Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Petit Tig

(above) Petit Tig (Pt. 3000+) would be the leftmost peak in the picture.  Then, East Tig, Grand Tig, West Tig, and the Fab Four Tors..  

         THE GLUE OF TOWN seemed fraught with potential complications, but thanks to Nate's machete, escape velocity was seamlessly achieved.  Soon, Nate, Lucy the dog, and I, were piling out of the truck at the good old gravel pit at Mile 29 Kougarak Road, ready for the long slog into Tigaraha in nice hot weather to grab the plumb, six pitch dihedral on the sunny south face of the Grand Tig.
(above) Tigaraha is maybe/probably/sort of located at the "3" on the map, though not labeled so on USGS.  The blue approach is better for an ascent of Tigaraha, but slightly longer;  Nate and I in 2013 employed the red approach, hoping to cross over the divide between Sinuk and Windy at a fourth/fifth class pass just to the south of the East Tig tower—  Thwarted! we were, by lingering summer icefields on the north side of the pass.

          A tight schedule it was, with Nate having to board a Soyuz capsule within 48 hours, so that the pyscho-gravitational influence of the GLUE OF TOWN never entirely abated throughout the trip.  Nevertheless, it was fine to be in the Kigs in the summer with the creeks a-gurgling, and the Plovers a-ploving, with ropes in the sack, and Nate fresh from a season of Leaning Tower and Prow aid solos in the Valley.  
      But, as we slog-o-matically slogged up the upper Sinuk (oh holy Ganges of the Kigluaik), I looked over at Nate, and got this horror-flick image of mangled body, crushed by random Volkswagon of choss, with me the frightened partner-child once again pressing the G-Spot Device that never quite reaches climax.  I had sworn off partners, but here I was in the hanging fields of deathly choss once again, with partner...

      (left) Mylon on the Erratic, 2004.

          Erratic Camp at  Sinuk headwaters is a place where nature has dripped green tundra-whiz over piles of morainal boulders to create a babbling garden of mini-waterfalls and rock-rimmed sleeping pads.  Nate and I settled in for the night, bodies pounded from the unacceptable slog-ratios of the day, minds lulled by the mountain music of water and midnight-sun birds all around.  In the morning, we shouldered torture-loads of climbing gear and began scrambling up thousands of feet of steep ledges above camp to the west.
(above) East TigPass.  Allapa descends in a westward direction from a point at roping up place for East Arete of East Tig, traversing over towards the shadowed dihedral in the background which was Nate's and my original target.  This is a photo by Mikey Lean in 2002. In the conditions pictured here, the East TigPass is easy Class 3 or 4 over to the Grand Tig, but six Saturdays ago, Nate and I were repulsed! by lingering summer icefields which hogged the picture.  Getting to the climb would have necessitated swinging across a choss-loaded WI1 gully on rappel with a hyperactive Border Collie in my sack, then traversing ice slopes with Nate in sneakers, and chopping steps with our carpentry hammers.
(above) Lucy under Singatook.

              It was Tuesday, June 18:  record temperatures that day all over the state. We sat on the crest, our objective slipping away, utterly stupified in the heat.   Finally, bobble-headed, we got up and headed back down the way we came.  The outline of things had grown blurry.  It was too hot for speech.
         We came to a wall that seemed to promise a pitch of climbing.  I tried to lead, but almost instantly got that "Kigs feeling":  the very rock itself is about to exfoliate, no amount of pro is going to save you from cratering or ralstoning, so I rationalized, Nate must be in terrific shape after Yosemite, let's see him try.
          Nate started to lead, but instantly got that Kigs feeling himself:  what had looked like 5.6 from below was indeed 5.6, but the rock so poor that once upon it, your mind notches the difficulty up to 5.9X!   He eventually threaded his way around some patches of solid rock to belay at the base of the summit boulder.  The top of the wall, formed a mighty chariot thrusting out over a 400 foot abyss to the north;  the very tip-top summit block forms a little toilet seat, with the crack cantilevered over tummy-tingling space.  I vaguely remember soloing this airy pinnacle on a bygone hot summer's day, but since I cannot remember the details, the FAULTY MEMORY CLAUSE dictates that Nate and I made the true and established first ascent on June 19, 2013, or at least a second or third first ascent, or at the very least, first concrete ascent that mind can remember.
(above) le Tig petit.  400 ft.  A few moves of fourth/fifth class are required to surmount the apical pinnacle on the back side.  The fourth class hike up the left skyline is highly recommended for those hikers who like to combine bouldering and scrambling in wild high country— and the rock is not that bad.

(above) The amazing Andy Sterns climbing hard at SRC last week. 

Heard you were dead
This is all a dream
Woke up this morning
Rock above, rock above!

Tried to take it all back
All the things we said
But rock was all around
Look out below, look out below!

The people in the village
The darkness lowering down
I'm gonna stay right here
All the night, all the night.

Boatman gonna be here soon
Dripping honey from a syringe spoon
Take us away from the stone and ice
Cause Lord I am so cold, I am so cold...

And when they load me in that chariot
When they fly me over the peaks
I'll say hello to the mountain morning
And know that I'll return, that I'll return.

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