Above, the "Second C-Tog," the second peak on the left after you turn the corner going up the South Fork of Crater Creek. "C-Tog" is a reference to Amato and Miller's "Bedrock Geologic Map of the Kigluaik Mountains" (NMSU, 2004) and refers to the "preCambrian Thompson Creek Orthogneiss," the pluton which forms the spine of the Kigluait. Somewhere in the whitish slabby area to the right of the indistinct buttress in the center of the photo, I pretended to be Norman Clyde on a warm June evening in 2009, wandering up 5th class slabs and cracks, arriving at the summit just before impending rain. As usual, I've no way of knowing if the peak had been climbed previously.
To the right is the same C-Tog as above, C-Tog 2, but taken from further down the valley. The prow on the rightlooks to be, what?, 4 full pitches, maybe 800 ft. As with so many teeth in the 'Tooths," the south side (the back side in this photo) is much less precipitous than the wall here on the north side. So why not have climbed the prow? Lack of partners, cursed lack of partners, coupled with unwillingness to rope solo(all that rappeling and jugging over the fields of death flake, all that solitude weighing down like the sky.) Besides, Norman Clydeing it is just so much fun.
Above, we have the "First C-Tog," the first peak on the left after you turn the corner going up the South Fork of Crater Creek. It is home to another Norman Clyde route I soloed in June of 2008. Looking at this photo now, my sabotaged memory has no recollection of where the route went. I see myself vegging out on beautiful bryophyte ledges for many minutes at a time. Body remembers a 5.6 friction slab on a patch of plain, old-fashioned granite as good as Tuolumne. I remember looking down between my legs at the slabs tumbling away and the adjacent angles of air, thinking, maybe this climb actually is transcending mere bouldering. I remember doing a few moves where I imagined Norman himself might have balked. Yet, the nature of the terrain would have permitted him to scramble around with a fair amount of ease, his dignity intact.
Weighty dome of solitude sky
He breaks alone into solitary crying
He cannot remember that line from Thucydides
Curtains of rain hang from the summits
Salmon Lake is on most maps. The C-Tog Towers on the may be on Bering Straits Native Corporation land, but more likely on BLM, and it is rather rude that I'm not sure and too lazy to find out. Perhaps the heinous responsibility of internet posting, the sheer weight of the many thousands of you that are reading this AT THIS MOMENT, will drive me to find out the stewardship of the Crater Creek granite, and edit accordingly.
Crater Creek is a more straight-forward walk-in than its parallel cousin 5 miles south, Grand Central Valley. At one point a few miles in from the road, the left arm of Crater (unnamed valley?) and the right arm of Grand Central (Gold Run Creek) reach out and almost touch, separated by one slender Class 2 pass. If one were to actually visit this place, one would need to be extremely respectful of the people who have cabins on the Kougarak Road. Like, basically, I'm saying, even though I'm posting this detailed information on the worldwide web, well, like, um, don't really go here, dude, we're all going to ruin it and piss off the landowners, we will be as infections to the beautiful organism of the mountains . So, like, I really need to quit going to the Kigs and so should you.
Me, Mr. McRae, below left, and ex-principal Mr. White on the right, looking west up the southwest fork of Crater Creek, the First and Second C-Togs to the left. Can you see the wind, blessedly blowing the bugs away? Look how happy Carl looks! The burden of Nome Elementary freshly lifted from his shoulders, and replaced by my dead guy daddy's old Kelty Tioga, big blue summertime stretching ahead, the day standing still in photographs.