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Thread: Skis or snowshoes on the Haul Road?

  1. #1
    Member .338-06's Avatar
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    Default Skis or snowshoes on the Haul Road?

    A buddy and I are thinking of an early Winter or Spring caribou hunt off the Dalton. There are plenty of threads about this but none I can find about what kind of skis or snowshoes would be good for travelling past the 5 mile mark. I figure it'd be pretty easy on skis, but I've been wrong before.

    Any suggestions on what kind of boots, bindings and skis for tundra ? I have a good pair of Atlas snowshoes, but like I said, I think skis would be faster.

    Thanks in advance!

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    First off, I have never been up the Haul Rd, just read a lot about it, seen pictures, etc.

    I do cross country ski, both on tracks and in the backcountry. Yes, given what I know of the Haul road area, I would say skis would be faster then snowshoes. That is if you know how to use them. They are not the easiest thing to use for the first time, especially on untracked snow.

    What you need is probably something like backcountry NNN bindings http://www.orscrosscountryskisdirect.com/rottefella-nnn-bc-auto-xc-ski-bindings.html
    and a backcountry boot, like the one I have from Alpina http://www.orscrosscountryskisdirect.com/alpina-bc-1550-ski-boots.html. There are some others out there as well. You don't need big burly tele or alpine touring boots for what you want to do. As far as skis, you probably want something a little wide. Take a took at the Rossignol. I have the BC 70 http://www.orscrosscountryskisdirect.com/rossignol-bc-70-backcountry-skiis.html that might work for what you need. i think they make a wider 90 one, which may be good for untracked haul road snow and provide a better shooting platform. I wouldn't go narrower then 70 or else you will sink out there and it will be more work. Karhu makes some good skis as well.

    these are just suggestions and i know there are probably others out there with some better suggestions and opinions. unfortunately, there is a cost associated with all this gear and your atlas shoes may look more appealing. good luck!

  3. #3

    Thumbs up Cool Idea!!

    Kite ski it pulling pulks.

    Don't laugh too hard, http://www.teamn2i.com/ partied across 1100 miles of the Antarctic Ice Plateau in 49 days pulling 250 lb pulks at an average elevation of 12000 ft and enjoyed it so much that they were a little bummed they couldn't keep going.

    North of the Brooks Range has prevailing E weather which tends to blow the annual foot of snowfall around until it's ground up and faceted with the cohesion of dry table sugar. In many places, the dry cold snow barely covers the tussocks, and in others, it drifts 15 ft deep like sand dunes.
    Camping/hunting/pulking there in would be a lot like ski mountaineering on an ocean - interesting challenges, but I bet it would be a lot of fun in the long bright days of spring - IF one is prepared.
    Intriguing idea!


    PS: Cross your skis on your backpack to resemble a caribou rack. This might let you amble right up to shooting distance of small bands of boo...
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    Killin' it!




  4. #4
    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    North Slope snow comes in nearly infinite variations but rarely is it very deep. The most common ankle to shin deep if it's soft. Very often it's wind packed and crusty.

    The best compromise for hunters (IMO) is a pair of military issue "white rockets" cross country skis. They use a cable loop binding so they're compatible with bunny boots or pacs.

    Wear an external frame pack and rig 7-8 foot tow bars from your frame to a sled to drag your caribou out in.

  5. #5
    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    Another vote for skis, but I made just as good of time by just walking in my bunny boots. I have a friend with a recreational dog team, that will be my next trip if I hunt the Haul Rd. again.

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    A good solid dog or two and my vote is for skijoring with a pulk or even a cheap jet sled or something to that effect.

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    Member .338-06's Avatar
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    Great responses! Many thanks.

    Wouldn't bringing dogs scare away the caribou? I know a guy who once brought dogs on a moose hunt and he said that the dogs, who were in camp, barked and spooked a moose he was glassing 1/2 mile from camp!

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    Default Skis

    Skis will most likely be faster and easier as the terrain will be very conducive to skiing. I have skied it a couple times after debating whether to try snowshoeing and have been glad I skiied both times. Be sure to check for caribou to the east once you get up on Chandalar shelf, that's an easy ski out to 5 miles.
    Have a great trip, I might see you up there.
    Blair

  9. #9
    Member akhunter3's Avatar
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    Ski's. There is a thread around here somewhere, a couple guys actually did this. I believe it was last year? XC skied out to the 5 mile marker, shot their 'bou and came back. As mentioned above, they had some kind of system set up to hold their sled back behind them to prevent pile-ups.

    Good luck,



    Jon
    Nurse by night, Alaska adventurer by day!

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