Downclimb Fest in Hidden Falls Canyon

November 26, 2022
The first rappel

Out on a recent trip to Red Rock Canyon I was unable to climb due to an injury and was looking for non-4×4 required canyons in the park. I found Hidden Falls Canyon (3A III, 4-11r, 120ft) on ropewiki and thought it looked beautiful and was worth the effort with its rocky watercourses, bouldery washes and endless down climbing.

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Fun Times in Funky Lizard Canyon

November 14, 2022
Start of Funky Lizard Canyon

As with most Death Valley canyon’s, we have limited, but essential, beta: number of raps, longest rap, some GPX lines and a photo album from the first descentionist: Scott Swanny. Given we were warming up for the season (and most park roads were still closed) I picked a canyon from a ‘canyon-cluster’ on the SW of Death Valley that had not-too-long rappels, not-too-many rappels and a short approach to optimize for success and mitigate risk as it was likely any canyon since the Fall 2022 rain event was scoured and we’d have to rebuild every anchor. Funky Lizard Canyon (3A III, 10r 110ft) turned out to be a fun, straightforward canyon that our team breezed through.

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Return to Rainbow Canyon

View of rainbow canyon from Rappel 2

Rainbow Canyon (3A I) first introduced me to cairn anchors back in 2019. This was back when I was still descending canyons in climber style: a two-person team with ATCs and dynamic ropes. I was so nervous I backed up the cairn anchor with a boulder 50 ft back for when I went down first. However, it was worth it for the beautiful rainbow coloration of the walls and wide views of this deep canyon.

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Darwin Falls: The Only Water Canyon in Death Valley

Rappelling the ‘real’ waterfall of Darwin Falls

Darwin Falls is a little waterfall people can visit from a hiking trail in Death Valley, but the real gem is the 150ft waterfall unseen from the trail but just above. It is only accessible by canyoneering and in the sole water canyon in Death Valley. Darwin Falls (3B II) was our first canyon of the Death Valley season and was much changed since the prior descent in 2020.

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Bicycle Tour through the Mountainous Lofoten Islands

July 21, 2022

On our honeymoon trip to Norway, Sadie and I spent eight days in the a Lofoten Islands. Along the way we climbed in the rain, hiked mountains, hung out on white sandy beaches and sailed in a fjord. However the main thing we did was a six day bicycle tour from Svolvær down to the end of the road in Å (90mi 5.5k).

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Watermelon on Mt. Baldwin via Laurel Lakes

June 27, 2022
Photo by Ethan Fichtner

Ahhhhh permitting in the Eastern Sierra. When I moved to Mammoth Lakes, I was stoked for walk up permits because I could finally get them easily from the Mammoth Welcome Center the day before. However, after COVID, ‘walk up’ turned into two weeks before the entry date and all online. Great for non-residents like I used to be, but a bummer as a resident because it meant using an online system that can be hyper competitive. Thus we got a permit for Laurel Lakes just out of Mammoth Lakes and then went over the Laurel Col. to the Convict Lake Basin to climb Mt. Baldwin.

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Mount Huntington and the Hopkins Pass Surprise

The 3rd Class blocky section traversing to Huntington

I had this grand idea of doing a traverse of the Pioneer Basin peaks, 8mi and 4k elevation gain of ridgeline. Followed by going over Hopkins Pass, making our way out to Duck Lake in Mammoth Lakes with peak bagging along the way. Then the plan hit reality and things were more difficult than I had hoped… (the proposed route)

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Return to Temple Crag: Sun Ribbon Arete

May 24, 2022
Airy Traverse on the last tower of Sun Ribbon Arete

Temple Crag is a huge formation out of Big Pine, CA. It hosts several amazingly long climbs from the 13 pitch Venusian Blind (5.7) to the 16 pitch Dark Star (5.10c) in the 1,500-2,000 ft long range. I made a failed attempt on Moon Goddess Arete (18 pitch, 5.8) back in 2018, but only found bad rock instead of the traverse to second tower. This time I teamed up with my friend Kevin to climb Sun Ribbon Arete (2000 ft, 22 pitches, 5.10a) car-car. I’ve never done a single day push before (most people camp at the upper lakes the night before) and was pretty intimidated but it went really well in a 17 hours continuous movement day.

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Spring Summit of Mt. Morrison

May 19, 2022
Mono Jim (left), Morrison (center), moon (right)

I have looked at Mt. Morrison’s grand 12,240 ft summit for many years. We had a Spring summit attempt in 2017, when we said “who cares, let’s ski” at the Morrison Couloir. In 2020 Sadie and I climbed Laurel and the view of Morrison again called to me. Now on fun-employment I took the day to bag it (basically this route) through brush, across post holing snow and up some 4th class rock that I got myself into (the route goes Class 3 if you aren’t messing around like me).

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The Long Road to Iva Bell

May 16, 2022

Iva Bell Hot Springs are a backcountry hotspot for warm pools of water. The journey would bring us through thorny bushes, over many large logs, across bridged rivers and finally battling algae in these backcountry host springs. In all the trip would take us 35 miles, 6,800 ft over two long days.

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