Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Topkok in early Spring

 if anyone is offended by the sharing of these secrets, please leave comments and i will discontinue this entire silliness immediately...

         the ishigak darted by, mounted on a little child's snow machine...  i was sitting in the sullen gloom of the Topkok shelter cabin two Sundays ago staring out the lighted frame of the window when i saw the ishigak go by, but only for a second...  as you can see from the picture of the shelter cabin (below, left), there was little snow that day, the temperature being far too warm for ice climbing, which was what i had come for (but at least the Iditarod Trail had hung in there— silky smooth sailing on snow machine, as a matter of fact, due to the miraculous meter of snowfall in mid-April)...   i ran outside the cabin to view the ishigak, but the little man had disappeared, no sound, no trace, no lingering exhaust...


















        later, leaving the hut, i walked east for two or three miles down the beach, under the exfoliating cliffs...  the First Weep was non-existent, and the Second Weep, (top, looking east, with Tapkak Head in the setting sun) which Collins and I had epicked out on the year before, was a shaky-looking thing that did not inspire confidence
           it was warm in April, the tors in the distance poked out of emergent tundra like the cover of a Yes album,  but PARANOIA overtook me like a squall whenever I walked out into the open... Topkok had become like a mental illness to me...   i mean, just look at Phil and Ryan's spring Topkok story fro last year!

http://nomemisadventures.blogspot.com/2009/05/excellent-bear-tacular-madventure.html

why is Topkok so weird?  i think it's the quality of the wind, all circular and eddy-like and going-every-which way like the Z-waves on a cartoon TV screen... this must be due to some odd confluence of air masses...  if anybody understands the winds of Tapkak, please leave comments...  but really, the deal is, the place is a psychic node, a crackling network point for the Earth's psycho-electromagnetism....
(above)  February 2009 iteration of Topkok 2nd Weep, Ian climbing, 30 below... 
(below) the same climb two Sundays ago, April 18, 2010, with hanging bells, like a Hung Jury of Nome...  Ian was too damn chicken to solo the whole thing...
Here was a new one, not present in 2009:  it could only be the 1.5 Weep (above)...  I was scared even to touch it, with the birds singing in the air and the temps so warm...  this was a great personal failing, a complete let down of will and power, a sin, the sin of CLIMBING NOT...    nevertheless, these types of chicken-outs have a way of preserving oneself, so one can remain whole to climb the 1.5 Weep on another day, KOW, KOW...
 Normally, the First Weep  is a fun 60 foot solo on water ice (WI-1 or WI-2), but Spring had already melted it by two Sundays ago (above)...  the beta is, you climb the falls, then continue up steep willows and solo the south arete of the Ishigak, visible in the background as the lefthand skyline of the 100 ft. outcrop... there's good THWACKS on turf and hooks of frozen flake (M-1 or M-2) with at least the illusion of exposure, pretty good for all the trouble getting there, and the ocean gently tugs on your earlobes as you climb...

   this was the trip where i felt the rock of Tapkak for the first time, warm under the fingers...  always in the past the feel of the rock had only been transmitted to nervous system by the feel of the tools, the chrome molly and carbon fiber shaft,  always in the past you couldn't take your gloves off, so cold, so inhumanly unworldly ALLAPA!

   but now it was April,  the quartzite had hatched from its icy pupa...  i discovered ("discovered" only for myself, of course, all this data has been known by people for milleniums since before the whole bluff rose out of the sea for the second time, somewhere in the Pliocene) that the choss quality was highly variable...  in places, like in the picture (above), the degree of choss approached actual decent rock, almost so good that a drilled hole with a bolt in it might actually hold something, which is rare for the Seward Peninsula...  in the second zawn from the hut,  i bouldered in Scarpa Inviernos on beach boulders where the quartzite was gray and dimpled, and the cracks were true cracks and would have taken nuts marvelously...  elsewhere, the rockfall was so bad, it was like the Eiger Sanction, i huddled under that very bottom inside angle of the overhanging sea cliff where the rocks can't technically get you, scuttled along with  feet pressed right up against the cliff where the sea ice met the rock,  climbing the choice bits, lost in rock and turf and ice and thought, don't go there, they all say, don't go there, but of blogging, who can really say?

(Below) is a map of phoneme/land correspondences from the Norton Sound coast that have been propagated for some time...   I've had this map floating in my school files for a long time, but have no idea where it came from, or who made it.  Leave comments if you know.  And i do understand that climbing, and worse, spraying about a magical place, before you have actually done the research of the land stewardship is a rude and reckless act not to be condoned, but shouldn't these particular words be posted, do they not justify the desecration of the post?  

                                                
http://www.paulcolor.com/index.php#mi=2&pt=1&pi=10000&s=16&p=5&a=0&at=0

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