Trip Reporthumboldt, the east side, high sierra, vegas, and back.
the summer following my first year of college, my girlfriend and I decided to take a trip through the eastern sierras. we planned a route that would allow us as little driving as possible, as much climbing time as possible and as much rock as we could ever want to choose from. we planned our itinerary, borrowed some guidebooks, and built out( if you could even call it that).. the back of her 4 runner. we saved up throughout the school year and then headed for the mountains when school was out.. here's bits and pieces of our adventure that i pieced together.
i've tried keeping a journal a bit, but i just can never write as fast as i think, so i guess typing will work. It seems so much less personal or something to keep it on a computer, but f*#k it.. this is the 21st century.We're sitting on a couch, listening to some chill twangy music, talking to Kit; this rad little spunky lady.. what a firecraker.. she's our moms' age probably, but just so laid back and stoked on life.. she rolled into the eastern parking lot of the leap, chilled with us for a while and told us about the area..We got to shower and sleep in a real bed, which were both much needed.
we stayed in the strawberry area for about 2 weeks, climbing between lovers leap and phantom spires. it's great to be in a place with such good moderate climbing while i rest my wrist and hopefully let it heal. i do a rice bucket exercise each morning and night and wear a brace some evenings. hopefully i can pull harder sometime in this trip.
after our 2 weeks in tahoe area, we headed to mammoth:
to conclude our tahoe experience, we actually went to lake tahoe! what a magnificient lake.. it was so refreshing to soak our dirty, cut up bodies in the cool blue water. we sat on the beach eating chips and beans from jalapenos., and discussed what we needed from the store.. after a few hectic trips to the grocery outlet and safeway, we were back on the road.. headed to the 395 and ultimately to the beloved eastside. My apprehension about leaving tahoe vanished, as the beautifully wild sierras came into view, shrowded in dark thunderheads, we cruised along, gazing at them, hootin and hollerin each time the sky was ignited with bright lightning.
we stopped at mono lake, which was much more beautiful than i imagined. such a peaceful place.. the eastern slope of the sierras and the western slope of the wasatch form the great divide. no water in between the two ever makes it to the ocean.. it all runs into deserts to evaporate or into lakes such as mono. a few hours later, we rolled into mammoth, taking a dirt road through meadows and ridges, to find ourselves in the remote clark canyon.. we unloaded, made our home, and made a delicious stir fry. Sleeping in the car is so much nicer now that we ridded ourselves of all the extra clutter.. so now, here we are.. in clarks canyon. i'm sitting in the back of the truck, typing this, while gwen makes breakfast with eggs and our leftover stir fry and quinoa. thee high sierra stretch out before us, still covered in snow. It will be nice to clip some bolts and relax for a few days.
after about 4 days at clark, we headed to bishop:
i'm sitting in a bishop laundromat. today is one of our beloved 'town days' where we get to where clean(ish) clothes, buy some cheap book in a thrift store, and get groceries. we spent the past 5 days in the mammoth area, primarily sport climbing. it was a nice break after the epics of teaching gwen to lead at lovers leap.
clark canyon is a beautiful valley filled with pine trees, pocketed volcanic rock, and a lot of flies. the climbing is excellent. short sport routes, almost all with less than 10 bolts, aside from the stoned wheat thin wall. after climbing nothing over 5.8 at lovers leap (aside from 1 10b toprope.. surrealistic pillar direct), it was nice to actually challenge myself physically instead of mentally. i got up many nines, a few tens, onsighted an 11, and almost onsighted a 12a-maltese falcon. it was a one hang in the end, which still feels great to even be trying that stuff considering my wrist. i miss trying hard though.. every time i climbed anything harder than a 10b, my wrist was very sore the next day. i need to be more vigilant with the rice bucket and aplly the brace and arnica gel before bed.
yesterday was a great day. we had a slow morning, and then went to convict lake. we spent the afternoon drawing, reading and writing, and then i decided to take a plunge in the freezing water. everyone told me i was crazy. but i didn't care. no shower for over a week makes any fresh water a welcoming invitation for a quick dunk.. After convict lake, we headed to rock creek, where I waited for hours while this woman epiced on the classic 'wages of skin'.. a 10+ (more like 11 in my opinion). I onsighted the route up to the final crux move and then took the clean swinging whipper onto a bomber .3 camalot. gwen caught me well, and belayed me patiently as I tried the move a few times.it's such a beautiful line. now that i've tried the moves, taken the whipper, and sussed out the gear, I feel confident that I can send it next try.
so here we are now, charging my computer in the laundromat. we took showers, washed our clothes, got topos at wilsons for pine creek,. i love that place.
we're going to get groceries and then head up to pine creek. maybe do a nice sunset route if we arrive in time..
a few days later…
pine creek is awesome. did high life, 3 hr arete, and the big deal. i feel super solid on gear right now. got crampons today for the high country. matt called and we made plans to do my first alpine route! apparent ally there is a snow field that is a bit sketchy w/o crampons considering i'm not that used to snow. i got some crampons from mammoth mountaineering in bishop on consignment for 30 bucks. tomorrow we head up to royce lakes to do n buttress of mirriam peak with matt. shou;ld be rad. i'll fill in on all the details when back from the mountains. at the milks now, sorting gear and getting ready. i can't wait to experience a big route! forgot how much i love it here/
the next day was a whirlwind. gwen and i got up early, and drove all the way to south lake (near lake sabrina) because those were the closest bear boxes and we had loads of food and other smelly things in the car. kinda crazy that pine creek has no bear boxes. as we were unloading all our sh#t, this sweet woman asked what we were climbing, and we explained how we were climbing something out of pine creek, but had to drive all the way to south lake to stash our food.. about 5 minutes later, she ran back and told us that we could leave our stuff in her garage. she drew us a map, gave us her address and phone number, and told us that the doors were open and to leave our stuff and come back and get it whenever.. we drove over there, stoked not to have to make the long, steep, windy drive back to south lake after our trip. we stashed our stuff in her garage and sped off to meet matt at pine creek.
hike out of pine creek was brutal.. steep and long. we started at about 7,000 feet and ended at nearly 12. matt smoked us the entire hike, and gwen and i chugged along.. resting frequently and slamming down salamis, bars, and peanuts.. the first leg of the hike was pretty monotonous.. steep rocky switchbacks out of pine creek.. we crossed the roaring creek (more like a river) and then the hike turned to beautiful alpine lakes with relentless mosquitos. my la sportiva approach shoes were so uncomfortable.. my heels were practically bleeding halfway through the hike.
i learned an important lesson when i discovered my soaking sleeping bag and jacket.. beer and crampons should not be packed together.
we got to royce lakes right as the sun was setting. our campsite overlooked a half frozen lake beneath meriam peak.. a striking and intimidating granite mountain.. the prominent north butress loomed over us.. i was as excited and nervous as i'd ever been before a climb. gwen, matt and i piled into the 2'Plus" person tent.. it was pretty tight in there. but at least there was lots of body heat. i put on every layer i had to shield myself from the freezing wind of the harsh high alpine tundra.. we boiled water in the vestibule, and gobbled down powdered mashed potatoes and old salmon in a pouch.
the next morning..
matt and i racked up, threw some bars, jackets and water into the pack, and got ready to go. we left my lady at camp. i brushed off my apprehension and we began the hike around the lake, up the talus field and scrambled to the base of our route. it loomed above us, but was not so intimidating once we were under it.
we roped up and i racked up.. i led the first two pitches, actually linked them into one, the start of the route was terrifying. a flaring crack that was too wide to jam, but too narrow to chimney or even use offwidth techniques in.. it crumbled as i climbed up it, not trusting a single piece of gear i placed in the horrific choss. i finally got past the chimney and made it to a clean corner that probably went at about 5.9. i cruised through it, to a comfy belay at an ear shaped flake. i belayed matt up and he got ready for his lead- a clean lieback flake that i wish i could've led. at the next belay, i preparded for myh next lead.. it started out excellent.. easy but thought provoking stemming up a clean corner.. i came to a chossy section, where i was supposed to find a huge, loose block to traverse under..
devoured salami and almonds while matt led the tripple cracks. following matt up that pitch was so inspiring. it was sustained crack climbing.. at least the jams were good. the exposure hit me about halfway up that pitch and my climbing declined. i was pretty burnt after following that pitch, and matt ended up leading the rest of the route. i was disappointed to have stopped swapping leads, but i was super tapped out. the rest of the route went by pretty smooth. the confusing summit ridge added some time, and we eventually made our way back to camp. i was astounded at how much energy and mental composere that kind of climbing took. it's so demanding and incredible. even though i didn't do great on that route, i'm super determined to improve.
we gladly shed off our harnesses, coiled the rope, and ate some bars. the rest of the descent was uneventful.. we made our way down a talus field to the saddle between royce and merriam, and down climbed a long, steep snowfield. we stumbled into camp, drank victory beers, and collapsed asleep in the tent.
he next day we decided to make the long, brutal hike down to our car. pizza was calling our names. the hike down . we finally made it down to the car, and booked it to k mart. we ended up eating at petite pantry instead, where we had a brief run in with a scorpion we found in the car.
petite pantry.. it was F*#KING BOMB.. i had all you can eat chili rellenos, chips and salsa, and root beer. we ate so much that i was on the verge of vomiting after we left the restaurant. jay, the owner/ homie gave us a huge bag of chips and wrapped all my leftovers into a burrito. such a nice guy. i loved all the quirks of the place.. office chairs for seating, and a side business as a tax filer while you eat. definitely going back there. we camped at the k mart parking lot, where some really nice people with an rv made conversation with us and gave us coffee in the morning.
after that we headed down to lone pine and cruised around the alabama hills.. getting ready to head up to whitney the next day.
we met some cool people who pointed out some fun routes and a good spot to camp. we climbed 2 routes very similar to a well bolted j tree in the evening heat, and then got down to packing and drinking warm rolling rocks.. the bugs came out at night and would not stop getting in our faces because of the headlamps.. we collapsed in bed and slept fitfully. we woke in the morning, rushed to get our permit from the eastern sierra visitiors center, and then got some breakfast at mcdonalds (it was awful, but how can you beat a $2 breakfast)..
after that we headed to whitney portal, packed our packs, and headed off on the steep, relentless north fork of line pine creek trail. we didn't get going til around 2.. my fault, i was being super slow..
. we were moving slow, as it is really steep, but we got by alright. we navigated the ebersbacher ledges easily, made it up to lower boyscout lake quickly and had a short rest.. crossing the creek between lower and upper BS lake. by the time we got past upper boyscout and onto the final leg of the hike around the ridge and into iceberg, it was getting pretty dark and windy. .. we crept along, painfully slowly.. the wind was intense and almost knocked me over on a few ocasions.
then sh#t really hit the fan.
i was wearing my headlamp around my hat, when a huge gust of wind blew it off my head.. gwen managed to find my hat and headlamp, but the lid to the battery compartment had broken off, rendering the headlamp useless. i went in search of the back to my headlamp, hoping to find it and get my lamp working again. i quickly found all 3 batteries that fell out, but no luck finding the lid that kept them in.. we descended back down the talus slope, realizing that we were never going to make it to iceburg lake in this horrible wind with 1 headlamp. we remembered seeing some sheltered flat spots with snow next to them, so we stumbled down the sandy slope, eager to find some shelter from the wind, and some snow to melt and fill our empty bottles and dry mouths.. after about 30 minutes of slow travel in the dark with one headlamp, we found a flat spot just big enough for our tent. it was surrounded with rocks and had a nice clean snowfield next to it.
the next day we decided that the combination of the wind, building clouds, and lack of headlamp, we should head back and try again at another time. so thats what we did.
lessons: spare headlamp is crucial, strong wind warning means STRONG WIND, start hiking early and get better at hiking
we packed our stuff, and headed to my nana and tatas... a few days earlier than they were expecting us.. it;s so good to be here with them. they seem so happy and healthy and glad to have us. i forgot how much i loved them. i hope gwen likes it here, because i'm really glad to be here with them. maybe we'll head to mt charleston in a few days and climb a bit and then come back for some delicious food and awesome hospitalities..now, for a much needed shower.
vegas is SO damn hot... we've been relaxing, eating a ton of food, and now its time to head to the mountains.
after leaving my grandparents house, we headed to mt. charelston. it was amazing how much smaller and less intimidating the cliffs looked after a year of experience. i'm always amazed at how much difference some time and exposure can make. i need to keep at it, keep pushing through scary experiences to get more comfortable in them so they become less scary.
charleston was great. being our first stop of our trip last summer, it will always have a special place in my mind. the limestone felt grerat, and it was nice to finally be climbing again after such a long period of not climbing.. after meriam peak with matt, we didn't do much until we attempted.. and failed on mt. whitney.. i climbed a few 10s and 11s, being weary of my wrist and trying to avoid any re-injury. i sent 'mary jane' a classic 5.11 on my second try. it definitely felt a little more difficult than last summer. but what i've lost in explosive bouldering strength, i've gained in stamina, mental composure, and technique. a valuable exchange in my opinion. we climbed at mary jane cliff for 2 days, as well as robbers roost, imagination wall and pirate's cove. the climbing was excellent, and it was nice to be able to poach camping in a fairly flat parking lot with trash and a bathroom so close by. evening lightning and rain storms made their way into afternoons, and within a few days we were waking up to distant thunder followed by all day rain
the forecast showed at least 4 more days of rain. much to my disspaointment, we bailed.
loaded up our car, and headed to whitney portal. we were lucky enough to get a permit right when we got to the station, and with our bags already packed, and diaxom in our blood to aid in acclimating, we cruiesed up the road to the trailhead, stashed our food in a bear box, and hit the trail. the north fork of lone pine creek is a brutal trail. 4 miles with 400 feet of elevation gain. we staggered up it at a snail's pace. we decided to make camp at lower boyscout lake to avoid altitiude sickness and also because we were completely exhausted. we ate mashed potatoes and soy nuggets, played cards, and read one of my terrible thrift store mystery novels. the next day we slowly made our way past upper boyscout lake, and through the steep talus and scree. the whitney cirque came into view; taking my breath and inspiring me. the beauty was incredible. the landscape, powerful, and my excitement through the roof. we kept hiking, but the trail seemed to stretch before us as fast as we hiked. every ridge seemed to be our destination, but with each ridge we surmounted, we came upon at least one more. we finally arrived at iceburg lake, where we hung out, scoped out the route, and went to sleep early.
the next day, we woke up at 6, had breakfast and got packed up. we were hiking from iceburg lake at about 7:30. we were probably climbing the east buttress by 8. the pitches went by pretty non-eventfully. the climbing was mellow, with a lot of 4th class. i wished that there was more sustained climbing, both in difficulty and in angles. the frequent ledges made rope drag inevitable for the most part besides extending almost every piece. having such a small rack with only a slim selection of gear on such a long climb felt so liberating. i got a little lost on the 5th pitch where super topo said to go 'weave around a corner' on 4th and easy 5th. i ended up heading straight up via some fun, thin cracks over blocky terain. the rest of the route flew by as well, with my favorite pitches being the red dihedral section and the left-trending flake/ crack on the seventh pitch. the summit was a bit elusive, with a lot of confusing and blocky terain, bordered by a few areas with incredible drops and exposure. we ended up summiting via a 5.9ish hand crack that ascended a dihedral between 2 15 foot blocks. we enjoyed the summit and then descended via the mountaineers route, which was a bit of a buzz kill after the stellar climbing. i guess i'm gonna have to start getting used to lots of scree and talus fields if i do more of this alpine stuff.
the next day we were a bit too wrecked from the previous day to carry out plans to attempt fish hook arete that day. we headed back down to bishop to eat pizza and crag in pine creek again.
2 more weeks in bishop was spectacular. we stocked up on food, books, and water for a nice stay in pine creek. we hung out for about 5 days, climbing on the PSOM slab, mustache wall, ministry wall, and exploring some satellite crags. on a quick trip 5 days after our last town day, we got more ice and produce. we tried out the solar shower in pine creek and it was awesome! it really gets the water hot, and is pretty low-impact if a tiny bit of castille soap is used. .. about 2 weeks after we got off whitney, money was running low. I decided to head down to san diego and hang out at home for a bit to save my money for the drive back up to humboldt for school.
on the way south from bishop, we climbed a bit at tahquitz. i have plans with some friends to climb there in the next few days which should be nice.. the trip is slowing to an end, but i'm as inspired as i could be. i've learned so many small nuances that seem to be so valuable to climbing, and especially being on the road for a long time. i'm already planning my next adventure, checking out maps and saving pennies.. life is rad and i love rock climbing!
more updates to come.
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