Trip Report
2017-07 Courtright swimming kayaking climbing hiking with friends
Tuesday August 1, 2017 5:16pm
"What are they doing?"

"They're going climbing"

"Why do they need a pool cleaner?"

And that is how my son learned about cheater sticks. It was a week and a half of exploring, hiking, climbing, kayaking, swimming, cliff jumping, campfires with friends new and old, tales tall and apocryphal, music from funk to Floyd, serendipitous celestial sightings, and lots of time to just plain hang out and do nothing in a beautiful setting, I taught my son how to play gin rummy, he beat me in war, we beat each other in a board game called Gobble-It, and I read about 600 pages of a sweeping historical epic fiction by Ken Follet. Best bang for my buck vacation in a while. It pays to just stay in one spot.

The new van:

First night we stopped well past Shaver and Huntington Lake, at Kaiser Pass around 9,000 feet en route to Florence and Edison Lakes. Good acclimating, and wonderful to just pull over and crawl into a bed in the back! Vans are the shizzle.

First day out there, we lock in a 9 mile hike:

I've got my eye on that ridgeline for an awesome traverse... hardmen would do it car-to-car, but I'd be content doing it with a Devil's Bathtub base camp.

Ready to do battle with the mosquitos:

Beauty everywhere:

I spent a lot more time being in the moment and being connected to the people around me and less time taking photos on this trip... even so I still have the camera phone in my hand a lot. This is the spot where a few minutes later, my son and I were sitting in deluxe rocking chair camp chairs, each with a guitar in hand, while I taught him how to play "Horse with No Name".

That was after we had our fill of milk (cow for him, soy for me) and chocolate bundt cakes at the end of the hike. Dinner of the champions.

Slept somewhere between Florence and Edison that night, not a bad spot to wake up and eat breakfast:

We wanted to cross the San Joaquin at Jackass Meadows, but the gates were locked to prevent yahoos like me from getting their vehicles floating down the river. Oh well. On the way back down, we stopped where the various lakes have been linked to pour into Hungtington as part of the massive effort to harness the energy and irrigation potential of the Sierra snowpack. Pretty damn awe-inspiring project for the times, and I can't think of what Americans are doing today under one administration to rival it. Imagine drilling 15 mile tunnels through granite in the days before combustion engines were widespread. That is pretty stout. But their vision generated electricity for more than a million people. That is quite a feat.

The rest of our trip was in Courtright, a mini paradise (though some would question the "mini" claim):

Thank you Moose for inviting me out, putting the spot back on my radar. Last time I was here was my first, and I didn't really get to check it out much... after partially dodging a dislodged boulder, was preoccupied with field surgery on my leg and exfiltrating to the nearest urgent care facility for necrotic flesh flap amputation. I didn't take any pics around the campfire or hanging out with folks, but I did get some during a few climbing days. Here's Moose and TWP and my son en route to some warm-up cragging on Punk Dome:

And a very nice mid-day sheltered base camp:

My son's first multi-pitch climb was technically easy, but the long unprotected traverse meant he got a taste of don't fall territory:

Moosedrool and TWP were lapping us on a little harder stuff, but generally just taking it easy in a pretty spot:

I must be doing something right because sonny is not ready to kill me yet:

Moosedrool goes bush-diving in search of further goods...

Technically another multipitch climb for sonny-boy, but it was pretty short:

TWP is a hoot, and here he's giving my son a rappel lesson:

And here TWP is providing a faithfully snug fireman's belay as my son takes his life into his own hands ;)

Shout out to Jaybro for giving him his first rappel lesson a few years ago in Entrajo canyon!

Then the climbing became a bit more robust, requiring full attention, and my son impressed us all with a sequence of events that makes a hilarious story, best saved for a live campfire. The short version is he lived up to TWP's proclamation about "when you can't figure out how to get up any more, just climb a little higher until you find some holds." Or something like that.

I've also got a couple minute video of TWP and Moosedrool goofing around on toprope, with TWP instigating it then Moose taking it to the next level with the belayer about 75 feet up the cliff next to the climber, then using gravity to pull in the slack. Good times had by all!

Sonny-boy and I took a rest day the next day, paddling our inflatable kayaks across the lake and to "Gilligan's Island" and around in a big triangle.

We had so much fun, we recruited Moose and TWP to do it the day after. But damn TWP can't keep his pants on, wearing his shirt like chaps:

It may not surprise you that Moose couldn't keep his eyes off the gorgeous chunk of man meat:

TWP gave an in-depth intro to Yoga clinic, and Moose had to show off a litte

And we whiled away the hours on the warm rocks and cold water.

Obviously TWP has shrewdly outmaneuvered Moosedrool in the kayak locomotion negotiations.

Tough to get a selfie pano of us all, but this is close:

Now, for some camp lounging pics:
The van is just a big blank canvas for a camper-mobile... bed on the ground and piles of food and gear for hiking, climbing, paddling. That's Punk Rock and Penstemon Dome in the backround.

I should have taken more pics of the lively campfires... Mark regaled us with epic SAR rescues; Footie recalled climbing El Cap in the early Pleistocene; Linda was alternately surrounded by dagger-brandishing Sikhs with bad intent and sweating out Dengue Fever on a beach in Thailand; Allison and I swapped Russia stories; Moose told some Polish jokes that were funny and some we couldn't figure out; other Scott waxed poetically about first ascents, new areas, and the shifting emphasis from run-out deathfests to family-friendly bolted lines; and the collective amusing bumblings and early climbing experiences went around the circle for a few nights. You know how it goes... everything under the sun comes up eventually, and this is just a smattering of what stuck to me. I think TWP may have dispensed some legal advice and discussed the nascent llama market, and Chris and I discussed surfing for a bit.

Oh, oh... I forgot a few nights before the campfire series, we had a bunch of serious astronomy enthusiasts staying near us. We had computer-controlled 18" polished mirror setups, and I saw with my own eyes the Cassini Division (the dark line separating the rings of Saturn), a bunch of moons of Saturn and Jupiter, a bunch of celestial objects named M-something or other (including a ring nebula and some spiral galaxies seen from the side and face-on like M84 and M85?). The images were not all colorful and hi-res like Hubble pics published by NASA/JPL, but there was a raw and primitive thrill of really seeing the objects with the direct light amplified by simple optics. It was a visceral connection to the reality of these things out in space that we know to be true but seldom have more than a theoretical awareness of through the dedicated efforts of scientists.

Anyhoo, this is getting purdy long. Last adventure. First real multi-pitch adventure for my son on Voyager Dome! Climb "BB" in the guide... Ramp On or On Ramp or something... TWP and Moosedrool and Chris went ahead of us, and I accept full glory for figuring out the correct start to the climb.

Pretty glorious top-out after a day facing the other side of the rock with no view of the lake:

A bit of fatigue at the summit:

And a little food does wonder for the spirits:

Getting up is only half way!

Eventually we made it back to camp, and straight away headed to the lake to knock some dirt off and cool off.

Good times! And for those curious about MB Sprinter fuel efficiency in real-world conditions:

2017 MB Sprinter 2500 4x4 144" wheel base high roof

p.s. A bonus pic for the thumbnail image...
It was a titanic adventure!
It was a titanic adventure!
Credit: NutAgain!

p.p.s Cross References:
* Moose report:
* TWP report

  Trip Report Views: 1,870
About the Author
NutAgain! is a trad climber from South Pasadena, CA.

Did you like this Trip Report? Got something to say? Don't hold back...
Comment on this Trip Report
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Aug 1, 2017 - 05:32pm PT
You are a good dad, my friend.
Awesomeness abounds!!

Trad climber
  Aug 1, 2017 - 05:37pm PT
Looks like an awesome weekend. Thanks for sharing.

Trad climber
Oaksterdam, CA
  Aug 1, 2017 - 08:40pm PT
lars johansen

Trad climber
West Marin, CA
  Aug 2, 2017 - 08:54am PT
Like the large format pics. Way to get after it with your boy. Best-lars

  Aug 2, 2017 - 09:02am PT
Awesome photos and TR! Also some pretty sweet father-son hugs around the campfire. :) Looking forward to swapping tales again with you guys soon.


Trad climber
Sonoma, CA
  Aug 2, 2017 - 09:17am PT
Was great meeting you and getting to hang out with you guys on this trip. Nice pictures. You are a good father.

Andrzej Citkowicz far away from Poland
  Aug 2, 2017 - 09:29am PT
It was great to get to know you and your son better, Scott.

I enjoined that trip very much.


Just livin' the dream
  Aug 2, 2017 - 09:47am PT
A fun tale well told, and awesome photos!

BUT....I have to ask myself....just what are you teaching your son with this band of wildmen????

It may not surprise you that Moose couldn't keep his eyes off the gorgeous chunk of man meat:

Never mind. ;-)

Trad climber
Mancos, CO & Bend, OR
  Aug 2, 2017 - 11:19am PT
Great to meet you and "The Maharishi!"

Trad climber
Upland, CA
  Aug 2, 2017 - 12:05pm PT
NutAgain/Scott, I always enjoy your trip reports! Thanks for contributing. It's great that you got to spend such fun times with your son. I always enjoy your photos, too, with the many humorous shots.

Re one of the humorous shots - I'd like to pass on to TWP (and others) a method that someone taught me a long time ago, and that has been very helpful:

Let's say you are right handed, and rappel with your right hand. As you set up your rappel, make sure the two rope strands above your device are not twisted between your device/harness and the rap point (they are twisted in the photo of TWP "showing your son how to rappel"). Clip one carabiner of a quick draw to your harness on the left side , and clip the other carabiner of the quickdraw to the left hand thread of the single or double ropes you are rapping with, above your rap device. This keeps the strands separated while going down and prevents twists. When you get to the ground or to the next rap point, keep this in place until you untangle the ropes below you. Most folks can tell you from experience that if the ropes are twisted as they are in the photo, they may prevent the ropes from being easily pulled, sometimes they feel almost completely knotted. This is especially true on low angle rock where the anchor is out of sight and back aways, and you cannot see visually which direction will unwrap the twist and which makes it worse.

If people can't understand what I'm saying from the description, I'll take a photo next time I'm out climbing (next week) and update the thread when I can.

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Aug 2, 2017 - 12:14pm PT
So much Courtright love on the front page these days! I love it! I must have just missed you guys up there the other day!

Credit: micronut

Credit: micronut

Credit: micronut

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Aug 2, 2017 - 12:33pm PT
very cool
Nick Danger

Ice climber
Arvada, CO
  Aug 2, 2017 - 12:52pm PT
Very nice, great pics, nice tale, wonderful dad energy. Gotta get out with the mancub myownself here pretty soon.
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
  Aug 3, 2017 - 08:04am PT
Cool report pics and a bitchin new van,


Oakland, CA
  Aug 3, 2017 - 08:39am PT
Love it, Scott - and your boy is growing like a sequoia!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Author's Reply  Aug 3, 2017 - 02:47pm PT
It is through children that we see the startling passage of time :)


Social climber
  Aug 3, 2017 - 02:55pm PT
Nice Scott! You are a great dad, and it was fun hanging with you and your son. I have your email now, so I'll be in touch.

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Aug 3, 2017 - 04:32pm PT
Very nice Scott. You put us you son has grown!

Oakland, CA
  Aug 3, 2017 - 10:02pm PT
It is through children that we see the startling passage of time :)

Consider me startled. Keep on keeping on, Scott - hope to see you soon.


Andrzej Citkowicz far away from Poland
  Nov 13, 2017 - 09:22pm PT
How is it going, Scott?

Just read your TR again. Great times!

Greetings from Cochise Stronghold. (We are going skiing soon, btw)


Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Author's Reply  Nov 14, 2017 - 02:06pm PT
Moosie, you are livin' the life man. Cochise looks pretty good, but I would suggest more Yosemite climbing. Something magical about rediscovering out-of-vogue 5.9 adventure climbs to the "rim".

And the ski season doth approacheth! It's harder for me to round up the kids for weekend adventures now that they have their own commitments (music/homework/friends/etc.), but I'll still try.

Are you up for a Sierra ski traverse in the spring?

Occupied Territory
  Nov 14, 2017 - 07:04pm PT
I missed this first time around. You hit my favorite spots.

I've got my eye on that ridgeline for an awesome traverse... hardmen would do it car-to-car, but I'd be content doing it with a Devil's Bathtub base camp.

I haven't done that one but have eyed it many times. I have done the one in blue...your proposed ridge is in red. Awesome up there!

photo not found
Missing photo ID#515754
Did you like this Trip Report? Got something to say? Don't hold back...
Comment on this Trip Report