Saturday, May 22, 2010

Singatook- Gregg Stoddard Memorial Springtime Yahoo Field Trip to 3870, year 2010

(below) View from top of Solar sidewalk at 3200 level, looking south down the upper part of Singtook.  Woolley Lagoon indiscernible in distance. Keith Conger about to drop off the edge in search of dropped gear.   

MAY 09, 2010:  GREG STODDARD MEMORIAL SPRINGTIME YAHOO FIELD TRIP TO 3870 was a great success!  Keith and Ian summited the Singtook once again to commemorate the man who brought us together as friends so many years ago, the arch telly fiend, Stoddard.  Though he left Nome for the big city, the spirit of our original trip propagates forward, compelling us each spring to make the pilgrimmage to the sacred mountain.    

 (below) Singatook from the Teller Road, 17 miles distant.  Singtuq?  Sinughaiq? Sinaillaq? Somebody help me!  How do you say it?  Leave comments...  Francis Alvanna says "Sing-took!" kind of like that, so that's what I'm going with.  It is almost universally referred to by the people of Nome as "3870".  

The Singtook... the Mt. Washington of the Seward Peninsula... possibly the most climbed peak in the Kigluaiks...  receives the full brunt of any weather coming in from southwest...  like any mountain invested with mental process by interaction with humans, the Singtook is a type of psychic private property..  people have lived at Woolley Lagoon for a long time, climbers must choose their spiritual windows with care, or otherwise are required to show their asshole license...  hence, our permit for the Greg Stoddard SpringtimeYahoo Field trip to 3870...

(below)  Keith Conger at the start of the Solar Sidewalk, the classic ski tour up and down the Singatook, usually of four or five hours duration.  A fine Greg Stoddard lies ahead.

(above)  Keith skinning up the via media part of the Solar Sidewalk...this is the fun part on the way down, a black diamond due to the potential for smashbody on the perfect Cretaceous granite.

(below) Via alta part of Sidewalk, summit hump of 3870 in background.  On other Greg Stoddards, Keith, who can be a mighty sick huckster,  has hucked the center of that face in the background.  On the 2010 Stoddard trip he launched from the saddle to the right of summit, while I crept to a blue square lower down. 

(above)  LOVE these hills!...   'v lost count of how many times i been (sic) on this summit...  probably equal to the number of times 'v failed to reach this summit!

(below) Apres ski...    we didn't get any good pictures of the descent because of it was ALL ACTION!  Like any good Greg Stoddard, we skied right up to the car.
    If you go to the Singtook, it's good to sort of ask permission of the mountain, and maybe the locals too, if you can park your car on the Teller Road.  I'm not really sure what I'm talking about, but it seems like wise advice for anywhere you go.

   Farewell, GREG STODDARD MEMORIAL YAHOO FIELD TRIP TO 3870, year 2010.  So this was our yearly pilgrimmage to a sacred mountain. It's always nice to bag the summit. Have you ever seen it wreathed in lenticulars?  Monsters!   Greg Stoddard is probably batting about 50% when it comes to reaching the summit.  I believe this year makes two or three in a row.

     Skiing is so louche, so hedonistic—  I mean, anyone can go WITH gravity.  That is why I state, Stoddard is a fiend, the arch demon of telemarks.

   It is time to return to the fight UPWARDS against earth's gravity.

Windmills, Sunset, Pennies, midnight sun bouldering

   River Lethe bouldering under the midnight sun on work days,
for days and days, for what seems like weeks and weeks
(the days are bright/and filled with pain
enclose me in your gentle rain)

  Metamorphic nightmare leaning choss piles with sky ladders of big jugs
(I've spent years gradually testing them)
 climb smoothly though,
it's never pleasant dangling supine under tons of meta-sedimentary,
this is playing with guns that are loaded,
this is some very brittle bones

I shall climb in the Kiguaik no more
there is no need of venturing up the Kougarak Road
we can wonder here, by the sea, amongst these outcrop gardens
befuddled with the lotus fruit of crack and crimp, air and dangle,

finch, longspur, sparrow, wren,
(the home team, the ravens and ptarmigan,
 trying to protest their rights for staying the winter)
entire landscape humming in and out, oscillation

the day of pain and yawning drops out of sight,
here is the hole, hole, thumbs down, jug, jug, dangle that requires all of your attention
here is a mantle onto a glued flake
here is the best damn boulder problem you ever expected
down in the thrustle of chirp, reep, whoo-oo--oo, keep, keep

chi is oozing out the pores of the earth into the pores of my skin

i have forgotten all about the silent peaks
summits still encrusted with snow
repulsing every attempt

wonder here, for now, by the sea, pulling down,
soon it will be morning and the streams of humans will begin...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Inuruq (Pk. 1926)

(below)  Journalist and ski ace Tyler Rhodes descending into Tolkienesque murk, two Sundays ago, north slopes of"Inuruq" Mountain.    He got lacerations in his P-Tex.  Crater Creek and Pilgrim River lurk in the mist.
          Here's an analogy that might make sense to any Supertopian:  Supertopo   Salmon Lake is to the Kigluaik Mountains, as Bishop is to the Sierras.  It's a horrifying analogy if you really think about it.  Salmon Lake is on the road, you see, the Kougarak Road, and so may have involuntarily invited just such a fate, looking one trans-Siberian highway forward in time... 
         This blog takes responsibility for crimes against the Earth.  This reportage of climbs is nothing more than another unit of encroachment upon the wilderness.  Just by posting Tyler in front of this grey curtain, I have destroyed the pristine wilderness veiled behind it.  These were unknown places;  now there exists a little more known..
       And why these crimes, what justification for a Kigsblog?   Let us be honest, brothers and sisters:  Ego, and the mammalian need for recognition.  A European craving for exploration, and the bringing home of another conquered wilderness to the homeboys at the Explorers Club in the father land.  The same reason there sits a bust of Amundsen on Front Street.  Coupled with an inability to stop the thing because it's actually SO MUCH FUN doing it, so WRITE ON!!..

        But another reason to blog, perhaps, is to preserve worthy languages.  When I asked Earp (...Earp's Salmon Lake cabin is to me, what Glacier House was to Norman Clyde...) what was the name of the funny, little, incongruous mountain at the north end of Salmon Lake?, she replied: "Inuruq."

(below) Inuruq. The map is not the territory.

     I asked Marie Saclamana, who teaches Inupiaq in the classroom next to Mr. McRae's 4th grade, how she would translate "inuruq."   This kind of question can be super tough;  it's a bit like transferring a file from an Apple to a PC. 
    I had figured the word—  inuruq—  was constructed out of the Inupiaq noun and suffix combo:

inuq (person)    +   tuq (he, she, or it is doing) =  inuruq

    What Marie forced up (translation works using approximations...)  "person who has had an accident." This actually makes a whole lot of sense, if you know this mountain—  it has a conspicuous landslide on the front (north) face, a real MASSIVE one, which, rumor has it, was witnessed by people from Salmon Lake sometime in the last century.  Inuruq looks like a little person who has vomited away the front part of their torso, and held the whole load in cupped hands around their waist level.  You can see it across Salmon Lake from Interstate 395... I mean, er, the Kougarak Road....

Someone undoubtedly knows much more about this mountain's name than I have come up with here.  The Todd party reported the mountain's name as Coho in an edition of Scree.  Please comment.  One problem with blogging that keeps jamming my foot a little further into my mouth, is that I keep writing about things which I have only partially researched.  But if one waits until the research is complete, one would never post!  Is is supposed to be Inuraq?
(above) Not an image of Inuruq-  rather, this is another hill off the Kougarak Road further south showing the avalanche conditions of 3 Sundays ago.  The crown face on the left, foreground hill is probably 800 ft. wide and 1 meter deep. If you search closer, there are other slides.

A question that has long plagued me:  is there real avalanche danger on the Seward Peninsula, or am I just over-paranoid?  The day Tyler and I tried to ski Inuruq was grey and rainy.  The summit was sheathed in spring blizzard which we were unwilling to penetrate.  Worst of all, the AVALANCHE PARANOIA light was lit on our mental dashboards as we kept encountering sketchy-feeling snowpack in the deposition zones, as well as recent slides, plus rain, and warmth.  It was reassuring for me to see that Tyler was not without paranoia.   We eventually took off skis and began booting up the bare tundra of the northeast ridgeline, before getting shut down.   Back to the machines, back to the truck and trailer at Nugget Pass, back to town, grind, sleep deficit,  paperwork, kitty litter, and kids, the flow of kids, pushing like ocean at the bulwarks....