Living in Alaska has its perks but it also sucks at times too. Right before I first moved here, I had literally JUST gotten into skydiving. I had started with my two tandems in NY at Skydive CNY. A week later, I was scheduling my first jump course with Alaska Skydive Center. Once the course was complete, the instructors were going to have us four that were in the class make our first jump.
Of course, the weather had other plans.
You see our drop zone is located in Palmer right off the mountains and glacier. Which of course makes it beautiful but there are some key challenges. Like the winds are coming off the glacier. it makes the weather is gnarly.
So between the winds and clouds, I got 7 jumps in before mid-October. Yup you heard that right, 7 jumps. At that point I then went to Skydive City in Z Hills Florida — I wouldn’t let the weather stop me from chasing my dream. I was able to get my A license. It was now time to enjoy my season back at my home DZ.
Our season here in Alaska opened in April. The 2017 season has been hard on us a wee haven't had many GREAT days for jumping. The clouds are notorious here for causing weather holds, and if it is not the clouds, it is the winds. We jump at Alaska Skydive Center in Palmer Alaska which is located about 1 hour north of Anchorage. This makes it difficult for jumpers that come from Anchorage to really commit to jumping that day or weekend.
The weather in Palmer is so different than the weather in Anchorage. Sometimes there's a 1500ft ceiling and Anchorage and not a cloud in the sky in Palmer. And the weather apps. Please don't ever believe the weather apps. I was on the weather cams one day at the airport looking at a clear blue sky, where every app said it was currently raining with a 100% chance for the rest of the day. People from Anchorage will look at the weather there or the apps for Palmer and choose not to come out. It doesn't work and people end up missing great jump days! The inside hook is that if you want to come jump where we jump get to know one of us so we can advise on the weather.
On the occasion that the weather truly does suck, if Shannon (the DZO) is there, he is normally always willing to teach you stuff in the rigging loft. I have spent many days learning stuff out there from both him and another instructor. Aside from that, there are a few places to eat and mountains to hike. Not a whole lot to do but we have a ton of fun doing it!
When there's a weather hold and it looks like it could clear up, a lot of us just hang out at the dz and bs — oh the antics. A lot of us text one another to see who's going when, what the weathers like, etc. A lot of us have kids or families and can't spend the whole weekend there, so we try to line it up to where we go the same day. Communication is key for us given our location.
Weather holds in Alaska suck... mainly because 1 the dz is far away from Anchorage, and 2, there's generally ALWAYS a weather hold. This summer has sucked! Lol. But you what doesn’t suck? I get to jump and watch a glacier while I fly with a beautiful mountain on the horizon. Alaska is beautiful, simply beautiful. and we are blessed to be able to jump here — it just comes with its costs!
Article Written by Kristin Little