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Latest snow allows for alternative routes at Birch Hill

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Posted: Thursday, November 1, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 11:53 am, Mon Jan 21, 2013.

FAIRBANKS - If it had not been for Monday’s snow, the cross-country season would be off to a terrible start in Fairbanks.

Tracks were laid earlier this month at Birch Hill Ski Area but until 2.9 inches fell Tuesday, the snow was thin and dotted with sticks and dirt. Fairbanks was previously at well below half its usual 10.8 inches of snowfall for this point in the year, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Ed Plumb. Conditions have improved, but with a total snowfall of 7.1 inches measured at Fairbanks International Airport, this year remains considerably below average. Much of October’s precipitation fell early in the month as rain.

The total snow accumulation this year, which accounts for snow settling and melting, is about four inches, Plumb said.

Early season skiers at Birch Hill have found several new variations on the cross country ski trails this year, although most are small cutoffs or minor variations to existing routes.

One new trail, “Surprise Extension,” adds an optional 400 yards to the White Bear trail, according to head trail groomer Tom Helmers. Another new path, nicknamed Med-Evac, is a short variation for part of the steep sharp Roller Coaster trail. This variation was added to give racers an uphill to warm up on during a long downhill from the top of the Tower trail to the Roller Coaster.

Contact staff writer Sam Friedman at 459-7545.

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