Ken Shapiro (06/07 Iron Dog Partner) and I took a trip into the Kigluaik Mountains on May 13, 2007. This is (probably!) the last trip of the winter. The weather was unseasonably cold, in the low teens, and good, firm snow. dummy image Copyright © 2011, Ramon Gandia

Here is my modified 2007 SkiDoo Tundra at the south entrance of the Grand Central of Alaska. This is a wide valley, with the Grand Central river flowing south out of the mountains. Here Kenny is beyond me perhaps a mile; we are close to the road yet where we trailered to (32 road miles from Nome, Alaska).

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Grand Central Pass

(Above)This is Kenny on his 2006 SkiDoo MXZ 550F. He is an artist on that machine! The picture above has him pointing at the pass, out of sight to the right. In the background is one of the many spectacular "bowls" that flank the passes. They generally have perfect powder snow, and this one was no exception.

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(above)South entry to the pass itself. It is a bit tricky to find, but if you go north on the Grand Central 'till you get to the big boulders, then continue north rather than follow the river west, you will come into an area that opens up. At the north end is this notch. Can't see it here, but if you go up the notch, you will have to climb to about the 2,000 ft elevation to crest the pass. The south side approach is not very steep, and most drivers and machines should handle it okay. The drop on the north side is very steep, and takes a bit of guts to go down. Not everyone will be able to return that way!

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North of the Kigluaiks

(Above) Not too much snow at the lower elevations! But the tundra is nice and soft, so it was not an issue.

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(Above) These are glacial moraines. The ground is very broken up, with numerous rock piles, ridges, plateaus, ponds, and small lakes of every conceivable shape, all at different elevations. In the background is the Pilgrim and Kuzitrin Rivers. The abandoned village of Mary's Igloo is there somewhere, and Mary's Mountain out of sight to the right. This is beautiful country, but very, very remote!

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North Entrance to Mosquito Pass

(Above) The entrance to Mosquito Pass approaching from the north. We are still in the glacial moraines, to the east of the Cobblestone River, which in turn empties into Salt Lake (Imuruk Basin). Notice the mountains to the right and left of the pass ... they are quite distinctive when approached from the north.

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Within Mosquito Pass

(Above) This is one of the spectacular side valleys off Mosquito Pass. This one goes into the east and ends up in a vertical rock wall. Kenny went in along the bottom, and finally could not go in any further: too narrow, flowing creek, obstacles. Maybe with more snow, next year! I elected to go to the right of the notch, up on that sidehill up there where I found a place to perch myself and take the next picture.

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(Above) I am now above the notch or creek in the previous picture. The camera angle is such that the camera is pretty well pointing at where we were when the a previous picture was taken. This was not a comfortable place. It looks flat and level, and it was for a hundred feet or so, but it really was quite precipitous. I am about 500 feet above the creek that Kenny followed in.

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Looking at the Caldera

(Above) About halfway through the mountains, on Mosquito Pass, you will climb to the head of the pass. This is not too steep of a climb, but during some soft, deep snow years may be a challenge. It was easy for us this time. Right at the top of the pass, to the west, is this blown out volcano cone. The caldera inside the cone is filled with water in the summer, but in the winter it freezes.

The picture is looking west, and shows the remaining walls of the cone, and at the bottom you can see a gargantuan rock pile from what broke off the cone walls. This happened recently ... who knows exactly when? But you can see the pink face where rocks recently sheared off. This picture was taken with both of us inside the Caldera, which is quite an adventure in itself.

At the very top of the peak in the middle you can discern a rock. It is about the size of a rail locomotive, and looks ready to teeter down, like in Wiley Coyote cartoon. We were circumspect around it.

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The Caldera Itself

(Above) This picture is similar to the first one, but with the camera angled more to the right, to look past the rock pile. Notice that Kenny is zooming down towards me, after highmarking the Caldera. He did not get too adventurous ... this is avalanche country! Some of my feeble attempts at highmarking things can be seen at the far right. A 277 Fan engine only gets you so high ...!

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Near Nome River

(Above) After we exited Mosquito Pass, we headed for the truck, but decided to climb a real steep "pipe". This is a pipe that had eluded Kenny a few weeks ago. But this time the snow was firmer, and he not only made it, I did as well with my 300F Tundra. It was a maximum effort for my machine, I saw the speedo down to 9 MPH and I thought that it was going to get bogged for sure. But it just grunted and climbed the damn thing.

Once at the top there was this fairly comfortable mountaintop, with some bare rock and gravel patches, and a spectacular view. In this picture I have boxed the south entrance of Mosquito Pass. I am about the 2,000 ft elevation here. Shortly after I took this picture I plunged down that same Pipe ... and just about browned my shorts, it was STEEP with a capital "R" (like in Really Steep!).

Here, as well, you can see what I did to my Tundra. I put in the wide stance A-arms, the springs, shocks and sway bar from a Back Country 550. These are non rebuildable gas shocks. I also put in the belly pan protector. I used to have the A-arm protectors, but they looked cheesy and useless and I took them off. The original skis were toasted on the Iron Dog, and I put in the excellent Pilot 6.9 skis with dual carbides as used in the 07 Summits.

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Farewell 2007

(Above) All is well that ends well, and about four miles from this picture we were back at the road and heading for the truck and trailer. Here is a pretty scene on the way back. This concludes the 2006-07 Winter snowmachine season for me.


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