Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pk. 3535, Crater Creek

Pk. 3535 at the head of Crater Creek.  I walked up most of the South ridge which slants upwards to the right in the picture.

        Some lameness has crept in here.  It brings to mind the unresolved question of:  what is the lower limit of blogworthiness?   The latest is now I have failed to climb a Class 2 hill.  I have launched two Alaskan expeditions intending to achieve success on this walk-up, and been denied.  Shall I then take up valuable room in cyberspace to report this embarassment?  These are questions for the new age;  there is not yet an accumulated body of wisdom to help me decide.  
      But why not blog?  Let me detail every firing of a neuron, I shall recreate my brain on a worldwide web in conjunction with all of yours'.  The fog which follows is only an indication of my interior mental environment.
Pk. 3535 as it appeared the day I went up it, September 5, 2010.  

Fog over mountain
Fog over mind
Soon we will be mantling
Up into the sunshine

The top of the fog is an ocean
And the sky will be blue
We'll climb to the top of this island
If we can only make it through... 
(left) View, or lack thereof, western slopes of Pk. 3535 from halfway up South Ridge.
(right)  Claustrogo...                                      A form of madness begins to set in after a day mountain climbing in the fog.   The dissonance created when Equilibrioception is robbed of its visual component creates a mild anxiety, a hybrid of claustrophobia and vertigo:  I call it Claustrogo!  Something to dwell on as one stumbles upward through fog...  (More on Claustrogo)          At a shoulder, the ridge changed direction; I could sense it in the organelles of my vestibular system. The wind intensified.  The fog was really howling now!   The promised sunshine might still lie above, but this mountain was having trouble getting it up.  Come to think of it, the clouds had gone gray;   the September sun was getting low.  A vision of Peronto's weather map from Friday flashed into my head, all green zones and whorling Ls, along with the thought that here was come the next storm.
      Another section of weary plodding up ahead vanished into the mist.  I knew it wasn't far to the top now...  But a type of boredom had hold of me.  My mind had sprung power leaks. CHI hissed out of me and vaporized in the air like breath.  What worth this boring lump of a mountain? my mind reasoned, perhaps justifiably.  I was happy to turn around and head down.  There were interesting granite cliffs on the way.  I could huddle close to the rock in the fog and pretend to be in Tuolumne.  Pk. 3535 differs on Amato's geology map from the other peaks in the Crater Creek cirque (the C-Togs and Kayuktuqs and whatnot) by virtue of being true, unmorphed granite, as opposed to the highly metamorphic gneiss.
(above) DIBELS, Mr. White, Janet.

The miraculous, super-nice thing about the trip was getting to be in the company of friends and loved ones--  I hiked in with Carl, Janet, and DIBLS, we made it all the way to the First C-Tog and had a great night in the wind and rain.  Curious how Carl seems to have his own relationship with Crater Creek, how he repeatedly gets sucked into this vortex.  On the way in, we had Encounter #1 with a big, brown, very polite AKLAQ (Janet's first on the Seward, which seems a miracle, given how often she is found in the brush) who ran up a side hill to let us pass.  We would see more of him later.

(above) Google Earth, Pk. 3535, and hike up Crater Creek
       Here is one of my own personal hidden secret sequestered meaningless little rule for naming peaks:  whichever drainage is primarily responsible for opening up the view so that the peak comes into view, that drainage becomes the eponymous name of the peak.  For instance, "Fox Peak" is highly visible from one certain spot on the Kougarak Road where it crosses Fox Creek (when you are looking straight up Fox Creek), hence, the name Fox, even though the mountain in character seems more a denizen of Crater Creek on its northern side.  According to this rule, Pk. 3535 would become Crater Mountain, because it lies at the exact head of Crater Creek, and is what you see looking up the valley from the road. It's still rather a lump.  And these are just little reductionist fancies I entertain as I slog painfully and interminably over tussocks and through willows.