Solstice Climbing on Premier Buttress; 21 June 2009

Damien and Dustin came up from San Francisco to climb Fred Beckey's Premier Route on the Premier Buttress.  This is my favorite route in the Eastern Sierra for the grade, with incredible finger cracks, hand cracks, an exciting 4-bolt ladder to aid through, slab climbing, face climbing, and even a chimney and off-width.  Whew!  Andy the Intern joined us, so we climbed in two rope teams. I think I break up the normal Pitch 2 into two pitches to facilitate belayer communication, so by my system a team can: climb 5 pitches and do three rappels with two ropes from the top of Pitch 5, 4, and the anchor of [...]

By |2019-06-06T07:24:47-07:00June 24th, 2009|Rock Climbing|

Whitney’s Mountaineer Route; June 18-20 2009

Larry and Mike joined me and our new intern Andy Soleman for a great climb of the Mountaineers Route on Mt. Whitney (14494 ft).  We still had threatening clouds rolling in after noon, so I voted for a 2:00am wake-up.  Since I'm the guide, my vote counted most, and we got up at 2:00am! I'm adding a conditions report next, but its amazing to see how much snow is in the route.  All of the rock normally exposed this time of year is burried - we just walked right up the middle, in snow, all the way to the summit.  Amazing. We reached the summit just before 9:00am, and stopped [...]

By |2019-06-06T07:24:47-07:00June 23rd, 2009|Alpine Climbing|

Girl Scout Troop 218 from Minden, Nevada; June 13 2009

Nine 4th and 5th grader girls (and one boy ) and some of their moms from Minden climbed with SP, Ali and Andrew for a day at Benton Crags. Hoping to dodge the weather which has been thunder stormy we headed out to Benton Crags after meeting at Tom's Place. The day turned out to be pretty much perfect and we wrapped it up just as the skies opened. All of the girls did great and climbed wonderfully. Even those worried about it and a little scared all gave it a try and a few even got to the the top of the 100 foot 5.6 route. We all had [...]

By |2009-06-14T14:45:42-07:00June 14th, 2009|Rock Climbing|

Mount Langley; June 10-11, 2009

Normally June is a great month in the Sierra Nevada. But these days one never knows! For 2009 it has been cold with snow and rain in the range. Which makes it great for living in Bishop, but whole lot harder to climb in the mountains. Langley is also generally straight forward climbing to 14,042 feet but conditions always change things. For our Langley climb participants were Burt Blodget and brothers Larry and Rich Brateman, along with Connie taking time off from the office to get out in the mountains. Guiding were SP and Bradon. Wet snow fell as we left the Cottonwood trailhead and continued all the way to [...]

By |2016-12-23T19:52:39-08:00June 13th, 2009|Alpine Climbing|

Darwin and Mendel; 8-11 June 2009

Paul and I hiked into the Evolutions this week to climb the Northeast Ridges of Darwin (Class 4) and Mendel (Class 3). Unfortunately, the weather didn't cooperate. The adventure started on Monday when our shorts-and-t shirt approach turned into 3 inches of fresh snow! Tuesday morning was crystal clear, and we excited made our way to Darwin Col. But cumulus clouds were already starting to build before 7:00am, forcing us to divert from the more-committing and slower-to-climb NE Ridge and try to climb the simpler and more direct North Couloir (snow to 45 degrees). But the great kick-step snow we had found everywhere else didn't exist in the couloir: instead [...]

By |2019-06-06T07:24:47-07:00June 11th, 2009|Alpine Climbing|

Evolution Valley Ski; May 3-9 2009

Seems as if it has been one of those years for ski trips; make plans, change them, have people drop out, more come in, adapt and then have the weather change it all. So it was with this trip. Started out as a Monarch ski, but as numbers dropped the logistics and expenses of flying back increased. There are getting to be fewer and fewer charter companies around these days. So the trip morphed into a loop from Paiute to Echo Col with Dennis Sargent and Craig Sherman. Craig has done lots of trips over the years - decades actually- and at 65 is a great example of what we [...]

By |2009-05-18T16:50:00-07:00May 18th, 2009|Backcountry Skiing|

Sometimes its more about the across: Yosemite High Route

On April 10th, Nick, Sung, and Tom joined me for a great five day adventure along the eastern boundary of Yosemite National Park.  Normally, this tour follows the Crest from Mammoth Mountain to Tioga Pass, but a breakable crust made for challenging ski conditions and we decided to exit to June Lake instead.  Still, it was five full days of beautiful scenes. To see all of the photos from this trip, you can see my Picasa album HERE, or Sung's Picasa album HERE. [...]

By |2019-06-06T07:24:48-07:00May 14th, 2009|Backcountry Skiing|

Ice Climbing 4.4.09

Eric just finished up an ice climbing trip in Lee Vining Canyon. The ice is actually still in great shape despite pendulum swings in temperature. The sun is high, the ice is plastic, the climbing pretty pleasant in the sun but the trail is a melting out creating some big holes so you need to take care to avoid falling into them. Get it while you can.

By |2009-04-08T13:47:15-07:00April 8th, 2009|Ice Climbing|

Minarets Circumnavigation 4.09

We have done lots of trips intot he Minarets over the years and all of them havebeen good. This area has a huge range of trips at all levels of difficulty from beginner to advanced. One variation is the trip over South Glacier Notch, Amphitheater Col and "The Gap" before heading down to Lake Ediza. This is an old Alpine Expeditions Route from the 1980s and we starting doing it a long time ago. Having had ankle surgery in December this seemed a good trip to see how the ankle held up and one to do quickly in three days. I also wanted some photos and video. (for video go [...]

By |2016-12-23T19:52:39-08:00April 3rd, 2009|Backcountry Skiing|

Split Mountain in winter. Eric Owen & Michael Barrientos 3.09

Well, the approach may be better than getting there via the Red Cone Rd. Luckily I had SPs four wheel drive to do it in.The trail starts at a beautiful spring that later becomes a necessary refreshment before leaving. While there is a trail up to base camp, it is south facing and melted out. It starts steep, switch backing quickly for a few hundred feet before evening out and traversing the hillside, keeping a good distance away from the stream. After a long traverse to a fork in the stream(a good refill spot). The trail then turn sharply to head up a mahogany covered hillside. Until another long traverse [...]

By |2016-12-23T19:52:39-08:00April 3rd, 2009|Alpine Climbing|

Hut trip with Sung and Dan 3.28.09

This was our last hut trip and we made it a two day starting on Saturday morning, spending one night and out on Sunday. The road to North Lake is melting quickly and I made the error of taking a sled. So we had to manhaul that over a few patches of black top. But Scott and Amundsen had it worse! The hut is  great comfortable place with bunks woodstove and everything for a comfy stay. The skiing was mixed and the lower part of Paiute Canyon was melted out. But on Sunday we went up to above Lower Lamarck Lake and had some fun skiing on south facing slopes [...]

By |2016-12-23T19:52:39-08:00April 3rd, 2009|Backcountry Skiing|

Stacey Stapleton’s intro to Backcountry Skiing

Stacey found an old phone number for SMC , back when Sp ran SMG, in the depths of the web. She was thinking about snow-shoeing, but since she already knew how to ski we persuaded her that a set of randonnee skis might be a better way to go. Stacey was not entirely convinced, mainly because she had never heard of this type of skiing. But after just a few hours she was convinced and had a great day touring up into Glass Creek Meadow. This area became wilderness just a few days ago as Obama just signed the legislation that has taken years to get through congress. So we [...]

By |2009-04-03T01:03:37-07:00April 3rd, 2009|Backcountry Skiing|

20090218-19 Lee Vining Ice Climbing

After climbing the Dana Couloir in late summer conditions, John H. was keen to try out water ice climbing.  After a couple of false starts due to warm temperatures in December, we finally were able to make schedules and the weather meet to climb in Lee Vining Canyon.  We met at John's hotel in the village of Lee Vining at 7:00am on the 18th. At the Power Station the trail looked to be in good shape, but almost immediately after the second creek crossing our progress was halted - blown snow had filled in the trail and wiped out any sign of it.  Tricked by conditions below, I hadn't brought [...]

By |2019-06-06T07:24:48-07:00March 5th, 2009|Ice Climbing|

Ice Climbing in June Lake

After living, breathing, and thinking skiing for the last two months, I jumped at Connie's call.  She was wondering if I was interested in coming down for the weekend and take Megan, Lohit, and Kartnik ice climbing in June Lake.  Of course I was!  But just in case, I packed my skis. We spent two days at Horsetail Falls climbing the three different lines on the right side of the flow.  Everyone had prior experience belaying from climbing in the gym or outside, so we were able to focus on the specifics of climbing ice, including efficient tool use and crampon technique.  On Sunday I introduced mixed climbing as well, [...]

By |2019-06-06T07:24:48-07:00January 13th, 2009|Ice Climbing|

Rock Skills for Rock Beekers: Buttermilks to Crystal Crag

From 11-14 October I worked with a geology team representing Occidental University, Central Washington University, and Penn State.  They're going to be heading down to Antarctica this winter to collect samples from the Transantarctic Range, and wanted to develop some 3rd-class and fixed rope rock skills.  I had glorious plans of climbing some of the most classic 3rd class routes on the peaks accessible in a day from the highway, when one of our first storms of the fall blanketed the mountains in snow and made the days cold.  So some quick thinking turned up days in the Buttermilks, North Bluffs of June Lake, Crystal Crag, and Iris Slab. This [...]

By |2019-06-06T07:24:48-07:00October 17th, 2008|Alpine Climbing|

Mt. Whitney in July – a late story

Back in July Braden and I had the pleasure of climbing the Mountaineers Route in just two days with a remarkable bunch of people, the Groff's and Dorsey's.  Monty Groff has a great trip report on his blog, with photos and videos.  I just want to add this link to get people thinking of next time.  Check it out!

By |2019-06-06T07:24:48-07:00October 17th, 2008|Alpine Climbing|

NE Face of Middle Palisade, 14,021 feet / 4271 meters

The NE Face of Middle Palisade is possibly the best 3rd class route in the Sierra Nevada.  Ben had an ambitious goal to climb the peak in one day, a little different from SMC's typical itinerary of 2 or 3 days.  We met way-early in the morning, did a quick gear check, and took off. The long hike up the lower South Fork of Big Pine Creek existed only in the radius of the light from our headlamps.  We entered the Willow Lakes basin as the sun came up, and took our first break at Brainerd Lake.  In a short time we were above Finger Lake and at [...]

By |2019-06-06T07:24:48-07:00October 5th, 2008|Alpine Climbing|

Journal of a Rock Climb: NE Ridge of Bear Creek Spire

On 3 September, I woke up at 3:00am and started to hike into Dade Lake to meet Marcyn, my client for an ascent of the North East Ridge of Bear Creek Spire.  She wrote a journal piece about her trip.  All photos are courtesy of Marcyn. And a quick note about maps.  Sierra Mountain Center provides maps of many of our routes through our website.  These maps are for informational purposes only. No one should rely on them for navigational tools.  The routes shown are optimal and do not reflect seasonal variations.  Sierra Mountain Center strongly recommends purchasing actual maps or mapping software, and having strong navigational skills when traveling [...]

By |2016-12-23T19:52:39-08:00September 18th, 2008|Alpine Climbing|

Banner Peak, Minaret Range, Mammoth Lakes, CA

On 12-14 July I climbed Banner Peak with Matt and John Wylie.  Here's Matt's report of the trip with my photos.  Cheers!  Chris This summer me and my dad decided to climb up Mt Ritter and Banner Peak. Several summers ago we climbed Mt Langley with one of the guides from SMC, Chris Simmons and had a great trip. We met our guide in Bishop. He was the same person we went up Mt. Langley with, so we were happy. We hiked in the 6 miles to Ediza Lake on Day 1. Most of the trip was uphill and steep, so we were tired. But our spirit’s were [...]

By |2016-12-23T19:52:39-08:00July 31st, 2008|Alpine Climbing|

Chris’ Update for June

The lack of entries in the blog should be an indicator for the reader about how busy Sierra Mountain Center has been this past month. All of us have been moving from one trip to the next with barely enough time to wash clothes, buy food, and give our families a kiss. I’m not complaining – its summer time after all! My adventures started on 21 May, when Paul and I attempted the North Ridge of Lone Pine Peak. This III 5.4 climb is a fantastic early summer route, when lingering snow on the ridge provides us with water and allows us to bivouac 2/3rd of the way up on [...]

By |2019-02-06T11:17:07-08:00June 30th, 2008|Alpine Climbing|

Sierra High Route (Kearsarge Extension), 5-11 May 2008

The High Sierra Route is one of the classic ski tours of North America. Crossing at the widest and highest part of the range, this route runs through some of the wildest country in California. Then to top it off, Sierra Mountain Center charters a plane from Fresno or Visalia back to Independence, flying over the very mountains and passes teams spend seven days laboriously crossing. To start the trip off right, I volunteered to do something I’ve always wanted – to ski the High Route, solo, at a quick pace. You can read about my two and a half-day tour on my personal blog, Climb. Ski. Run. Sleep. Repeat. [...]

By |2016-12-23T19:52:42-08:00May 20th, 2008|Backcountry Skiing|