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Alaska Wilderness Classic 2014 Thompson Pass-McCarthy

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  • Alaska Wilderness Classic 2014 Thompson Pass-McCarthy

    This "race" series began in the 1980's, created by Alaskan Roman Dial who occasionally dropped into Valdez for some ice climbing back in the day. I remember after our traverse of the Chugachin 85', he organized the event along the same route and 8 skiers did it 57 hours. The races course changes every few years but are typically over a hundred miles by some macabre route thought up by Roman. It consists of a summer and winter series and is truly one of the toughest races in Alaska no matter where it's held. You are not allowed near a road basically.

    Sadly though, his son Cody Roman Dial is still missing in eastern Costa Rica after two weeks of searching. He no doubt follows closely in his dad's footsteps and was off on an adventure to where few travel as we all should do from time to time. We hope he surfaces soon. He's done the Classic a few times.

    22 competitors including two women showed up (2 late shows hopped out of a car after the start) at my winter haunt at the Hairpin Corner on the Pass. Due to permit issues, Roman has kept it off the radar for permits by running it real loose and casual around Park and such. Its not commercialized at all and it should not be. No spancer banners ar competitors were seen. You travel solo or with others. This is the last of three years in a row that this venue will be used and it's downright brutal. Class V brush, Class 3 water in pack rafts, cross the Copper River, and on they go for nearly 140 miles with most expected to finish in 4-6 days. Last year teams baled at the Copper and floated to Cordova to get back home. Most the racers I chatter with this am were carrying about 32-40pds including pack rafts. Lots of racer are returning this year with modifications and variations of their last attempt.

    If you want more info check here …Alaska Wilderness Classic

    I went to the finish line and did some vid……and then they simply disappeared.

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  • #2
    Thanks for posting. I raced it back in the day and did 3 of the courses (Hayes, Wrangell, Brooks) and just loved the whole experience. This looks like a great new course. Quick point of clarity; I believe Dick Griffith and some other guy started the race though Roman has had a very big impact through the years.

    Here's a great video Roman shot of the Hayes' route;


    • #3
      Yea about Barney encouragement. Nice vid. Its hard to tell exactly when the series began, but that is what make the event top unique and hidden from the mainstream sponsors things. It mountain travel at its purest.

      Here's a local news article about the 87 Race which I volunteered at a checkpoint. Some pretty good pals of mine including Chuck Comstock who I served in the USCG in Valdez and tagged along with him many times….at arms length around! While most Comstock tales have been told, I have a few untold like the "The Yurt story." He helped a ton building the Chalet, along with Tenzing his dog. Chuck is famous for the race by way of parasailing off the Stairway Icefall. He was a dear friend. Some Alaska legends in the shot including Diane Munson, Olympian XC skier Sue Forbes who was training in Valdez at the time as was Roman doing his Embick visits. Jeff Keener pictured also was a coastie. Comstock is the last on the left and Roman is second from the right. Sue won the race at the Sugarloaf Saloon in which the bar was the finish line. Comstock was disqualified cause he hitched to town from the airport.

      eClick image for larger version

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      • #4
        Bummer news as a fatality has occurred during the event. See link of below. One team of two from Valdez made it to the Tasnuna and lost their gear in a creek and returned to Thompson Pass. The other team of 3 made it to McCarthy on Saturday as the third overall.
        so far leas than 1/2 have finished.

        Latest News


        • #5
          Yuk. . .