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....

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