Being an Ice Climbing Dirtbag at Lee Vining

March 31, 2017

Darren leading Spiral Staircase

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).

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Climbing the Machete (Pinnacles): My first aid climb

March 26, 2017

 

Topped out of Machete Direct to a beautiful view an hour before sunset.

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.

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Sleep on your car, ski a mountain and climb a route

March 20, 2017

Cool view of snow and desert: Mt. Rose (left) and Eastern CA desert (right).

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.

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Tunnels and Tree Forts on a Bike Tour to China Camp

March 5, 2017

Our tent atop the tree fort we built at China Camp

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.

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Avalanche Training at Mt. Shasta in a Heavy Snow Storm

February 21, 2017

Ryan getting ready to board down the ridge as the snow from storm two starts coming in.

After climbing Shasta my third time and attempting some other well trafficked peaks like Lassen and Round Top last year I started broadening my scope for mountaineering. Up to this point I was only going out into the mountains on days with Low Avalanche risk and to places pretty close to Avalanche centers. However, I like things deep in the backcountry, wild and untouched. I needed to know how to predict snow conditions and avalanche risk. It was time to take an Avalanche Level I course.

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Oh Boy, I’m Broken: Dreaming like a Demon

February 6, 2017

Mt. Robson by Killian. The Gargoyles are the ridge to the right of the summit.

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.

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Sleep in a Snow Cave, Ski down a Mountain: Lassen Volcanic National Park

January 22, 2017

We skied down from here and higher to Emerald Lake (below) on our second day (Sunday). Slope is < 25 degrees.

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.

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Ice Climbing into the New Year at Coldstream Canyon

January 7, 2017
Top roping our right route and bringing up a rope for a second route.

Top roping our right route and bringing up a rope for a second route.

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.

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Night Rappels and Winter Rock Climbing at Red Rock Canyon

January 2, 2017
Driving the 'Scenic Loop' in Red Rocks Canyon

Driving the ‘Scenic Loop’ in Red Rocks Canyon

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.

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Four Books for the Outdoors That Aren’t About Cheryl Strayed

December 16, 2016
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From donthikelikewild.org

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.

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