Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Foxy Peak

 (above)  There now, do you see it?  The real Fox (Kayuqtuq), hiding in the background.  Duh.  You might also notice the two route attempts on the decoy mountain standing in front of it, the foreground mountain which is pretending to be the higher one.  To think that I fell for this old trick ONCE AGAIN.  It's a standard trick of mountains everywhere, stand closer to the valley and you will appear to be taller than the mountains behind you.  The one in the back is the true high point of the region (as I've mentioned, one of the few possible "Four Thousanders" of the Kigluaik).  Now I've spent gallons of gas and layers of capillaries to climb this peak, and it wasn't even the right one!  Shall I self-flagellate over this nincompoop fiasco of wasted gasoline and hardened capillary?  Or shall I zen it out and simply state:  that's how it goes in the Kigs...

Back on the March attempt, Earp had been referring to the mountain as "Foxy," which I will do for this post, which sort of differentiates it from the true and highest Fox, which is different than when I was calling "Kayuqtuq" in an earlier post, all the better since mountains do and should have more than one name.
     (above) This is what stopped me on attempt #2 yesterday— a brazen summit pyramid of gneiss where an easy snow slope should have been.  I am no Francois Marsigny, I carried no rope, a child awaited in Nome, I was pledged to be conservative, boldness has been slowly leached from my psyche from too long a sojourn in the fleshpots of Nome...  plus, a host of sub-excuses... I retreated.  No first ascent, just another new bail.

      Both attempts employed a northern approach from the Crater Creek side. (Below) is an image looking off to the west from Foxy showing why I couldn't just traverse around left to the rounded south side.  Osborn, King of the Kigs, is the meta-sedimentary lump furthest to the right.  The intermediary lumps are the Grand Central Peaks around Gold Run Creek.  Kigluaik peaks, in general, are lumps from the south,  but Gustave Dore' nightmares from the north. 
This late April Sunday was a day of days, an all-time day, the miraculous snowfall had rendered the mountains smooth as silk, a meter thick blanket of equi-temperature aniu, you felt your boots not far from the terra firma of tundra and talus thus alleviating the avalanche fear, a light breeze kicked up lines of spindrift which caught the sunlight, convection fog from the Imruk Basin wreathed the lower peaklets in  white coiffure, chi oozed up from every pore of the mountains that day...

(below) Looking up the ridge.  Took me a long time to trust the snow, so I stuck to the crest.  It's probably only Class 3.  A few fun moves on turf with fine thwack!s.

The thing to realize here is that although the climbing was easy, everything was shrouded in fear on account of being so far from town ALONE.  Not exactly "you're gonna die" fear, rather, "you might have a humongous hassle" fear.  Maybe I'm paranoid, but the sky seems to weigh heavily when you're the only one under it.  At these moments, your machine morphs into a sentient being, and YOU LOVE YOUR SNOW MACHINE.  And I do love my Arctic Cat .570 Bearcat.  (above)  Here it is waiting like a loyal horse, with C-Togs 3, 4, and 5 in the background.

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