Steeped in 30 years of winter tradition, the annual Arctic Man event returns! Arctic Man is a week long skiing/snowmachining (snowmobile for those not in Alaska), booze and gasoline fueled event in near Paxson, Alaska. In the middle of a snowy wasteland for one week in April, up pops a temporary RV city with the population of about 13,000 people which, for the week, makes it roughly the 5th largest ‘town’ in Alaska! Event goers haul up RV’s, snowmachines, couches, firewood, fuel and all the fixin’s for winter camping in Alaska. The temporary ‘town’ is outfitted with its own radio station (for patrons to listen to music, news and information pertaining to the race), a temporary AT&T cell tower, food vendors, portable toilets, ATM machines, its very own Alaska State Trooper post, and the beer tent, let us not forget the beer tent! Although this event has gained notoriety as a party-hearty Sledneck revival, with several attendees ending up in the cast of the Alaska State Troopers show, there is a lot more going on than cuffs and contraband.
For the feature race, 13,000 party-goers head up to the mountain and line the edge of the course to watch! The Arctic Man race is a one of a kind event, and due to its uniqueness, draws people from all over the world. There are several competitions that happen during the week, but the main event (scheduled for Friday) consists of two-man teams. One skilled snowmachine driver and one courageous downhill skier (or, less commonly, a snowboarder).
The skier begins at a summit elevation of 5,800 feet and drops 1,700 feet in less than two miles toward the bottom of a narrow canyon where he meets up with his machine powered partner.
The rider meets the skier, on the go, with a tow rope, and pulls the skier 2 1/4 miles uphill at top speeds of up to nearly 90 mph. The racers then separate and the skier goes over the side of the second mountain and drops another 1200 feet to the finish line.
With most of these distances happening in sub four minute times, this is a very fast and very exciting to event to watch, and as you can imagine, sometimes results in broken bones. With 50+ entries and a large purse for winning teams, many of the participants have earned titles in either Olympic or Paralympic events. Arctic Man is aptly dubbed the craziest ski race on earth!
Still don’t get it? Watch the video below from Morgan Hammond in the 2014 race. You can get a feel for how long and fast the race really is!
Literally in the middle of nowhere, interior Alaska is known for deep snow and wide open spaces. Paxson is located at mile 198 of the Richardson Highway, nestled in the valley’s of the Hoodoo Mountains in the Alaska Range. With Glacial access and rolling hills full of deep fresh powder, it is a snow sports enthusiasts paradise.
The northernmost Mecca (according to some people) for extreme winter sports and tailgating with traits similar to a Burning Man event (needing to work more on the ‘leave no trace’ aspect), every year the campsites and displays get bigger and better. You will see snow carved patio sets, costumes, tiki torches, Christmas lights, themed camps, “Alaskan rickshaws” AKA couches towed by ATV’s, full-sized pool tables, and the widest array of custom fire pits one has ever laid eyes on! The decorated streets of strategically parked trucks and campers will be nothing less than a sight for sore eyes!