Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Day Trip Up North

After a long weekend at Vegas and then a long work week, I definitely needed an escape.  At first I thought sitting around at my house and just relaxing would be a great way to decompress.  But after Saturday afternoon and watching Wisconsin fall to Michigan, I determined staying in Los Angeles was not going to do the trick.  

So at 7:30PM on Saturday, I decided that a drive to Bishop was in order.  Thankfully, I always keep my backpack packed with all my gear, so 7:45PM I was on the road up to the mountains.  The main idea was to take a good hike and take some pictures.  The weather was forecasting 60's with a 20% of thunderstorms after 11AM.  Perfect!  The drive up was pretty tame, other than the close call of hitting an elk on the 395.  

I arrived in Bishop around 11PM and discovered all the campsites were gated up due to winter.  This surprised me since it wasn't even October, but oh well, I improvise.  With it getting late, I just figured no one was coming around until the morning.  So I slept in the backpackers parking lot at North Lake.  I awoke to 30 degree weather!  If you're jealous, you should be... it was stellar.  I packed up and headed off to Lake Sabrina and started hiking before sunrise.

(Fall colors before sunrise)

The hike started off very well.  I packed my SLR, three lenses, a pop-tart for breakfast, some water and a pump, and a trail map seeing I had no idea where I wanted to go.  After hiking on the main trail around the lake, I decided to do a little bushwacking and see what I could stumble across.

(Aspens bordering Lake Sabrina)

The bushwacking paid off, I came across a stream that was needed.  One, waterfalls are fun.  Two, I needed to pump some water and didn't feel like hiking down to the lake.  So after messing around taking pictures, I figured it was time to get back to the trail and decided where I was headed.

(Stream headed down to the lake)

After looking at the map, I decided to head up and hike 2.5 miles to a lake at 10,500 feet.  Once I got above the tree line, I was glad I did.  The views of the lake were amazing.  Plus the sun felt pretty nice.  After getting into the sun and taking off some layers, I decided to sit near a cliff looking over the lake and eat my breakfast.  Nothing beats a poptart in the mountains, I promise.  After breakfast, I headed up 500 more feet to Blue Lake and looked around.  Nothing too exciting, pretty much a mountain lake above the tree line.  So I decided to head back before the clouds decided to roll in.

(View while eating breakfast)

The hike down, I ran into a few groups headed up the way I came.  Other than that, it was pretty much uneventful.  Took a few more pictures, talked to a couple folks at the trailhead, and just enjoyed the perfect weather.  
(Lake Sabrina)

All in all, very glad I drove up for the day.  Very well worth it.  You can't beat the weather right now and the fall colors are just bursting everywhere.  I really think all should head up there soon to enjoy it!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Gym is Open!!!

Looks who's back! Due to the fact the month of August turned out to be a slow one, I had nothing to report. But I do have one thing to report that has me pretty psyched! After 3 weeks of construction, my climbing gym is finally all up! Minus some holds and one panel, it is stellar! Jugs, crimps, pinchers, and slopers... OH MY!

(The framing)

I'd say the hardest part was putting up the framing.  I think that it would have gone a lot smoother if I would have asked for help, but I lived and learned why I don't make a great construction worker.  But man, my trig skills are solid!  I guess I did graduate as an aerospace engineer and if I was bad at math, we'd all have some problems.

(Final result!)

The gym has three sections.  A twenty degree wall, a forty-five degree wall, and a roof.  There is a traverse that starts at the roof and ends on the twenty degree wall that is definitely hard.  Still haven't able to put it all together in a single try.  

(Time to get in those 100 pull-ups)

I really have to thank Justin Mages for giving me a great deal on all the wood!  And most of the holds are from Contact holds and I've been pleasantly surprised.  Super nice and don't tear up the hands.  Which is good when I climb every night...  

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mammoth Backcountry

After multiple "climbing weekends" it was time for a nice leisurely backpacking trip.  First time in a while where my pack weighed less than 50 pounds and I could hike 3 miles in flip flops!  Right on.  This past weekend, my brother Jeff and I decided to head up to the Rock Creek Trailhead and go hike into the backcountry for some nice camping.  

After hiking three miles in, we decided to camp at Chickenfoot Lake.  We chose this spot because it allowed easy access to Morgan Pass, the Gem Lakes, and Treasure Lakes.  Super pretty lake and we found an old camp spot that had stone benches!  I mean, a place to sit in the backcountry that's not the dirt... STELLAR!  So after setting up base camp, we decided to cook some dinner and decided were to hike Friday morning.  After dinner, we chose to head up to the Gem Lakes and then make our way up to the Treasure Lakes.

(Looking over the map)

 Friday Morning, we got on the trail around 7:30.  We got the Gem Lakes pretty quick and sat around the lakes taking it all in.  To what we could determine, we were the only ones in the area.  After hanging around the lakes for an hour, we spot hikers scrambling up to the Treasure Lakes.  Hm...  "Looks like it could have some fun moves, right on!", I tell Jeff smiling.  He really didn't think he could take me totally away from climbing something.  :)

(Jeff after the 300 foot scramble)

I looked at the map and found a better and less step route for a more comfortable hike.  It was mainly a second class scramble with a section of third class in the middle and end.  Jeff cruised it and we arrived at Treasure Lakes just in time for lunch.  Goldfish and a Cliff Bar...  Yum.  After Lunch and pumping some water, we chose a different route down that followed a stream dumping into Long Lake.  

(Checking out Treasure Lakes)

The Hike down was mellow and the scenes of the lower lakes were nice.  After an hour or so, we arrive back to base camp and decide to chill at the lake for the rest of the day to fly fish and play in the cold water.  

(Hike back to base camp)

After dinner at camp, we decide to head back to the car Saturday morning and head up to Mammoth Lakes to hang around town and grab food.  Plus since we forgot sunscreen, we didn't want to risk getting burned any worse.  Which was a good call on Jeff's part.  

(It's a flower...)

Saturday morning, we got up at sunrise and packed up camp.  The hike back to the car didn't take more than 1.5 hours.  It was nice since we knew breakfast was less than 30 minutes away at the bagel shop in Mammoth.  But before doing the whole food thing, we stopped at a few shops.  I love that town, I think I will move there...  when I am rich that is.  

Overall, the weekend trip was awesome and was nice to get out in the mountains with my brother.  

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Changing the Pace

This last weekend was definitely a change of pace.  The last past weekends have all been pretty solidly booked weekends, not this past weekend.  Friday and Saturday to every ones surprise, I stayed around town.  Rare, very rare.

The main purpose for staying around was due to taking down Justin's climbing wall/going away party on Saturday.  Which all turned out pretty good.  Plus I scored a couple panels so that I can start my own climbing gym.  Psyched!  I have some pretty awesome ideas that will make every night a climbing night.  

At Justin's going away party, Dave started hassling us about climbing on Sunday.  The rest of us were on the edge since the forecast was predicting rain about everywhere Dave suggested.  They were in this order...  Tahquitz, Mammoth, Tahquitz, Big Bear, Mammoth, Tahquitz, etc.  Could you tell he was in a mood for some trad?  Anyway, by the end of the night we all decide to head to Pine Mountain to boulder.  Bouldering... trad... same difference.  :)

(Me cranking it)

Pine Mountain turned out to be a good time.  The climbers that came out were Dave, Nicole, Garrett, Jen, Tana, and I.  It was Tana's first time ever climbing outdoors, so that was pretty rad.  She really seemed to enjoy it and it sounds like we will be seeing her more often at the crags.  We also were told that we were "Ruining the wilderness experience" by some lady smoking a cigarette.  It's amazing how silly people can be.

(Crazy awesome dismount)

Nicole and I went from boulder to boulder hitting up all the V0's we could find.  FYI for ya all, Pine Mountain has a lot of these.  Dave, Garrett, Jen, and Tana wandered off for a bit climbing some other problems around the area.  After moving to another bouldering area, Tana left and we worked on a fun and painful crack problem for the rest of the after noon.  

(Nicole eyeing her line)

After all of us couldn't use our hands, we decided to leave and hit up an Italian country restaurant that Nicole talked highly of.  She didn't let us down, definitely a good place to eat.  After food, we headed back home teasing Nicole the whole way.  Hilarious!  

P.S.  All photos were shot by Dave Smith.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A lesson in Alpine

After a week off from climbing for me, it was determined it was a week too long. So Dave, Seth, and I decided to head up to the John Muir Wilderness and get in some alpine climbing. This was the first true alpine trip for me, so I was pretty psyched. The routes on the weekend checklist were the West Ridge of Mount Emerson and the Southeast Buttress of Mount Humphreys.

(Morning after sleeping under the stars)

The plan was to leave Thursday after work, pick up the permit for Piute Pass in Bishop, camp at the North Lake campground, and then hike up to the base of Humphreys Friday morning. But like all other trips, plans never stay true. What caused the change this time? A nineteen dollar campsite... so as Seth put it, "Screw that... we're hiking!". Let me also mention that it was 11:00 at night. So with the happy thoughts of us saving nineteen dollars, we drove to the backpackers parking lot, grabbed our gear, and headed off on a night hike. After hiking about two miles up to Lock Leven, we decided to crash there for the night. And as it being 12:50 am, we didn't even bother with tents and just slept under the stars hoping it wasn't going to rain before we woke up.

(Dave and I atop Mount Emerson)

We woke up around 6:30 Friday morning and headed up to the pass and then North towards Mount Humphreys. After setting up camp around 12,000 feet, we decided to head off to summit Mount Emerson via the West Ridge. Half way into our hike, Seth started feeling the effects from the altitude and decided it was best to head back to camp while Dave and I pushed on. The route was mostly 2nd class scrambling with some 3rd class in the middle. Views at the top were amazing but visibility was poor due to smoke from all the fires. After taking some photos, we head back and I have my first lesson in alpine climbing. Pushing too hard in the beginning is BAD.

(Me on the Summit of Mount Humphreys)

Arriving back at camp, Seth is still hurting from AS... I am hurting from the decent of Mount Emerson... are we going to be able to climb tomorrow? After Seth downed a whole lot of water and I ate, things started looking up. Saturday we woke up at 4:00 in the morning all feeling great. Tired and cold, but great! Mount Humphreys here we come.

(Seth checking the views)

Mount Humphreys was amazing! The route starts off with 2nd class scrambling leading to 3rd class in the middle. After scrambling 1000 feet or so, we took out the rope for the 5.4 climb. We decided to simu-climb to keep speed. Dave lead while I cleaned and Seth followed. After 3 pitches, we summit! Stellar views at the peak! No clouds, little smoke, perfect weather! After taking some pictures, eating some food, and taking in the views, we chose our decent and got back into camp at 11:00 in the morning.

(Dave scoping the downclimb)

After a quick discussion at base camp, we decided to hike back to the car instead of sitting around camp all day. So at noon, we left on the hike and thirty minutes into the hike, rain... the rest of the hike, rain. We reached the car at 3:00 and an hour later were eating at Famous Pizza in Bishop!

(Mount Humphreys from base camp)

Other than getting stuck on the 395 due to a mudslide and getting back home around 2:30 at night, it was definitely a stellar trip and great climbing!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

4th of July in San Diego

Pacific Beach in the summer is always a wild adventure. But when you are there for a holiday, let say the Fourth of July... it's insane. This was discovered by us this last weekend. Since there was no climbing adventure planned, I decided to head down to PB to stay at my brothers house to hang out. The newly weds (Scotty and Nikki Clark) also came down to San Diego for the weekend.

I drove down Thursday night after an unexpected nap which caused me to leave two hours later than expected. It's all good though, I only sat in traffic twice. Yea-Ya! Scott and Nikki also drove down Thursday and stayed up in Del Mar (better option the PB).

(Del Mar Coastline)

The Fourth started off in perfect form, surfing in Del Mar. Scott, Nikki, Scott's stepdad, and I hit the water and all had a great time. Nikki didn't last long due to a wave incident. And when I say incident, I mean she couldn't get past the breakers. But, she gave it a shot! :) So the three of us surfed for a good two hours in some nice glassy 3-4 foot waves.

(Nikki & Scott re-enacting 'We Did It')

After surfing, I headed back to PB to hit up a party my brother was at. Scott and Nikki joined later in the day after picking up scuba gear. The party was pretty interesting. We learned the technical rules to beer pong, that Scotty knows too much about blow-up dolls, and some folks really get psyched about winning drinking games.

(Burgers on the bay)

After the party, the newly weds and I headed off to Mission Bay to BBQ and watch the fireworks. After Scotty proving that he will never be in charge of flipping burgers or handling cheese, we had some amazing burgers right before the fireworks started. The Fireworks were okay. Not amazing, but they amused us for a good half hour. So that worked well.

(Fireworks over Mission Bay)

Saturday, my brother and I decided to head up to Del Mar and hit the surf. Jeff played in the whitewater for a bit while I messed around in the line up. Waves we 2-4 foot inconsistent and choppy. Nothing like the morning before. Even so, we both had a good time and In & Out made for a great after surfing lunch!

After all of that, I decided I had enough PB for a weekend and decided to head back on Saturday to get home and miss LA Sunday traffic. Sunday I slept all day except for a 1.5 hour bike ride in my backyard! :)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Tuolumne Meadows

As if heading up to the Yosemite area twice in the last month wasn't enough, time for Tuolumne and climb Cathedral Peak, Lembert Dome, and some other random climbs. Cathedral was more Nicole's idea, but I never pass down multi-pitch trad climbing. Neither does Justin and Seth.

We decided to leave Thursday night after work and get into the meadows around 11 at night. This sounded easy at first, but turns out the campsite we wanted to camp at was closed. Hm... campsites must be our crux... :) But after some thought, we got 2 sites in Tuolumne Meadows campsite and called it good.

On Friday, Nicole, Justin, Seth, and I hiked the lovely 1.5 hour approach to the base in the morning. Although I am not a huge fan of approaches, we discovered that Nicole likes to discuss with up some very personal information. So personal, I'll leave it out of this report. Anyways, back to the climb. Nicole and Justin paired together as well as Seth and I. Nicole was set on leading all the pitches while Seth and I decided to switch leads every pitch.

(Nicole Pose)

The climb was pretty fun! A good 5.6, five pitch climb with some super rad views and some pretty fun climbing.

(Seth and I at the 4th Pitch of Cathedral)

Nicole cruised the climb and to my knowledge decided to run it out quite often. Seth and I also did some cruising, but spent a good hour on top taking pictures and just enjoying the views... all while Justin and Nicole were getting eaten up alive by bugs... hehe, sorry!

(The top!)

After getting to the bottom, hearing about Nicole's "near disaster" and seeing Justin's bag destroyed by pack rats, we headed on the 1.5 hour hike back to the car. After returning back to camp, we celebrated with some good brats, beers, and smores over the fire with the rest of the folks that came along for the ride. The others were Garrett, Jen, Sarah, Beth, Tom, Katie, Angela, and Mike. Which I will admit, was a great crowd!

(Seth on top of Cathedral)

On Saturday, everyone but Seth and I went hiking around the valley. We went and climbed Northwest Books (5.6) on Lembert Dome in the morning and then chilled around with Justin and Sarah before heading over to climb Wild Country (5.7) in the afternoon. Wild Country turned into somewhat of an adventure. I arrived to the second pitch to be told by Seth he has cramps and he can't climb. So we had to leave behind a sling and biner and bail. Oh well! Arriving back at camp, we decided to head on a short hike to the summit of Lembert Dome to take some pictures... and then arriving back at camp just in time for dinner! Beers soon followed.

(Go climb a rock!)

Sunday was pretty chill. Justin, Seth, and I wanted to climb South Crack (5.8R) but switched plans after seeing a very very slow group we'd have to follow. So we went and found some off-width crack (5.10B) and an interesting 5.10C face climb. Good change from trad climbing.

After that, we all headed back. Not before grabbing some pizza and Famous Pizza and then dropping some shoes off at the Rubber Room to get resoled!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Last Minute Valley Trip

"What is there to do this weekend?!?", Dave asks. I reply with a grin, "I think the Valley is where it's at!" So the Valley it is! So after some discussion with Dave and Nicole, we decide to head out after work Thursday and find a campsite around Fish Camp. For those unaware of Fish Camp, Fish Camp is a town thirty minutes from the South entrance of Yosemite.  It worked, but it wouldn't be my first choice since it is like, "A 10 day trek from the valley" as Dave liked to state.

(Yosemite Meadows)

But the great thing was the weather was pretty bomber!  Just HOT!  On Friday, Seth, Dave, Nicole, and I went over to Manure Pile Buttress and climbed After Six (5.7), After Seven (5.8), C.S. Concerto (5.8), and Nutcracker (5.8) and we all learned that drinking water is needed not to be dehydrated.  It was pretty painful at the end of the day.  The great thing is that we all climbed over 12 pitches a piece!  And after that, we hit up the Curry Village Pizza and filled up every water bottle we had in the car. ;)


Seth left Friday night to meet his family in Kings Canyon and Garrett replaced him.  Saturday was a bit more tame.  Went over to Glacier Point Apron and climbed the Grack (5.6) and Hairy Daly (5.8) and then went over and climbed Bishops Terrace (5.8).  I was somewhat lame and sat out for Hairy Daly since I was burning up and Bishops Terrace since I climbed it 2 weeks before.  But Dave, Nicole, and Garrett tore it up!

(Hangin' at the car)

On Sunday, we decided to head up to climb some 5.7's, 5.8's, and a 5.9 at Knob Hill.  Amazing climbs, but way too short!  After climbing those, we headed down and climbed a 5.9 sport route and a climb called Suds (5.9) that kept you thinking the whole climb.  End is pretty splitter though!  Beautiful crack!

(Garrett climbing Bishop's Terrace)

After a long Sunday of climbing, we left the valley and hit up the A&W/KFC for an amazing dinner and root beer float before driving the lovely 5 hour drive back to L.A.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

10 Day Climbing Buffet

Climbing for ten straight days sounds like a great idea, right?  Well, what about ten days of rain?  Sounds less appealing, huh.  Well, Justin, Seth, and I thought it would be a great idea to take three days off of work for the Memorial Day week and climb for tens straight days.  We planned on hitting up some of the best spots the sierras have to offer.  Lone Pine, Bishop area, Mammoth, and then finishing off in the Yosemite Valley.  This sounded awesome before the weather report started to change.

We planned on leaving on the Friday, drive up to Alabama Hills at Lone Pine so that we could have a full day of climbing on Saturday.  But after since that it was raining on Friday in Lone Pine, we decided to stall departure until Saturday morning.  So after some last minute errands and packing Travis, we arrived in Alabama Hills in the late afternoon.  We decided to warm up at Shark's Fin on a 5.7, 5.8, and then a interesting 5.10A that had a tricky start.  After that, we headed over to some other spots to climb some 5.8's and 5.9's where we all lead the routes.  

(Seth on the 5.10A on Shark's Fin)

After a good day of climbing, we check the forecast for Sunday and we all get bummed.  80% of rain EVERYWHERE and snow above 7000 feet!  This changes plans very quick since our thought of heading north to other spots just got smashed.  So after some cursing mother nature we decide to head south on the 395, connect to the 58, and drive to the south entrance to Yosemite.  Although it was a full day of driving, it was a moral booster to think we'd be in the valley for the rest of the week since the forecast was predicting a handful of splitter days during the week.

Arriving in the Valley late Sunday, we discover a worry we all had as we drove up.  No campsites!!!  Hm, well I guess time to park the camper van and hope we go undetected from the rangers.  Not the case... OPPS!  At 1 A.M., we are awaken by a lady ranger telling us that, "We must come out!".  Busted...  Although Justin and I are on the "Yosemite Shit List", we were able to score a campsite in Upper Pines for the rest of the week thanks to ranger Jane.

(Seth and I getting ready to crash in Travis)

So now with a campsite and hopes to climb some stellar climbs, we are all pretty psyched.  Now if only mother nature would play along.  This is not the case at all!  It rained more than half of the day everyday we were in the Valley.  Although it rained quite a lot, it didn't stop us from climbing some great routes.  Monday, we went and climbed Bishop's Terrace (5.8), a fun 5.10A where unfortunately Justin tweeked his shoulder.  Tuesday Seth and I climbed the Grack (5.6 and Seth's first multi-pitch climb lead).  Wednesday, Ira got into the valley and we attempted to climb After Six (5.7), but after the second pitch rain came in and we had to bail.

(Justin on the 5.10A)

After dealing with rain for the last five days and it not getting any better until Saturday, we decide to head back since sitting in a van all day is not as exciting as it sounds...  there goes the ten days of climbing.  SAD!

Now although the week didn't go as planned. Weather sucks, Justin injury, and never being able to get away without of bounds camping again... it was still a good time. As many say, "You could be at work..." and thankfully we were not. :)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Owens River Gorge and Alabama Hills

The last weekend, a group of us decided to head up to Mammoth and climb at Owens River Gorge Saturday and then Alabama Hills on Sunday.  While it was Justin, Nicole, Garrett, Jen, Sarah, and I climbing.  There was also Kooj tele-ing up at Mammoth ski Resort and a few others hiking around the Mammoth area.

On Saturday, the 6 of us climbers headed to Owens River Gorge to do some fun sport routes.  We started the day on China Wall warming up on a 5.10b.  Now looking back, it definitely wasn't a great idea to warm up on a 10b.  But that is just my thought.  Anyway, China Wall was pretty crowded and since we were on a mission to get as many climbs as possible in, we headed off down the path to a 5.10c.  At that point it dawned on me... we are not going to mess around on any easy climbs today.

(Owens River flowing in the Gorge)

Well after all the effort into the 2 5.10's, we walked back to discover China Wall had absolutely no one on it.  So, we all headed over to put up some 8's and 9's.  I decided to lead a 5.8, but unfortunately had to bail after the second bolt because for some odd reason I felt way too scketched out from the last 2 climbs.  This is how I received my nickname... "Two Bolt Timmy".  But, the day went pretty well and ended up getting in a lot of climbs.  After getting lost on the third class scrabble to the top by headlamps, we celebrated with a couple beers at the car.  

On Sunday, we headed back down the 395 and hit up Alabama Hills on the way home.  Started off at Cattle Pocket and climbed some 5.8's, 5.10's, and Justin and Garrett climbed a 5.11a.  After that nice and better "warm up", we headed off to knock out some other climbs at other walls.

(Justin on the 5.11a)

After Cattle Pocket, we headed over to DMX wall and climbed so more 5.8's and 5.9's, before heading over to do a tricky 5.9 and 5.10b.  The 5.9 started off tricky with an awesome crux move at the third bolt.  But the climb is called Friday the 13th, so you know it has to be somewhat awesome.  The 5.10b didn't seem too hard and thinking back, could easily be a 5.10a.  But it is pretty thin at the bottom, so I'll assume the rating is good.

(Myself leading a fun 5.8 arete)

Garrett lead the 5.9 and took his first head fall at the crux.  After getting past the move and to where Nicole was taking pictures, he stated "That falling business is weird, I don't like it!".  So he is now on a mission not to do that.  Haha!

(Garrett on Friday the 13th, 5.9)

After all of us getting in a lot of climbing, we headed off back to L.A. to enjoy another week at work...  we all were not very excited about that.  But who is!?