AAS degree in electrical engineering. I’ve always loved Alaska and am thinking of heading up there to play…I mean finish school.
Any comments on various areas?
Thanks!June 9, 2012 at 3:53 am #657123philip.akParticipant
We’re not known for good snow, but this year was really lovely. 🙂
All your Kodiak snow questions answered here: http://kodiaksnow.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=generalJune 9, 2012 at 7:05 pm #657125
Thanks for the reply and the link for more info phillipJune 9, 2012 at 7:42 pm #657126christoph benellsParticipant
the chugach is an hour or so out of anchorage…June 9, 2012 at 10:09 pm #657124
Sweet! If things go as planned I’d probably end up in Fairbanks. There is a university in Fairbanks and Anchorage but for my program I’d need to be at the Fairbanks campus.June 10, 2012 at 7:01 pm #657127D-GREENParticipant
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.June 10, 2012 at 8:55 pm #657128
Is Fairbanks that bad compared to anchorage? There is a university in anchorage and Fairbanks but I believe for engineering I’d need to go to Fairbanks.June 10, 2012 at 9:55 pm #657129philip.akParticipant
There are waaaaay better backcountry ski options around Anchorage. Fairbanks has hills. Anchorage has mountains.June 11, 2012 at 3:20 am #657130
well that settles it, mountains are better than hills :headbang:June 12, 2012 at 7:37 pm #657131peacefrogParticipant
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.June 27, 2012 at 4:15 am #657132
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.June 27, 2012 at 7:40 am #657133
Thanks for the replays guys! Good and bad! I like to hear all sides.
My first question is for you stomp pow… Where are those pics taken?? That looks plenty fun and fresh lines. I’m all for earning my turns.
I’m actually up here in Fairbanks right now, had a job interview earlier today and head home tomorrow but so far like it here.
I have some more questions and will post more when I’m home and am on my computerJune 28, 2012 at 1:35 am #657134
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 😉June 28, 2012 at 4:28 am #657135
I’m at the airport now but I’ll need to be up here by July 30th and I’m driving the Alcan and hope to do it in about 10 days, take my time and enjoy it so that would be great if we could meet up when I’m back up here and get all moved in etc. gotta get my truck winterized too etc!
Would you recommend remote start as well?June 28, 2012 at 5:33 pm #657136
Cool yah, you can send me an e-mail at matthewgruber (at) gi . alaska . edu
I guess a remote start would be nice, but I think the best recommendation for regular car use in winter in Fairbanks is: limit it by using a fat-bike. There are trails all over town that become packed and it’s easy to get around with a snow-bike. Bikes are trouble free with a little mag-1 grease, literally you just keep them outside all winter, mine still looks brand new. That way you can use your car just on the weekends and warmer days to pick up some water, it’ll have a much longer life.June 28, 2012 at 5:38 pm #657137
sweet thanks! While I was there I actually talked quite a bit with the guys at Beaver Sports about a fatback build. We put together a list of parts and now I’m just waiting on a final price to see how soon I can pull the trigger on that. But I definitely plan on getting a fat bike for around town. From where I will be living, everything I would need (including getting to work) is all within about 2-3 miles!!! not bad at all I must say 🙂July 3, 2012 at 8:52 pm #657138peacefrogParticipant
Well since you pulled the trigger and are headed up there is not much sense in beating up on FAI but I do want to clarify one thing. There are big mountains and no crowds there but the snowpak is not good. There is a reason most of the heli ops you see in videos is coastal. Coastal area’s get more snow and its wet. Wet snow means that what looks like sheer cliffs actually become rideable. The bright side is that compared to some people in the states you not that bad off. You do have local access and if you wanted to head south for the weekend that can be worked out. Sounds like you’re working instead of/in addition to going to school, but when I want to school there I eventually worked out a Tuesday Thursday only schedule. So a lot of weekends I’d head to Anchorage to ride for the weekend and come back on Monday. You also have something almost no one else has realistic access to “the Brooks Range”. The road to Proudue Bay goes right through there and in terms of late season riding that will kick ass. The end of May is still winter there so that’s pretty cool.
I will back stomp pow up on the scene difference between ANC and FAI. ANC is Alaska’s only real city (everything else people from the states would call a town). I hang my, oil skin, hat in Juneau where we have coastal conditions, low crowds (especially in the back country), super easy access, small town feel (by Nation Standards), and a University.
Good luck with your adventure. Fairbanks is a cool place and your time there will defiantly build character. If your looking at a fat bike I would encourage you also to check out arctic cycles http://www.arcticcycles.com/ . He’s based out of ANC but don’t hold that against him. He does bike rentals so if the custom build is too expensive you might be able to pick up a lightly used and well loved fat bike from him. I’ll leave you with two saying that were common when I lived in Fairbanks.
“in Fairbanks you don’t loose your girlfriend you just lose your turn”
“Fairbanks, where men are men and so are the women”July 6, 2012 at 11:58 pm #657139
The coastal snowpack is definitely much more epic, tons of plentiful snow that sticks to steep lines, then dries out over night… thick snowpack on all aspects that opens up endless line opportunities…
But: while there may be fewer options here where the snowpack has any potential, the potential is there and it can be epic. Specifically on the North-East aspects of the Southern half of the Alaska Range in April-May,
it seems that it can temporarily be better up here than on the coast. In a good snow year it seems that lines may open up here which are very different than on the coast, in a time of year when the coast may be rainy or crusty. Of course in a cold and dry year maybe it’s 100% better on the coast at all times.
The Brooks Range does seem enticing and I’ve been up there a bit, but from all the beta I’m getting from people working up there in April-May, the snowpack seems very minimal and rotten. The mountains are so unique though and the scenery is so fantastic that it may be worth it mid-spring if they get some snow, although I doubt the snow would be better 8 hours North than 2 hours South.February 14, 2013 at 6:09 am #657140JermsParticipant
anyone from Southeast? I am born and raised in Anchorage, now living in Juneau.
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