Wednesday, December 12, 2012


(above) Ayasayuk quarry face, 2012.  Scarp rendered transitory as ice, never the same year after year, never before climbed, never to be repeated in exactly this same condition.  I feel very embarrassed to have gone to such lengths blogging about what essentially amounts to a piled slag heap, but perhaps its charm lies in this very ephemerality.  No egos have been chiseled into anything that will stand the test of time, it all gets dynamited to bits tomorrow.   

           Imagination is needed to climb in Nome. Once climbing becomes the metaphor that defines existence, logic follows that any medium whatsoever becomes climbing:  the two-inch jam between the bed and cab, the main-mast ladder on the six-story Dredge #5, a steep mound of frozen tailings, or the chair upon which you sit.
         Or, a ghastly 45 degree debris-flume of frozen sand and glued-in granite chunks--  I am speaking of the Ayasayuk quarry, 15 miles east of Nome.  Yes, the cat is out of the bag, there is no adequate way for Kigsblog to obfuscate around the location any longer.  It was I trespassing upon the Cape, along with Mr. Collins, last Saturday, in the kundali-intensive freezing cold of thirty-below chill factor. 
      Can this quarry even be called a cliff?  Does this 450 ft. tall scar count as a climbing area, a place where you don't go near the steep areas of rock for fear they will fulfill their destiny prematurely by rolling down the cliff over you on their way to the seawalls of Nome, Kotzebue, and other villages?       
           Imagination is needed to climb here.  But once you have made the decision to apply your imagination to this festering junk show, a run up the Cape provides a great climbing workout in a majestic setting, so closely approximating the motions, decisions, and risks of real climbing that it can only be counted as such.

 (above) Lower tier. Forty-five degree, chalk-hard frozen mud. Is this intended as another Monty Python simulated climbing shot?  Not at all, it turns out:  you cannot tell from this photo, but if Mr. Collins were to open his hands, his feet would begin to skid downward with surprising velocity. 

           I went back with Mr. Collins to get good pictures, something lacking in the Thanksgiving Ayasayuk Post due to dead batteries that day in the now-legendary Canon ProShot, the camera that spent the entire summer lying in the tundra in Tyler's driveway but still functions;  picture-taking in these photos was hampered by extreme allapa.  Did I mention it was cold?  Great streaks of gangrene it was cold!  
       The other reason for going back for another climb of the Ayasayuk was to straighten out the original Thanksgiving line, which zig-zags a great deal due to confrontations with death beetles of  trigger-happy batholithic bullshit, combined with horizontal access roads wide enough to drive  large excavators across the face of the cliff.  Mr. Collins and I should have bypassed Cape Nome altogether that day and driven 60 miles down the Norton Sound to the cliffs and ice-flows of Topkok, a journey possible in the comfort of our heated town trucks because of unusual freeze-up conditions.  But the TOWN GLUE was thick, we were losers, and we didn't go.  We settled for a repeat of the fun route on the Cape.

(above) Lower Ice Dribble, Middle Tier.

     Tried to put in screws, but the ice was cold, and they were the dirt screws— not the sharpest screws in the shed.  The first move onto the ice solicited an inelegant mantle onto a tool that, according to the Law of the Hardest Move, might give the pitch an overall rating of WI3 though it really be WI1. In truth, the whole climb felt rather like a Class 4 scramble, except that the entire medium is so weird and shattered and improbable that the only rating one could ascribe to this climb would be to invent a Cape Nome Dirt Scale specific to 2012 and use the climb itself as the one benchmark to measure itself relative to its own group of one. 

(above and above) Upper Ice Dribble. 

      Though not strictly necessary, we wore the rope between us the whole way, feeling vaguely as if we were enrolled in some groovy, therapeutical, human bonding class.  We set up anchors and went over sequences and pretended it was real climbing, even though it was.

(above) Upper dirt pitches.

    The upper dirt pitches is where I had dreamed Jeff and I could make a big splash and push the very frontiers of low-angle dirt climbing.  But the day was simply too cold for any dicking around.  I straightened out the line a bit by stair-casing it up a little rock ramp above where the ice comes oozing out, but it warn't nothing we didn't simul-climb.  There is something pleasurable about the continuous movement of crab-walking over steep mud in ice climbing gear.  Soon we were at the rim feeling like we had climbed something, though we weren't sure what.

       What has not been mentioned is the constant, pulsating force of the natural beauty exuding from our surroundings, the white desert ocean stretching to the horizon at the ice edge, the abrupt angles created by the quarry face, the buzz of SINH TALA exuding from the exploded pores of the Earth...  I apologize for not doing more research on the industry of this fascinating site.  I have so many questions.  How do they plan the excavation?  Just what causes these frozen waterfalls?  Has the quality of gneiss changed over the years.  Who works here?  What are their terms for each little thing?  Who draws the hieroglyphics on the boulders?  And will we be arrested for climbing there, and Kigsblog used against us as evidence?  Leave comments....

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