Cragies and Snackies

Location, location, location!!!  This week’s Cragies and Snackies has more to do with location than anything.  64.75722715729596, -147.35146236393587 If you map these coordinates you will end up smack dab in the heart of North Pole, Alaska.  For snackies in the middle of the North Pole, you might expect some restaurant that sells novelty hot cocoa, and gingerbread cookies, but you would be wrong!

At 320 N. Santa Claus Ln, you’ll find what locals know as the best authentic tamales north of the Rio Grande. Outlaw Tamales is just a quarter mile away from Santa Claus’ House, and just 60 miles away from the pristine limestone band that makes up Grapefruit Rocks.

Grapefruit Rocks has over 100 established routes with some four-star classics that include Nest Egg (5.11a) and Grey Skull (5.11c).  This crag has every type of climbing, including Bouldering, Trad, Sport, and Mixed routes. With winter temperatures regularly in the -20 degree range, you may want to stick to the summer sends.  No matter the time of year, Grapefruit Rocks offers endless vistas that will make every moment worth your time.  The breathtaking views within the boreal forest make each top-out a moment to behold.

With two major areas (East and West), there will be plenty of climbing to fill your day.  The difficulty ranges from easy to advanced, so no matter your skill level, there will be routes for you.

What better way to celebrate the magnificence of the forest than to top it all off with tamales made from scratch!

Outlaw Tamales owner and chef Cylle Pompa AKA The Tamale Lady, explained the origins of her tamale stand as an innocent endeavor encouraged by her son.  “My one & only son asked for tamales & of course like most mothers I found myself making him some tamales. Well, he thought the finished product needed to be shared with everyone in North Pole & Fairbanks Alaska. Considering how much labor is involved in making tamales, I figured it could be done just for the month of December, so that our family could have a really nice Christmas. To our amazement people kept asking us when we were going to make more, so we started selling them out of my son’s car on Friday & Saturdays. We’d make 20dz & go in the evenings to Safeway parking lot & sell out in an hours time. Once word got out about our tamales it was a dodge & dash from December on. Once we went legal we chose the name “Outlaw Tamales”. The rest is history by God’s mighty hand for the last 10 years.”

The menu changes daily, but there is always a vegetarian option of black beans and cheese.  Outlaw Tamales is only open from 8 AM-12:30 PM, but worry not, you can reserve ahead of time so that when you arrive on your way to the crag, it’s just buy and fly!  My advice is to order a few dozen and share them with everyone at the crag.  With this strategy you’ll soon have belay partners for life!

When most people think of Christmas, they think of Ol’ Saint Nick, but Santa may need to step aside because the Tamale Lady is the real (wink wink) heart and soul of the North Pole!

For more from The Tamale Lady you can watch a fun piece from Univision HERE.

Location: North Pole, AK “North to the Future”

Crag: Grapefruit Rocks

Restaurant: Outlaw Tamales

Distance: 60 Miles Away


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