KYUK AM

Iditarod Trail Is A Trench Of Snow

Mar 5, 2020

Snow depth on Iditarod trail in 2020.
Credit Mark Nordman, Iditarod Race Marshal.

This year the conditions on the Iditarod trail are reminding old-timers of what it used to be like back in the last century. Mark Nordman, the Race Marshal for the Iditarod, has been in charge for breaking the trail for 30 years, and he says this time, there is plenty of snow.

“And this may be a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s pretty much one 'trench trail' from Skwentna through Ruby,” said Iditarod Race Marshal Mark Nordman. This year, the conditions on the Iditarod trail are reminding old-timers of what it used to be like back in the last century. Nordman, the race marshal for the Iditarod, has been in charge for breaking the trail for 30 years. He says that this time, there is plenty of snow.

Skwentna to Ruby is about half the trail. The snow is so deep through that section that moose are going to want to use the trail along with the dog teams. Mushers are going to have to keep a sharp lookout, and the snow is deep enough that they may need to move their required snowshoes to the top of the bag.

In prior years, temperatures were so warm that trail breakers were forced to move the trail across Norton Sound onto the shore. This year, it’s back to the old trail across the ice.

“We’ll go across there. Even in Elim we’re on the ice. Coming out of Elim, then going up the hill over little McKinley and down to Golovin.”

Nordman says that it’s true that things can change and probably will, and that when they get to Nome, mushers will be complaining that the trail was not at all like what he told them. But for now, things look great. 

“Somebody is going out on that roll, that golden ride that everything just clicked.” Nordman says. “So is it going to be slower? Possibly some. But really, with these people that are trying to win it, nothing really stops them anymore.”

Mushers start out on the Iditarod trail Sunday, March 8 in Willow, after the ceremonial start Saturday, March 7 in Anchorage.