Alaskan Alpine Club
The 2007-08 Ice Tower, Page 6
1 March to 20 March 2008.
1 March Report: The famous local climber, Fred Pratt, arrived with a real camera. Just to get Fred's large file photos on the page the web slave had to shovel pixels out of the images.
So it was a scosh below zero all day in the shade. The nasty wind negated the sun, and then some. Ice was brittle. No volunteers to lead the brittle ice.
So we shot a line over the top, or shot the projectile over the top. The wind took the line off to the south, completely missing the entire broad side of the tower. That was embarrassing.
Next we shot toward the north. The wind took the projectile back over the tower, and the line barely caught the south parapet. Crew member "A" mentioned that he forgot his watch fob in the warm Ice Shack. Can't climb without one's watch fob, you know. Person "B" immediately offered to belay, down in the lee of the ice tower, not in the cold wind. Person "C" was standing there in the wind while A left and B rigged for a belay.
When A got back up to the tower, B was warm in the sun, out of the wind, and C was near the top, flailing at brittle ice in the cold wind. He looked cold. Wind is not your friend when it is cold.
The first camera guy showed up. As he left the second camera guy showed up.
We got us three guys with ice tools to the top. Brittle ice. Slow climbing. Sharp edged dinner plate size slabs of ice broke off at many swings of the ice tools, thereupon falling back down onto the faces of the climbers as usual, with results you can recognize from the description. When a sharp dinner plate of ice hits your face, it really, really hurts, but there is nothing you can do while hanging on to the ice tools, but the ice conveniently diminishes the blood flow. It is always amusing for the top belayer to watch the climber come into view over the last ice bulge. We told our colleagues who did not show up, that we had fun. Brittle ice. Nasty cold wind.
Nice place at the top of the north parapet, and a wide walkway to the south parapet. The north end was the object, to add more pipe.
We chopped and we hacked and we bashed the ice and we chopped some more. We calculated where the nozzle head should be down in the ice. There were differing opinions. The camera guys left. One of the climbers had to leave on account as his wife can climb ice too so he did not want to jeopardize too many of his next climbing opportunities by hanging out too long on this one. We scratched our heads and calculated all sorts of calculations in regard to our failure to find the nozzle head while water was spraying out on the other side of the ice, and we heard water gurgling in there somewhere.
Late in the afternoon the ice choppers had a narrow 8 foot deep trench hacked down through the hard ice, across the top of the ice tower, and were noticeably puzzled. One of the guys said he was going to carefully maneuver over to the side where water was coming out of an ice wing, lean out and try to look back down the hole to see if he could see the nozzle head.
He leaned out and looked into the hole. Through the face full of water, he was looking at the nozzle head right next to the surface, way out on one side of the ice where it was not supposed to have been. Well, that has not happened before.
Near as we could calculate, with proper metric conversions, the water running back down the pipe had melted out enough of it that it started leaning and then melted a groove through the ice to end up at the surface on the webcam side. That certainly explained what we thought was an odd crack in the ice where the pipe should have been.
We looked around for volunteers to add pipe out over the void, extending further out over the void, and finding none, concluded that the north parapet (on the right), was as high as it was going to get in 2008. But we left the water flowing, to see what would build up on the side.
We looked at the south parapet, and at the watch with the fob, and the thickening ice crust over us and the rope, from the water spraying from the south parapet. About the time a icicle broke off the end of the other guy's nose, and blew over the far side of the tower, we decided to rap off with a sufficient air of authority to fool everyone else not there that the mission was accomplished, by decree.
Oh, we added a new blinkin red light to amuse the FAA and any curious pilot wondering what that big white thing is over there.
A web cam grab of one of the climbers standing in the wind warming his fingers while the other guy was down in the slot chopping ice, while the nozzle head was to the right side of the climber on the camera side of the tower top.
6 March: (no photo) The north parapet pipe bent enough to break it at a coupling 30 feet down from the top. The spray opened a large cavern on the back side. The water cut through the layers of colored ice, creating a beautiful visual effect up in the cavern.
That put an end to the north parapet water flow. It has been shut off. The castle guard on the more vulnerable north parapet was doubled. Naughtagauls were seen circling.
The north parapet was assailed directisimo from the bottom, over-run, and the south parapet taken.
Pipe was added to the south parapet.
The expedition force retreated and rapped back off the north parapet.
John the ice artist added color.
And whiskey was poured in the Ice Shack.
Yet another success in the far frozen north.
Thanks to the folks who sent the web cam images.
John the ice artist thanks those folks in Jackson Mississippi, California, Edinburgh, Matsumoto and some place in Cyberspace, who emailed their appreciation of the ice tower. John enjoys making interesting art for interesting people.
The Ice Crew explored the ice caves. There are icicles in there, and things not fully described.
No, the reported crop circle in the willow below the ice tower was not created by space aliens. It was just a local moose wandering around in circles. We watched him from the top of the tower. However, the bizarre glowing stuff on the ramp between the ice tower parapets has no known explanation. Nor does the strange humming sound it makes. What goes on around the ice tower at night is getting stranger, albeit as usual. The mystery about some of the unusual old bones in the permafrost below the tower remains little discussed, for fear of some of the conclusions.
The local ravens flying between Fairbanks and their roosting area north of town, now often fly below the top of the tower, and circle around it.
The new nozzle head included one nozzle that sprayed a larger stream over toward the north parapet, just to see what formed.
An old ice dragon carcass in the tower dungeon, with teeth.
Next page is page 7, linked below.
Climbing Concepts 1
Climbing Concepts 2
Climbing Concepts 3
Mountain Rescue Fund
Wilderness Classic Race
Posters and Calendars
Ice Towers Web Cam
03-04 Ice Tower
04-05 Ice Tower
05-06 Ice Tower
07-08 Ice Tower1
07-08 Ice Tower2
07-08 Ice Tower3
07-08 Ice Tower4
07-08 Ice Tower5
07-08 Ice Tower7
07-08 Ice Tower8
Other Ice Towers