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.
I’ve been having a hard time this winter finding any climbing. I’ve tried four times to get out there but rain, wet rock and cold have limited my climbing to a single handful of pitches outside in the last two months. Jeremy, Sophia, Sadie and myself are here for five days to change that. However, flying into Las Vegas on Christmas Day to snow capped canyons and a high in the mid-30s looked like this trip might be the same. After spending half the day finding the only open Albertsons on Christmas Day off Chestnut for provisioning. We tried to get some great single pitch trad in at one of the warmest walls, Brass Wall. While the rock felt dry, the dirt at the base was damp. A sign Mountain Project advised us meant we could damage the delicate sandstone if we climbed.
Its that time of the year where you have some time to peel away from work and find time to read a book during the long dark evenings. I thought a lot about the popularity of Wild last spring and earlier A Walk in the Woods as representing backpacking and outdoor culture to the mainstream. I think its great to inspire people, but something rubbed me the wrong way about the romanticism of being unprepared. Disillusioned by the disregard of Leave No Trace in “A Walk in the Woods” I never got around reading “Wild” myself. Why read a book about an outsider to the woods when I could read about adventures of those well versed in wilderness. So, if you are looking for a good read I highly recommend these books which tell a much more relatable story for all of us explorers out there.