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Craig Medred

From the Talkeetna Mountain slopes just above the Independence Mine State Historic Park, the lights that brighten the Hatcher Pass lodge at night looks so close you could almost reach out and touch them.

It was within sight of these lights and the comfort they promise that 18-year-old snowboarder Royce Morgan from Wasilla died Wednesday.

What killed him remains unknown. Alaska State Troopers say state medical examiners are still awaiting toxicology tests and won't say anything until after they have those in hand.

Morgan's half brother, 25-year-old Matt Theodore, started out thinking the cause was hypothermia, but now he is not so sure...

Craig Medred

A group of snowmachine riders exploring the Snow River valley near Seward on Sunday ventured onto a glacier above Nellie Juan Lake, fell into a crevasse and had to be rescued by helicopter, according to Alaska State Troopers.

A trooper press release said Helo 1 was launched from Anchorage after an emergency locator beacon went off near the lake. Troopers and U.S. Forest Service rangers subsequently discovered several machines had been ridden into a snow-covered crevasse on a nearby glacier.

"Walter Gilmour, 46, of Wasilla was injured in the crash,'' troopers reported. "Jennifer Messick, 34, of Wasilla was found to be hypothermic." Both she and Gilmour were taken to the Seward Hospital...

Craig Medred

Nearly 85 years ago, mushers and dog teams rushing vital diphtheria serum to Nome pushed through brutal, 50-degree-below-zero temperatures and Yukon River ice fog so thick they could barely see in order to help save lives.

On Monday, modern-day adventurers snowmachining and mushing from Nenana to Nome in a commemoration of that life-saving event ran into their own weather nightmare and decided they'd best turn back for civilization.

Heavy snows between the villages of Tanana and Ruby made travel on the Yukon River near impossible, said Dr. Brian Trimble of Eagle River, the head of the medical team for the Norman Vaughan '25 Serum Run...

Craig Medred

Mount Marathon powerhouse, Olympic skier and all-round tough girl Nina Kemppel was overcome by emotion during her acceptance speech Thursday night at the induction ceremony for the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame.

Aging runner Doug Herron found it harder to thank his parents than to run 800 meters so hard and so fast that more than two decades ago he set a record that still stands and might, as former Anchorage Mayor Rick Mystrom observed, stand forever.

The family of Metlakatla's Wally Leask gathered together on the Hall's podium in front of more than 300 people in the ConocoPhillips Alaska Atrium to celebrate the life of a man who, back in his day, was the state's greatest athlete only to fade almost out of sight as times changed and Alaska grew...

Craig Medred

As the spectacle that is the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race unfolds in Anchorage once again, the subject on everyone's tongue is whether defending champ Lance Mackey can pull off a three-peat.

Largely, if not totally, overlooked is the guy who might hold the answer to that question: Larry.

Larry, of course, can't talk. He is, after all, a dog -- arguably the best lead dog Mackey will ever meet.

George Attla, the legendary Alaska musher of old, once observed that if a musher happens on one great lead dog in his lifetime he's blessed.

Well aware of this history, Mackey knows the value of Larry.

"Larry," he says, in the form of highest compliment, "needs no introduction."...

Craig Medred

A musher who thought he didn't have a chance won the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race on Tuesday in Fairbanks in record time with a team behind almost nipping at his heels and the rest of the field in disarray.

New champ Sebastian Schnuelle from Whitehorse, Yukon territory, had a squall on Eagle Summit to thank for victory, though he was helped significantly by a boneheaded move by second-placer musher Hugh Neff from Skagway and a gutsy -- and sure to be controversial -- call by race marshal Doug Grilliot...

Craig Medred

A German who left his homeland and his training as an industrial mechanic at Mercedes-Benz to embrace the wilds of Canada's Yukon territory has become the new champion of the grueling Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race.

Wild-haired, 39-year-old Sebastian Schnuelle, who now calls Whitehorse home, came from behind in the 1,000-mile sled dog marathon to edge out Hugh Neff of Skagway by 4 minutes at the finish line in Fairbanks this morning.

Jon Little of Kasilof finished third, 68 minutes back.

Schnuelle and Neff are both immigrants to the northland who have been working toward mushing success for years...

Craig Medred

The hardest race to run is the one waged in your mind, and it is for this reason the Iditarod Trail Invitational is the hardest race in the world.

Forget the distance of hundreds of miles, the brutal Alaska winds, the subzero cold, the bad trail, and the danger of avalanche and overflow. Those are the smallest of the challenges to be met.

The bigger hurdle is the sheer desolation one finds from near Shell Lake in the foothills of the Alaska Range on through Rainy Pass to McGrath, and beyond across the vast tracks of nothingness and ever more nothingness to the Bering Sea coast and, eventually, for some, to Nome...

Craig Medred

Wolves and bears will be in the cross hairs when the Alaska Board of Game this week begins another contentious discussion of how to manage predators in the 49th state.

For some, that is a good thing; for others, it is very bad.

The view seems determined in large part by which side of Alaska's rural-urban divide they call home.

From villages and small communities in the Aleutian Islands east along the south side of the Alaska Range all the way to Cordova come proposals to kill wolves and bears or both to eliminate competition for the moose and caribou, or -- in some cases -- for simple public safety...

Craig Medred

Want fur? Get ready.

The annual hide and horn auction is back at the Anchorage Fur Rendezvous on March 1, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game -- minus the horns.

Grubstake Auction of Anchorage says it's going to try earning a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for moving the most bear hides ever.

Ron Alleva, Grubstake's auctioneer, said there are presently 117 of these hides -- 98 of them grizzly bears and 19 blacks -- up for auction...

Craig Medred