Friday, November 4, 2011

Supertramp Buttresses Revisited

(above)  MagicBus of the Seward Peninsula visible from Teller Road around Mile 29.  It belonged to a miner in the fifties.  Geiger counters have clicked on the bluff nearby.  

     Every wilderness area in Alaska should have a bus.  A good old, transit-style, schoolbus.  There's something about the parabolic configuration of a bus placed upon barren tundra which focuses the SINH TALA constantly streaming through the Earth's pores like solar wind, causing an ever-so-slight time distortion within the walls of the bus.
(above) Kirk, Spock, security team, and Lazarus, ill-fated time-traveller, just prior to another cosmic energy wink— a rip in the fabric of space/time is about to occur within the walls of Lazarus' spaceship—  "Arctic Tundra Magic Bus Phenomenon" is not unlike the time-distortion event depicted in the The Alternative Factor, though without dilithium crystals, the effect is greatly diluted.

      It is never a good idea to sleep inside such buses.  If the wilderness-traveler spends TOO LONG within the bus, a desynchronization between mind and society ("society" in this context being synonomous for the purposes of this blog with "GLUE of TOWN") occurs.  The ensuing schismogenesis of awareness can be injurious to the mental health of the wilderness traveller, as in the famous case of Alexander Supertramp in the MagicBus over by Healy. 

(above) Alexander Supertramp in front of Bus 142.  A victim of Arctic Tundra Magic Bus Phenomenon.  Like Lazarus, his doppelganger traveled from a parallel dimension through the time portal of the bus, cancelling out his life force.  This is a possibility overlooked by Krakauer.

       Visionary, or idiot?  
magicbus1       magicbus2       magicbus3     directions to the      
       In 1992, my friend Jeff spent a night at fifty below in that bus on Stampede Road, nine months previous to the Supertramp episode. He had committed the rookie boge of thinking that the bus, with all its connotations of urban homeostatic control, would provide a warmer bivvy than his own tent.  I was in Fairbanks that same night;  the cold metal of the bus transmitted live images across the Interior through the crackling air to my dreams showing my friend Jeff hovering like a reverse-fetus on the cusp of between life and death.  But the coming years would prove Jeff difficult to freeze.  Visionary, or idiot?   If Lazarus crept up on Jeff that night in the bus, I have no doubt he, like Captain Kirk, wrestled his insane counterpart back into the other dimension, a 5.10 move Chris was unable to onsight.   I still believe the emergent Fairbanks hardman skirted the same MagicBus Death Attractor that would eventually fell Alexander Supertramp.   

   (above) The MagicBoat at Grub Gulch, Goldbottom Creek, Old Glacier Creek Road.  Incongruity with landscape seems to be a causative factor in Arctic Tundra Magic Bus Phenomenon.  This boat may pose a potential trans-temporal rift.

Great loops of thought
Huge tangles of confusion
Dense thickets of epistemology
Fogs of unified awareness
A victim of my own tribe
They'll never find me here

(above) The white patches below the pin are two patches of chossorific marble, visible on the hillside from the Sinuk River Bridge though one can seldom discern whether they are cliffs, or just steep patches of barren bluff.  They are, in fact, 80 ft. cliffs, though the choss factor lies over the threshold for any kind of safe climbing, these cliffs ooze instability like a victim of Seasonal Affective Disorder. The blue line marks an intermittent 4-wheel trail that leads from the MagicBus at Mile 29 Teller Road all the way in to Glacial Lake. (The pink line shows where Andy and I joined the trail after hiking around Glacial Lake;  I wouldn't advise that.) The Supertramp Buttresses lie three or four miles down the trail.  More recommendable is the schistizoid bouldering pile that lies just to the west.
(above) The 60 ft. friction slab, the only redeeming feature at these structures that I call, for some reason, "buttresses.  Maybe the way they are built into the bluff like a sod house and seem to buttress up the hillside;  also the reason why setting up a top-rope anchor at the top of these cliffs would require a network of rebar anchors sledged into the hillside, a technique I've not yet tried.  This is the most crumbly hideous marble you ever saw in your life.  However, the particular patch of slab shown in the photo above provides a touch of decent rock, with bail-out ledges onto merciful tundra at all times.


      For pure southside Kigswater, there is no drainage like the Sinuk.  Is the Sinuk not the holy Ganges of Qaweraq?  Huge rivulets of power course down this central hallway from Tigaraha to the sea.  
       Of course, the mystical Two-Six was strange-attracted to the micro-region shortly after his arrival on the Peninsula, so I found myself hiking in to the bus with him one early Summer day, with huge patches of snow aiding our progress along the top of the Sinuk bluff.  Tricorder readings showed no paranormal activity around the bus, so we continued north down the bluff for several miles to the rocks, where Two-Six had hesitantly agreed to belay me on marble top-ropes, my third attempt to do so at this location. 
          But first, some warming-up on the schistozoid Tertiary meta-sedimentary.
(above) Schist outcrops by the side of trail. You branch off to the right (northeast) from here and contour around the hillside to get to the absolutely-worthless Alexander Supertramp buttresses.
(above and below) Srik-SrikAn odd sort of flake-pulling Gaston was required to pull the lip.  These pictures are from a Fall of 2009 bouldering trip in the Supertramp schist gardens. 
(above and below)  Collins controlling the swing on Srik-Srik.  We carried climbing shoes that day, but never put them on.
(above) Iglaaq (Stranger), 21SA.  The Aaron Ralston potential is high right there.
(above) Collins on Kiiraq (Corrugated), 2009.

        The Supertramp schist is passably fine, the stuff of which dreamlike, wandering boulder sessions are made.  The marble, on the other hand, is so bad that I could not devise a safe-enough belaying scenario to which Two-Six could be fairly subjected.  This stone radiates paranoia;  fractured, multi-ton columns sit poised on ledges, balanced on skinny pedestals.  Patches of Grapefruit-quality limestone intrude, but at the Supertramp Buttresses these quality patches don't seem to link up in meaningful ways.  Anchors were virtually non-existent at the top of the cliff;  not even a bolt would do, being as the rock is only layers of flakes, like stacked shingles.   Only a hardened, helmeted choss-junky should be allowed to belay under a pile of anaq this bad.  Two-Six did not fit the bill;  he is too valuable a personnel to be so wantonly crushed.  He dozed in the sun while I climbed around, jeopardizing my life as hard as I dared on the friable rock.
(above) Aquila chrysaetos canadensis, August 2009.

       I came out here to the Sinuk bluffs once, alone. I was trapped on the cliffs by a Grizzly herd, my shotgun far away. Trying not to freak, I was scrambling breathlessly like Ralph at the end of Lord of the Flies, when, BANG!  I turned a corner and ran smack into a family of Golden Eagles.  I thought they were turkeys at first hopping around on the tundra.  

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