Wednesday, February 25, 2009


I was working in Mira Mesa this week so I drove down Perseus and snapped a couple pics of the old place.

Man. I can't believe they still have that cyprus tree. Those things seem to be host of all kinds of vermin. It's amazing we were never seriously threatened by rabid rats, raccoons or possums.

Maybe keeping the Christmas lights up all year keeps the current residents safe from such attacks...

Sunday, July 13, 2008

East Face of Mt. Whitney July 11, 2008

Thursday Greg and I drove up to Whitney Portal to make an attempt on the East Face.  This would be Greg's first time on Whitney and my first time on the East Face, having Done the East Buttress with Zach a few years back.  We set our alarms for 2:00 am and slept in the parking lot at Whitney Portal.  With a long day of climbing ahead of us we wanted a nice head start on the day.  We had to gain about 4,500 feet of elevation over four and a half miles of cross country hiking before we even got to the climbing.  We also wanted to get to the summit soon after noon to avoid the risk of afternoon thunderstorms.
We hit the trail at 2:30 with headlamps hoping to get to Iceberg Lake and the start of the route by 6:30 or 7:00.We made pretty good time up the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek, noticing the air get thinner as we hiked.  I made one route finding mistake, getting suckered into the valley north of Upper Boy Scout Lake; and then took a spill on the talus moving too fast trying to make up for lost time.  We ended up at Iceberg Lake by about 7:30 - after two parties who had camped at Iceberg Lake had already started up the East Face.  Disappointed to have to climb behind other climbers we filled up our water bottles and started the last bit of hiking up to the roping-up spot above the First Tower.  At this point we were at about 12,500 feet above sea level and were definitely feeling it.  The first roped pitch is the Tower Traverse which is fairly easy but moderately exposed to the steep lower east face.  We then simul-climbed the next few pitches up The Washboard and Greg gave me a belay for the final pitch up and over before we met up with the log-jam of climbers about a third of the way up the route.  We abandoned hope for a speed record at this point!  We ended up waiting on the belay ledge for an hour or so to let the two other parties get moving, enjoying the view and taking a lot of pictures.  The ledge was plenty big to untie, relax and eat some food, but while sitting around at 13,500 Greg started getting a headache and feeling nauseous.  I felt o.k. but for a little headache, so when the other parties had climbed on we kept moving.  Greg took the next pitch - the classic and wildly exposed Fresh Air Traverse.  I took the next chimney pitch and then we caught up to the next party again.  By now Greg was feeling pretty ill, not wanting to eat and having run out of water.  I could tell he wasn't quite right when I climbed more than a pitch without hearing his usual wit.  We kept climbing.  At our position going up was about as fast as going down, and knowing that he would likely get worse going up was probably safer.  Greg kept up a really good pace and a really good attitude, so we were on the summit in a couple more hours.  The only other people on top were the climbers who summitted with us; there are usually droves of hikers up there, so it was quite nice to enjoy the views without the crowds.  We didn't dilly-dally too long as we still had to descend down the Mountaineer's Route and then hike back out to the car.  Stomping down the massive scree and snow slope was not a whole lot of fun but we eventually made it back to Iceberg Lake and filled up our very empty water bottles.  After a quick rest we hit the trail and began the descent back down to friendlier altitudes.  Half way down the trail or so Greg started chiming in with his usual sarcasm so I knew he'd be fine.  We met a few folks hiking up with their massive packs full of camping and climbing gear, and were pleased to have done our ascent in a day with just a rope, a rack and the shirts on our back.  We got to the parking lot just before 8:30 and then drove to Lone Pine for pizza and beer before making the drive home.
The East Face turned out to be a great experience for both of us.  We got to spend a full day up in the High Sierras getting in some good alpine climbing experience, we got to climb to the highest point in the lower 48 and,we learned a few things to watch out for next time.  Most importantly, we also made it back to our front doors relatively unscathed.  

Trip Report - Tuolumne Meadows July 4th

This is my new blog where I'll post trip reports and various other happenings.  Feel free to check it out, but don't spend too long here; there may not be enough bandwidth on the internet for all the traffic I am likely to get.

Over the weekend of the 4th I took a quick climbing trip to Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park with my friend Chris who runs Outdoor Outreach, and Juan who has become an instructor with O.O.

Here is our goal: The Regular Route on Fairview Dome.
We drove up Friday afternoon, took in the scenery for a while and found a camping spot.  Saturday we got up early to beat the crowds to the base of Fairview Dome to do the popular Regular Route.

The route begins in the crack that appears to be coming out the back of Chris' neck, goes up to the tree that looks like a little black spot to the left of the crack, and continues for about nine pitches of climbing on perfect Tuolumne granite to the the summit.

Climbing in a party of three makes for a more social outing as about half the time you're sharing a belay ledge with a partner.  And speaking of that, the belays on this route were all great!  Most were nice coffee table-sized ledges where you could sit down and relax and only one hanging belay on the whole route.

Here are Chris and me on Fairview Dome after finishing, with Cathedral Peak to the Left and (I think) Matthes Crest on the right.

We summitted early afternoon and got back to the car in time to drive in to Yosemite Valley for the evening. Juan had never seen it and was as amazed as anyone else to see it for the first time.

The next day we climbed a shorter route on Lembert Dome.
Climbing in a party of three also gives more opportunities for taking pictures because if one guy is climbing and one guy is belaying then the third guy is free to take pics or whatever.  I tried to get some good pictures of Chris leading this moderately difficult crack.

This ended up being a great trip, although too short.  The weather up in Tuolumne was perfect during the days in the high 70s, maybe a little chilly at night dropping into the mid 30s, but overall really nice.  The climbing there is fantastic with tons of great routes and mostly short approach hikes.  I'll be headed back again soon!