Thursday, April 26, 2012

Arctic Man, Alaska

Similar to the Phoenix, Arctic Man rises out of nowhere,  but instead of hot ash,  it rises out of deep cold snow.   

Every year, in beginning of April,  an isolated quiet valley near Paxon, Alaska,  transforms into a hell raising, music playing, firework shooting,  party that takes on a life form of it's own.     14,000 people from around the state, gather to release stress from living through another long, dark, and cold winter.    

The event is cleared by bull dozers and front loaders, which spend days pushing away deep snow, creating parking lots big enough to contain a gathering so big, it becomes one of the largest cities in Alaska.  

It's an amazing transformation, as crowds begin showing up, by car, truck, plane,  and motor home pulling trailers full of snow machines.  Even the military makes unannounced visits,  buzzing the event with fighter jets and helicopters.   

Arctic man is a gathering like no other in Alaska.  An Alaska version of Nascar.   The wide open spaces, allows enough room for thousands of riders to go mad in the hills, giving them a choice of terrain to play on, ranging from steep mountains,  icy glaciers, and flat rolling hills.  Untracked powder lasts for days,  but by the end of the event, there isn't a mountain side near the event that doesn't have tracks on it.      

One of the highlights of Arctic Man, is a race like no other in the world.      Skiers, snowboarders, and snow machine drivers will push the limits in a 4 plus minute race that takes them up and down several mountains.     Racers reach speeds over 80 mph,  trying to be the fastest down the course.

Skiers and snowboarders,  start from what they call "the tit".   A high mountain top with amazing views of the surrounding area.    Racing down as fast as they can, they race through the canyon below, then   connect at the valley floor, with the snow machine driver who is waiting for them.
After racing down the canyon, racers have to grab a hold of a tow rope and hold on tight as they then get  pulled up through a canyon, to the top of the next mountain.
Racers and drivers catch air as they head back up the canyon at speeds around 60 mph.
One of the fastest sections along the course,  is the flat area on top of the second mountain.  Here drivers can push their machines as fast as they can go, reaching speeds close to 90 mph.
They then disconnect from the driver and carry their speed over the last drop off to the finish.

View full Arctic Man 2012 Album. 

The fastest racers, will catch over a hundred feet of air launching over this drop.

The scenery is breath taking.  Endless terrain to snow machine on.   With volcanoes in the back ground nearly 100 miles away, creating a photogenic backdrop, that reminds me of Iceland.  

Even the night sky seems to party during the night.  Northern Lights can put on a show adding to the unique atmosphere.
Northern Lights over the Arctic Man Camp.
The scenery never gets old as you pass volcanoes, glaciers, and towering mountains along the way.
The landscape on the way to Arctic Man is never dull.
Entering the town of Glennallen.

Camera man from the show "Alaska State Troppers.    with Howie who runs Arctic man. 

View full Arctic Man 2012 Album. 


View full Arctic Man 2012 Album.

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