[dropcap]S[/dropcap]teeped in 30 years of winter tradition, the annual Arctic Man event has begun! Arctic Man is a week long skiing/snow machining, booze and gasoline fueled event in Paxson, Alaska. In the middle of a snowy wasteland one week in April, up pops a temporary RV city with the population of about 13,000 people. 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, porta potties, 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 Alaska State Troopers show's, 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 sidelines 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).
Arctic Man Spectators via www.arcticman.com
The skier begins at a summit elevation of 5,800 feet and drops 1700 feet in less than two mile to the bottom of a narrow canyon where he meets up with his snowmobiling partner.
The snowmobiler 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 skier and the snowmobile then separate and the skier goes over the side of the second mountain and drops another 1200 feet to the finish line. Sourced From: www.arcticman.com
With most of these distances happening in sub four minute times, this is very fast very fun to watch event, and as you can imagine, sometimes results in broken bones. With 50+ entries many of the participants have earned titles in either Olympic or Paralympic events. Arctic Man is aptly dubbed the craziest ski race on earth!
A sequence shows a snowmachine driver sling-shotting a skier toward First Aid after their 2 1/2-mile uphill run. (Photo by Brian Montalbo)
Still don't get it? Watch this video from Morgan Hammond in the 2014 race. You can get a feel for how long and fast the race really is! httpv://youtu.be/TmROJVBxU9cThe Area
Literally in the middle of nowhere, interior Alaska that 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 me) 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!
For more about the Experience of Arctic Man, watch this great montage put out by Brian Montalbo: httpv://youtu.be/eE2UPLQ58Ks