A few weeks back I visited Moab with the goal in mind to climb desert towers, accomplishing a dream of Sadie’s for her birthday. The Falcon Guide had some of the most popular climbs, but if I bought a guide book for the area again it would be the more recent and fully featured High On Moab book. Surprisingly it was actually this map from summit post that really lead me to discover the variety of towers in Moab. If you are a moderate climber who is comfortable trying some aid, these are the regions and climbs you must check out (in order of preference).
I happened upon the Convict Lake area on my birthday backpacking trip up to Mt. Baldwin in 2016. The area is an amazing Eastern Sierra setting with two notable peaks (Morrison and Laurel) within a mile of the parking lot and an amazing remote basin several miles back. In this trip we were to follow the East Slope Variation route to ascend the chute between Mini Morrison and Mt. Morrison, ski down the chute, camp and then the next day ski out via the East Slope route. (map)
Last week I took the opportunity to go ice climbing with SMC at Lee Vining under the wing of the great Darren Shutt (SMC founder and great guy). I ended up climbing for three days, leading a WI3+ pitch and following a WI3+ multi-pitch. I topped it off by skiing in a snow storm at Mammoth in low 20s and 20-40 mph winds. But wait, there’s more! I also had the opportunity to test the car top tent out in winter weather while sleeping off NFS roads and borrowing internet from the public library after my coffee shop closed (I was also working remotely).
This last weekend I finished my first multi-pitch aid climb: Machete Direct (5.10a A1 R, 6P) in Pinnacles National Park. It was a real adventure with runnouts to make my fingers sweet, unexpectedly technical sections and a night decent following a paper thin route description.
Wow, I did a lot of stuff in one weekend! Sadie and I trial ran what it would be like sleeping in a roof top tent, we actually found some decent backcountry snow near Mt. Rose on a super hot weekend and I did my first outdoor climbing since my injury.
I always knew I would love bicycle touring, but now I finally had the opportunity to prove it. I’m all about human-powered transit whether it be running, bicycling, skiing, backpacking or something else. So when someone proposed a backpacking overnight it was easy to say yes. The weather had some potential for rain, but both days proved to be some of the clearest views in the bay I’ve seen in months. I bicycled through a tunnel and built a tree fort at China Camp so, easy to say a good weekend.
Every day when I have some free time I load up mountain project and skim its slideshow for fun climbs. Or I read some cached article about some mountaineer summit and then explore the mountain range to find its treasures. I’ve found a rock climb that ends with a crawl through a tunnel behind a waterfall, a summit requiring climbing a wild knife-edge ridge like Matthess Crest topped with snow Gargoyles deep in the BC and I’ve gazed into amazing dihedrals with dreams of routes on Devil’s Tower. …and thats it. I dream of the future because in the present I’m injured.
Last weekend with snow pouring on the Sierra all week EVERYONE was going out skiing, but I wasn’t going to get stuck in Tahoe traffic or waiting in a lift line. No, ten extra feet of snow at Lassen Volcanic National Park meant we were going out for three day backcountry ski adventure where we would sleep in snow caves and ski down untouched powder in low avalanche conditions.
Less than 24 hours earlier I woke up in a freezing desert outside Red Rock Canyon where I spent Christmas rock climbing. I now found myself in a snowy parking lot stuffing climbing ropes and ice tools into an already full backpack. I would be celebrating this New Year’s Eve by winter camping in a Coldstream Canyon at the base of frozen waterfalls for ice climbing. Welcome to Brice-style holidays.