After a mile on trail I again disengaged straight in the direction of a pass. Crossing a flat basin and then climbing consistently higher towards a single prominent glacial clad mountain.
The Cordillera Huayhaush is regarded by some as the second best trek in the world. It brings you through remote, majestic 20,000+ ft peaks capped by large gleaming glaciers rushing into the turquoise alpine lakes. Then at night you camp in alpine basins, losing yourself in awe of the high andes landscape.
Most people complete this 8-14 day trek using a guide and donkeys, but spiritually I believe (like these people) self-sufficiency is an important part of the wilderness experience so I went solo and unsupported. Not content with the already difficult Huayhuash circuit, I pushed this trip further, driving myself to spend most days off trail or on the alpine circuit using a quality map and guide book. As a result, I spent my 73 mile route constantly above 14,000 ft, climbing over five 16,000 ft passes, and racking up 28,000 ft of elevation by the end of my eight days.
Alastair Humphreys is the true modern day adventurer who crosses deserts by foot and rows across the Atlantic. It goes without saying he is an amazing inspiration to myself as an explorer. For some time I’ve been thinking how I can bring his concept of micro adventures (bringing adventure into our every day lives and making it more approachable) into a normal week. I started the process this summer by sleeping outside in the hammock in my backyard some nights and now regularly skipping a tent in the backcountry. However, what I really wanted was to bring that backcountry adventure into my daily life…
Meeting new people is something I love to do and it takes only a few moments before I begin sharing my passions for the mountains through engrossing stories. When I met someone who had a bold and adventurous attitude and was curious about experiencing my passion for the outdoors, everything started coming together. In no time at all I had a permit for Hawk backpack camp in Marin. That Tuesday I picked her up in SF for her first backpacking trip after hitting the clock for work.
While Hawk probably has great views, we weren’t party to them on our easy 4 mile, 1000 ft hike to up camp as the fog became thicker, clouding both the city and the setting sun. A sunset unviewable and darkness quickly descending we strapped my headlamp to a Nalgene for a lantern as we sat down for dinner. The fog was content, shrouding any view of the night sky so after dinner we brought our laughter and conversation into our tent. The shared experience of the outdoors always has this great ability to bring relative strangers towards new friends.
The backcountry is great for refreshing my spirit and connecting with people, but not always for sleep. We both woke to the wind as it picked up from 2:30am-3:30am slapping our tent and shaking the fog condensed tree limbs above us onto our tent, simulating a light rain. The next morning after a short hike out we hit almost no traffic and were both working by 9:30am.
Was it worth it? Well, I was able to build a stronger friendship over a more meaningful activity than drinks or dinner. I definitely felt a small ping of the typical freedom and center mountains provide. However, it wasn’t long enough to get the full restoration of a weekend trip. In all though, it was surprisingly easy and begs a simple question. Why don’t we use adventure more in our daily person-person bonding activities?
I was invited to do one of the hardest backpacking trips in the lower 48: The Caribou Scramble is 26 miles with a massive 13k elevation gain. However it was kind of hard figuring out the actual route so we misidentified and embarked on this Caribou Figure Eight that even Summit Post suggested. Combining it with a class three Caribou rim traverse our trip was still a respectable 22 mile, 7k elevation gain trip with a warm (rare) alpine lake swim and plenty of granite scrambles.
Keeping in pattern with a climbing trip every weekend I signed on to go to Lover’s Leap in South Lake Tahoe where huge rocks charge up from the surrounds just off I-50. The area is very popular due to its easy trad multi-pitch routes and relatively short drive from the SF Bay Area. I wound up leading a couple really great climbs, having an unexpected fantastic evening with friends and a surprise single strange rappel adventure. I was able to route find pretty well with just Mountain Project, but the guide book everyone else had would have saved me some time.
A few weekends back I decided to go on a climbing trip with a bunch of people I didn’t know via a very active meet up group Get Your Climb On. What could go wrong? Actually, everything went right and I climbed the hardest sport route I’d ever done outside and met a ton of really great people I just clicked with. It was an amazing time. I couldn’t find a great guide book for North Tahoe (still waiting on this one), but there is one specifically on Big Chief which would have been helpful.
My more experienced climbing friend of mine was more than happy to head off to Yosemite to climb these five star classics. A five hour drive with stop to provision at the last good grocery store in Oakdale and we were in the park. Luck was also on our side Friday when we arrived to the full first come first serve campground of Porcupine Flat around 7pm and snagged a campsite that was paid for, but was empty including the bear box. Another unexpected treat was sharing this campsite with two girls from San Francisco who had day hiked Half Dome and were backpacking around the area. A friendship around dinner and a nightly fire that grew out of sharing the essentials: water, spicy carrots, candy bars, beer and wood. Finally, all our beta on these routes were from the Super Topo Tuolumne Free Climbs book.
The plan was to go hike to Dorthy lakes for a three day backpacking trip for my birthday. Hoping to summit either Mt. Baldwin (12,615′) and possibly Red Slate Mountain (13,123′) depending on whichever looked more fun. However, high streams, lots of snow and unexpected Class 3 kept us from summits but still enjoying the beautiful scenery with lots of birthday shenanigans.
I just got back from the largest electronic music festival in North America, Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) Las Vegas which starts at sunset and ends at sunrise. I’ve been to smaller shows, regional Insomniac events like Beyond Wonderland and also large festivals like Burning Man (which isn’t really a music festival, but EDM is a big part). It was an expensive trip, but ultimately really worth it and a fantastic experience in terms of atmosphere, culture, stages and artists.