Wednesday, November 2, 2011

PeeMark: "Penny Crags" (Pk. 1460)

(below) Kakkiviaq (Groove Under Nose), Penny Crags, Pk. 1460, June 2011.

"Pee Mark:"  

1.  Spraying;  deposition of urine used by animals to identify territory. 

2.  A post which serves no other useful purpose than to identify that I have climbed at a certain location.

(below)  Penny Crags from below, February, 2010.  
     Every single square meter of this hillside has been scratched and pawed thousands of times over, in countless trips, in all kinds of weather, both pick and sticky rubber, roped and soloing, the obvious lines led.  Every move on this cliff is part of some larger link-up that has already been done.  In this picture alone, thousands of routes are visible, each one with a name, rating, color, and category, including Quaqtuq (Splits Loose), Qupiruk (Cracking), and Ulburuq (Topples Over).  Everything has been done here already.  I hereby cybernetically declare this cliff to be saturated in urine...MARK!

     ....Unless, of course, the route is harder than 5.10c or M6, in which case, I was probably totally unable to get up it.
(above) Pk. 1460 with rainbow, September, 2010. The location of this PEEMARK is those little bumps near the end of the rainbow.

     The act of naming poses the usual paradox...  Some term for the choss pile was needed.  I call the crags "Crags" because they perch at the top of a prominent, steep ridge, transcending the category of mere boulders;  to a boulderer perching on folds of schist, thirty-five feet of exposure feels like more as the hillside drops to the Penny River.  A crumble of stones that would constitute a forgotten scruff pile anywhere else, here on the Teller Road merits an appellation befitting nobler geology.  If truth, the Crags are craggier than anything in fair Scotland;  you really wouldn't want to wander off in the wrong direction from the Crags in a whiteout, something which is easy to do.  You'd never make it back to Nome in time for the fleshpots.    
(above) Kakkiavaq, June 2011.  Photography by Two-Six.

       21 SA—  June, 2011.  Vitamin D is shining.  Two-Six has offered his skills for a photo-shoot.  A breeze blows the bugs away.  A fine day for hiking and bouldering.
      I am not aware of who is the steward of the hill as we begin hiking.  The rocks are hidden from the spot where you begin the hike at Cabin Rock.  I often call them the "Cabin Rock Crags."  In the parking lot (I don't know who is the steward of the parking lot) I hand my average camera over to Two-Six and instruct him, that when the time for climbing comes, he is to tilt the camera and crop out the ground in order to make the climbing look more real than it really is.  Let this hereby stand also as a scent mark for Two-Six:  MARK!

(above) Kivluktuq (Cuts Across)

(below) Topping out.
     The nice thing about the Crags is you can get a little of the sacred eXposure.  In places, solid holds off the ship's deck, a little of the dancing that refreshes, wisdom coursing like epinephrine.  I remember lead climbing at least two of the main aretes, painstaking affairs, solid pitons nevertheless threatening to blow apart the whole crag with each blow of the hammer, sickness at any rating, 5.6.  I remember dry-tooling with Andy and on-sighting an overhang on top-rope that must have been M-7.  From my hospital bed in October (for a hospital bed is where I am writing NOW— this is the PRESENT TENSE of this PEEMARK narrative: laid low on Halloween '11 by inguinal hernia, writing from a horizontal position, recovering from surgery, floating on Percocet)  I think of a recommendable off-width boulder problem located at the bottom of a prominent turf gully, (a gully that forms a great thirty feet of Class 4 alpine turf climbing in Winter conditions):  I remember the best way to perform the offwidth move is an actual bit of Levitation-- looking at an Aaron Ralston of your entire leg-- or, if it's winter and you're on the ice tools, mantling onto the top of your tool which spans the crack nicely with a porch-swing pick/adze jam.   

I hereby lift my leg on these digital representations of my memories...MARK!

(above) 1.  Cabin Rock pass area, Mile 14(?) Teller Road

1.  "Cabin Rock," or "House Rock."  "Chalet Rock," maybe, with cantilevered-bays and a big wooden porch for apres-ski.  A good simulacrum of a house and a well-known landmark, but not much use as a bouldering rock. 
 2.  "Penny Boulders."  A fun clump of marble, a quarter mile from the Teller Road, a sacred little place.  Improbable but solid jugs on meta-sedimentary marble that took years for EOD to defuse, with a few classic highballs.  My favorite bouldering area of all.  I do not know the steward of this land.  Driving east on the Teller Road, you come to the Pennies on the right a mile or two before the road starts climbing toward Cabin Rock pass. 
 3.  The Crags.  A thousand foot hike up the hill above Cabin Rock.  Art is required in plotting the correct trajectory across the contours of the hillside.  Easy to get lost in low-visibility.  
p  A great place to stash the car abomination.  Turn left (south) at Cabin Rock pass on obvious gravel road that leads a short distance out of sight to gravel pit.  The long ridge to the south is littered with marble outcrops fun to wander.  Mark the time and date on your computer: I would like here and now to formally announce the deposition of urine upon legions of crags in this area that only half exist in my dreams... MARK!

(above) Cabin Rock itself in verglas, with Arctic Cat Bearcat and Wild Things Alpinista.  Arctic Cat and Wild Things should both hereby pee upon this rock... MARK!   I would recommend the Bearcat to anybody who's primarily interested in protecting their body against punishing rides, and the Alpinista to anyone wishing to protect their body against punishing loads, which I most certainly must do from now on.  As previosuly noted, Cabin Rock as a bouldering destination is a bit disappointing.

(above) Looking southeast from Pk. 1460.  Nome is partially visible through the saddle in the ridge, looking like a piece of snow lying on the ridge.

An interesting fact about Pk. 1460:  it is visible from many parts of Nome.  The angular ridge appears to poke up ominously behind the foreground hills.  It is sometimes mistaken for Osborn, monarch of the Kigs, to the north.  It is often mistaken for a mountain, instead of a hill, which is what it really is. 
(above) Kakkiviaq. "The other way!  Tilt it the other way, Two-Six!"

Here is some geology spray on the Penny Crags (as near as I can figure) from Bundtzen and others (1994): 

CALCAREOUS METATURBIDITE SCHIST (light green to brownish weathered, usually banded, calcareous, micaceous, feldspathic schist typically containing calcite (15%) white mica (8%) chlorite(10%) inclusion charged feldspar (10%) QUARTZ (40%) and opaque minerals (27%)... thought to be gravitational with overlying (adjacent) unit and formed in same turbidite environment prior to regional metamorphism.  Generally resistant and forms blocky outcrops at ridgecrests and in stream cuts.

Bundtzen and others pee on this rock as well...  MARK!

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