One of our guests during the Thanksgiving holiday here in the states actually let me talk his ear off about Alaska and I even brought out the scrapbook. Among other things, I told him about a curious find I made while scrambling up Ptarmigan Peak outside of Anchorage, just off the Power Line Trail.
Well above the scree, as high on the choss as I felt I could climb, I found a bone. It was over a foot long and clearly from an animal’s limb. Because where I found it was so steep, it wasn’t clear how it had gotten there. The bone looked only slightly weathered, so it probably hadn’t been there for long.
We talked about some theories. My favored one places the animal on the ridge I later used to get higher on the peak, where it fell off or even died and it’s parts later came to rest on this ledge. The tarn at Ptarmigan Pass is right below about a thousand feet, where almost everything flows into a loose pile of broken stone, where the rest may have landed. It makes good bar room conversation.
But something a little more interesting caught my eye when I read Alpinist 37 last winter. The cover photo was fascinating: It is recognized as one of the oldest photos of K2, and it’s owner makes a solid case that it is the first photo of K2 ever.
Keese Lane did a brief write-up for Alpinist‘s High Camp newsletter about how this image arrived on the cover of 37. My curiosity has taught me that this story is just a starting point. The rest of the story is a bit bigger and a good one about climbing history.
As a related note, preserving these images and artifacts like this one of K2 is important. It inspires people like you and me to not only explore our mountains but also our libraries and other collections.
It’s also interesting to see what triggered the so-called “tipping point.” I’ll fill you in more later. For now, have a good rest of your week and check out that note from High Camp.