More Climbing for the Fat Old Lady
|This is a new one to me-- climbing Flattop in November! With all the snow that was up there last month, I was sure my climbing season was over. That's when a warm front moved in and made itself at home. The snow didn't crawl down the mountains into the city of Anchorage as it usually does. Instead, warm winds and rain ate away at the snow in the mountains. In Anchorage, there have been only eight snow-free Octobers on record, and 2002 was the warmest of them all. It was pretty scary getting up to the summit because of the ice on the rocky scramble near the top. Compare the upper left photo (below) with a picture taken last month. In the picture at the bottom , Jascha and I are standing in the windbreak that was completely full of snow last month. (See it last month.) It was windy, cold, and spitting snow up there, not really pleasant. It was a joy to be up there so late in the year though. A Dall Sheep ewe (upper right) added to the experience. Click on that picture to see a closer view. While I was climbing Flattop, a powerful earthquake hit Alaska. It was centered in the interior, but was felt all over the State. I didn't feel it, and no one else up on the mountain mentioned it either.|
Unbelievable. December, and still no real snow in town. Day after day, we have record high temperatures. There was a bit more snow in the mountains today, which actually made the climbing a little easier than last month. The rocky scramble leading to the summit was a snow stairway with firm footing. There were some icy sections on the trail below (especially along narrow sections bordered by sheer cliffs) so I was glad I had ice grippers on my hiking boots. Jascha had a great time romping, digging and rolling in the snow patches. The biggest problem climbing so late in the year is the lack of sunlight. I did feel like I was racing the sun down, and the sun won the race. In the upper left picture (below), I'm looking at a beautiful sunset (visible in the frame below that), but I don't know what my dog is seeing. The upper right view shows the windbreak, which was full of snow, in spite of the nearly barren ground around it. Below that, you can see the snowless city down below the mountains. (You can click on any of the small photos to see them full sized.)
Since I have this extra page to fill, I thought some of you might enjoy seeing some of the moose that are abundant in the city of Anchorage, and throughout the state. This collage has some of the moose I've photographed this past summer and fall. Click on the lower right photo for a big view of the young bull I saw last week while hiking along the Powerline Trail. He was unconcerned about the group of hikers standing around on the trail, admiring him.
Dall Sheep ram by Turnagain Arm, seen New Year's Day, 2004