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Thread: Big Thompson Pass near Valdez.

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    Member Jackson5's Avatar
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    Default Big Thompson Pass near Valdez.

    Hey everyone. In trying to find out some more information on Big Thompson Pass. Anyone know where it's at and how to get there. I have heard about it and that its closer to Valdez. I'd be driving from Palmer area towards Valdez. Also going to try to find a place where we can stay the night. Maybe a cabin rental or something. Just seeing if anyone on here has any knowledge of that area. Thanks a lot.

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    Member mod elan's Avatar
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    Never knew there was a big and small thompson pass.

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    Member Jackson5's Avatar
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    I am probably screwing it up...that's what I heard someone refer to it as. There may not be a big or small maybe just Thompson Pass. Either way just trying to find some info on it.

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Grab a road map; Thompson pass is the high point on the Richardson Hwy between Glennallen and Valdez.
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    Drive east until you come to a "T" in the road and then turn right.
    When seconds count, the cops are just minutes away.
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    Member mod elan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jackson5 View Post
    I am probably screwing it up...that's what I heard someone refer to it as. There may not be a big or small maybe just Thompson Pass. Either way just trying to find some info on it.
    Just messin with ya Awesome place to ride when the weather cooperates. You going with someone familiar with the area?

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    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    The pass is at mile 42 of the Richardson highway (Valdez is mile 0 and Glennallen is mile 115). There is lodging in Valdez and Glennallen, but not much in between. There is Tsaina Lodge at the northern end of the pass that caters to the Heli-Ski crowd, but I hear that it is insanely expensive. Their website is http://www.tsaina.com/ and they pretty much have a monopoly on lodging in that region during the winter.

    Lots of snow over alpine terrain. High winds are nearly constant. The snow comes down a ton at a time and visibility is usually zip. Best time to visit this area is Spring on a clear weather day when it's warm and sunny. Then it can be awesome. The rocky and ravine-filled terrain is flat out dangerous if it is flat light or snowing. It's a mountain pass with extremely steep grades. Best to go with someone who knows the area on your first trip. Very little parking (a couple highway pullouts is all there is), but the highway runs right through the center of the pass with riding on both sides.
    Winter is Coming...

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    Member Jackson5's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mod elan View Post
    Just messin with ya Awesome place to ride when the weather cooperates. You going with someone familiar with the area?
    Oh I know you was. I never heard of the place and a little new here in Alaska as well. Me and a buddy were thinking of going down there for this long weekend we have coming up. As of now no we weren't planning on going with anyone familiar with the area. But from what a couple of you guys are saying sounds like it can be pretty hairy there. I definitely want to make a smart choice and be safe. But trying to get out a little bit more and explore.

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Make sure you brush up on your avalanche KSA's. (Not messing with ya).
    ...he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. ~Thomas Jefferson
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    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    There is terrain to ride on the west side of the highway that isn't too bad. You push it too far, though, and you can end up in serious avy danger areas. How experienced are you?
    Bunny Boots and Bearcats: Utility Sled Mayhem

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    Member Jackson5's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKDoug View Post
    There is terrain to ride on the west side of the highway that isn't too bad. You push it too far, though, and you can end up in serious avy danger areas. How experienced are you?

    This is my first year riding a Mountain sled. My Buddy has a few more years riding experience in the Colorado Mountains.

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    If you haven't already, you might first try Turnagain Pass, Lost Lake, and Hatchers Pass. Closer to home so it's easier to pick a day with good visibility to go. Visibility is key when you are riding in unfamiliar mountains. Also, you'll have a better chance at hooking up with someone who knows the area.

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    Member Jackson5's Avatar
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    Yeah I here ya. We've hit all those places now a couple times. And yeah visibility we found out is pretty much a must in unfamiliar area. We're going to stick around here this weekend and wait for a better day. Maybe like you guys said wait till nice spring weather. Maybe we'll run into some folks familiar with Thompson pass that would want to go. Thanks for all the advice everyone.

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    I lived in Valdez for 3 years, and snowmachined at Thompson Pass only twice, though I spent far more time up there than that, for other reasons. The terrain, wind and avalance danger are not what I consider rider friendly, especialy considering other superior areas to ride. It is a waste of $$ to make it a destination. There are better places to ride right from Valdez but it takes knowing the area to enjoy them.

    I suggest Eureaka Summit or Petersville area, the riding is far superior , you can ride till your hearts content and never encounter potential avalance danger, unless you make a point to do so.

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    Member broncoformudv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jackson5 View Post
    Yeah I here ya. We've hit all those places now a couple times. And yeah visibility we found out is pretty much a must in unfamiliar area. We're going to stick around here this weekend and wait for a better day. Maybe like you guys said wait till nice spring weather. Maybe we'll run into some folks familiar with Thompson pass that would want to go. Thanks for all the advice everyone.
    Check out the Valdez snowmachine club on facebook or the Alaska forum on www.backcountryrebels.com you should be able to find an experienced riding partner from one of those.

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Do you have avalanche beacons, shovels, and probes? If so, have you practiced with them enough that you wouldn't have to think in an emergency situation? If not, stay away from the slopes in Thompson and Turnagain Passes until you get some practice under your belt. Avalanches are no joke. We've already lost way too many riders on snowmachines, skis, and snowboards - sometimes many souls in a single slide.

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    Member Jackson5's Avatar
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    We do have beacons and shovels and probes. Practiced some but never hurts to keep doing it. Repetition. You guys got any good advice as far as scenarios or best way to practice. I myself haven't had any formal training.

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    Member Jackson5's Avatar
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    Sorry to hear that we have already lost some people to avalanches. We've been really cautious while we riding turnagain. I also am subscribed to the CNFAIC emails on avalanche conditions and read that every day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jackson5 View Post
    We do have beacons and shovels and probes. Practiced some but never hurts to keep doing it. Repetition. You guys got any good advice as far as scenarios or best way to practice. I myself haven't had any formal training.
    One quick and easy way to brush up is to have one of you face the other way, the second person takes their beacon and heaves it as far as he can and yells go! See how long it takes to find your buddy's beacon. Of course, the snow needs to be somewhat soft so the thrown beacon disappears.

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jackson5 View Post
    We do have beacons and shovels and probes. Practiced some but never hurts to keep doing it. Repetition. You guys got any good advice as far as scenarios or best way to practice. I myself haven't had any formal training.
    I would highly recommend finding and taking an avalanche awareness / search and rescue class. It's WAY worth it.
    ...he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. ~Thomas Jefferson
    I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief. ~Gerry Spence
    The last thing Alaska needs is another bigot. ~member Catch It
    #Resist

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