Thursday, March 10, 2011

Kayuqtuq, third attempt

          Ecstatic Spring weekend clusterJoy in the eastern Kigs, basing out of Earp's Rock of Ages home for not yet retired educators at Salmon Lake, the weather almost flawless, 10 degrees, negligible wind, traveling conditions a plane of perfect vanilla cream-- but due to partner's rucksack succumbing to Fell-off-the-machine syndrome, partnerless again in the high cirques for attempt number 3 on the mountain that I was this time calling (for my own personal silly referential reasons) KAYUQ, (Pk. 4000+) short for KAYUQTUQ, inupiaq for "Fox", which seems fitting for this peak which is located and visible from road at the head of Fox Creek drainage,  There are so many Fox Mountains already, who wants another?  If anyone has any information as to old Qaweraq names for this hill, let it percolate through, but I suspect no bubbles of name have made it to the surface of the present as the peak is rather secluded and unassuming, though it may possibly be the second highest summit in the Kigs, and unclimbed to boot.  (The U.S.G.S. maps I have seen smell a bit ambiguous as to its height.  They smudge the lines the way R.E.M. smudges lyrics.)
        If I have made this mountain sound like a brooding, inaccessible K2, it is not.  First of all, this is the Kigs we are talking about, a range for which the paradox is insoluble whether they are mountains or mere hills.  Second, KAYUQTUQ appears to be a walk up from the South from the Fox Creek drainage.  Each of my three attempts from the more precipitous north side have been beaten back by the same factors:  late starts, general disorganization, laziness, and chickenheartedness, which are not factors that would speak heavily for no one's technical difficulty other than my own.  But I will be back, and each attempt on old KAYUQTUQ, the tenth C-Tog technically, builds fond memories and deepens my love for the mountain.

Three views of Pk. 4000+ from last weekend's trip, March 05, 2011:

 (above)  From up in the east cirque of KAYUQTUQ (Pk. 4000+), the very headwaters of Crater Creek.  There's got to be a still-living nub of glacier in this cirque.  The route I followed was intended to be the path of least resistance:  up the broad couloir towards the left, then right along the easy back side of the south ridge.  The bowl at the top of the couloir was loaded, however.  There was evidence everywhere of recent and cataclysmic avalanching from the mighty storm two weeks previous, the tremendous south wind that had drifted everything around Nome in a weird and anomalous way and shut down town for three days.
      My paranoia spiked up like a dust devil off the desert.  The snowpack underfoot seemed to faintly echo with the sound of cellos.  Up above on the ridge, the cornices could be seen blowing gauzy banners of transluscent, rainbowed spindrift;  this gully was actively loading!  A massive chicken-out ensued, and I turned around.
 (above)  From the southeast near Salmon Lake.
 (above)  From the south, looking up Fox Creek.  Some dirtbag must have hiked up this mountain sometime.  You, reader, give a call, sharpen up your crampons, let's go this weekend....

 (above) Janet Balice and friends in Crater Creek.  A dog team in Crater Creek! Completely and absolutely something I have not seen in ten or more trips through here.   The irredoubtable DIBELS is in lead-cat position.  This is DIBELS second appearance in this blog in Crater Creek.  This team can cover some ground, let me tell you.  They started out from Nome late on Friday night, slept cold in Earp's bombed-out, blown-out cabin at Salmon Lake, penetrated into Crater Creek on Saturday, and mushed back to Nome via Eldorado Creek on Sunday.  

And now, another departure from the pure mineral indifference of mountain pictures... More dogs and humans superimposed on the snow, ice, and tundra:  friends!
(above)  Salmon Lake, looking south, Inuruq in background. Adhesion of TOWN GLUE is proportional for each individual in a party, meaning that, for a group to get out of town is no more or no less difficult than for one individual to get out of town.  The GLUE was fierce as usual, tragedy and psychological complexity lurking behind every move.  Ryan, Nikki, Carl, and me, already exhausted from the very trenches of public school education, headed out on the highway sometime near midnight.  Somewhere in the night we passed Janet and Dibels, detained as well by the GLUE, evidently. We'll get to the comfy cabin and pass out, was the thought that kept each person driving all night, bumping over sastrugi for numb hours in pitch darkness. 
        But there was to be NO COMFY CABIN.  Alai!  The monstrous South Wind had blown out a window. The familiar contours of the cabin's interior were coated over with snow.  The newly-installed drip stove had ripped apart in an avalanche.  Condition:  ICE STATION ZEBRA.  Instead of gratefully flopping onto snoring cots, we were bailing ship for hours and hours, ferrying little loads of snow out the door with our brightly-colored shovels until the middle of the morning.  Janet arrived expecting steaming mugs and warmth, and instead found people scurrying about grimly locked in struggle.  Through dint of Ryan's huge exertions the following day, the cabin was resurrected.  I could point to the epic of the cabin as the reason I didn't get up the mountain, But I know, to quote Jimmy Buffet, to avoid delusion,  it's my own damn fault.  
 (above)  Looking south from summit of Inuruq last Sunday.  Icy.  Loaded also, but windward-slope conditions still icy and good.

You better bring your buckets
We got some dreams to drain
I'll be at the bottom
I've been right here waiting so long
Just waiting so long

No comments:

Post a Comment