Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Eve climb

Whitehorse is my kind of place in nearly every way. The mountain biking is amazing in the summer, and, if you can get around that fact that it's 0 degrees out, it's also amazing in the winter. Snowmobile trails form an elaborate web of possibilities for many dozens of miles in all directions. Walkers and skiers pack down hard singletrack trails all around town. Snow is light and dry and winter thaws are very rare, so nice trails tend to stay that way. And, if you're feeling up to it, you can ride away from town and climb ~3,000 feet to the top of a 5,000-foot-high mountain. Weeee!

Anthony and I set out late in the morning to climb Mount Mcintyre. I managed to show up for my Christmas snow biking vacation just in time for the first fresh snowfall here in weeks, but on the bright side, it "warmed" up, which means it's 0 to 15 degrees instead of -20. I'm kind of bummed I missed the bluebird clear skies those temperatures tend to bring, but even under flat lighting, the Interior is beautiful.

Above treeline, the wind was blowing steady at about 30 mph and the occasional gusts were beyond harsh. I had good wind layers on and, with the exception of my head, didn't feel the chill too badly, but the wind really was as cold as it looks. Brutal. The trail had drifted in quite a bit and the light was too flat to pick a good line in the sandy chop, so after much struggling and jumping on and off the bike, we finally resigned ourselves to the death-march push to the top.

At the top of the mountain, I realized another kink in my system. I had brought a really warm pair of pogies and only a thin pair of gloves. I quickly realized that I couldn't separate myself from my bike for more than five minutes before my fingers froze. The long, gradual slope of Mcintyre is deceiving, like those volcanoes in Hawaii. You can be more than 2,000 feet vertical below the peak and it still looks like it's just a quick skip to the top. But, elevation-wise, this is higher than any mountain I've climbed in Juneau yet. Pretty cool to be this high this far north, on Dec. 24.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all no frostbite!


  1. Very cool.....does everyone have fat tire bikes up there? Seems like it would be the only way to get around on the trails.

  2. Too cold. Too gray. Better get back to Juneau.
    Merry Christmas!

  3. Very, very cool. 18 celsius here today... but too busy eating to ride!

    Merry Christmas, BTW!

  4. I'm's raining in Juneau. You might want to tack on a couple of extra days up there. Merry Christmas

  5. merry xmas jill...
    around 0 celcius here today..
    thinking i need to move to a country where its garunteed like this at xmas..

  6. 28 and pushing 1' of new snow.
    Merry X-mas!!


  7. Regards from Stockholm, Sweden. I follow your blog with interest.

    I've been quite a lot in the very northern Sweden during winters, and I just feel that I have to go to Alaska some day, too.

    I took a bikeride late this evening down to the water - the baltic sea - very hard winds, all dark, only a few degrees below zero, snowfall... Beautiful!

    Merry Christmas to you and your friends!


  8. Merry Christmas Jill!! Love your blog. So glad your blog was named the best bike blog - it is the best blog period! Can't wait to read your next book!

  9. Awesome pictures. Great to hear about your trip. I am new to trail riding myself (even though I have been commuting year round in Fairbanks for about four or five years). You just got me all excited to go for a ride in the white mountains north of town. (Although, with snow-cat 29'ers I'm sure I'll be jealous of your fat bike the whole time). Merry Christmas. Great Blog.

  10. Merry Christmas! My husband bought me your book for Christmas. I love it. Have a Happy New Year!

  11. Great pictures. Serious cold conditions - pretty hard core. Awesome.

  12. look forward to another year of your great writing and pics which i think set the standard for bloggers to look to..,thanks for sharing a year of your highs (and lows),all the best for 2010 from here in (snowy!!) scotland..


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