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Craig Medred

After a week of snowfall that deposited 10 feet of fresh snow on Mount Alyeska, managers said Monday they will open the North Face to skiers and boarders Tuesday morning.

Expect powder.

"The North Face is like in-bounds heli terrain — heli skiing without the heli," gushed Brian Burnett, the former local ski racer who now works as mountain services manager at Alyeska.

The 2,350-foot North Face boasts the longest, continuous, double-black diamond run in North America.

Skiers capable of skiing it love the North Face. Skiers uncomfortable with expert terrain, however, will want to stay away...

Craig Medred,Mike Campbell

Is this a strange country or what?

First, it is somehow "news'' when a politician in the hunt for attention -- the main thing politicians hunt for -- decides to pardon a turkey.

Then it becomes even bigger "news" when one certain politician who pardons a turkey hangs around the farm to chat while the rest of the turkeys are herded off to slaughter.

And finally it gets downright weird when journalists decide the turkey pardoning and the turkey slaughtering are important enough to warrant national attention, but not something the average American should see. So MSNBC-TV fuzzes out the turkeys dying over the left shoulder of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as she babbles on about the "brutal" nature of American politics...

Craig Medred

As the rain fell Friday on Portage and the mountains thundered high above, Chugach National Forest avalanche ranger Carl Skustad wondered what disaster the weekend might bring.

Alaska is the national leader in death by avalanche. About a quarter of all American avalanche fatalities happen in the 49th state.

"Hopefully, I don't get any calls tomorrow,'' Skudstad said by telephone from his Girdwood office late in the day.

He had just returned from surveying snow conditions in Turnagain Pass. Twelve to 20 inches of wet, heavy snow had fallen there, piling onto the several feet already on the ground. In some places, the new, water-laden snow alone was enough to trigger avalanches...

Craig Medred

MANITOBA MOUNTAIN -- The human hand has 123 ligaments, 48 nerves, 34 muscles, 30 arteries, 29 bones and 29 joints -- give or take a few -- and we take them all for granted most every day.

Or at least we do until things go wrong.

Watching an aging ski buddy repeatedly snap his cold hands downward in an effort to get enough warm, fresh blood into the muscles to allow them to work on a frigid November day, I couldn't help thinking about how only a year ago I gave some serious thought to having one of my own, near-useless fingers amputated...

Craig Medred

Out an estimated $15,000 and shaken by a manager looting race coffers, the one-time richest, middle-distance sled dog race in the north is scrambling to prepare for the January start of the mushing season.

The Kuskokwim 300 Sled Dog Race from Bethel to Aniak and back is still scheduled for Jan. 16, but the purse won't be set until Dec. 15. It was $100,000 last year, mushing's third largest purse, behind only the three-times longer Iditarod and Yukon Quest International sled dog races.

But a lot has changed since the dog teams took their summer hiatus...

Craig Medred

Back at work now and happy to be alive, Steve Mashburn can contemplate the abysmal design of Anchorage's so-called "bike trails.''

Fine though those paths might be for walkers, many of these multi-use trails are among the most dangerous places to ride in a city with no shortage of dangerous places to ride.

Anchorage likes to think of itself as a bike-friendly community, but it is not.

Just because some know-nothings from Outside occasionally come here and declare the city bike-friendly doesn't make it so. Those people pedal the Chester Creek-Coastal Trail route to Kincaid Park, admire the scenery, enjoy one of the few trails safely separated from any motor-vehicle traffic, and think this is somehow representative of cycle routes in Alaska's largest city...

Craig Medred

No matter how long in country, no matter how solid the understanding of the general docility of bears, there comes a certain primal apprehension at the discovery of a grizzly back-tracking your trail in the early season snow.

Suddenly threatened is everything you know to be true about these animals:

• That they generally try to avoid people.

• That they generally fear us more than we fear them.

• That the odds of being attacked by a bear are infinitesimal.

• That the risk of being in an automobile accident is so much greater than the danger of being attacked by a bear that these two possibilities don't even deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence...

Craig Medred

WANTED: Permanent home for Iditarod restart. Must have space to park 1,000-plus sled dogs and hundreds of cars on the first Sunday of every March. Will sit vacant the other 364 days of the year.

Wasilla's role as the official jumping-off-place for the restart of the Iditaord Trail Sled Dog Race is history.

Officials of the Iditarod and the Alaska Department of Transportation say they're on the verge of working out a temporary arrangement to continue staging the restart at the Willow Airport, but the Federal Aviation Administration isn't too happy about that.

And all parties agree a permanent home needs to be found for the real start of the ever-more-popular 1,000-mile race from Anchorage to Nome...

Craig Medred

Kurt Sorensen is just a guy who shot a grizzly bear outside his back door in Chugiak. It was all perfectly legal, and the bear, like everything, was destined to die some day anyway. But now Sorensen is being vilified on the Internet, except, of course, when he's being glorified there...

Craig Medred

As the Saturday opening of a Ship Creek moose hunt fast approaches, Chugach State Park officials are watching the weather and hoping for a good, hard freeze.

Without such a change in the weather, some park hikers worry they could see a replay of the mess the moose hunt spawned last year in Indian Creek Valley.

A herd of hunters on horses stormed the Indian Valley Trail when the 2007 season opened Oct. 1. With the trail surface wet and soft from rains, the results were disastrous. Bridges and boardwalks were smashed. Once-boggy stretches of trail were churned into mud holes that sometimes were waist-deep...

Craig Medred