Saturday, 7 March, 2020


Many winters ago, a young trapper packed his supplies into a toboggan, and hitched it to the back of his new snowmachine. His was one of the first in town. Although he missed his dogs, he was looking forward to trying this new machine. He left early one brittle cold morning, heading north from Yellowknife to his trapline. Almost at his camp, and 50 km out of town, the deep snow and deep cold got the better of the machine. Without his dogs, he had only one option. He strapped on his snowshoes, and started following his own trail back to town. Ten hours later, he staggered into Yellowknife. Cold. Tired. Hungry. Frostbitten.

The Frostbite 50 is a 50 km, continuous foot or classic ski event on ungroomed trails. Participate solo or as a team of up to five participants. There are four road-accessible checkpoints, and participants are welcome to have support along the way. This is an event, not a race, and there are no prizes for first place. We want winter lovers of all abilities to join us, and for everyone to have fun and finish safely. Registration “will be open soon” at zone4.ca (search for Frostbite).

For more information please check out the Frostbite 50 website here: http://www.frostbite50.com/

The lake sections of the course will be marked with spruce boughs spaced between 100 to 150 meters. The track is not set for xc-skiers. Competitors are responsible for (1) staying on the course; (2) slowing down to pay attention to course markings or the absence of course markings; and (3) keeping track of their location on the map provided. In the event that a competitor does not see a mark for 100 meters and they are not on the obvious or logical course, they should immediately return to the last known marker to find the correct course. In general, course markings will be visible under normal lighting conditions. Abnormal conditions may include snow, fog, wind or any other condition that reduces visibility.

Website: http://www.frostbite50.com/

Registration:  zone4.ca (Open soon).

Route Map: Frostbite50 Route

Questions/volunteering? ykfrostbite50@gmail.com 

The Start

The Yellowknife Ski Club is a co-sponsor of the Frostbite 50. They have provided their Chalet for the event. This provides a heated building with parking, washrooms, waxing facilities, a starting stadium, and water. The event will start and finish at the Chalet. You may leave personal belongings at the building. If they need to be secured, please speak to one of our volunteers. Currently, we plan to have coffee and muffins available prior to the event start, and a hot meal ready for you on your return.

  • Mandatory briefing – at the Ski Club on Friday, March 6, 2020 at 18:00
  • Check-in – Saturday March 7, 2020 starting at 09:00.
  • The mass start for all participants (ski and foot) will be at 10:00.
  • IMPORTANT: All participants must complete the course by 20:00.

The Route

The event route is approximately 50 km. The event will start and finish at the Yellowknife Ski Club. From the Ski Club trails, it will follow ungroomed snowmachine trails to Yellowknife Bay, Walsh Lake, Prosperous Lake, Hay Lake, back to Yellowknife Bay, and back to the Ski Club trails. You may do the event solo, or in a relay team of up to five participants. For the safety of our participants and volunteers, we will be instituting cut-off times. The cut-off times will allow 10 hours to complete the event, or an average speed of about 4.5 kmph . The checkpoints, approximate distances and cut-off times are as follows (distances are approximate):

  • Yellowknife Ski Club chalet, start at 10:00
  • Walsh Lake checkpoint, at km 14. Opens at 10:15, cut-off at 12:30, closes at 13:30.
  • Prosperous Lake checkpoint, at km 23. Opens at 11:00, cut-off at 14:30, closes at 15:30.
  • Cassidy Point checkpoint, at km 31. Opens at 11:15, cut-off at 16:15, closes at 17:15.
  • Detah Road checkpoint, at km 42. Opens at 12:00, cut-off at 18:45, closes at 19:15.
  • Yellowknife Ski Club chalet, at km 50. Opens at 13:00, cut-off at 20:00.

The course will be marked with branches in the snow. Race staff will make every effort to keep the course markers visible and in place, however it is possible that markers may be taken, buried, blown over, covered or otherwise made difficult or impossible to find. It is the responsibility of the competitors to pay attention to the markings and to make intelligent decisions when following the course.


There will be six categories for this event:

  • men’s solo ski
  • men’s solo snowshoe
  • women’s solo ski
  • women’s solo snowshoe
  • team ski
  • team snowshoe

Teams can have from two to five members. Every person on a team must register through Zone 4 individually.

Snowshoe category participants MUST bring snowshoes, whether or not you use them. You may switch out team members at the four checkpoints, and ONLY at the checkpoints. We encourage mixed gender teams. All team members must participate in the same discipline (all ski or all snowshoe). All checkpoints are road accessible, and you are welcome to come out and cheer on your team!


Bib numbers will be provided to all participants, and we will be recording times at all checkpoints. Remember to make sure that checkpoint staff get your bib number, both for safety and timing reasons. If they don’t get your bib number, we may send search and rescue staff to look for you.

Playing Safe

We will be be tracking the event, collecting times and bib numbers, and ensuring the trail is well marked and safe. Yellowknife Search and Rescue will also be on hand, should someone go missing.

All racers must check in at Yellowknife Ski Club before 9:30 am on the day of the event. All racers must stop at each check point and register their bib number with the Checkpoint Managers. Failure to do so may result in your footing the bill for an expensive search and rescue effort. Checkpoints will supply water for racers. Additional goodies may be supplied by CP managers if they choose.

Mandatory Equipment

To keep the event safe and fair, and to set a good example for anyone out skiing so far from town, we require that the following items be carried by all participants, throughout the entire event. There will be an equipment check prior to the event, and random checks throughout the event. Overlander Sports can help supply these items.

  • Route map (provided by us)
  • Thermos (1 litre)
  • Personal first aid kit (with blister supplies)
  • Face cover
  • Headlamp
  • Emergency food that you do not plan to use of 1000 calories
  • Spare heavyweight toque
  • Spare heavyweight mitts
  • Spare heavyweight socks
  • Sunglasses
  • Whistle
  • Windbreaker
  • Appropriate clothing for the event!!

A note on food– for an event like this, you should be planning on eating at least 200 calories per hour, and drinking a litre every 2 or 3 hours. Ideally, bring food that is high in carbohydrates, such as granola bars or energy bars, and have your thermos filled with warm energy drink. The 1000 calories is certainly not enough to get you through the event, it is a bare minimum in case of emergency. You may have someone meet you at a checkpoint with extra food.

A note on clothing – Temperatures and wind in March are very unpredictable. Temperatures for this event have ranged from -5 to -40 Celsius. We suggest layered clothing, breathable fabrics, and protection from wind for your face and neck. There is a delicate balance between carrying enough clothing to be safe in case of emergency, and travelling light and not sweating. PLEASE train properly for this event, to try out your clothing at the pace you plan to travel. Changing clothes at checkpoints is fine with us, but you have to organize this yourself.

Registration and Volunteering

  • Registration for the 2020 Frostbite “will be open soon” at zone4.ca, search for Frostbite. Reduced registration fees until 24 February.
  • Participants must be 19 years of age to register online. Athletes aged 16-18 will be considered on a case-by-case basis with permission from parents and coach.
  • We will refund 50% of registration fee up to February 23. No refunds after registration has closed.
  • If you would like to register as a volunteer, please  email your contact info to ykfrostbite50@gmail.com or reach out to us on our facebook page.
  • There will be a MANDATORY briefing at the Ski Club on Friday, March 6 at 18:00. All participants are expected to attend this briefing. Bibs will be distributed at this time, and not on race day.


Is the course groomed?

No, the course is not groomed (except for a few kilometres in the ski trails between the Chalet and Back Bay). This is a trail run/ski adventure event and not a loppet. There are actually 2 road crossings where racers will need to remove their skis and cross a double lane, paved road.

Is there a mandatory gear check?

Yes. There will be a gear check prior to the event, and random checks for relay team members at the staging points.

Is there support?

Each staging point will have water. If you want food or a change of clothes, it is your responsibility to have someone drop these off for you at the checkpoint. All checkpoints will be road-accessible.

How do relay members get to a checkpoint?

There are currently no shuttle services to or from check points. Racers are responsible for getting to check points and are responsible for their own transportation back to town. Car pooling with other racers, volunteers or media is the best option.

What is the temperature cut-off?

The Frostbite organizers will meet the evening before the event and the day of the event to decide event restrictions or cancellations due to weather.

What happened to the Frostbite 45 and what’s different this year?

Everyone told us it was too easy, and it was time to kick it up a notch. And the route was actually closer to 50 km anyway. The only difference this year will be an additional short loop in the Ski Club trails at the start and finish. Besides “Frostbite 50” has a better ring to it!

Any advice for folks visiting Yellowknife for the first time?

Check out visityellowknife.com for accommodations and other things to see and do in Yellowknife. The Explorer Hotel is the nicest place in town, and is closest to the Ski Club, downtown, and to the museum (www.pwnhc.ca).


Still not sure? Read a blog posting from an enthusiastic participant, and another here.



Comments are closed.