Alaskan Alpine Club
This somewhat isolated page is waiting for the new photos of the 05-06 ice towers, when more water freezes in the far frozen north.
4 February 2005 through 6 March. The close-up photos are on Ice Wall 4. And the next photos on Ice Wall 5, Ice Wall 6, Ice Wall 7, if you can imagine that.
For those inquiring, the artist's email address is dredge2 at gci.net , written that way to thwart the spam email address programs looking for more email addresses. The spammers are getting almost as bad as government.
Big John Reeves, the ice artist.
Photo by Maria Reeves.
Okay, so the color tech figured out how to take his own picture with his fancy digital camera, and wanted to see himself on the internet. Okay.
He kept taking pictures until his fingers got cold, on 4 Feb, and selected this one.
He failed to get up the ice 4 Feb, to put more color on it, but we humor him anyway.
Well, or course that is a nose muff on his nose. The nice modern fancy synthetic soft stuff, instead of the old crocheted wool yarn thing. Exposed flesh freezes in seconds, you know.
4 February. 107 feet high. So the ice looks just like it did on 1 February, on account as it has remained too cold to climb to the top to add more pipe, but we got this great new banner, made by Apocalypse Design, and we wanted to show it off. The pic is from the road. It is what the cars and trucks see, and maybe their drivers. We tested which drivers were paying attention to the road, by sitting in the tunnel entrance near the bottom of the ice, and waving. Most of the drivers waved back.
The reason the unique Apocalypse Design gets orders from around the world, for the most advanced and innovative cold weather sewn products, is because they continually receive the most extensive information for such products, and they live where the products are used. They were Alaska outdoor adventurers right from the get go. So fellow adventurers, including Alaska Range winter mountain climbers, ice cave explorers, polar researchers, North Slope oil workers, Iditarod and Yukon Quest dog mushers, and such interesting sorts holding an imperative to minimize screw-ups out where screw-ups have more dramatic consequences, make all manner of outrageous demands for the impossible, to optimize product designs beyond what warm weather companies understand.
So it was 30 below on 4 Feb, and still too miserable to climb the ice, on account as we are gentlemen climbers, preferring our ice either warmer or in whiskey.
So this time, to get up the ice the easy way, we tried to shoot a line over the top, with a compound bow, perceiving it to have more oomph than the crossbow. It did not. We failed miserably, again. So we played around the bottom for awhile, and slinked away.
But we posted the pictures below, because the photographer said he would otherwise chain the web slave below an icicle that was getting longer. We need the web slave, because he is a lot cheaper than a web master.
Yes, it is the Great White Toothed Ghost Raven, at least for awhile.
That is real Ghost Raven breath. We toss up a can of Altoids before we climb.
We found some bones, feathers, a climber's helmet and part of an airplane wing at the bottom of the ice. Tell no one.
Now what? I got an email from a guy in Yakutsk, central eastern Russia, who sent a picture that looks even more like the crossbow bolt we used on the Ice Wall 3 page. Not only that. He sent a map with a vector analysis of the shot, and after glancing off low orbit, deflected a bit be the current jetstream, the bolt would have come down right where he said it did. No excitement resulted. It landed near some students on a college campus. They were philosophy students, who, he says, benefited by wasting as much time as they are still wasting, trying to figure out what he did not tell them that he already knew about the thing. He has been checking the club website because he is an art student who gets sculpture ideas from websites that he thinks his sculpture instructors will not encounter. Glad to help fellow artists.
7 February. The ice is 111 feet, 7 inches high. There is 110 feet of pipe.
Yesterday it warmed up to 5 below, so we got 10 more feet of pipe added. The ice was still cold and brittle. I was still curious about using the crossbow to get a rope over the top.
Several attempts with the crossbow offered an amusing array of results. The wind shifted on one shot, and the line went over the tip of the Ghost Raven's beak, hanging past its teeth on both sides. The raven grinned. I decided to shoot for another spot. On another try the rope would not pull through a little ice V in the tip of one of the Ghost Raven's horns. One time the crossbow bolt just disappeared in the ice at the top, maybe down into the sil, ah, in a crack somewhere. I could not see it on the other side, but I pulled it up a long way before it came over the top.
I fiddle-farted with a lot of different nylon threads and cords, but I finally got a rope pulled over the top. Climbed it with Gibbs ascenders. The nozzle head was completely enclosed in a hollow, big enough for a few people having a party. Come to think of it, there were suspicious tracks in there. A bit moist from all the water, but that was quickly cured by leaving the door open awhile. After chopping my way into the hollow, I chopped a hole in the ceiling to add the pipe. Total so far, 110 feet of pipe. I added some blue dye.
One can sit and listen to the ice crack and pop. Some of the pops are frighteningly loud. The others are just frightening, especially while on top chipping ice away from the pipe. The sculpture may be alive. Made with a maze of mostly connected icicles, the different settling, compression and temperature induced density changes, routinely cause cracks, which then compress together again within a day or so, with the weight of the ice. The floor of one room along the tunnel was another foot higher from water that came in and froze. Not a bad idea to clean the floor for a party. Flood it and leave the door open.
The closer you park, the less you have to walk to reach the top.
John was going to drive to the top, but GMC does not yet offer tire crampons on its options list. Somebody talk to those folks.
Again? This response about the crossbow bolt that disappeared on the Ice Wall 2 page, would be suspicious if the guy had not emailed such a detailed picture of it, that could only be produced from the actual bolt or a sophisticated computer enhancement of the website photo. He told an outrageous story about where the crossbow bolt came down, and what it hit, and what therefore happened. I would print the story, but if the US Homeland Security Gestapo or any of the dozens of other federal police-state agencies find out, I could get charged for the cost of an entire US Army Bradley tank and 27 rounds of 90 mm tank ammo, plus shipping charges to Iraq. I better wait another decade until the Washington DC boys limp out of that quagmire. The guy who told me what happened, also sent pictures of his office, in a deep bunker, way deep, deeper than the largest US bunker buster bombs can reach, or so he says in the name of God. Really plush office. A picture of George Bush on the wall, in a round frame. The guy said he would wipe my finger prints off the crossbow bolt, and use it for something surprising. He knew its origin because his organization's computer system monitors every website that the countless over-funded US spy agencies monitor, so he was alerted to the club website early in the game, and he says he knows what is in the ice. He said he would have visited us, but his guys stopped digging the tunnel to Fairbanks when they ran into a maze of fossil mammoth tusks in permafrost. The paths to Fairbanks are fraught with perils.
11 February. 115 feet 4 inches. And we added 10 more feet of pipe, for a total of 120 feet of pipe. A pleasant 5 below 0 F.
Used the crossbow to shoot a line over, which took a few tries because the thin line snagged and broke.
But the other guy, in the picture, who led a route, was at the top before the guy on the crossbow-established top rope got to the top. Fact is, the second on the lead climb route was at the top too. The top rope route was a bit more vertical, including perilous overhangs, and three or four other standard excuses for slow climbing, well known among climbers. The tool placements were stripping down between the brittle icicles. The cave part way up had to be explored. It goes all the way through the ice. The climber on the top rope used a Soloist self belay device.
The Ghost Raven's beak, to the upper right of the climber, is wider, with more teeth. There are some fearsome sights within the beauty of the Ghost Raven.
The Ghost Raven now sticks up well above the high bank on the back side, so it is visible from other places in the Goldstream valley. Rather impressive.
I gotta another email about the crossbow bolt. Sose I got suspicious. First I will tell you what the email said...
The Nigerian Assistant Minister of Information, who is apparently the wife of a recently assassinated Army Colonel who says he must remain anonymous, emailed me to say the crossbow bolt came down in the Assistant Ministry courtyard, which is enclosed by coils of razor wire to keep people off the grass. At first the staff thought it was just the usual afternoon rebel attack, but then noticed the quizzical red colored rod laying among old shrapnel. They sent it to be analyzed by the Nigerian Ministry of Analysts. One of the analysts had previously been assigned to monitor the AlaskanAlpineClub website, and certain other ter, ah, interesting sites linked thereon, for obvious reasons. He recognized the thing before they got it entirely out of the special lead plated radiation hazard container. The budget for that monitoring program finally produced a result. The Minister Assistant offered to return the bolt, along with 25 million US dollars in cash, in unmarked duffel bags, previously expropriated by the aforementioned colonel who was the liaison for US oil contract accounts, which she said she would split with us if I would deposit the money in my bank account and first send her the account number. I could use the money, but I don't think she really has the crossbow bolt.
So I did all the computer things that gotta be done to check the number of hits this website has been getting, on the server data thing. I have not checked that in a year or more, because I do not believe any website statistic that any computer has ever generated. In the last few months the average daily hits on this website went from a few hundred, to a number so big, with so many digits, that I am gonna wait a couple months to see if it weren't a mix-up with one of those websites done by a web master. There should not be that many people taking that much time off from the effort to overthrow their governments, that is, unless they are climbing ice.
13 February. 121 feet high. 36.88 meters
The back side looks shorter because the base is higher because that is where the first broken sprinkler head sprayed a lot of water, and where the ice came crashing down before we started again with the new nozzles.
I was delayed in a line of cars pulled over on the road, each taking pictures of the ice. Some of the drivers therefore seemed upset with their cars, but with the new hidden digital camera lenses installed in the new halogen lights of most cars, and the cars controlled by computer chips, when the car wants to stop and take pictures of something, the driver just has to wait.
16 February. 126 feet high. Added 10 more feet of pipe. 130 feet of pipe total.
That is the night view from the road. The resulting rumors are starting to reach the ragged fringe of the already ragged Alaska fringe.
Yes, that is a red strobe light on the top. It was requested by an extra terrestrial senior airspace coordinator. Something about it having a close encounter of some kind, apparently too close, or of some significant kind.
It is said that this thing is now taller than the tallest building in Fairbanks. And that is the least that is said.
I tried the crossbow trick again, and again, and again, and ended up having to climb the ice.
Okay, so the night photo is of 17 Feb, 127 feet high, with the strobe light inside a day's worth of ice, so it is magnified and more noticeable. Really cool.
23 February. 136 feet high. Added 10 feet of pipe. 140 feet of pipe.
If I'd ah knowed it were gonna get this high, I would not have been so impressed back when it was not so high.
This thing may not be 136 feet from the highway. Some of the passing cars hug the opposite side of the road, and drive fast
The red flashing light is buried somewhere in the ice. Now we have a yellow flashing light. We will get them back in the spring, or summer.
Oh, I got the crossbow-line-over-the-top trick to work. So I ascended the rope, which means that the other two guys got to climb the ice, with a top rope. Climbing ice is more fun than climbing rope.
The fueling and countdown teams have met to start their planning process. A UN inspection team stopped by, but we did not let them look inside, and they were satisfied that the involved technology did not contradict UN nuclear export licensing and treaty requirements, so far.
25 February. 141 feet high.
Yeah, we added a bit of yellow dye last time.
Warm days these days, melting a bit on the sun side during mid afternoon.
2 March. 144 feet high.
The other climbers did not show, motley lot that we are. So I tried the crossbow trick again, with a new fishing line. On the first try the line tangled. Second try launched just when a breeze wafted through. The bolt went directly over the top. The line drifted completely clear of the tower, and settled on the snow at the bottom. On the third try I compensated for the breeze, at the same moment it stopped, of course. The line fell clear of the tower, on the other side. That was enough for that trick. I was not enamored with solo climbing the thing. Overcast day. 5 degrees above 0. Brittle ice. No chocolate. So I took some more pictures in the caves, that I put on the Ice Wall 4 page.
Maybe we will add more pipe this weekend.
Oh, after a couple weeks of homdihooming on the subject, we have concluded that the tower is undeniably leaning a bit to the left, from the road view with the black banner in front. There is visible evidence of compression near the bottom on the left, and expansion on the right. Ice is plastic in nature, and deforms slowly. Should be interesting.
3 March. In response to comments; while it is entirely possible, because we do not have any remote sensors or cameras in the labyrinth of caves, tunnels, voids and icicles lacing the tower, so far we have seen no indication that the leaning effect is caused by the efforts of the ice elves, frolicking frost fairies, and northern gnomes industriously altering the structural engineering. Some local residents are rumored to have recently seen an arctic woolly cave troll by one of the nearby permafrost tunnels, but cave trolls are too large to get into the ice tower tunnels, and their smell is noticeable. We will be more vigilant and post any information we stumble upon.
3 March, again. And next I got an email from a Russian, with obvious international connections, indicating an official discussion in Pizza Italy, among certain officials of church and state, expressing concern that if the Leaning Ice Tower of Fox reaches 150 feet, considering its color and beauty, and the incentive it might offer other people in the world to make their own Leaning Towers of similar attraction, which may lessen the prestige of the Pizza Leaning Tower, a contingency plan has been made, involving a little known Italian satellite on a polar orbit, that may be implemented for the purpose of their plan. Okay, so don't nobody else make one of these hummers, or at least do not let it lean, so as to not stress the Pizza guy. I notice that the Leaning Tower of Fox is leaning in the same direction as the Pizza tower on the post card. At least there is no crossbow bolt report from the other Leaning Tower.
6 March. 147 Feet. We added 10 feet of pipe. 150 feet of pipe total. The photo is before we added the pipe
You will notice a broad top. We had not added pipe for 11 days, due to the usual excuses.
But today a lot of climbers were going to show up, because we scheduled the function when everyone could be there. Yeah. First I tried the crossbow trick, four times. I now have a bunch of snarled fishing line, the fancy new stuff that cost a lot. So much for the crossbow trick, again. A photographer showed up. Then a climber on crutches arrived, the good crutches, with ski pole baskets and carbide tips. The usual local modification among climbers. Then another climber, with her camera instead of ice tools.
So it was up to me and the guy on crutches. Typical Fairbanks climber scene. If it were not crutches, it would be something else. Well, this was not an ordinary crip. He has a bit of a local reputation. He put one crampon on, dropped his crutches, got on his hands and knees, used his ice tools to pull himself up to the vertical ice, and proceeded to lead the climb with one crampon and the other foot in an overboot. I was amused, and followed when he set up a belay part way up. When I got up to him, I had to whine to get the lead. If he had kept the lead, we would have reached the top sooner. The guys with both feet, are twice as lazy.
Oh, those nice bumpy looking things, the cauliflower head ice formations, that look like you can just step on them and walk up the ice, well, you can, but they are too rounded and thin to catch your crampon points with certainty, too separated from the other ice to instill confidence, only connected down a ways at an easily fractured angle, and too much of the same to put in an ice screw for protection, and just have icicles below them. Pretty, but not preferred climbing stuff.
It was a sunny Sunday. 6 to 16 cars pulled over on the road at any one time. My arm got tired waving for the cameras.
But by the time I got back down it was too dark for a good picture. The photographer/climber with all the good pictures of us climbing, said she would send some photos. But she said that last time too. Something about a difficulty getting them onto a transferable format, like onto the dog sled delivering discs across town. We finally get a climber climbing on the ice, wearing some color, and the photographer cannot get the pics to the web slave. Do not waste a perfectly good camera on a climber.
My little jagermeister advertisement blinking red lapel light is up there. A bird flying by real close might see it.
Warm days. A little melting action during the day, so we will see if the ice gets up the pipe, as the days go by.
The leaning action is still noticeable, but slow. Ice do not move so fast.
My gracious comments about our dear and benevolent local newspaper, not unlike my comments about our dear and benevolent National Park Service, were shifted to the Concepts 3 page.
The close-up photos are on the Ice Wall 4 page, on account as the fumble-fingered camera guy keeps taking more pictures of the ice.
04-05 Ice Wall 4
04-05 Ice Wall 5
04-05 Ice Wall 6
04-05 Ice Wall 7
04-05 Ice Wall 1
04-05 Ice Wall 2
03-04 Ice Wall
Other Ice Walls
Climbing Concepts 1
Climbing Concepts 2
Climbing Concepts 3
Mountain Rescue Fund
Wilderness Classic Race
Posters and Calendars