Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The White Stripes Of Summer

Top of Buffalo Creek, looking west to Pt. 3270

Due to a BLOG LAG of exactly one year, Kigsblog is currently "lapping itself." Now it's time to blog about the white stripes I skied a year ago, but they greatly resemble the white stripes I am skiing now. A resonant frequency is created in the seasonal blog amplitude between action and writing about action. A stroboscopic merging of the two streams is throwing off bright spokes of snow that blind my eyes and burn my skin, and all point to a central conclusion: this is a WARNING TALE of climate change. Skiing never used to happen in June in the Kigluaik Mountains. Now it seems a periodic occurrence.
Pilgrim Springs area, heading for Crystal Kingdom

Looking north across the Kuzitrin
             MAY 27, 2018. The first stripe came on the heels of school in the form of the "Solar Sidewalk." So christened by Otis, the Solar Sidewalk is a strip of snow that winds down the Singtook (which is Peak 3870, the western bulwark of the Kigluai Mountains, the most often climbed peak in the range) and earns its name by often lingering well into June when the Teller Road is open, after most of the other snow stripes have vanished. This makes the Solar Sidewalk the ideal location for the annual Greg Stoddard Springtime Memorial Yahoo Ski Field Trip, a hallowed rite of passage that ought to be on the tick list of any Nome Fun Hog. In a good year, the Sidewalk is continuously skiable from summit to car without skis ever touching tundra.
        As it was for 2018. The participants were Otis Stoddard, Luke Stoddard, and me, Deke Stoddard, along with Rattler, my good dog. We drove west on the Teller Road and the Singtook drew  closer. Soon we could see the mountain wore a gauzy veil of wind, and we knew that buffeting was in store for us that day, but at least there was plenty of snow cover upon which to ski after the blizzards of 2019.
Snows of 2019, Nome, Alaska
 After the usual rituals, which include offerings, thanks, apologies, and justifications for white men being out there at all in the Woolley Lagoon are, we skinned to the top of the mountain in a wind so savage that rocks were blowing horizontally through the air. On the summit, looming indistinctly through whiteout, we discerned ginormous, egg shaped pods of rime ice. They had formed around the radio transmitter antennae that one sees on top of 3870. The pressure of the wind actually forces the little H2O molecules straight from a vaporous phase into a solid phase, bypassing liquid completely. Each rime pod was the size of a mansion, a giant thing that had formed from a smaller thing, like VGER in the first Star Trek movie.  Ominous.
        Though the run down the west ridge might not have mustered an"extreme," it nevertheless required skills. The firn snow on the summit ridge was scalloped with rime peanuts as we carved between granite outcrops with a low hum of wind underlying everything, then down past the fabled 3870 lake into the fun middle part of the descent where you make S-turns down an 80 ft. wide couloir in snow that is usually friendly if it has been heated up by the day or rained on, then punch a couple of turns around a narrow isthmus of boulders at the bottom of the couloir and start the schuss down the lower slopes, preserving speed to make it to the car. The day provided a Stoddard that the three of us will remember for all time.
Stoddard Bros 2018
Radio Tower 3870 summit          
ski Nome Alaska
Rime lord

MAY 27, 2019     In blog time, a single scroll. In real time, another year rolled over. Once again, it is time for the Greg Stoddard Memorial Yahoo Ski Field Trip to Thirty-Eight Seventy. Otis, Luke, and me have re-manifested, along with new hotshot, Zeke, and, breaking the gender barrier, Daisy Stoddard, plus our special guest stars and local heroes the Hoog boys fresh off a classic ascent of McKinley's West Buttress, all of us heading out the Teller Road in two cars, listening to Phish and following the star of  the arch telemark fiend, while the white stripes go flashing by on all sides in parallel waveforms. The familiar landmarks fall by the wayside. We cross the holy Sinuk. We pass through the disorienting Bus Vortex at the top of the hill, and cross Livingston Creek, whose Lethian properties dissolve any remaining tendrils of GLUE binding us to town. We emerge into a new, western kingdom of the Kigluait, with my discarded chrysalis steaming on the road behind us.
           All the Stoddards this year are either young, extremely fit, or both, except for me. No one seems any longer to exemplify the spirit of sybaritic impairment and moral decline that marked the original Yahoo Expedition to 3870 in the presence of the Arch Fiend. I have forgotten my skins, but fortunately, the spring firn is firm enough for walking, and the Stoddards only have to wait forty-five minutes at the summit for my arrival, whereupon they clap on their Euro skis and launch straight down the west face, not the west ridge, because there are copious amounts of snow once again this year and rains have made the snow rather slow and soggy and it is clearly the year to ski the face.
I get out on the face in my beat tellies and duct-taped Terminators but am afraid to throw a turn on the steepness, so I traverse north on edges to where it's a few degrees less steep and I am free to start hucking huge sets of sine wave turns while the others wait below at the lake for the old man to catch up again.    
        I can remember decades ago standing in a group of young badass friends waiting for the old man to catch up. How beautiful are life's processes that have put me back in the old man position. White stripes of the present and white stripes of the past are both perhaps present in white stripes future. Only the patterns hold, even as the details are polished away in a defective memory. It's all a blur. Hail to the spirits, and hail to the white stripes of summer. (Greg, if you are reading this, I'm really not sure why you were chosen. I think it's like one of those mundane little expedition jokes that people keep repeating over and over,  but now I may have blogged into permanence...)

Stoddards, 2019. This is the only picture I took.
The rest were taken by Otis. Thank you, Otis.

Upper Singtook, June 2019

Middle section - fun couloir

Start of upper west ridge, Woolley Lagoon on horizon

While they party on the summit
Here cometh an aged mountaineer

Warm bare ground of apres ski in stripe time.
The recent eskimo bros ascent of the West Butt. is
a milestone in Western Alaska climbing.
Their ascent reminds me of the Sourdoughs, just
a pair of Alaskans getting it done, with a very
rad ski to boot. Will this new generation swarm out
 over the greater ranges and bring
their skills back home to Qaweraq?

 The superposition of wave states has my mind greatly interfered. THEN and NOW are superimposed on the oscilloscope of consciousness as I procrastinate this very blogpost by getting out into the gullies instead of staying in and writing. I drive my buggy across the three roads of life through the wavy white stripes of this year's harvest, bobble-headed for the line of the day, when I should be at home slowly carving away all this excess verbiage. I must escape this BLOGLOCK and make it to the hot, sunny mountains that wait outside this cyberspace, but the white stripes of summer must first be rendered by stream of consciousness, into which there is no other choice but to lapse. I must complete this post before I can leave for the mountains again...
The Construct, Buffalo Creek, diagonal at center. Only 1500 ft., great for earnyourturns skiing

         Buffalo Creek, June.  Following the summer threshold of the Stoddard ritual comes the Buffalo Creek phase: big days up at Nugget Pass on the Kougarak Road, multiple zooming day trips with friends or alone with dog, speed up that Kougarak Road like Neal Cassidy or even Fred Beckey at the helm of his pink T-Bird, pull over on the shoulder by the moose signs and wallow in the glue of the car a while, then slam that door and break glue, load skis on your back or on your feet, and head up Deep Creek to vanish into the very earth of the mountain itself. Bands of parallel snow crackle all around as you ascend. A minor pass dumps you a couple hundred feet down into a brown canyon where legendary ski runs come down the wall in bars of white like paint runs, Sister Turner, the Construct, others, all manifestations of an algorithmic code that forms the Matrix.
         Such a great glitter of stripes, the memory is almost solid white, the sequence lost, and now is random. Can a damaged brain remember any details at all?  Only the pattern which repeats...I remember good times with Otis, discovering new tors at the top of Deep Creek I never knew existed, shooting half pipes over giant sags of snow collapsing into the creek, bouldering on gneiss in Scarpa Terminators. I remember a solo camping trip in which I demotivated on continuing down into the Thompson Creek Cirque and contracted a sunburn lying around the tent so bad the tattoos lasted the rest of the summer. Half the trips to Buffalo Creek, overall, must be conducted in some degree of whiteout. Was 2018 year we skied in complete nothingness with Robin and Daisy and Luigi and the Construct got its name, but only theoretically because we could never be sure what we really skied? Do you think that's air you're breathing? But that event was outside the purview of this article, because Buffalo was white that day, and this is about Buffalo's stripes.
Otis, Rattler, and Tor
Above Deep Creek

Rattler, Tazlinas

Deep Creek is the approach of choice to Buffalo Creek
North Side Bowls, Pilgrim Springs Road. Just days before the road to Pilgrim Hot Springs had to be closed because every yahoo in town gummed them up by having entirely too much fun out there, Otis had the brilliant idea that the road to the Hot Springs might provide fabulous access to the mysterious and sought-after north side of the Kigs. Otis seemed to have a preexisting relationship with a few of the north-facing bowls you see to the left of the road as you're driving in  to the springs. He told me the names of these bowls and I was intrigued, because to name a feature in the mountains you have to have the feature whisper its own true name to you in the old language, spoken when the mountains were new in the Distant Time, and I never knew Otis had that skill. I will need to check in with him on some of these names.
          We met a pilgrim out there on the road, one of these types of hot spring seekers who was just feeling his way towards the hot pool in a tiny car, without a whole lot of information to guide him, and only a vague awareness of where he was. "How far is it? Am I going the right direction?" He had heard there was a hot springs out here somewhere and was just following the other birds. "They'll have to close the road soon if they're letting these types in," I remarked presciently to Otis. We felt somewhat superior to the tourist because we were parking our car before the springs and heading off toward the bowls on some fat white stripes we were riding.
            Summer had advanced, snow had receded, and stripe navigation was complex. The trick is to stop differentiating between snow and tundra, and just churn ahead over tussocks, through willows, and across creeks, leaving your skis on as if they were giant hiking boots. Instead of swirling snowflakes, clouds of mosquitoes came at us. Instead of hypothermia, heat exhaustion. Otis and I assembled a set of meaningful ups and downs that took us across ribs and bowls. It was art: a pastiche of turns, threaded rocks, skinny snow isthmuses to link patches, swoops, forks, stripes... I was disappointed not to bag any high-value northside summits, but the summit is not the point, it's how you put together the stripes.
3 Mile Hot Springs Road
Spider Bowl, Crystal Canyon, ?

Looking northeast

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Blowhole of the Mind

Peak 2740, Glacial Lake Peak, with Nick. We descended via a fine butt glissade down the gully in the middle.
        In April of 2018, I received a grant from kigsblog to continue my research into Mental Process, enough to fund another trip to the Kigluait, the mountains north of NomeGlacial Lake was our destination, a known energy node, the perfect place to gather electromagnetic data on PHI fluctuation, not only to expand upon the theories of Tononi, but also demonstrate that lithosphere itself is able to carry a non-negligible PHI resonance. Nick, of course, was keen to put on the PHI-SI headsets and blast out to to Glacial Lake on high-powered snow-machines for a day of fun. 

We followed the Teller Road from Nome, then cut across to Glacial Lake.

       The significant PHI event came not as expected at our destination, the Glacial Lake constriction, but on the way there, in the unnamed drainage west of Glacial Lake. We snow-machined into a sudden PHI-current that flowed from this valley. I immediately became disoriented, but kept my thumb on the throttle of my machine so as to keep my data register on a steady axis. Nick did the same, but we soon became separated, and I began to drive in widening circles across the firm snow in an effort to locate Nick within the psychic anomaly. Visibility was excellent on a fine day, but it seemed that Nick had disappeared into thin air. Calmly I backtracked by following our own snow-machine trails, but immediately fell prey to Heffalump Syndrome: I kept on discovering my own tracks, kept returning to the time and place I had started, no matter how hard I tried to escape. 
       I had lost Nick in the mountains to a Pocket Universe, a kind of temporary side universe that happened to be slicing through that valley during the time/space region we were. A Blowhole of the Mind, if you will.
Nick heading up Pk. 2740 towards the gneiss ribs.

          As landforms funnel and amplify the power of focussed wind, so do they to PHI. The PHI wind, however, is more mercurial than atmosphere. Where and when Mind is dispersed through Causality, Mind is just as likely to stop as start, which is one of the doggone things that makes my research into Mental Process so difficult, and renders it so far below the event horizon of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle as to be total and complete bunkum.
          After twenty minutes, PHI levels subsided. Nick and I phased back into a co-universe, and I heard the reassuring sound of his snow-machine in my universe once again. We proceeded toward Glacial Lake, still two miles away, me with an agenda, Nick, to see what he could see, I presume. I cannot really know what another is thinking. Nor can I be sure it wasn't me, and not Nick, that had slipped into the parallel universe.
The naming game is an uncomfortable game, but I propose "Peak Bering Air" for this one, Pk. 2780, located west of Glacial Lake. Does not there need to be a Peak Bering Air in the Kigs? These are the bowls where Nick and I saw the fresh heli-skiers tracks. Ben, the awesome pilot, told me (as we flew past it) that he and and his brother Russell had climbed this mountain one summer.
         Our structure was founded upon intent to "bag" Pk. 2780, a rather lumpen mountain that runs along the west side of Glacial Lake. But when we arrived, we saw sinusoidal ski tracks in the bowls where we intended to slog up. Human sign, now there's something you don't see often in the middle of the Kigs! Bering Air and associates must have heli-skied the mountain the week before. (Check out this cool video) This discovery, the merest sign of human impact, significantly altered the calibrations on our headsets, rendering further data collection useless. Resonance of Mental Process through stone creates an extremely weak signal. Detection requires an empty set of mountains, psychic silence, a pure, unsullied wilderness. We had accounted for the noxious presence of ourselves and our machines, but now the settings were off. 
       Suddenly, the peak on the other side of the valley looked more attractive, so we motored across the frozen lake to climb that one instead. 
Another look at Pk. 2780 from the summit of Pk. 2740, April 14, 2018

       My memory console dropped down some history with the new peak, Peak 2740, indexed under the not-very-snazzy name of Glacial Lake Peak. The first time I tried to bag Glacial Lake Peak, solo, in 2005, I fell prey to a nap on a ledge in the warm April sun, only halfway up the mountain. Tired from teaching. But the file contained surprising affect bandwidth, no doubt from the encounter I had on the way up with a sexy porcupine. 
       Climbing with ice tools in hand, enjoying easy mixed ground, I turned a corner and found myself face to face with a wolverine! The log shows an adrenalin rush. Soon, however, the pixels resolved, and I realized it was a porcupine, lazing on a ledge in the Spring sun, as I was soon to do. She lay there, quills against the rock wall, and flashed me a Mona Lisa smile, a blatant come hither look. Quickly, I climbed on, only to be stopped higher up by the nap.
       The next failed climbing attempt on Glacial Lake Peak came the following year. Earp and I machined into the Kigs on a day so cold, so completely allapa, that we were too afraid to shut the machines off when we got there. Again, however, the Memory File is coded with strong affect, the reason being that as we crossed the Sinuk River on the way to Glacial Lake via the Stewart River, I took my most harrowing snow-machine wipeout ever. It was the early days of Super Smooth Andy G., an Arctic Cat .570 Bearcat, and I had not learned that if you give it gas on bare ice, the back end of the machine shoots out from under you in a rotary motion. Off the machine I went, sliding across the Sinuk River ice like a curling stone. Inertia kept me going for some time. I was spinning across the ice, looking up at the sky. Super Smooth Andy was somewhere nearby, also still traveling, unmanned. At one point we bumped against each other and I pushed the big Bearcat gently away. Earp saw the whole thing from the bank of the river, but it was too cold right then to dwell upon the horror of it, and I seemed to be unscathed.
          The presence of such strong memory markers associated with Glacial Lake Peak adventures leads me to believe the mountain may be manifesting a detectable Mental Resonance signal. Essentially, if you include the mountain within your trip structure, the defined piece of scarp establishes itself at the locus of a vortex of causation which manifests at various distributed points in your life, like a magnet generating patterns in a field of iron filings, increasing the chance things will happen somewhere, like wipeouts and porcupines.     

Looking northwest from base of Pk. 2740. Let this caption be a PEEMARK. There is a rather spectacular tor in this picture, center top, on top of the ridge, that eye soloed one summer. About sixty feet, 5.6. I call it Red Tip, because it has one. So, yeah, MARK! Lift leg, squirt, smells ever so faintly of toxic masculinity. 

            Though a failure in terms of science, the third attempt on Glacial Lake Peak proved a successful peak bag. Didn't take longer than an hour or two from the machines. I felt vaguely sheepish as Nick, wearing light boots and shorts, scrambled up the spine of the rock buttress while I, kitted out in double boots, crampons, axes, helmet, and big pack, kick-stepped up steep snow alongside the rock. He was the Californian now, and I had become the guy in Freedom Of the Hills that we used to ridicule, the Seattle guy who had overpacked for his weekend trip to the Cascades.
       One could construct a harder mixed climb somewhere on the orthogneiss ribs of Glacial Lake Peak. We romped up gullies and ribs, dipping into the rocks as needed. On the summit, our PHI-SI headsets crackled to life as we gazed out over the entire range. The butt glissade back down to the bottom goes down as a classic.
Suluun is only a dark smudge on the horizon, but you can see clearly see the Sulu Tor poking up there, slightly left of dead center. Osborn on horizon to right. Looking over the Pinarut peaks. Wilson (mostly) and I skied the gable in the foreground  last year. Mark!

          Now all we have to do is take the data back to the lab, and hope it provides more evidence that will supply the missing factor in my equations.  Of course I cannot post the equations here at this time. Any oversimplified explanation is doomed to degenerate into incoherent spew, but here goes anyway.
        As Einstein took the velocity of light to be a constant, so this theory takes the magnitude of consciousness to be a constant. Any system assumed to manifest consciousness is assumed to have a magnitude of 1.0 PHI. The basic unit of consciousness is your consciousness. Occam's Razor, right? The move is counterintuitive, as I'm sure you imagine the magnitude of your own tremendous consciousness to be greatly elevated over that of others, or a beetle, or a stone. Yet, when each consciousness-system is assumed to be equivalent, the mathematical description of consciousness (using a graphic analogy) elongates into a continuous strand which diminishes down to the diameter of the Planck length, and then reverses polarity past the blackhole/whitehole horizon. Potential for Mind, if not its kinetic expression (such as a synchronicity, precognition, social media network, or the thoughts in the neural network of a chimpanzee), is expressed at any infinitely-small point in the Universe. The denominator gets cranked down to the size of the event horizon of each white hole/black hole system.
       I'm still having a few problems resolving some anomalies in the data. Science must be observable, predictable, repeatable. Mind is elusive in these respects. However, continued research in the Kigluait will provide more data which may fill in the gaps. Please leave comments to provide your support, or to bring up anything I missed. 

Looking west down the spine of the Kigs from Glacial Lake Peak to the Singtook.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Zero For Nine on Peak Grand Union

David and Osborn West Face.

Enter ADJUTANT. He is composed of a basal ganglia, with a few small lobes of cerebral cortex attached, two halves of a thalamus, and a brain stem.

ADJUTANT: "Kigscourt is now in session! All rise for the entrance of the Honorable Judge Adjudicator."

Audience stands.

Enter JUDGE. He consists of a very large forebrain, essentially a telencephalon minus the diencephalon, with a noticeably bulging cerebral cortex.

JUDGE: "You may be seated. (gavels)  Kigscourt is now in session! Adjutant, read the first case."

ADJUTANT: "Designation of Blame, KigsCourt v. Allapa and David P."

JUDGE: "Read the determination."

ADJUTANT: "It is the responsibility of Kigscourt to place blame upon an individual for FAILURE TO CLIMB Peak Grand Union on April 4, 2017. Co-defendants David P. and Allapa started out for the summit of Peak Grand Union upon this date, but failed to attain their goal of snow-boarding and skiing off stated summit. The dispensation of guilt to one or the other of stated individuals for not reaching the summit falls within purview of Kigscourt, sole jury, executioner, and adjudicator of blame in this matter."

Judge gavels.

Peak Grand Union, looking east up Osborn's Western Cwm, taken by badass Kevin Ahl.

JUDGE: "Prosecution, you may present your opening statements."

Enter PROSECUTION, a thalamus hitched to an imposing frontolimbic network. The superior anterior temporal lobe, the medial prefrontal cortex, and a septal region of the the subgenual cingulate cortex's are all brightly lit. 

PROSECUTION: "Viewed from the south, Peak Grand Union barely qualifies as a mountain at all. The only reason it qualifies as the second highest peak in the Kigs is because a key col with barely 500 ft. of prominence exists between it and Mt. Osborn. Without that col,  Peak Grand Union would be a just a point on the long northwest shoulder of Osborn.  Peak Grand Union viewed from the north, now that is a different matter. However, FAILURE TO CLIMB the mountain from the north is not what's on trial here. Rather, FAILURE TO CLIMB from the south, the easy side, is on trial.
     The two gentlemen you see here, David P. and Allapa, started out with everything in their favor: a basecamp at the bottom of the valley in the Cobblestone flats, excellent April snow conditions, a reasonably early start... well, when I say 'reasonably early', I should say 'relatively early'— they made it out of camp before 2 pm, which for this crew counts as an early start. Yet, eight hours later, the evening shadows found them turning around just short of the high point, just short of success.
        Organs and thought concepts of the jury... Hands of the Executioner... I intend to prove today that Allapa—  (points) —is solely to blame for the bail off Peak 4500+. I can show you that, beyond all reasonable doubt, Allapa undermined the success of the 2017 Peak Grand Union Expedition, through sloth, lack of discipline, over-medication, and dehydration. I am confident David P. will be exonerated for the bail once you are able to view the extent of the screw-ups perpetrated in series by Mr. Allapa." (rests)

JUDGE:  "Defense may present its opening arguments."

Enter DEFENSE, of a similar construction to the Prosecution, but with a souped-up amygdala, and a stripped-down hippocampus. 

DEFENSE: "Organs and thought manifestations of the jury, Hands of the Executioner, the law in this matter is very plain: Whoever first vocalizes the need for the bail gets the credit for the bail. And all parties are in agreement that it was David P. who first spoke up that it was time to turn around short of the summit. You, jury and executioner, have a responsibility to place the blame upon David P.  No other verdict can be reached." (rests)

JUDGE:  "Prosecution— you may call your witness!"  (gavels)
Peak Grand Union from north, July 2018, on subsequent fail to attain highpoint. Westernmost glacier in North America right there?
PROSECUTION: "Prosecution calls to the stand— the defendant."

Enter Defendant #1, ALLAPA, a gangly assemblage of posterior cingulate cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, medial prefrontal cortex, and insular cortex, all of it underpowered due to a compromised fornix.

ADJUTANT:  "Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help yourself?"

ALLAPA: "As Narcissus to his reflection, I do."

PROSECUTION: "Mr. Allapa, would you like to tell the jury and the executioner what happened on the day of April 4, 2018, in the Kigluaik Mountains?"

ALLAPA: "Yeah man, well, it's like, we've been trying to bag this one little peak west of Osborn, you know. I call it Peak Grand Union, cause it doesn't really have a name, you know, but if you're viewing the range from the north, it kind of rears up over the Grand Union drainage. Much more spectacular from the North, by the way. Dr. Hopkins, the Last Great Giant of Beringia guy, or no, maybe it was that guy Kauffman, said the Grand Union drainage held one of only three bona fide glaciers in the Kigs. It's the westernmost glacier in North America. I don't really know what the criteria for a bona fide glacier—"

PROSECUTION: "Mr. Allapa... perhaps you can stick to the matter of the climb itself. We're trying to pin BLAME after all."

ALLAPA: "Uh...  yes, of course. Well, so, David and I did everything right this time. We motored in our snow-machines on a Friday night and made a good camp down on the Cobblestone flats, at the base of the 5-mile long valley that runs due west from Mt. Osborn. I call that valley the Western Cwm of Osborn, which is, like, Welsh for a glacial cirque. Leonard and Lupe were there, which was really nice, cause those guys are a lot of fun.
     "We got kind of a late start the next morning. Leonard and Lupe didn't join us for the climb. They packed up and head back to Nome, sucked away by the GLUE of TOWN.  David and I melted snow for water. I took about a quart, plus one of those little mini-Nalgene bottles. We slogged and slogged. That valley is long man. I felt sorry for David, slogging on his big fat splitboard skis. I mean the split-board is great, don't get me wrong. It's just that if your snowboard is split, then it's no longer a snowboard, right? It's SKIS! I mean, just get a real pair of skis and learn to ski. Fine, so you got a split board, but now you're snowboarding about 10 percent of the time, and the other 90 percent you're ski—"

PROSECUTION:  "Mr. Allapa..."

ALLAPA: "Uh, yes, sorry. So we slogged and slogged, and then it got little bit steep. I didn't make the same mistake as last time by starting up too soon. This time we went all the way up the 5-mile valley before heading up. It wasn't hard climbing or nothing. We were totally expecting to just ski off the top, no problem. But it's kind of a big mountain, you know. I mean, it's just about as big as Osborn. 4500 ft. versus Osborn's 4714 ft. It's Osborn's conjoined twin, really.
       "So the sky started getting dark, and we were still about 300 feet below the summit. So we decided to bail, even though we were close. I had been moving like a zombie all day, so I didn't mind bailing. We took our skins off. David assembled his board, which, admittedly, he gets done very quickly these days. We turned around and skied down. All I could say was: 'Zero For Eleven on Peak Grand Union'. The thing I remember most clearly is the sweet taste of the water when we finally got down to the little place where water was burbling up from the creek.
       "The Western Cwm is rather flat, really, so it took us a while to reach this one little bit of open water we had passed on the way up. David and I were so dehydrated. Water never tasted so good. We skied on back to our basecamp and had a good time, and motored back to Nome Sunday morning. I felt kind of lame, because it turns out we could have snow-machined all the way up the Cwm. How could I have known? We would have bagged that peak for sure if we could have just zoomed right up the valley. We should have turned around after a mile, gone back to camp and got the machines, and just blasted up to the base of the mountain."
Lupe, Leonard, David, basecamp, Friday night.

 JUDGE: "Does the defense wish to cross-examine?"

DEFENSE:  "Mr. Allapa. Please tell the court what you said to David P. when the two of you decided to bail."

ALLAPA: "Well, I was feeling heavy as an accidental dump in your snow-pants, but I told David I would be willing to continue on into the darkness, and probably have a total painful epic for half the night, just for the sake of reaching the summit of this rather obscure and nebulous highpoint."

DEFENSE: "So you stated that you did want to continue to the summit?"

ALLAPA: "Well...yes, I suppose... well, kind of. What I really wanted was some water, but neither of us had any."

DEFENSE:  "Mr. Allapa, at any time during the climb did David P. state his wish to descend?"

ALLAPA: "Well, yeah, where we turned around. He said something like, 'Well then, I'd rather take Option B," and Option B was, you know, going down. I was only to happy to acquiesce. Did I mention it was cold? Well, yes, it was, very."

DEFENSE: "Let it be noted in Kigscourt that David P. was the one to suggest going down. No further questions, your Honor."
David split-boarding up Western Cwm. Looking west toward Oro Grande.

Enter AUDIENCE, an unwieldy assemblage of medial pre-frontal cortex, medial posterior parietal cortex, posterior cingulate cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, medial prefrontal cortex, and raveled insular cortex as well. The whole thing keeps lurching from one side to the other, along an axis parallel to the corpus collosum.

AUDIENCE: "Frankly, I don't see why blame has to be placed in the first place. What's the point?"

"I heard it was his eleventh try on this peak (link). And it's nothing but another nameless bump on a ridge. It's not like it's Fitzroy, or something. Peak Grand Union... makes it sound like a real mountain. Why the hell is it taking him eleven tries?"

"My sympathies are entirely with David P.  I'm married to a scatter-brain myself so I know what it's like to put up with one."

"It's a silly game he plays. It's supposed to be a type of bail filter he runs in his brain to make sure the bail is justified. It's supposed to help him get up the mountain, but he never gets up the mountain anymore."



"Talk about guilt and shame. You know, neither has any place in the mountains. Decisions have to be made."

"I get thirsty just thinking about it."
After the bail, back where the water burbles up. Shadows of the Oro Grande against Osborn.

DEFENSE: "Defense calls... David P."

AUDIENCE murmurs.

Enter DAVID P. a developing network of neurons spread across a variety of domains in the cerebral cortex.

PROSECUTION: "Objection! Since this trial takes place solely in non-corporeal mental space, any representation of David P. is a figment. Any testimony would be conjecture."

JUDGE: "Sustained. Defense, really? You want to drag David into this weird head trip?"

DAVID P.: "I assure you that if it were possible for me to be objectively represented, I would declare this trial a mockery of what amounted to a very good day in the you—"

JUDGE: "Sustained." (gavels)

Photo taken from small stance climbing central buttress Mt. Brynteson, Iditarod time, 2018. Fantastic rime soloable with no fear.

PROSECUTION: "Prosecution calls ALLAPA to the stand"

 PROSECUTION: "Mr. Allapa, how many years would you say you have been practicing winter mountaineering? Winter camping, specifically."

ALLAPA: "Ugh... more days and nights than I care to think about it. The thought of it brings some pretty wicked smells to mind."

PROSECUTION: "Look, I have called you in to be our expert witness. You know-- the guy that knows everything about his field. So it's safe to say you're an expert on winter camping."

ALLAPA: "No, a complete goofer. But I did apprentice with Randy Waitman, master climbing guide, now a grizzled ascetic living in the middle of the Northern Boreal Forest with birds nesting in his ancient beard."

PROSECUTION:  "Good enough. So, in your experience, what is the importance of hydration in winter mountaineering?"

ALLAPA: "Oh yeah, You have to remember to drink water. Like, one reason I flamed out so bad on that trip with David was I sort of forgot the rule that you have to drink water obsessively. You have to drink so hard you're filling a pee bottle a night. You have to drink until it's uncomfortable to drink more, and then keep drinking. Like on the West Buttress of McKinley where everybody is just peeing all the time, mega-hydration culture you know. Melting snow creates distilled water, and it's harder to hydrate with distilled water because of osmosis and stuff. It had been a while since I had been winter camping, and I just kind of forgot pee culture. I think that's why I was moving so slowly the next day when we finally got out of camp."

PROSECUTION: "No further questions."

JUDGE: "Get him out of my sight."

ADJUTANT: "I wish I could. But he is all-pervasive in this courtroom."
King Mountain M-Bouldering circuit leading to top of hill, go-to climbing destinations of 2018 mixed climbing season.

PROSECUTION: "Prosecution calls David P. to the stand."

JUDGE: "Now, really. Haven't we been through this?"

PROSECUTION: "I had a thought, sir."

JUDGE: "A thought. I see. Very well. I'll allow it. We miss David a lot, anyway. Conjure a figment."

Enter David P.

PROSECUTION: "Nice to see you, sir. It would be lovely to get caught up, but I'm afraid we find ourselves occupied with the matter at hand, the placing of blame. Now... on April 4, 2018, did you ever have to wait for Allapa?"

DAVID P.: "What do you mean by 'wait'?"

PROSECUTION: "Come now, Mr. Panepinto, you know exactly where I'm going with this. There's no need to protect your friend. Did you, or did you not, wait in the trail for an interval of five minutes or more, a series of five or more times, for Allapa to catch up with you during the five-mile approach ski to the southern slopes of Peak Grand Union on April 4, 2018."

DAVID P.: "Yes, by these terms, I did wait."

PROSECUTION: "In your estimation, could the reason for your having to wait be due to Allapa's obvious dehydration and failure to hydrate in the tent the night before?"

DEFENSE: "Objection!  The night before is immaterial. Blame is to placed for April 4. That means April 4 only."

JUDGE: "Overruled. A pattern seems to be emerging."

DAVID P.: "The actual problem may have been he was hungover from the night before."

ALLAPA: "Guys, I'm uncomfortable with this. It's not right to be representing a nice guy with a figment of my imagination."

JUDGE: "I quite agree. (Turns to face the jury, and then remembers there is no jury in cases of blame) The witness may vanish back into the field potentiality from which you emerged."

Exit David P.

Looking northwest from the top of Newton Peak on a weekday evening. If there is a scene in Nome, this must be it. Plenty enough snow for a SHREDFUL 2018 season. Lots of good runs on Newton. So many of them in thick whiteout! Friends emerge out of the mist, and for a moment, are more than just a dull shape again.

PROSECUTION: "Prosecution calls Leonard to the stand."

JUDGE: "Well, now that you've let the dogs in, why not? Conjure a figment."

Enter LEONARD, a dentate gyrus, parts of a hippocampus, a subiculum, with the parahippocampal gyrus strangely wired to the basolateral amygdala.

ADJUTANT: "Do you swear to filter your nervous electromagnetic fields so as to reproduce as close a facsimile to the the actual qualia and flow patterns that occurred on April 4, 2018 in the vicinity of Mt. Osborn in the Kigluaik Mountains, from as close a viewpoint to Leonard and Lupe's as can be reproduced by this narcissistic human mind, so help you God?"

LEONARD: "If you say so."

PROSECUTION: "Good morning, Mr. L. Thank you for taking the time to appear in Kigscourt today. You and Lupe were present on the snow-machine expedition to the Cobblestone River last April 4th?"

LEONARD: "That is correct, sir. We did a little camping for a night. Lupe and I took off in the morning cause we hadda be back in Nome. Those guys went for a trek up by Osborn. They stayed an extra night. We were long gone by the time they got down from the mountain."

PROSECUTION: "So you saw them off on their climb of the mountain?"

LEONARD: "Well, no. We took off on our machines before they made it out of camp. Genius there was having a hard time finding his mittens, and such. The usual."

PROSECUTION: "So the defendant has a reputation for dithering about?"

LEONARD: "Safe to say."

PROSECUTION: "How long do you estimate it took them to leave basecamp?"

LEONARD: "Hours. We had a long chat about school, as I recall."

PROSECUTION: "You and Mr. Allapa."

LEONARD: "Correct."

PROSECUTION: "No further questions. We have more than enough already.

JUDGE: "Defense, cross-examine?"

DEFENSE: "No need. This witness was not present the day of the ascent, and offers no credible testimony with which to place blame."

JUDGE: "Witness may step down."


Time for one more run from the top of Newton.

JUDGE:  "Final statements!" (gavels)

PROSECUTION: "We are gathered here today to place blame upon one or both of two individuals who, on April 4, 2018, perpetrated a UNSUBSTANTIATED BAIL before reaching the high-point of their stated objective. This constitutes a CHICKEN-OUT under Kigsblog law. One stipulation of a CHICKEN-OUT requires blame to be placed for the bail. In the case of kigscourt vs David P. and Allapa, only one decision is possible. Allapa is to be blamed for the failure to summit. Allapa is to blamed for not bringing enough water. Allapa is to be blamed for not hydrating enough in the tent the night before. Allapa is to be blamed for BONKING and slowing down the climbing party the next day."

AUDIENCE: (whispering) "I heard it took him hours just to go to the bathroom."

PROSECUTION: "Blame rests squarely on Allapa's shoulders for taking too long to leave camp in the morning. This is a no-brainer. Kigscourt must find Allapa TO BLAME for the bail off Peak Grand Union on April 4."

DEFENSE: "Organs and thought manifestations of the jury, Hands of the Executioner-- The Prosecution is correct that this is a no-brainer. Kigslaw precedent clearly states that 'blame rests upon the individual who first suggests the bail by voice or gesture.'  All lobes are in agreement that David P. first suggested the bail. BLAME is to be placed on David P.  There can be no other decision."

DAVID P.: "I was manipulated! He was ready to go down as I!"

JUDGE: "Order! Does the defendant wish to make a statement? After all, this is all inside your head."

ALLAPA: "Yes, your Honor.
     "Minions of my own brain, guilt-ridden thought processes, Hand of the Executioner— I would like to take this occasion to point out that all this is farce. Originally I meant to just send a text to David telling him he doesn't have to feel guilty about us turning back short of the high point, but the message turned into this blogpost instead.
        "I hereby banish these ridiculous thoughts of BLAME to the Deleted Folder of our mind. All that matters is the beauty of the present moment, light glinting off tiny facets of snow crystals, the taste of cold Kigswater, blue sky.
       "Peak Grand Union is not peak enough to make such a fuss over. The climb was not climb enough to merit a trial. The whole endeavor was motivated in the first place by a kind of boredom, a structure of climbing maintained from earlier days of climbing when the achievements were more real and the consequences more dire. It gets me out into the country, you know? We will certainly return to Peak Grand Union for a twelfth attempt. But here is logic for you: if the climb was not badass enough to be called a climb, then the CHICKEN-OUT cannot be called a CHICKEN-OUT.
        "The verdict of the trial must be handed over to readers of Kigsblog."

DEFENSE: "Move to absolve all parties of blame!"

JUDGE: "So be it! Kigscourt is adjourned."
Shadows of Mosquito Pass moving up Tigaraha. On the way back from Peak Grand Union, April 2018.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Ring of Ayasayuk

Fourth Tier ice, November 2016

BLOG-LAG tremendous. The Kigsblog-year is in danger of lapping itself. It's almost time to return to Ayasayuk for the new ice climbing year. This is an update for the last two.
Quarry face, November 2016
       The idea was to blog the iterations of the quarry as it develops over the years, adding to the layers of information like successive tree rings each December when the rivulets freeze into ice, when all the ice climbers in town drive 15 miles out to the point of land with their ice tools brandished, intent on grappling the ice and frozen stone dust that glues the hanging rubble to the quarry face. Each new year brings a subtle deviation in the layout of the cliff. Or sometimes a not so subtle deviation— during the years of the Shishmareff seawall project, the entire cliff was blasted away into infinity several times, hence the iterations, but there is always a path of least resistance for water to find its way down, and so there is always some kind of thin, wandering ribbon of ice to climb, even a pillar or two, if the gods of the quarry have been kind to ice climbers that year. For the hardcore Valdez climber it would all be weak sauce, but this is roadside ice climbing in Nome, let us be thankful for any helping of that.
Quarry face, 2017

      With only minor variations in the last three or four years, the iteration has remained the same. This tree ring represents climbing adventures from the last two years, as I did not manage an Ayasayuk post last year. Each year, the game is to follow a Direct route up the entire cliff, bottom to top, incorporating as much ice as possible. Lamefully, I haven't successfully completed a Direct since three years ago with James.
Third Tier ice, 2016

    The First Tier presents only steep hiking, a chance to test the bite of your crampons in the frozen stone dust of a new day. The crux is crossing the road, the boundary of trespassing, trying not to be glimpsed by cars as you leave the road and launch directly up the quarry face— this is uncool, to climb here, and I will be cited for this blogpost. You soon come to the wide access road at the top of the First Tier. Solariums have been installed at the top from which to view the surrounding amphitheater. If you think about it, the cliff at Ayasayuk represents a 430 feet tall void left by the earthly removal of the bluff once known as Ayasayuq. But what does not remain remains a place of power to this day.
Third Tier, 2016

     More fields of hanging stone dust lead up the Second Tier. The motions involved with climbing the dust mimic those of true alpine climbing. Sometimes blobs of real water ice seep from the Second Tier, but not for the last two years, so you just kick your way up great buttresses of steep, hard dirt. The consequences of a wee slip from the dust slabs are not just a mimic of alpine climbing, however, but the real thing: possible enmanglement.
David on his first ice climb, 2017

       The Third Tier is the main business, the highest of the tiers, a pitch and a half of climbing up to the next access road. The weeps and seeps have followed variable patterns the last few years, but the usual Direct route has gone up a not-very-steep mud runnel with a ribbon of water ice at the back. The runnel pools out at the top and vanishes right into the stone dust. To complete the Third Tier the climber is forced out onto the hanging dirt fields, easy terrain, but palpably creepy, and studded with rip-raps of gneiss that look like they were arrested in motion mid-roll. Typically, I solo up to the frozen pool halfway up, where I file  for a petition of chicken-out, and downclimb. Three years ago, James and I made it up the Third Tier: we draped the rope across fins of frozen stone dust, pretending it was pro.
Random Access Flow, 2017

     They shaved away the Third Tier until the face of the quarry was about level with the the top of the bluff. However, a few more little rises remained in the bluff profile, unshaved, so a few more access roads went in, creating the Fourth Tier, a 50-foot cliff situated in a little network of roads at the  top of the quarry. This road network pools up with Fall rain in unpredictable ways to create a head-dispatching system for all the frozen flow below. With a minimum of treachery, tope ropes can be set up for practice on Grade 2-ish and 3-ish water ice, and there's often"childrens ice climbing area" with perfect soft landings in billows of drifted snow.
From the archives: 2003

     It's all coming down on you
    There's nothing you can do
   And it was me that triggered
    The death cascade.
 Cracking, shouts, thundering,
   Let your destiny ring!
 Ship is going down 
 Just jump the whole thing,
While I stand to the side
Watching you drown. 
  I'm sorry we never danced around
   Or stopped at the Safety Saloon
 The lights of town
  Were always dragging us in.
   Now the climb is gravity's child,
Groaning half ton blocks
Right down on your timeline.
  Now the climb is coming down
    Right into our face
   If ever we get back to town,
    Never go back with you to this place.
Quarry face, 2003. This iteration of the cliff was blasted
away in subsequent years.

      Peemarking, in a 2-year tree ring such as this post, presents a technical challenge due to my complete lack of recall. I do remember soloing around. I whacked tool into every chunk of ice that was present. I do remember air under the crampon points, and punch-card holes spent on objective danger. I remember chickening-out of every climb I started up. I remember David chunking his way up some wet flow on his first day ice climbing. But I do not remember enough details to lift a leg and make a confident peemark (a claim of real climbing using locations, grades, nomenclature). Any peemarking claims I might try to make would only spray, dispersing message. Too bad there so few ice climbers come to Nome. David went south. Lack of climbing partner creates such a weight of nothing. No partner creates psychological rope drag holding you back from a partner that's not there. Chicken-out is reduced 75% when there is another climber present. If only there were another climber besides the great lone ME hanging in the sky, blocking the sun.
Map showing Norton Sound Coast inupiaq place names, found in a random drawer at Nome Elementary School

       Earth energy streams eastward off the Pacific, into the bottleneck of the Norton Sound, and gets channeled up against the Norton Sound coast between Cape Rodney and here, bathing the bluff in PHI waves. The other key ingredient for sentience is present: a rich archaeological history of the area. There may no longer be a kasGi every seven miles, no more L.A. coastline glittering with lights, nor even a big encampment of families a fathom down where the water is now off the beach at Nook, but stone memory is slow to dissipate. Ishigait, little people, still roam the place, manifestations of morphogenetic eddies, like dust devils of PHI, potential nodes of mental process. Does an ishigak climb ice?
      Quyana, BSNC...