Saturday, November 9, 2013

Mt. Brynteson Southwest Ridge

     Mt. Brynteson, more hill than mountain, behind the Rock Creek Mine, down the seven-million wilderness-destroying Boondoggle Road, wafting through layers of fog, last Sunday afternoon.  Cool place, maybe, for a hard-up junky searching for an icy crumb.  The real fun not to be had up on the hillside in the couloirs and quartzite ribs, but down below, searching between the mountain and the road, in the mining ruins, for smidges of ice among the folds and tailings that have been worked over for a hundred years of Nome's mining history. 
(above) MineCraft Falls.  A weird scene inside the gold mine, a bubble of reality embedded in deep fog, a pod of hallucination, somewhere east of Glacier Creek Road, west of Nome River.
(above) The mighty Minecraft, perhaps the height of two men.  Nevertheless, in the act of mantling onto ice tool many inches off the deck, that "yur gonna die" feeling, when the whole mass felt as if peeling away from the sheeting right down on top of me, leaving mangled bones sticking out like the kind you see on youtube. DO NOT DAMAGE PROPERTY LAW maintained with no punctures in the rubber, fortunately, thanks to high volume of beautiful ice.

     Southwest aspect of Brynteson steep as a Cairngorm facing into those big sou'westers coming in off the Bering Sea:  plenty good place to hunt for rime or verglas in the late Fall, if one can get up the 7 Million Porkway that late in the season inside one's nice, warm, planet-killing car.  
     Where Lindblom Creek intersects the road, up to the southwest ridge of Brynteson, classic fell walking with hugely-satisfying side-excursions onto crumbling quartzite smegma-piles carpeted with frozen tundra, old rock crampons on and off big clunky expedition boots. Hero poses off old-kind Black Diamond Cobras sunk well and deep in dirt.  Continuous movement in and around gullies, snowfields, and even the occasional actual cliff.

(above) Naively conjecturing quartzite, southwest flanks of Brynteson cliff detail.  Possibly climbable without fear of total squishage, not much more attractive than it appears.

    My first attempt on the hillock of Brynteson with Isis and Jo-Jo, those good dogs, back when they were still alive, with Isis in skijor setup so she wouldn't go chasing the first hoof to come along.  Six miles over crust from the Bypass Road.  Denied the summit by a prodigious herd of Oomingmak (Musk Ox) who would not under any circumstances relinquish the rounded summit so that myself and my dogs might stand upon it for a moment.  Fog and furious wind that day.  Hallucinated voices.
      Several ascents since then, including the one in this post, and this one: Avalanche on Mt. Brynteson.  Fast way to the summit up Lindblom Creek / Southwest Ridge, like last Sunday. Trails everywhere.   
(above) Raina, Kristine, and Isis, BITD.  Isis, legendary KigsDog, gone on two separate occasions for four and half days each time in the central Kigluait Mountains during late-summer, necessitating many trips down the Kougarak Road on school nights searching in the willows of the Sinuk until pitch black, Isis skewered on a willow by her dog pack, her intestines slowly eaten out by foxes.  Also, a barfing ride in Paul Mallory's homebuilt Super Cub searching for dog from banked plane.  Dog found both times at the Mile 29 gravel pit, fat and happy, looking quite satisfied with herself.

(above) Trespassing?  Bering Straits Native Corporation?  Don't know...  just oblivious white dude with pocketful of Powerbars not bothering to read regulations, or even history of a place, full of himself and nothing more than movement over tundra, rock, ice and snow.  Also, haunted by memory of a time before the road into the Snake River Valley, no worry of trespassing.  So, now a feeling of privilege rationalized by righteous indignation giving the right to claw and scratch over this piece of land.

   The Brynteson couloirs.  Moments of climbing, the minimum one could ask. Look down beneath triangle of legs, a pair of frontpoints embedded in steep frozen turf, nothing but mist behind.  Whack!  Mantle. Thud!  Scuttle.  In denial of protruding youtube bones suddenly realizing. Effervescence of adrenalin.   Enough to keep the rat alive, barely.  Another crumb of climbing in Beringia.

(above) Lucy in the Fell a Sunday ago.

     Franklin L. Johnson, gold miner, Nome stampeder, native of Vastra Gotaland, late of Wisconsin, hiking out back of Bergstrom's Gulch in the Fall time somewhere in the Nome diggings, 1911.  New creepers on his boots forged in Minnesota.  Forced to sit down to take the creepers on and off, a time-consuming process picking at the leather straps.  
   "Mt. Brynteson, eh?  Well, I knew the man misself, 'n I don' see why they'd name a mountain after 'im."  Old scrap over a boundary, a shot dog, Swede things nobody else understood. "And Lindblom, for all dat!" screamed to the creek below. 
     Idea.  See if the creepers will work on that steep sod there. Whack!  Thud!  "Goldsteigen!"  Just like his one guided climb in the Alps, frozen mud.  Thoughts of the day on the Grossglockner with Fehrmann.  Johnson's oily gloves clapped on knobs of rock, creepers holding well in solid patches of frozen sod.  Patch of sunlight appearing across the watching valley on Twin Mountain.  
     "Damn!"  Busted spike, bent metal.  So much for the new creepers...     
  (above) All the fun hunting for the ice among the folds. View from the pathogenic car, Glacier Creek Road, Sunday, November 3, 2013.