Thunder, Rock and Ice on the East Buttress of Mt. Whitney

June 22, 2017

Approach to Iceberg Lake with Whitney in center

I was flying down an icy, personal sized halfpipe with walls reaching up to three feet wrapped around me in the darkness of a moonless night. A few lights in the distance softly glowed from the town of Lone Pine 10,000 ft below, but here my speed descent was only illuminated by a narrow headlamp beam ahead. Every ten minutes or so I would have to stop to recoup my energy as it took all my effort plunging my heels and the pick of my ice axe into the slick icy chute to keep my speed to a reasonable level. Now 9 pm, I was glissading down the mountaineer’s route of Mt. Whitney, the tallest point in the lower 48 at 14, 505 ft.
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Find the Best Areas to Climb with ‘Where to Climb’

May 16, 2017

Backcountry Nomad just published its second app: Where to Climb (App Store). ‘Where to Climb’ answers that common question ‘where can I go climbing this weekend?’.

It’s happened to us all where a weekend plan is foiled by weather or our favorite area opens up for a perfect weather weekend in shoulder season… That is, if we were paying attention close enough to notice. Instead of checking weather reports for each of these areas, just use your current location to find what areas around you are in prime time as well as the rock climbing routes there.

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Climbing my First Big Wall with a Fractured Foot

May 1, 2017

View of Washington Column, South Face route

Washington Column South Face (5.8 C1) is a 1000 ft granite face across Yosemite Valley from Half Dome. It is the easiest big wall climb in the valley and therefore the busiest. Optimistically, we were hoping to do it in a day with an early start, hauling only to Dinner Ledge and then blasting to the top. I even brought flashing light up glasses to make festive the predicted night rappels back down to Dinner Ledge where we’d hope there would still be room for our sleeping bags after sundown.

Speed would be the key and we planed to free as much as possible (first three and last four pitches) to make this climb 5.10b C1. Both Marco and I were relatively new to aid and we ended up learning a lot. We kept at it even after a lead fall injury where I climbed 70% of the wall with a fractured foot. I couldn’t walk, but I sure could aid climb!

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A Moderate Climber’s Desert Tower Ticklist

April 24, 2017

Standing atop Castleton Tower

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).

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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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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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Rock and Ice Climbing near Hauraz, Peru

November 27, 2016
View from Los Olives of Huaraz as the sun starts setting.

View from Los Olives of Huaraz as the sun starts setting.

I never got around talking about my time around Huaraz, Peru near the Cordillera Blanca. This city is known as a mountaineering paradise but also has lots of nearby rock climbing. I wrote previously about how I climbed a few of the hundreds of routes in the rock forest of Hatun Machay a couple hours south. However, I also wanted to share on the three other areas I climbed. There is much more than what I’m talking about here so pick up a copy of the regional climbing guide to get some rock down there!

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28 Hour Assault on Snake Dike: Climbing Half Dome in Yosemite

November 22, 2016
Sadie climbing pitch seven of Snake Dike 700' from the base below

Sadie climbing pitch seven of Snake Dike 700′ from the base below

I’m still in denial that climbing season is coming to an end in the Sierra’s. Similar to my attempt on Bear Creek Spire a month ago, this weekend I decided to climb a classic by braving colder weather and threading a weather window. The idea was that we’ll have the stiflingly popular Snake Dike (5.7 R ⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑) that climbs 800′ up the side (and tops out on) Half Dome to ourselves. I mean, who else is going to try to climb a granite dome with projected rain in the afternoon? The reason Snake Dike is so popular is simple. It is epic. It features massive run outs (sometime 65′ between bolts), amazing scenery and a strenuous 3-4 hours approach/decent (6 miles up / 9 miles down).

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Every Day I’m Climbing Classics – A Long Weekend in Yosemite

November 15, 2016
View from P2 ledge on Nutcracker. Looking at Middle and Higher Cathedral

View from P1 ledge on Nutcracker. Looking at Middle and Higher Cathedral

It didn’t take much convincing to spend a three day weekend in Yosemite Valley, climb a five star classic each day and camp at the historic Camp 4. Cold mornings and warm days meant prime climbing for the Northern walls of the valley, typically swelteringly hot in the summer. This had me looking at routes on Manure Pile Buttress, Five Open Books, Royal Arches, El Cap, and even Higher Cathedral. I ended up climbing The Grack, Nutcracker and Commitment.

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