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Yukon Quest 2011 – Day 10

Yukon Quest trail

Sled DogHugh Neff left Central about 20 minutes before Hans arrived, so his lead is down to the rest time Hans takes, which will probably be about 4 hours, because there is overflow on the trail between Circle and Central. Water and -40° F/C is not good for living things, so you have to warm up and dry off.

Apparently Hans and his team fell through thin ice and were completely soaked. Sab got them out and started a fire to dry everyone out before they all continued to Central.

Hugh had to leave his lead dog, Walter, behind in Central, which will make climbing the “twin peaks” even harder, but Hans and Sab have a lot of warming up and drying to do.

It is snowing in Central, and if there is blowing snow on the climb up Eagle Summit, things can go wrong quickly.

Update Midnight CST: Now they are saying that both Dan and Hugh and their teams are at Mile 101. I have to get some sleep, and give them time to figure out what is going on.

Update 11:30PM CST: Dan Kaduce (10) has gone back to Central by vehicle effectively withdrawing.

Ken Anderson didn’t stop at Mile 101 but went up Rosebud immediately.

Sab is resting at Mile 101.

Still nothing official on Hugh Neff.

Update 10:30PM CST: Dan Kaduce has gone to the Steese Highway and flagged down a vehicle and gone to Central. Officials at Mile 101 have sent snowmobiles and supplies to Hugh’s location, and Central is sending vets after being contacted by Dan.

There is definitely a problem, but no one is certain exactly what the problem is.

Update 10PM CST: Sab is the new leader, having made it to Mile 101.

Update 9PM CST: Hugh Neff is hunkered down with Dan Kaduce. Sab has managed to make it over Eagle Summit and is on his way to Mile 101.

I have a feeling that Dan Kaduce has joined Brent Sass and Sab in the running for this year’s Sportsmanship Award, because I don’t think Hugh would still be hunkered down if there wasn’t a problem.

Update 8:30PM CST: It still isn’t clear where Hugh Neff is, but from the working GPSs it looks like the group at the mountain have started the ascent and are taking turns breaking trail. The race marshal at Mile 101 has sent a snowmobile out from there which tends to make me believe that no one has made it over the summit. The snowmobile can hopefully break a trail over the mountain, but if the winds are kicking up, it won’t last long. The machine has been out over an hour and hasn’t reported anything.

Update at 7:30PM CST: Eagle Summit has been attempted without success. It is apparently impassable. It is not clear where Hugh Neff is as his GPS isn’t working at the moment, but Dan Kaduce tried it and had to turn around.

As I mentioned in my YQ 300 post, in the 2009 Quest Yuka Honda spent 32 hours going from Central to Mile 101, most of that time getting over Eagle Summit. We can hope that everyone is safe and warm while they wait for the winds to calm down.

Update 4PM CST: Hans Gatt (13), four time winner of the Quest, has scratched at Central. After the disaster at American Summit, and the “swim” in Birch Creek, Hans has had enough. Originally he wasn’t going to enter the Quest, but decided to at the last minute. After what he has been through so far, attempting the Eagle Summit under current conditions [The highway between Central and Mile 101 has been closed by drifts] would be too much.

[As a result of the “dunking”, Hans has frostbitten hands and can’t take care of the dogs.]

As “Sab” Schnuelle said earlier: “One minute you’re running a race and the next, you’re in a survival situation – that’s the Yukon Quest.”

Update Noon CST: Joshua Cadzow (16) has scratched at Circle. The puppies weren’t feeling well.

Update: Didier Moggia (7) has returned to Eagle and scratched. [Apparently every female on his team went into heat, which makes for a great Valentine Day story but doesn’t help the team concentrate on pulling a sled.]

Official standings below the fold

At Mile 101

1 Ken Anderson (18)
2 Dallas Seavey (3)I

At Mile 101

3 Sebastian Schnuelle (11)

Beyond Central

4 Hugh Neff (8)
5 Brent Sass (22)

At Central

6 Allen Moore (24)I
7 Kelley Griffin (1)

At Central

8 Jodi Bailey (17)R

Beyond Slaven’s Roadhouse

9 David Dalton (23)
10 Mike Ellis (5)

Beyond Eagle

11 Kyla Durham (14)R
12 Tamara Rose (12)I
13 Jerry Joinson (21)R
14 Johannes Rygh (6)R
15 Hank DeBruin (19)I

The Mushers in bold are former winners of the Yukon Quest, the numbers in parentheses are their Bib numbers, the small “I” indicates a Quest rookie who has competed in the Iditarod, and the small “R” indicates a total rookie.

Note: This post will be updated during the day, and the map changed on all posts to reflect the current situation.

All posts on the Yukon Quest can be seen by selecting “Yukon Quest” from the Category box on the right sidebar.


1 Badtux { 02.14.11 at 8:26 pm }

Wise man, Hans. He’s won the race before. He’s got nothing to prove. He and the pups are better off staying warm than trying to summit in that kind of weather. I just hope nobody manages to get irretrievably lost/dead in the blizzard conditions…

2 Bryan { 02.14.11 at 9:42 pm }

He received second degree frostbite on his hands, so he can’t take care of the team. His luck on the trail was definitely lacking this year and I’m sure he is regretting his decision to run.

He has been warned twice that the trail doesn’t like him, so he made the only rational decision.

It looks like Neff went into full survival mode and dug a snow cave, the only sensible thing to do. It stays at 32° in a snow cave, which is very comfortable when you are dressed for -50°. Been there and done that, and don’t want to do it again.

The Air Force had facilities out beyond Mile 101 on the Steese Highway, and it was never a road you took unless you absolutely had to in the winter. It’s like a lot of the two-lane roads through the secondary passes in the Sierra Nevadas. About half the time when it was plowed, the plows would take out the guard rails.