At 14,495′ Mt. Whitney is the highest peak in the lower 48 states and as such is the goal of many a hiker and mountaineer. A well-maintained trail on the south side takes the vast majority of these people to the top and back. But, for the more ambitious of us the climbing routes on the peak’s dramatic eastern escarpment offer a much more stimulating way up the mountain. Our choices are The Mountaineers Route, the East Face and the East Buttress. Not up to technical climbing? Try the beautiful ascent from Cottonwood Meadows, or if this all seems to tame, then up the ante and climb Whitney in Winter.
Here in the Sierra are some of the most wonderful alpine rock routes anywhere. These are our favorite ascents, climbs that we will happily repeat many times – for the sheer joy of climbing on golden granite with sharp edged holds and cracks warmed by the California sun, in a setting high above alpine meadows and lakes.
What makes these climbs classic? Position, length, quality of climbing and their beautiful settings all contribute. Great views abound on these, on the hike to and from the climbs and on the routes where it’s rare to have less than good quality rock on any of these climbs and many are on perfect rock top to bottom.
The Sierra is also home to some of the great gully ice climbs in the lower 48. Come fall, last winter’s snow is transformed by freeze/thaw cycles into the coveted Sierra ice. These climbs range in angle from a moderate 40 degrees to 70-degree calf-burners. Some are only several pitches long but others are up to fifteen hundred feet in length and are all day climbs.
Of all the world’s mountain ranges the Sierra Nevada has got to be one of the most pleasant in which to climb and learn the skills that will take you to greater heights and the other ranges.
We divide our programs into two types:
Acquiring the Skills — These are programs that get you started with the fundamentals.
Applying the Skills — These are programs that get you out using the skills you acquired in the initial courses and putting them to use, solidifying them and practicing them.
It may be a bit of a misnomer to call these trips mere “backpacking” trips. The John Muir Trail is world renown for its length and beauty, traveling through some of the most spectacular National Parks in the world. The White Mountain Traverse Hike and the High Sierra Hiking Route, on the other hand are little known, tough, high energy, high elevation hikes. Not enough vacation time for these? Then how about combining both a hike and a climb to the top of a fourteen thousand foot peak with our Mount Langley Ascent.
Sometimes hauling a heavy pack around the mountains is a necessary evil; the only way to get to the truly remote places. But then sometimes the backbreaking work can be avoided. As our knees and shoulders give out we are finding that using porters or pack stock to a basecamp makes life easier. Who does not want to come back after a hard day, clean up under a solar shower; have a dinner with fresh vegetables and maybe a salmon steak? This is not a dream!!
These are our trips that take life a little more slowly and make it easier on the body.
Get the kids away from the iPod, the mall and all of the trappings of the modern world. We know it can be hard to get them out there so we try to make it a pleasant experience, with plenty of challenges open their eyes to the natural world and it’s beauty. Summer trips can be pack stock supported and winter trips often use our North Lake Hut as a warm cozy basecamp.
If your schedule doesn’t match ours, or maybe our scheduled trips just aren’t what you’ve got in mind, we offer private trips to meet your needs and time constraints. Just give us a call or an email if you’d like more information about the possibilities.