Saturday, May 13, 2017

Oregon Creek Hill

       Broke GLUE-LOCK on early February weekend, Mr. McRae and Mr. Lastine, astride fearsome, belching, two-stroke torpedoes aimed west away from Nome, to climb and ski the mysterious hill at Oregon Creek, "Pk. 1900+", a foothill of some prominence left out of my foothill report from the Winter of 2015.
nome ski snowboard oregon creek snow-machine penny river
Looking up Oregon Creek. Pk. 2900+ in background. Super Smooth Andy G. in foreground.
     Mr. Wind had destroyed our snow even before we got to it. As we dismounted machines and disengaged boards at Oregon Creek, Pk. 1900+ rose bare before us, slopes of snice corrugated by schist chips, once-fluffy snow like we had skied the day before on Newton ABSOLUTELY POUNDED by a continuous blow-holes into a veneer unskiable, at least by an old telly dad with my pitiful skills.
Parts of the old road are still visible and helped us get through the willows to the gulches on snow-machine. Saw no cabins, but lots of remaining ditches on the hillsides
Leonard Lastine snow machine master       The greatest excitement occurred during the snow-machine phase, of course, the most dangerous segment of any trip, when, unbeknownst to my own awareness, I executed the most prodigious jump ever accomplished by myself on my snow-machine (the redoubtable Bearcat, Super Smooth Andy G.) when, purely by accident, I launched off a bare tussock at high speed and sailed 16 feet over a creek. Leonard, following my tracks, wasn't as lucky... his front end went into the creek and he over the handlebars, his face smashed in the process.
        "How is my face?" he inquired.
          Oh no, the wedding is off. It was like that Seinfeld episode where George drops the guy at the Shawangunks. How is his face?
          "Not gushing."
           He examined himself in my phone. Nothing to do but get back on the hogs and GUN IT onwards toward our objective.
Nome Alaska ski Nome Teller Road hill
    Did I mention it was cold? Allapa, allapa, yes, cold as a van of I.C.E. Agents throwing up dust in a carrot field. Since I had never climbed Pk. 1900+ (though it has undoubtedly been well walked-over by members of the Oregon Creek mining community who lived at the foot of it some time last century), I left my skis strapped to Super Smooth Andy, and set out to bag the summit. Leonard couldn't go up because he had neglected to bring his Micro-Spikes, and the snow, which could no longer be deemed snow but simply ICE, seemed really a bit treacherous, take-off-like-a-rocket-on-easy-ground kind of thing.
Nome Alaska hill summit climb ski snow-machine
Shadow selfie on summit.
       "Could this be the mist bootyful somewhat we half ever seen." Just short of a Donald, Pk. 1900+ evinces a pleasing architecture, the ridges like runnels, the kigs-view as encompassing as any hill's, jagged as it is into the big flows of weather that stream across the peninsula between the Norton Sound and Imruq Basin, the very flows that had hardened our ski into an ice climb. 
       With the attainment of this high point, all of my dreams and ambitions had been realized. Buddha-hood, achieved. Ego/Id structure, momentarily stabilized. My self-identity was no longer in doubt for I had become nothing. There lay the Kigs in the near distance to the north. The GLUE TENDRILS simply vaporized into wisps that dissipated in the clear, cold air. 
Nome Alaska Seward Peninsula ski snowboard adventure
One looming question remains. Is Pk. 1900+ the intriguing summit that often pokes up behind the Snake River hills as I am driving home on the Beltz Highway from Nome? The one that sometimes gets mistaken for Osborn because of the way it pokes up? In other posts,, I have attributed this peak as Pk. 1460, the one out by Cabin Rock. So I drew this little map to see if there existed a line of sight poking through the Snake River hills. Thinking now that peak must by 1900+. What an utterly exciting discovery to make in a mundane life of driving back and forth from Nome to home.  

Monday, March 13, 2017

Moon Mountains 2017

Nameless crags of schist by Fairview Creek

It was many and many a year ago
In a kingdom by the sea,
Two Park Rangers and a teacher
Started hiking happily

Toward the Mountains of Moon
Where exactly a year before
They had wandered lost, chilly and cross,
For what seemed like many years more.

Now, to return, and step at last
On the Mountains of Moon,
To reach the barren tundra
Where grey is the tundra's hue,

And hope that the fog racing over the bog
Sweeping up from Woolley Lagoon
Would not suck them again, completely within,
On their way to the Mountains of Moon.

rocks seward peninsula Teller Road Livingston Creek climb
Bouldering of Beringia 
To publish in a blog, the 'tudes of the Moon
Might piss off the corporation--
Not to mention the spirits of the land
That dwell in that sacred location

On a mound from the war, they left their sorry car
And headed southeast towards the Moons,
The season was Fall, Friday the call,
And they figured they'd get there soon.

But the bog was all squishy
And the mountains so far,
They pitched tents in the darkness
Still rather close to the car.

And started hiking by ten when the morning came again,
Keeping on a southwest tack,
Until they got to the cut bank at Fairview Creek
Where each one dropped his pack.

Then past the Cranestock Tors, they hiked
Past Skin Folded Badly Rock.
Just ahead lay the grey tundra bed
They had hiked so far to walk.

Derek, Lucy, and David, with the Cranestock Boulders in background.
And they came to a hutch, between two creeks,
The ptarmigan dormitory,
The birds took to the air, the hikers walked right in there,
Into the tundra food factory.

Bushes to the left, bushes to the right
Bushes above and around;
Fur on the branches, blood in the halls,
And feathers on the ground

Of  little ptarmigan rooms
Where birds hopped through the willows.
The bellhops were all foxes.
Fluffing up the pillows.

The desk clerk was an aklaq,
They saw the poop on the floor,
The three hikers tip-toed on by
Singing on the way out the door.

The doorman was a raven
Hanging with two pals.
His hands were full as he perched on his stool
With a parking lot full of owls.

All day at the buffet, with their families,
The owls were three to a bush;
With all the secondary consumers all around,
The hikers bushwhacked out in a rush.

Three photos of the hike in to the Moon Mountains. We only barely penetrated  to the lunar "playa".  The peak in the distance on the bottom picture is probably the high point of the Moons. I have not found evidence of a rock climbing cornucopia in here. Mostly the rock seems to be degraded piles of rotten marble. 

And they came to a land like the surface of the moon,
Though to the moon they had never been.
Had Qaweraq turned to Nevada?
It could have been Burning Man.

Oh, limestone is a choss rock
It falls down bonk on your head
It has saturated the soil
And turned the red to gray, instead.

No wind on the moon like they had it,
But no less of a lunar cold,
The breeze it did freeze as we hid behind a wall
That had the look of a wall of old.

"So this is all you get, well, I've seen this before, 
In Death Valley And the Bristlecone.
Will it someday be a reserve, all special and preserved,
Or hope they just leave it alone?"

Too far of a way to go
Down the Valley of Shadow
Three hikers turned round, for the Glue of Town,
To come back for the Moon Mountains tomorrow.

To the north into Livingston Creek
The travelers made their way,
An interesting drain that goes against the grain
They wandered the rest of the day.
Proof of climbing: the author, resembling a patch of lichen, is visible dangling from numb hands on another enjoyable highball at the Fairview Creek crags.

At Livingston Creek, a swarm of crags
Came up on the horizon
Lined up on a ridge
Like heads on Easter Island.

The rock was choss, as a matter of course,
A not unagreeable kind.
The vibes were good and it was understood
That there would be time to climb.

I grabbed a jug and hoisted high,
The jug held in its place.
I yarded another, testing the wine,
Just a little taste.

And then great draughts of climbing,
Of cruising over the stone,
Your ass hanging over the land
Out in the great alone.

Jugs with crinkles of lichen
Jams full of dirt and grit
Wearing the desert like clothing
Trying not to fall off of it.

Crack and chimney, crimp and bone,
Clutch on the moss, cling to the stone;
A thousand years is passing by,
A part of the rock you have grown.

Camp at Fairview Creek. Pk. 940 in background.
They walked a circle on the Moon.
It was time to get back to the module.
They got back to their tents at Fairview Crick
And crawled through their vestibule.

Nothing was said, though everyone knew
The three had changed since they began.
This place they had traveled, its mysteries unraveled,
This place where the peninsula ran

Counter to the grain, had taken them in,
This land of playa and fog;
What resonates with beauty becomes beautiful
Felt the hikers and the dog.

The GLUE of TOWN began to come down,
They rose the morrow morn,
Back to the car to go,
Someday to return.

David's record of our hike made by his Delorme, for which I am grateful, because I can't for the life of me ever figure out where we hiked in this region. The area is plagued by electromagnetic anomalies that interfere with my already poor sense of direction. It's as if the Moon Mountains are permanently shrouded in a fog of the mind as obfuscatory as the ones that sweep up from Woolley Lagoon. The jury is still out on which is the shortest way to hike in to the Moons from the road. There is a 4-wheeler road we saw intermittently that covers this same ground. Hopefully, we will return each Fall for our own, lonely, cold, Burning Man celebration. Thanks to David Panepinto for supplying a few pictures and this map. And thanks to Edgar Allen Poe.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016 Greg Stoddard Memorial Yahoo Ski Trip To 3870

Keith Conger and my dog Lucy are but specks in my primitive iPhone 4 as they race down the west face of 3870.
Looking east from 3870, May 7, 2016. Lucy is standing at the top-out of the North Face route.
      The vernal equipose when the roads around Nome are open for driving while the snow yet lingers in the mountains...  Tailgate parties on the Kougarak Road... great convoys of snow-machine trailers lining the shoulders... big gully skis on firn in T-shirts... 
     Time for the Greg Stoddard Annual Memorial Yahoo Field Trip To 3870, our annual ski descent of that most iconic of Teller Road hills, to celebrate both the renewal of Spring and the athletic debauchery of ski mountaineers everywhere, including the arch-powder fiend himself, Stoddard, who departed Nome long ago...
"Solar Sidewalk" Ski Route on Thirty-Eight-Seventy. A strip of drift-snow lingers into May and provides a continuous sidewalk from car to summit. Note the secret parking area north of road, shortly after the Woolly Lagoon sign. The yellow arrow shows where Nils Hahn and I descended a few hundred feet down onto the north face in June of 2004-- any further down the ridge to the east and we would have needed to rappel a hideous cliff.
KigBonus Pic:  Lizzy and Raina ski touring up Grand Central Valley, May 1, 2016