Rock Climbing

My Favorite Climb: Bear Creek Spire

Now I understood why the party ahead of us had been so slow on this pitch. I gasped for air while inching my way up the steep, strenuous crack. The spike of my ice axe stuck out of my pack and scraped against the granite, creating fitting background noise for my struggling. Upon reaching a spacious belay ledge, I congratulated my partner on his challenging lead. “How could that pitch be 5.8?!” we wondered. It would be weeks or even months before I would learn that we had been off route due to our lazy, follow-the-party-in-front-of-you mindset on a popular climb, taking a 5.10 variation by mistake. Luckily, one pitch [...]

By |2020-06-30T18:39:43-07:00June 29th, 2020|Alpine Climbing, Rock Climbing, SMC Blog|

The Titan

The book, 50 Classic Climbs of North America, came out in the early 1980 and was then, and still is now, a collection of the great climbs from a classic era. Some of the climbs are not so great and there are climbs that are better, but these all have history behind them and are a great tick list for any modern climber. In the 1980 there were few guidebooks and the descriptions were short, vague and sometimes wrong. But I started using the "50 Classics a guide to the best climbs in the USA" and slowly got to some 35 or so out of 50. Problem is that the [...]

By |2019-06-06T10:38:35-07:00December 30th, 2018|Rock Climbing, SMC Blog|

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 |2020-06-13T10:56:33-07:00July 13th, 2014|Alpine Climbing, Rock 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|

Charlotte Dome with Jay, Haimei and Ray. 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 |2016-09-29T20:43:31-07:00August 24th, 2009|Rock Climbing|

Crystal Crag

20090803:  Day 3 After yesterday's adventure on Walker Tower, we had a late breakfast at the Base Camp Cafe before taking a more mellow day - the North Arete on Crystal Crag.  This is a classic II 5.6 route outside of Mammoth, featuring three pitches of steady 5.6 and another 600' or so of 4th class ridge scrambling.  After the "II 5.6" of the previous day, this was a nice walk in the park for Jay and Haimei.   crystal crag / the north arete follows the right-most corner  for a pitch / pitch 2 follows ramps up and left / and the  final fifth-class pitch climbs a chimney to [...]

By |2019-06-06T07:24:08-07:00August 22nd, 2009|Rock Climbing|

The Walker Tower (5-6 pitches, 5.7)

20090802:  DAY 2!  In R.J. Secor's book, a multi-pitch climb is mentioned to exist in Bloody Canyon, just north of June Lake.  The first tower on the left supposedly had a route following the right side of a larger corner on the prow of the tower, up to 5.6.  The whole description took up three lines as a "wrinkle", fitting for a route established in the early 1970's: "There is a II 5.6 route on the easternmost pinnacle.  Climb the face to the right of a black open book, and then the book itself for eight pitches to the top of the pinnacle.  This was first climbed October 1972 by [...]

By |2019-06-06T07:24:08-07:00August 20th, 2009|Rock Climbing|

Big Springs Rock Climbing!!

Jay and Heimei joined me again this year for a few days of rock climbing.  August 1st was day one, so we took it mellow and went to a sector of Big Springs that's new to me:  The Stumps.  Big Springs is better known for Clark Canyon, but the stumps featured 60-150' trad climbs up remarkably good welded tuff.  We climbed a 5.6, 5.7, 5.7, 5.9, and finally a 150' 5.8 with a great finish not shown in the guidebook.  What a great time! Chris Simmons is an AMGA Certified Alpine Guide and a Rock, Alpine, and Ski Guide for SMC.  Check out his adventures at his personal website:  Climb.Ski.Run.Sleep.Repeat.

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

Rock Climbing; 4-5 July 2009

Sonja and Vale joined me for the 4th of July weekend to experience multi-pitch rock climbing.  Previously they had been strong gym climbers with a bit of outdoor top-roping experience.  So I took advantage of their fitness and experience to head for several routes that I haven't climbed. On Saturday we went to the PSOM Wall in Pine Creek Canyon.  PSOM stands for the Palisade School of Mountaineering, a guide service in the 70's and 80's that used this wall to teach multi-pitch climbing.  I was hoping to climb Running Lizards, a 3-pitch 5.7, and PSOM Pinnacle, a 3-pitch 5.8. Running Lizards was great!  There was a little of everything [...]

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

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|

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|

Cardinal Pinnacle in Winter

On December 21 Sp and Jeremy Barronton climbed the regular route on Cardinal. Jermey was visiting from Georgia and had a day to spare to climb. We had talked about option earlier buit in winter the conditions on the day determine everything. The day before it snowed with strong winds,but the 21st was clear but cold with temps in the teens. We decided to go anyway and had a great climb with calm condiitons and even a little sun on top. Great climbing even though the approach was a little unpleasant with new snow on top of big talus. All in all this is perfect training climb for bigger and [...]

By |2016-12-23T19:52:43-08:00December 28th, 2007|Rock Climbing|

Whitney Portal Climbing, Whitney east face and Fishook Arete on Mt Russell with John Rutledge 6/22-25/07

Last winter John and SP hauled huge loads up the east ridge of Mt Williamson only to get to the East Horn, a few feet shy of the summit height only to be shut down by snow, ice and bad pro. This summer John decided to take things a little easier and not beat himself up winter climbing and to try Whitney and Russell. John has not done a lot of technical rock, but is strong and a fast learner so we decided to jump in fully and try a couple of hard climbs. But first we tuned up at Whitney Portal doing a linkup of premier Buttress, 5.8/A0 and [...]

By |2016-12-23T19:52:43-08:00August 8th, 2007|Alpine Climbing, Rock Climbing|