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 A Fat Old Lady Takes up Climbing
Summer 2000
Part 2

The situation had changed markedly the second time I climbed Flattop. Most of the snow had melted, the trail had been renovated, and I guess I was in a little better shape (although no thinner.) This time I romped up and down in 2 hours, 40 minutes, including some snack and exploring time at the top. The summit was in a cloud, so there wasn't any view, but thick fog gave the place a surreal ambiance, and a sensation of remarkable solitude. There was no wind.
Mount Marathon in Seward is the site of a bizarre race every July Fourth. I have seen the bruised and bloodied participants on the news every year, but nevertheless wanted to climb the mountain myself (taking my time, of course.) Following a couple weeks of rain, the "up" trail was slippery with mud and overgrown with Devil's Club. Mosquitoes and biting flies added to the experience. Once I got above the tree line, the climbing was easier. I went to the end of the trail on the gravel dome but didn't summit. Nobody that I saw climbing that day went to the summit, and, oddly enough, that doesn't seem to be the goal, just the gravel dome. On the "down" trail, the gravel gives way under a climber's feet, but offers a surprisingly soft landing for falling, so I ran the top portion, and took my share of spills. The real problems were further below. I looked in vain for something called the "safety trail" that allows a climber to avoid a shear rock wall at the bottom. No one was around when I reached the rock wall, so I don't know how it's supposed to be done, but I'm pretty sure I didn't do it right. I inched my way down the wall to a precipice not far from the bottom, and then fell from there. I picked myself up to discover that I was not badly hurt, just a few scrapes and bruises. My pants were torn and I was soaked through with mud, making me very glad that I had brought along a complete change of clothes. Marathon is not on the list of mountains I'd like to climb again, but I'm happy I did it once.


Other Climbing vistas:
1. Flattop, The Butte, Exit Glacier

3. Bird Ridge & Rendezvous Peak
4. Byron Glacier and Autumn on Flattop