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!