Thursday, February 26, 2009

More webcam fun from Alaska

While you're waiting for Mount Redoubt to erupt (it's currently code Orange, one notch below "it's erupting right now"), you might wander over to the Alaskan Alpine Club and check out their ice tower. I say "might" because I'm not sure whether their camera is broken
Something has gone awry. We will send the web camera team over to the ice shack to inspect it, fiddle-around and homdihoom awhile, ah, soon.
or there just isn't an ice tower this year
The Ice Tower Committee adopted a proposal to sit around this winter and see if an ice tower forms on its own, by supernatural phenomenon, since the local ice climbers have too much ice in the Alaska Range. If not, and if we can find sponsors for the expenses, the committee members will make an ice tower next winter (2009-2010).
Either way, they do at least provide pictures of last year's tower and a link to a similar effort in Sweden.

The concept is simplicity itself: Stick a vertical pipe somewhere. Pump water out of it. If it's cold enough out, say because you're in Alaska or Sweden in the winter, the water will freeze around the pipe, forming a small column. As the column grows big enough to support the additional weight (and the weight of a climber), add another section of pipe. Repeat until the tower is too tall for your water pump, or warm weather sets in, or whenever. Colored water optional. Invite your ice-climbing friends over to enjoy.

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