Monday, April 21, 2008

Tour De Alaska Range

An ice fall plummets thousands of feet down the east face of Mt Hess.

I flew around the Alaska Range south of Fairbanks for a few hours today with some NOAA pilots that have been in AK for the past 2 weeks. They are here with an aircraft that is equipped with instrumentation that uses gamma radiation to measure the amount of water in the snowpack. There are a few hundred flight lines around the state that are roughly 10 miles long. They fly these lines at an altitude of 500 feet above ground level and obtain an average snow water equivalent for each flight line. This data provides insight into how much water is stored in the winter snowpack and is used to estimate the amount snowmelt runoff that will enter the river systems.

We flew over some absolutely awesome terrain and and countless glaciers.

The Black Rapids downhill ski area - I have heard about this ski hill south of Delta Junction for years but I have never actually seen it before. There was a lift and a few short runs.

One of the flight lines took us within a few miles of Bus 142 where Chris McCandless died back in the summer of 1992. The pilots were psyched to see the rusting hunk of steel so we made a low pass over this "sacred" location. For more photos of my ski to the bus click here.