Wednesday, March 12, 2008


"Long, blue, spiky shadows crept out across the snowfields, while a rosy glow, at first scarce discernible, gradually deepened and suffused every mountain-top, flushing the glaciers and the harsh crags above them. This was the alpenglow, to me one of the most impressive of all the terrestrial manifestations of God. At the touch of this divine light, the mountains seemed to kindle to a rapt, religious consciousness, and stood hushed and waiting like devout worshipers."
-John Muir, "A Near View of the High Sierra"

I took a bike ride around the city this evening to celebrate the newly-saved daylight after work. Right before sunset, I rode through Bayside and found a newly-resurgent Bayside Glacier, bigger and more sublime than ever.

With this winter's near-record snowfall, the glacier - which is in essence a frozen pile of stormwater runoff - has actually spilled over to the vacant block east of Chestnut Street, where a smaller snowfield (foreground above) now grows.

Unlike last winter, this year's glacier has company in the form of new high rises going up one block north on Marginal Way. These projects forebode a time when glaciers will no longer grow here: this week, the city of Portland agreed to negotiate with three developers who intend to replace future glaciers with office buildings and housing.

But before the sun sets and the glacier melts away, this evening there was still time for an urban mountaineering expedition. I chose the easy eastern route.

Above: approaching the summit at 30 feet above sea level. I stopped here to acclimate and snap a photo.

A self-portrait from the summit, looking down the western arête. Luckily I'd brought my bike helmet, just in case I fell into a crevasse.

The steep western face (a technical climb) and the view towards downtown.

For a glimpse of the glacier's near future, check out this May 2007 expedition.


Turboglacier said...

Fantastic first ascent, man! You should write it up for publication in "Appalachia".

Jessica said...

In today's (march 25's) Science Times, there is an article about carbon footprint feedback loops that you would really like. Make sure you make it all the way to the end of the article.