Mike Campbell

Heavy snow and rain since Tuesday have prompted officials with the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center to warn of high avalanche danger at elevations above 1,000 feet in Turnagain Pass, a popular snowmachining and backcountry skiing area southeast of Anchorage. “Large natural and human-triggered avalanches are likely today,” the center said Friday. More than 3 inches of water — including an estimated 2 to 4 feet of snow up high at colder temperatures — has fallen in less than three days on what avalanche experts consider weak snow sitting atop crust. On Thursday, snow fell at a rate of 1 inch per hour for part of the day. “This setup combined with strong winds and warm temperatures have created very dangerous conditions in the backcountry,” officials said. “Additional...Mike Campbell
Just when you thought virtually every Alaska sled dog race would be canceled, postponed or rerouted due to scant snow, along comes a totally different animal that will be run on an almost-perfect track. Say hello to the fourth edition of the Denali Doubles Invitational . Yes, it’s a sled dog race. No, it’s not your typical sled dog race: • Each of the 20 teams links two mushers, typically two sleds and 12 to 20 dogs. While dogs may be dropped outbound at either of the two checkpoints, they must rejoin the team inbound and finish. • One of the mushers is an experienced veteran while the other is usually “quite inexperienced,” according to race founder Jeff King, a four-time Iditarod champion . • Whining is prohibited, punishable by a $75 fine. Mushers start 4 p.m. Thursday in Cantwell on...Mike Campbell
BETHEL -- Another year, another celebration for Bethel as hometown musher Pete Kaiser claimed his second consecutive Kuskokwim 300 title, finishing shortly after 11 a.m. Sunday. The King of the Kuskokwim remains unvanquished. Kaiser finished in one day, 16 hours, 36 minutes, with Brent Sass of Eureka 10 minutes back and Joar Ulsom of Norway just six minutes behind Sass. After not seeing a Yukon-Kuskokwim-based musher win one of Alaska’s biggest races for 29 years, Bethel fans now may be wondering if area mushers will start dominating the $130,000 race that attracts many of the biggest names in the sport. Richie Diehl, 30, of Aniak, was running fourth and Mike Williams Jr. of Akiak, a former runner-up, was 12th Sunday as the sun came up over the Kuskokwim River. When Kaiser pulled into the...Mike Campbell
BETHEL — With one long night of racing remaining, defending Kuskokwim 300 champion Pete Kaiser of Bethel left Kalskag at 7:50 p.m. Saturday, the leader of the world’s richest middle-distance race heading into the last 95 miles of icy trail. After not seeing a Yukon-Kuskokwim-based musher win one of Alaska’s biggest races for 29 years, Bethel fans could end up cheering back-to-back titles for a hometown hero, while Kaiser could claim $25,000 of a record $130,000 purse with a win. Kaiser’s lead was slim. Joar Ulsom of Norway pulled out 19 minutes later, and 2015 Yukon Quest champion Brent Sass of Eureka left 13 minutes after Ulsom. The last part of the race can be rugged and confusing — even dangerous. As recently as last year, mushers have taken wrong turns that cost them gobs of time. "It...Mike Campbell
BETHEL — Aiming to turn tragedy to triumph, Brent Sass of Eureka pulled out of the Aniak halfway point at 11:19 a.m. Saturday with a commanding two-hour lead in the Kuskokwim 300 sled dog race. By 2:03 p.m., nine mushers had given chase, but Sass held a one hour, 57 minute lead over defending champion Pete Kaiser of Bethel. Martin Buser, a two-time K300 champion, was third, 18 minutes behind Kaiser, with Joar Ulsom of Norway, Rohn Buser of Big Lake, Jeff King of Denali Park, Paul Gebhardt of Kasilof, Joshua Cadzow of Fort Yukon and Hugh Neff of Tok following. The K300 is the world’s richest middle-distance sled dog race, boasting a $130,000 purse. The winner pockets $25,000. Sass won the 2015 Yukon Quest. But the lead dog who led Sass to his Quest win — 5-year-old Basin — died earlier...Mike Campbell
Heading into late January of an unseasonably warm winter, a handful of tickets remained Thursday morning for the Ski Train sponsored by the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage, a wildly popular trip in past years. Not many, mind you -- just four. Still, this is an event that in past years has sold out by November, weeks after tickets went on sale. “We aren’t sure why we haven’t sold out exactly, like in past years,” NSAA Business Manager Erin Beam said in an email. “Low snow here in Anchorage might be a reason, although Curry has proven time and time again to have plenty of snow because of its location." Since 2003, the train been going north to Curry , which was one of the few places in Southcentral with snow in March last year. Curry replaced a trip south to Grandview near Spencer...Mike Campbell
Surrounded by ice and tufts of grass and warmed by balmy weather for much of the winter, Southcentral Alaska fans of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race have had reason to be concerned about the prospect of witnessing the start of Alaska’s sporting Super Bowl. Not to worry, Iditarod race director Mark Nordman said Tuesday. “People have the conception of not much snow,” Nordman said, “and that’s not quite right for much of the trail. “I would definitely say as that as of today, we’re definitely planning to go the traditional route. We have commitments to our fans to do that if we can.” A final decision on which route the Iditarod will follow will be made Feb. 12, Nordman said, because the first food drop for mushers takes place the following week. A year ago, miserable snow conditions along much of...Mike Campbell
About 720 people live in the town of Two Rivers, northeast of Fairbanks along the Chena Hot Springs Road. Four of them jammed onto the proverbial podium of the Copper Basin 300 Sled Dog Race on Monday as Two Rivers residents swept the top spots of the first big distance race of the 2016 mushing season. Young Matt Hall drove nine dogs from his Smokin’ Aces Kennels to victory, crossing the finish line at 9:43 a.m. to edge another up-and-comer, Ryne Olson, by 17 minutes. Neighbor and three-time defending champion Allen Moore was 24 minutes behind Olson and Moore's wife, Aliy Zirkle, was fourth, another four minutes back. "Two Rivers was certainly well represented," said a post on Moore and Zirkle's website. "It truly is home to the best mushing in the world — well, we think so anyway." If...Mike Campbell
When sled dog racing fans discuss recent mushing dynasties, the names Seavey and Mackey inevitably come up — with good reason. Dallas and father Mitch Seavey have won the last four Iditarods. And Lance Mackey was untouchable during his four-year reigns as king of the Iditarod (2007-10) and of the Yukon Quest (2005-08). Allen Moore of Two Rivers gets considerably less love. But as the 58-year old steps on his sled runners Saturday morning at the start of the Copper Basin 300 in Gakona, Moore will be gunning for his fourth consecutive title in the middle-distance race and seventh in the last 11 races. He’s also won two of the last four Yukon Quests, barely nipped by Brent Sass and Hugh Neff in the other two. What a guy gotta do to get noticed in this biz? “I think Allen is way under-...Mike Campbell
Once again, the ugly wrath of a mild winter is forcing Alaska sled dog race organizers to move, shimmy and sweat over whether they’ll have trail suitable for the pulling athletes. On Tuesday night, organizers of the Copper Basin 300 Sled Dog Race decided to move the start of the 300-mile race 20 miles north of Glennallen, the second consecutive major sled dog race to shift its start due to unseasonably warm and dry weather. Ten months ago, the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race was forced to shift its start from Willow to Fairbanks. Farther west in Bethel, the world’s best and richest middle-distance race was facing rapidly deteriorating conditions too, with the Kuskokwim 300 board of directors planning to meet Wednesday night to consider options. The $123,300 Kusko is due to start Jan. 15, and...Mike Campbell