Trip Report
Quick Fall Hit
Sunday November 23, 2014 2:20pm
With the weather in Tahoe turning cold and wet with no sign of actual snow in sight, I decided to head south. First stop was Bishop, where I met up with some folks down for the AAC Fall Highball. We climbed up in Pine creek one day then finally got a chance to get on Cardinal Pinnacle the next. I didn't get any good pictures of the route but here's the topo to drool over.
From the Bishop Area guidebook.
From the Bishop Area guidebook.
Credit: triggerhappy
The only picture from on route, mostly because I was having so much fun climbing I didn't think to stop.
Starting the last pitch.
Starting the last pitch.
Credit: triggerhappy

My partner had to leave the next day so I decided to go hike up to Piute Pass. There had been a couple of early storms but other than the pass itself the trail was almost completely dry.
Looking back down the trail.
Looking back down the trail.
Credit: triggerhappy
Looking down into Humphrey's Basin.
Looking down into Humphrey's Basin.
Credit: triggerhappy
Humphrey's Basin is great, especially for a guy like me from the overgrown NW, because you can just stroll around this giant meadow, skipping past lakes and boulders and little pine trees.
Credit: triggerhappy
Lower Golden Trout Lake.
Lower Golden Trout Lake.
Credit: triggerhappy
Upper Golden Trout Lake.
Upper Golden Trout Lake.
Credit: triggerhappy
Heading back down after spending a few hours wandering through the mea...
Heading back down after spending a few hours wandering through the meadows.
Credit: triggerhappy
Some ice skaters out on Loch Leven. They clearly had more faith in the...
Some ice skaters out on Loch Leven. They clearly had more faith in the ice's thickness than I did since I only walked out a few feet before turning around.
Credit: triggerhappy

I wanted to go up to Cottonwood Pass, south of Whitney, but when I got there the road was blocked and gated. Despite the fact that I'm sure it was entirely snow free and all the passes were still open, the Forest Service felt the need to shut off access lest someone drive up and get stuck. Undeterred I decided to just head straight up a side valley. As I headed up a dog from a nearby ranch decided to follow me and refused to turn around for several hours.
More untapped Sierra granite that will probably never be touched.
More untapped Sierra granite that will probably never be touched.
Credit: triggerhappy
Storm moving in over the Alabama Hills.
Storm moving in over the Alabama Hills.
Credit: triggerhappy
Scrambling around.
Scrambling around.
Credit: triggerhappy
Credit: triggerhappy

With the weather looking not so great I turned east, out through Death Valley. Following my typical style I decided to go check out a little side canyon. Now my map showed a decent paved road going the whole length, eventually looping back to the main highway. Of course after getting far enough in that I didn't want to have to backtrack, pavement gave way to gravel, gave way to just a sandy wash. Now I drive a beat up old minivan that has about two inches of clearance (and the dents in to undercarriage to prove it) so I probably shouldn't be doing this stuff but somehow I always seem to end up on it. Eventually the road runs out entirely, the canyon blocked by trees. Since I didn't have anything better to do, I decided to get out and go poke around. Turns out there was a spring that bubbled up, ran about 100 yards, then tumbled over a series of spectacular waterfalls. It's called Darwin Falls, just west of Panamint springs, worth checking out if you're driving through the area.
Credit: triggerhappy
Reminds me of some tropical island.
Reminds me of some tropical island.
Credit: triggerhappy
The main falls. Someone had set up a rappel at the top but there's an ...
The main falls. Someone had set up a rappel at the top but there's an easy walkaround.
Credit: triggerhappy
Obligatory artsy soft focus shot.
Obligatory artsy soft focus shot.
Credit: triggerhappy
Another spring someone has stocked with koi.
Another spring someone has stocked with koi.
Credit: triggerhappy

Driving out I found a side road that led me around the falls but required some sketchy bits, including going down a steep, rocky hill that I wasn't sure if I could get back up if this road didn't work out. Luckily it did and I continued on to Red Rock outside Las Vegas.
Scrambling around the first day.
Scrambling around the first day.
Credit: triggerhappy
I hooked up with a crew from Alaska and we went to gangbang Tunnel Vision as a three groups of two. I had done the route before so we decided to try the bolted variation on pitches 3/4. Worth checking out, just head left from the second anchor and follow the bolts.
Looking back out of the hole, waiting our turn.
Looking back out of the hole, waiting our turn.
Credit: triggerhappy
Heading into the eponymous tunnel on Tunnel Vision. Headlamp is unnece...
Heading into the eponymous tunnel on Tunnel Vision. Headlamp is unnecessary but makes you feel cool.
Credit: triggerhappy

One of the guys was psyched to get on Epinephrine so we decided to give it a go. Short days meant we started predawn, were getting on the route as the sun came up, but there still managed to be a party ahead of us. They were moving a little slow but since you're in a chimney for the first few pitches we couldn't easily pass so we settled in to be social. After a few pitches though they ended up rapping off, leaving us alone on the route. Right then, tragedy struck, my partner's shoe, clipped to his harness, ripped free as he chimneyed, plummeting earthward. It bounced a few times, landed on a ledge just above me, almost stopped, then slowly, slowly rolled off again. The other guys ended up finding it later way down the gully and brought it back but it meant my partner got to do the whole descent in his climbing shoes. Despite the delay and slow hike out, we managed to do the route car to car in about 9 hours.
Epi goes up the tower in the middle then along the open book above.
Epi goes up the tower in the middle then along the open book above.
Credit: triggerhappy
The next day, we tried to go sport climbing but everyone was feeling kinda tired so we ended up heading out to the Goldstrike hotsprings. My first time out, definitely a cool place. At one of the pools, there's a crack leading back into a cave. It's too tight above to squeeze through but you can sneak in if you duck underwater for a few feet. Not a bad way to end a trip.

  Trip Report Views: 3,119
triggerhappy
About the Author
triggerhappy is a trad climber from Truckee, CA.

Comments
David Knopp

Trad climber
CA
  Nov 23, 2014 - 03:24pm PT
i know that dog near cottonwood. He followed me too!
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Nov 23, 2014 - 03:24pm PT
good territory coverage. Nice insights on the Darwin Falls. thx for that. Surprised to see Koi.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Nov 23, 2014 - 06:11pm PT
Nice nature pics!
Thank you!
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  Nov 24, 2014 - 10:47am PT
Loved this - feel like I've been on a grand tour. Please write more TRs.

We found koi stocked in this pool, deep in the backroads of Nevada's basin and range country. Pulled in late at night, slept next to the water, and found them as a pleasant surprise in the morning.


Who stocks koi in obscure waterholes of the west? A variant on Johnny Appleseed I guess.
John M

climber
  Nov 23, 2014 - 11:21pm PT
Loved this - feel like I've been on a grand tour. Please write more TRs.

exactly!
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  Nov 24, 2014 - 04:24am PT
Boy, howdy! Nice job! What adventure!

What is with the koi ? Will that damage the pond as an introduced species? Is this a "troll," Tami? It will change things, certainly. Call it damage. I call it fish farming by the Diggers. (Or is that too sixties for a young Canadian miss like you?) LOL/MFM

I gave your pix ratings. This ferschligginger Duncan Hines Rating System that ST uses automatically raises the rating, in every case, from one to one point five ABOVE whatever one selects. Did you know? Do you care? One more instance where ratings don't mean squat.

Norwegian

Trad climber
dancin on the tip of god's middle finger
  Nov 24, 2014 - 04:45am PT
nice tigger,
hit me up if you want to crag
this winter at sugarloaf.
though i'm quite eeyore.
clinker

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, California
  Nov 24, 2014 - 05:02am PT
Ntce TR. Stock each spring with a raccoon, problem solved.
NutAgain!

Trad climber
https://nutagain.org
  Nov 24, 2014 - 06:18am PT
Really nice one- a little mini-vacation to start the morning! Thanks for sharing pics of places I've been or want to be.

le_bruce: I'm imagining a curmudgeonly old bindlestiff with a ziplock baggie full of water and endless supply of koi fry, roaming the west in search of the next watering hole. Classic!
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Nov 24, 2014 - 07:37am PT
Eventually the road runs out entirely, the canyon blocked by trees. Since I didn't have anything better to do, I decided to get out and go poke around.

Ah.. The road less traveled. Hints of Whitman there my friend. Great little wander you had there, thanks for taking us along. Tunnel Vision looks rad by the way.

Thanks.

Scott




And to answer your question Le_Bruce...
This kid. From The Fresno Fair

Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Nov 24, 2014 - 08:28am PT
Cool report, thank you for sharing!
labrat

Trad climber
Erik O. Auburn, CA
  Nov 24, 2014 - 11:01am PT
Thanks for posting up!

Cool report except for the Koi part ;-((
Polar Bear

Mountain climber
Moraga, California
  Nov 27, 2014 - 08:51pm PT
Norman Clyde has probably "touched" all the Sierra granite.
Enjoyed your very nice report and photos!
Steve Thaw, Moraga, California
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