Alpine Climbing

The Four by Four

Most of the big climbs I do in the Sierra are thanks to my friend Ian McEleney. He comes up with stupid ideas and I’m dumb enough to join him. Well, payback is a bitch: When I came up with the idea of stacking Peter Croft’s “Big Four” alpine routes car-to-car and back-to-back in four long days, Ian felt obligated to return the favor. The following is an account of our time on what we dubbed the 4x4. Day 1: Keeler Needle CtoC: 15.5 hours FA: Warren Harding, Glen Denny, Rob McKnight and Desert Frank, 1960 FFA: Galen Rowell and Chris Vandiver, 1976 Heading to Keeler Needle. After [...]

By |2019-06-06T08:13:59-07:00July 13th, 2014|Alpine Climbing, Rock Climbing|

Clarence King, Mt Cotter and Mt Gardiner with Linda Emerson 7.2012

This is the eight trip that Linda and SP have done as Linda works her way to completing all of the Sierra Peaks list. We intended to do this trip two years ago and then last year, but things got in the way. The third time was however a charm and went just perfectly with no fuss and no drama. Just what a guide wants. We were slated to go in on Monday using the services of Pine Creek Pack station, but that day was stormy and unsettled so we delayed a day - much to the joy of Cricket, the packer, who had just come out from a big [...]

By |2016-09-29T20:43:30-07:00July 30th, 2012|Alpine Climbing|

2 Day Mountaineers Route on Whitney

This week I was lucky enough to get to do our most popular trip in a two-day mega push with Luc Peltier. On our first day, climbing a little higher than usual, we made it to about 12,000 ft.  At one of my favorite spots we set up camp: a set of rock ledges with snow melt for water and a great view of both the North Fork drainage and Mt. Whitney. During the day the weather was warm, and the snow felt soft under our feet.  Expecting a change in weather that evening and for the next day we weren't surprised when the temperature started dropping with the sun.  That night [...]

By |2019-06-06T07:23:18-07:00June 6th, 2011|Alpine Climbing, Whitney|

Mount Whitney with a group from Japan

This has been one heck of a spring in the Sierra. One day is a perfect spring day; the next four are full on winter. The snow pack is still not melting and we have had to cancel trips because of the quantity of snow. But we have been lucky on Mount Whitney and managed to get to the summit on all of our trips including this one. We have worked with Katsuhiro Yamashita, a Japanese IFMGA guide, before and this year he brought a group of five women and one man to climb Whitney in a quick one week trip from Japan. All of the group was older with [...]

By |2016-09-29T20:43:30-07:00June 6th, 2011|Alpine Climbing, Whitney|

The First Mountaineers Trip of 2011

20-22 MAY 2011 Headed up Whitney for the first, but not the last, time this season with three great clients: Heather Krauss, Regina Froemmiling and Aaron Howell.  The forecast looked more like winter than a mid-May spring trip.  I think that we all dressed a little too heavily for the warm sunny weather that was our actual Friday.  Conditions were great; we hit soft snow on the slopes, clean rock on the ledges and had crystal clear skies.   Up early on day two to beat the forecasted storm we silently forced down some food, strapped on our crampons and started hiking.  Just below Iceberg Lake the morning alpine glow [...]

By |2019-06-06T07:23:26-07:00May 24th, 2011|Alpine Climbing|

Charlotte Dome with Ray, Jay and Haimei August 9-11, 2009

Charlotte Dome is one of the finest climbs in the Sierra backcountry. Every single pitch is excellent and the climbing challenging, but not too hard. if only it was not such along walk..... The approach is about 12 miles one way and makes for a long day. But the campsite is at one of the best springs in the Sierra with cold clear water bubbling from a hole between rocks. A wonderful place to hang out. Jay and Haimei had been here climbing for a week before with us and were tuned up. Ray is an "old school" climber with lots of experience so guides SP and Gonzalo knew that [...]

By |2016-09-29T20:43:31-07:00May 3rd, 2011|Alpine Climbing, Rock Climbing|

North Palisade, Starlight & Thunderbolt with Joe Maher and Dan Gelinas. 8.13-15.09

We have done lots of trips with Joe over the years and Dan was on the Mini Mountain Camp with Eric earlier in the year. Both guys were in great shape and knew what they were up for so guide SP PArker and apprentice Gonzalo Montenegro were happy to be able to move quickly and smoothly with them for three days. We hiked in over Bishop Pass on day one and made camp in the upper reaches of Palisade Basin at the small tarn we use for our Fourteeners trip . The goal of the trip was to traverse three peaks in one day so we were off before daylight [...]

By |2016-09-29T20:43:31-07:00August 26th, 2009|Alpine Climbing, Rock Climbing|

West Palisades Climbing

Some trips with Sierra Mountain Center seem to have seasonal popularity:  I remember doing trips into the west access of the Palisades 3-4 times a summer when I first started.  A few years ago I did a huge number of summer ice climbing trips, hiking in and out of Mt. Thompson often enough that I quickly developed a preferred route from the Treasure Lakes basin.  This year the emphasis seems to be on rock climbing. Jeff, Cory, and Doug decided to buck fashion and asked Andrew and I to join them on a trip to the Palisades, west-side style, from 9-13 August.  Absolutely! The Palisades are most commonly climbed from the east.  From Glacier [...]

By |2019-06-06T07:23:43-07:00August 24th, 2009|Alpine Climbing|

Hiking to Whitney the casual way: Cottonwood to Whitney from the West Side

July 26-31:  One of the more relaxed trips that Sierra Mountain Center offers is a horse-pack supported, five-day long, hiking trip to the summit of Mt. Whitney via Horseshoe Meadows and Cottonwood Pass.  Don't be fooled by my casual discription of the trip - we hiked 8-13 miles per day, every day.  But for me, the trip is a great way to take a break from lugging 45-lbs packs up/down steep approaches, so I savor five days where I'm just expected to walk, chat, and cook.  Max and the horses and mules from Cottonwood Pack Station ferried our gear across the back of the crest - thanks Max! And thanks [...]

By |2019-06-06T07:24:08-07:00August 13th, 2009|Alpine Climbing|

Devils Crag with Corrine Livingston July 28-August 1, 2009

Somehow we seem to have become the "go to" guide service for Devils Crag. The peak is probably the most difficult on the Sierra Peaks list. This list comprises 248 peaks and only 66 people have done it and Corrine has only 15 left to go and has a trip to the Great Western Divide next week which if she completes her tick list there will have 7 left to go. This trip had a great ratio of guide to climber with SP leading, and interns Rich and Andrew coming along. The first day took us over Bishop Pass, down into Le Conte Canyon and then spent the night at [...]

By |2016-09-29T20:43:31-07:00August 8th, 2009|Alpine Climbing|

Extended Mountain Camp; July 2009

Jason was the "last man standing" for an Extended Mountain Camp from Sierra Mountain Center - the other two clients had canceled for one reason or another.  So we met one early Sunday morning, with a climate dilema.  Thunderstorms had been hitting us with clockwork precision every afternoon, making a lot of the taller alpine climbs normally dispatched on a trip like this a little harder.  So we pulled together a plan, and our after-action report to SMC looked like this: Sunday, 20090719.  Morning:  Climbed Running Lizards (II 5.7, 3 pitches), PSOM Wall, Pine Creek Canyon, Bishop.  Afternoon:  Packed up, drove past Big Pine to Glacier Lodge, and hiked into Third [...]

By |2019-06-06T07:24:47-07:00August 7th, 2009|Alpine Climbing, Rock Climbing|

Tyndall and Williamson with Linda Emerson; July 7-10 2009

Linda has done a lot of trips with us over the years and keeps coming back for more climb. This time was Tyndall and Williamson and we had to do the trip before the area is closed for protection of the Sierra bighorn sheep. Guiding the trip was SP and SMC intern, Andrew Soloman, who came along to learn the area. Every trip starts with the long flog up Symmes Creek to Anvil Camp. The trailhead was super busy with 28 cars parked there. Busier than Whitney! But it only took a bit over five hours to Anvil Camp. We spent the night here for acclimatization and set of early [...]

By |2016-09-29T20:43:31-07:00July 22nd, 2009|Alpine Climbing|

East Buttress Adventures on Mt. Whitney

20090714-16.  David and Carolyn joined me for a three day trip up the East Buttress of Mt. Whitney.  We had beautiful weather and easy hiking to Iceberg Lake on the first day. We had a fantastic climb up the East Buttress, with a beautiful sunrise and warm temperatures - We reached the summit in our shirt sleeves!  After a long lunch and leisurely descent, we turned in for a second night.   Late in the morning we finally got started down, and took our time to the burgers and fries at Doug Thompson's Whitney Portal Store. Thanks for a great time, Carolyn and David! Chris Simmons is an AMGA Certified Alpine [...]

By |2019-06-06T07:24:47-07:00July 18th, 2009|Alpine Climbing|

Temple Crag Climbing

Temple Crag / Dark Star is the massive buttress immediately right of the summit / Sun Ribbon Arete is the prominent knife-edge ridge immediately to the left of the summit / Moon Goddess Arete is the next distinct ridge, starting immediately above the pine tree top in the left of the photo / Venusian Blind Arete is the less distinct line to the left of Moon Goddess 20090711-13.  Pat came up from San Diego, wanting to climb on Temple Crag.  Temple is host to some fantastic alpine grade III, IV, and V routes on surprisingly good rock.  Pat and I got to climb Moon Goddess (IV 5.8, 15 pitches), with [...]

By |2019-06-06T07:24:47-07:00July 18th, 2009|Alpine Climbing|

East Buttress of Mt. Whitney; 29-30 June 2009

Matt and Stacie came up from Oakland to climb Mt. Whitney with me in a blistering two days. This is not for the light of heart: on Tuesday we had breakfast at 3:00am and were on the move until we arrived in Whitney Portal at 7:45pm that evening. While we didn't break any speed records, we didn't go slow either!

By |2019-06-06T07:24:47-07:00July 18th, 2009|Alpine 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|

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|

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|

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|