[Tweeters] (My) World's Largest Icicle

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Sat Dec 6 18:06:49 PST 2014

Off topic? Well, sort of - but in a world without icicles, would we have the Ptarmigan, or Rosy Finch? I think not.
In our recent Puget Sound "snow event", my mom was excited to point out a big icicle hanging off the corner of the house eave here in Port Townsend. An icicle in our maritime climate is a kind of exciting happening here in the lowlands. This one was a real whopper - about a foot long.
I guess it's a matter of perspective really. Behind the icicle, looming off in the distance, was the silhouette of Tahoma (aka Mt. Rainier). Eyeballing the icicle and mountain together, I would say , based on knowing that Tahoma is 14,410 ft tall (or it used to be), that the icicle here at my folks house was approximately thirty thousand feet long.
Of course, being an intellectual, with experience and all, I know that's not true. It did remind me of the largest icicle I've ever seen though, right there on the Mountain.
Way back in the early 70's I had the privilege of working on Tahoma for three summers. One year I was up at Camp Muir, the climbers camp at 10,000 ft on the mountains south flank. Camp Muir is really sort of a minimalist place. The environment - rock and snow, pretty much. Not a lot going on.
So there I was, examining the gnarly face of Gibraltar Rock, the giant chunk of resistant stone that is prominent above Camp Muir.If you've been to Paradise on a clear day, you've seen it. Right near the top of the Rock is a huge overhang. When I say huge, it's hard to quantify, because Tahoma is a real challenge of human perspective. The Mountain is a massive entity (with a huge voice, which, if you've ever heard it ,is hard to forget).
Anyhoo, with my binoculars, I was scanning Gibraltar, and noted gigantic icicles hanging from that big overhang. The scale of the mountain - where climbing hominids, even viewed through binoculars , seem mite sized - made it hard to know the size of these icicles, but the largest had to have been at least 4 feet in diameter and twenty five feet long, just based on being visible at all from a mile or so away.
Now, I can't prove that, because as far as I know, I was the last nature nerd on earth to see that largest honkin' icicle. As I was watching, the Mountain, with a wink, released that big icicle right at the base. My natural response was to drop my binocs to see the fall, but it was too far away to see without them.
Jeff Gibsonnaturalist at largein Port Townsend Wa

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