Ice jam near Fortymile River forces Yukon Quest re-route

Organizers of the Yukon Quest said they've had to re-route part of this year's dog sled race because of ice jams along the Yukon River.

Mushers will travel along Top Of The World Highway on their way into Dawson City

Ice jams along the Yukon River have forced organizers to re-route this year's Yukon Quest sled dog race. (Pat Kane/Yukon Quest)

Organizers of the Yukon Quest dog sled race say they've had to re-route part of this year's race because of ice jams along the Yukon River.

Quest mushers typically travel along the Yukon River between Dawson City and the Fortymile River, but this year they'll travel along the Top Of The World Highway and the Clinton Creek access road, said race marshal Doug Grilliot.

"We're really fortunate to have that kind of option that doesn't really affect the integrity of the race whatsoever," he said.

"It's about the same distance and there's even a bit of an elevation climb in there for the competitors, that could possibly make it even more of a challenging trail."

The new route will require teams to climb around 750 metres over a little more than 30 kilometres.

Canadian Rangers have been working to break trail on the Canadian leg of the race, while a crew of volunteers has been working on the American side.

'A little skimpy' 

The 1,600-kilometre race between Fairbanks, Alaska, and Whitehorse begins in Fairbanks this year.

Grilliot said the snow pack on much of the route is "a little skimpy on certain parts of the trail." The lack of snow is especially a concern between Pelly Crossing and Whitehorse. 

Snow is less of a concern on the U.S. side of the border, and despite the lack of snow on much of the Yukon side, Grilliot said the course is mostly in good shape.

"We are talking about professional mushers here," he said. "If they have to go five miles an hour instead of 10 in spots, then that's just the way it'll sort out for them."

This year's Yukon Quest starts Feb. 6, with the first mushers estimated to cross the finish line in Whitehorse starting Feb. 15. There's a mandatory 36-hour layover at the midway point in Dawson City.

Twenty-three mushers are registered for this year's race. The field includes three former race champions and nine rookies.


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