Monday, August 9, 2010

Sampson Creek Boulders






(left) Sampson Creek boulders visible from the Kougarak Road-  as i pulled up to park on the shoulder of the Kougarak Road during the rains of July, just to the north of what must be the most dangerous ramp on the entire road, i  was informed by a fellow named Ken who came motoring out to greet me that this— he gestured toward this hill- was Sitnasuak Corporation...

phase one, JOY OF DISCOVERY Nome rockclimbing, when you are getting to know all the roadside crags thinking you are the first, you are going to be the Fred Beckey of this obscure little rock clump  (not understanding that ishigaitch, the little people, have been cragging here since the Distant Time, not to mention probable instances of visiting climbers to Nome through its 100-year history, and undoubtedly the centuries before...)

typically, it goes like this:  from one of the four highways the climber espies a dark rock sticking up from the tundra fields, maybe only ten feet worth by the looks of it, but let's go check it out...   after a short hike through blueberries the climber gets to the rock and discovers that in addition to the 10 feet of vertical seen from the road, another 15 feet of vertical was hidden behind a fold of tundra, the result being a fairly sweet little 25-foot crag, with scattered dudes of 10-foot boulders, which will, from here on in, provide year-round bouldering— hooking, camming, and moss in the winter, marble and schist in the summer 

but now, after 10 years of frequent 4-season bouldering, "phase one JOY OF DISCOVERY rockclimbing in Nome" is drawing to a close for me;  i've climbed out all my favorite spots (up to the .10c level, of course-  plenty left for the V2 crowds of the future)...  which is why i was so happy, several weeks ago during the rains of July, to be exploring a brand new set of boulders, ones i had never noticed before despite how many passes, a new slant of sunlight driving by one day, a chance sighting of a rock hitherto camoflagued as bush:  potential JOY OF DISCOVERY and new fresh meat boulder takings... 

(above) A pair of Mew Gulls (Larus Canus)  i think, help me out here...  the first issue with a new crag is always:  RAPTORS:  where's the nest?  whadda we got this year?  a serene and welcoming eagle?  a stressed and strafing falcon?  a pair of ravens with marital troubles?  but as i approached the Samson Creek boulders, i was surprised to see a pair of gulls on sentry (no, they weren't jaegers or terns)-  they put up almost no resistance to my intrusion... i'm not sure they even had a nest up there.... they flew away, i never saw them again...


(above) Delilah's, a one-move 5.6 offwidth, which you will know is an oxymoron if you are student of climbing, offered here as a sarcastic comment upon the general paucity of this area for any worthwhile bouldering...   The score for Sampson Creek Boulders:  ZILCH...   one star,  not the next Cloggy, NO COLOR IN THE PAN, not worth a return visit, of which i was relieved to inform Ken when he came motoring out to my car once again as i was leaving...   
(above)  Pk. 3922 ("Aapa") in the distant Grand Central region framed through a "hole in the wall" at Sampson Creek boulders.   i'm assuming the boulders in these pictures are meta-sedimentary MARBLE, they had these awful white plates that broke at a touch, maybe this stuff:

PLATEY MARBLE (light to medium gray, medium to coarse grained, with grains 0.25 to 1 mm, heavily weathered, marble composed largely of 85% calcite and subordinate amounts of quartz anhedra (5%), tremolite (3%), locally diopside in disequilibrium (1%), and white mica (8%). Platy nature caused by thin interbeds of white mica-chlorite lenses and wisps usually less than 1 cm thick.  Frequently isoclinically folded and sheared along fold axes.  Less resistant than [other marbles] due to white mica content and folded nature, which produce broken, sheared outcrops and rubble.) (Bundtzen et al. 1994)

but i am SO NOT SURE what kind of stone it was...  i departed Sampson Creek early, and returned to the "plagioclase porphyroblasts" of the Windmill Boulders to work on the proj., mildly depressed because of the rains of July, though little did i suspect, my fortunes were soon to change in the greater mountains....

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