Sunday, May 6, 2018

Mt. Silliman - Training Hike

Its getting close, I leave for Denali in 10 days. I'm finishing up my training plan, so I headed up to Mt. Silliman - with a 60 lb pack on. 

Start of the hike!

The trail is easy going for the first few miles. Once reaching Silliman creek and a mileage sign I headed odd the main trail up into the cirque below Mt. Silliman.

This is where you head off trail
 Reaching the cirque, I had beautiful views of great cliffs that bracket the west ridge of Mt. Silliman. One day I am going to put a route straight up the slab into the beautiful crack system above. 

Unclimbed face on the West ridge of MT. Silliman
 The class 2 rock slabs that guard the approach to Silliman lake were mostly snow covered, which actually made the going a bit easier than normal. The lower part of the slabs were melted out with streams of water coming off them.

Water on the slabs
Snow covered slabs
I ditched the water jugs for the last 500 feet or so, and headed up to the summit.

Looking back on the west ridge

I signed the summit register, and saw a familiar name. 

I might climb this peak too often!

Some summit selfies, then back home!

Summit selfie

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Visting scientist -- Rock climbing blitz

Last summer in Peru my tent mate was Dr. Jeff Garvin, a physiology professor from Case Western University in Ohio. We hit it off, being kindred spirits of sorts. He was in San Diego for the Experimental Biology Meeting, and made a detour up to Fresno to give a talk at the University. Being a good host to a visiting scientist, I brought Jeff on a tour or some of my favorite local moderate multi-pitch rock climbing venues.

First off, Fresno Dome. We climbed the South Pillar (II, 5.7), Whiskey Bill (II, 5.8) and one of the sport climbs at Hawk Dome.

High up on the South Pillar of Fresno Dome - so good!
 The next day, we headed up to Sequoia National Park to climb the South Face of Moro Rock. Its one of my favorite climbs, 7 pitches long, and very high on adventure. It starts with a heinous bush-whack down a gully to the base.

Jeff on the approach
 I had climbed the route last year, but this time I had the pleasure of leading the entire climb. Beautiful. It has some run-outs, and exposed, committing moves. Its truly a magnificent climb.

Looking down from the top of one of the crack pitches
 We had a great time!

Castle Rocks in the background

Jeff at the end of the technical pitches.
We took a rest day (i.e. Jeff gave a talk in the Chemistry department) and then on our last day Teresa joined us, and we headed over to Shuteye ridge. We enjoyed another long moderate multi-pitch route on Chiquito Dome, then some fun sport climbing on El Grande, a beautiful 5.10 route. The sun was out, there was only 2 other climbers (on a very fun looking 5.11 -- now on my tick list). What a great way to end our trip

Teresa - at the top of Chiquito Dome

Climbers on Constellation

Me on the lower section of El Grande
 It was really nice to have Jeff visit, he's really a kindred spirit. I hope he visits every year!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Mt Shasta - Casaval Ridge solo

Mt. Shasta is really one of my favorite mountains for spring climbing. It has over 7,000 feet of elevation gain, most of it on a highly enjoyable ridge. Well consolidated snow, great views and short bits of exposure make it one of the more enjoyable routes on the mountain. 

Mt. Shasta's Casaval ridge. - Photo credit - Mt Shasta Avalanche Center
 I had climbed the route last year with Mitchell, but we were forced off the ridge due to some rock fall. So this time, I wanted to complete the entire route.

I drove up Friday night, and slept in the parking lot at Bunny Flat. I woke up around 7, and had a leisurely start.  I dropped my tent about 2000' up the ridge at 10 am, and then headed up to try and do the entire route in a day.

Morning view of Mt. Shasta from Bunny flat. Casaval ridge is to the left.

I by passed a large group also camping on the ridge, maybe a guided group? They had a massive tent that slept about 8 people!

Tent on the ridge
 Eventually I arrived at the steep traversing section of the ridge, with many gendarmes. A very interesting section of the climb.

Starting on the ridge proper
Steep traversing section

One of the many gendarmes on the ridge
After many hours on the ridge, I eventually crested the rim arriving at the summit crater. This part of the climb is the worst. Going from sea-level to 14,000' is rough. You think you are done, but then you have to go up one more big hill, and then a long flat section, then another short hill to reach the true summit. This last section would only take an hour if I had been acclimated, but I was sick, nauseous and feeling the altitude, so it took me at least 2 hours.

Misery hill. Ugh. The last section on the crater before reaching the true summit (back).
 I reached the summit, and descended Avalanche Gulch, then traversed back to my camp on the ridge. It took me about 12 hours from car-to-camp. Not fast, but reasonable given my lack of acclimitization.

A fun summit, and a good training run for Denali, which is coming up very quickly....

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Training and Hiking in Powell River

Teresa wanted to visit her parents, so we packed up the car, and our little dog and made the 20+ hour drive up the west coast of North America to her home town of Powell River.

Welcome to Powell River
 Powell River is located north of Vancouver, and although its on the mainland is separated from Vancouver by 2 ferry rides. There is no road connecting the town to the mainland because of large inlets and the rugged coast range. 

That is a long drive....
 Our drive up the I5 was uneventful, and we made a single non-stop 19 hour push all the way to the town of Gibson, north of Vancouver. We could not make all the way to Powell River in a single day because of the Ferry schedule. 

The next day we loaded up onto the final ferry and made our way.

Powell River ferry pulls into the dock
 In addition to the typical family visiting, I managed to get in some Denali training. Right out of my in-laws back-yard is access to a section of the Sunshine Coast Trail (SCT) which includes a small and rugged hill called Scout Mountain. This made for some nice trail runs!

Powell Lake from the summit of Scout "mountain"
Summit bench overlooking the town of Powell River
My nieces and brother/sister in-law came up for a visit mid-week, the kids are growing fast. I was of course a bad-influence on them, getting them highly over-stimulated.

Trouble makers
 Teresa and Penny joined me on some hikes in the region. The higher elevations were still holding snow, and things were very wet, but we had a great time hiking around on sections of SCT.

Hiking old logging roads in the BC rainforest
Adventure dog prepares for a creek crossing
Log crossing
On one of the sunnier days, I decided to give one of the local coast range mountains a crack - Mt. Freda, one of the taller mountains in the range, but sitting at only 6500' above sea level. I thought it was going to be easy, but I was mistaken!

Summit bowl of Mt. Freda
I woke up bright and early, navigating 20 miles of active logging roads. The spur I was supposed to drive up off the main-line was buried in snow, so I had to park an extra few miles back from the trailhead. Good thing I packed the snow shoes!
Parked, packed up, ready to go.
Road is snowed in!
On the snow shoes went! I easily located the trail head and started up the very steep, timbered slopes. The going was very slow. The snow was deep and fairly unconsolidated, so I was sinking even in snow shoes. I got lost several times in the woods. The route winds its way up a steep, densely forested slope, before reaching a mellow, increasingly lightly forested ridge. Once on the ridge, the snow was even deeper and more powdery, making things even slower than back in the forest!

traveling in deep snow. The summit of Mr. Freda above

Looking back on the mellow ridge

Eventually I popped above the treeline, finally reaching the base of the actual summit climb.

I was unsure the best route, as the main face looked prone to avalanches, so I wandered around a bit, before finally settling on heading towards a corniced ridge off the main face.

Where did I come from?
 I was about 800 feet from the top when I reached the base of the corniced ridge line. It look somewhat dubious, and was intermittently going into a white-out. That combined with the lateness of the day (I was going to be late for diner with the family!) I decided to head back down, - summitless. It has taken WAY longer than I was expecting, 7 hours to climb 4000' -  sheesh! So I turned around and retraced my steps back down

Views on the descent.
I made it back to the car in 3 hours, and just barely made it back for diner!

A fun little trip, one of these days I need to spend more time in Powell River, but in the summer, so I can better explore the excellent alpine terrain, and the many rock climbing opportunities!


Sunday, March 18, 2018

Owens Peak (8453')

I really like the very southern terminus of the Sierra Nevada range, its a very interesting landscape. The mountain range merges with high desert, creating resulting in a dry and hilly terrain that is covered with Joshua Trees, cacti and even some trees. With a recent snow deluge in the High Sierra, I made my way back down to Walker Pass, to hike up another mountain in this part of the range. 

Walker Pass -- Pacific Crest Trail head
 I set my sights on Owens Peak, which is a nice 20 mile round trip hike. Most of it on the PCT, so despite the length its pretty easy. I drove up from Fresno in the morning, and set out. As usual out of Walker Pass, I was the only one around.

The trail had some fresh snow, a bit of a novelty for a desert hike

Desert Hike

Local flora
 Eventually I could see Owen's Peak off in the distance. Its not a particularly aesthetic peak, just a bump on a ridge.

Owen's Peak in the back
 Eventually I made it to the Owen's saddle (8.5 miles from the TH) and from there, its cross-country up the south-west ridge of the peak. Its some sand, then boulder hoping and some easy scrambling. The path was well worn, and there were ducks everywhere marking the way.

PCT marker rght before going off trail

 After a while, and some surprisingly fun scrambling I reached the base of a head-wall covered in rime ice.

Owen's Peak headwall - look at all that rime ice!
Sometimes with these easy peaks, I don't honestly pay all that much attention to where I am going, and don't do much research. I didn't think there was any 3rd or 4th class scrambling on this peak, and the head-wall certainly had some. Oh-well, I scrambled up the headwall, following some loose- sketchy 3rd class rock reaching the top of wall. And then... of course, it was not actually the summit. So  down-climbed, and traversed along the wall, and then a few hundred more feet of easy hiking to the summit.

Actual summit - I'm not grumpy that I got lost on a easy hiking peak

Summit views - looking out into Indian Wells and the Owens valley

 Then it was a long hike back to the car. Good hike, a worthwhile place to visit in the cold winter months!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Training in March

March has been an interesting month. No big trips, but many smaller ones. I have been mostly training for Denali, which means lots of time at the gym, lots of hiking and lots of trail running. I am exercising at least 6 days week, for a minimum of 2 hours a day.

Although I have been climbing at the gym regularly, I have not been outside rock climbing much, just a trip to Kernville and to New Jack City. I am sort of putting rock climbing to the side until I get back from Alaska.

March 4th -- Cerro Alto 
 A great day trip to the coast to one of my favorite hikes, Cerro Alto. Its a great hill near Morro Bay with fantastic views from the top. Its even Penny friendly. 

My favorite people on the summit o Cerro Alto

Summit views!
 And of course the best part -- down to our favorite dog-friendly patio in Morro Bay for some lunch


March 10 - Snow Creek Trail - Yosemite

A jaunt up the Snow Creek Trail in Yosemite, I don't know why I had not been up there before. Nice views, and very few people. I'll have to go again, but bring snow shoes next time


Snow Creek Trail
 March 11 - Sport Climbing in Kernville

A break from training, a day of sport climbing in Kernville! Everywhere else was too cold and snowy, but Kernville was almost too hot!

Getting ready
Fun routes

March 17 - Trail Run - San Joaquin River Trail

I have been doing lots of trail running as part of my Denali training. I have always wanted to run the entire San Joaquin river trail, so I made it part of my training! Its the longest trail run I have done to date, about 16 miles. It was tough, but fun.

Early morning on the San Joaquin River Trail
The suffer-vest
Spring is here