Latest from Backcountry Nomad

Craig Climbing Big Chief and Green Phantom in North Tahoe


A few weekends back I decided to go on a climbing trip with a bunch of people I didn’t know via a very active meet up group Get Your Climb On. What could go wrong? Actually, everything went right and I climbed the hardest sport route I’d ever done outside and met a ton of really great people I just clicked with. It was an amazing time. I couldn’t find a great guide book for North Tahoe (still waiting on this one), but there is one specifically on Big Chief which would have been helpful.


Continue ReadingCraig Climbing Big Chief and Green Phantom in North Tahoe

Climbing Third Pillar of Dana and Fairview Dome in/near Yosemite

South side of the Third Pillar of Dana
South side of the Third Pillar of Dana

My more experienced climbing friend of mine was more than happy to head off to Yosemite to climb these five star classics. A five hour drive with stop to provision at the last good grocery store in Oakdale and we were in the park. Luck was also on our side Friday when we arrived to the full first come first serve campground of Porcupine Flat around 7pm and snagged a campsite that was paid for, but was empty including the bear box. Another unexpected treat was sharing this campsite with two girls from San Francisco who had day hiked Half Dome and were backpacking around the area. A friendship around dinner and a nightly fire that grew out of sharing the essentials: water, spicy carrots, candy bars, beer and wood. Finally, all our beta on these routes were from the Super Topo Tuolumne Free Climbs book.


Continue ReadingClimbing Third Pillar of Dana and Fairview Dome in/near Yosemite

Climbing Auburn Cliffs (Quarry)

Looking out from Horseshoe Canyon towards the Memorial Wall (Left, by outhouse)

Outdoor rock climbing is my summer project this year and I’m trying to get out to do it as much as possible. So far this summer I’ve done my first sport lead, trad lead and multi-pitch. I’ve gained knowledge from going with more experienced friends, started leading at the gym, read the Climbing Anchors book about building anchors / placing protection and taken an anchors class from an instructor. This has given me the confidence to go out on my own and lead to acquire more experience. Asking around about good sport climbing areas near the bay brought me out to Auburn Cliffs (Quarry) a short distance northeast from Sacramento.


Continue ReadingClimbing Auburn Cliffs (Quarry)

Trail Report: Mt Shasta Casaval Traverse

Casaval Ridge
Casaval Ridge from 11,700 ft

I had been training all year for a difficult climb up Sargent’s Ridge when the trip fell through a couple weekends back so when I had an opportunity at another ridge route I jumped at it. In all the trip was a bit of an adventure with encountering a lighting storm while on the mountain, sustained wind for the whole climb, going solo for part of it and not being able to see when my glasses iced over on a steep section. I’m calling this write up the Casaval Traverse since I deviated off Casaval Ridge around 12,500 ft and topped out at the West Face instead of doing the Catwalk.


Continue ReadingTrail Report: Mt Shasta Casaval Traverse

Trail Report: Spring Summit Attempt of Lassen Peak

View from 10,000 ft on Lassen Peak. Shasta in the upper left and Chaos Craigs in center.
View from 10,000 ft on Lassen Peak. Shasta in the upper left and Chaos Craigs in center-left.

Lassen Volcanic National Park is one of the snowiest places in California and also one of the least visited national parks despite its rich geology and beauty. Around mid-April it was one of few lower elevation peaks with enough snow for a full snow mountaineering accent. The other peaks we had considered near Convict Lake (Laurel and Morrison) now nearly bare.


Continue ReadingTrail Report: Spring Summit Attempt of Lassen Peak

Training for a Mountaineering Summit

The best way to get up here is a good training program

One way of describing mountaineering is, “walking uphill while not feeling very well”. Another is a performance sport pushing mental and physical exhaustion. Since last year I’ve completed two Mt. Shasta (14,180′) routes and a Mt. Williamson (14,380′) summit and I am constantly trying to stay mountaineering shape. For those new to the sport it can feel daunting so I thought I’d share what I do and some advice from the mountaineering textbook “Freedom of the Hills”.


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Trail Report: Mt. Shasta via Green Butte Ridge


On February 5, 2016 I went up to Mt. Shasta City with my friend Michele to attend a free avalanche training from the Mt. Shasta Avalanche Center. Once we saw that low avalanche danger, clear skies and light wind was predicted for the whole weekend we decided to do a summit attempt Sunday morning up the Green Butte route (map 1map 2, map 3). Spending Saturday night on the mountain somewhere around Green Butte.


Continue ReadingTrail Report: Mt. Shasta via Green Butte Ridge

Trail Report: Mt. Williamson from Shepard’s Pass

Mt. Williamson

“Everyone wants to climb a tallest peak, it is often much more difficult and pristine to climb a second tallest peak.”

At 14,380 ft, Mt. Williamson is the second highest peak in California (5th highest in lower 48). To reach it you must suffer through an unrelenting 10,000 feet of gross elevation gain over 12+ miles. As a result you’ll find yourself mostly alone compared to other 14ers, like Whitney or Shasta where I could see a line of people coming up Avalanche Gultch. When the four of us were on the mountain over August 28-30, 2015 we encountered just two other people trying to summit the mountain the day of, a few trail runners single-day peak bagging and a half dozen other backpackers the entire trip.


Continue ReadingTrail Report: Mt. Williamson from Shepard’s Pass

Trail Report: Mt. Shasta via West Face


On Saturday, May 9th, 2015 at 11am all six members of my group summited Mt. Shasta at 14,179ft via the West Face. The altitude sickness most of us experienced over the last few hundred feet made it an incredible mental hurtle. All of us had a base of hiking, backpacking and rock climbing experience, but this was our first mountaineering trip. Below you can find our planning materials and trip report to assist you on your climb.


Continue ReadingTrail Report: Mt. Shasta via West Face