#januburied

at this point it’s no secret tahoe had a great january. im fact, in terms many locations saw record january snowfall, while many others saw record precipitation amounts. resorts saw over 25′ of snow in the first 24 days. we saw incredible avalanches and started some scary ones too. there were five days rated high on the avalanche scale and for the first time ever sierra avalanche center offerred up a completely black danger rose. We had some great days, but we also had quite a few down days. i think most would agree that the resorts were closed for weather more than any month in the past and i know the kids had more snow days than any month i’ve been here. enough of all that though let’s get to some pictures.
1/3 – waterhouse – this was the beginning of the condition known as #januburied.
#januburied

we spent a lot of time here and at powderhouse during the month since it’s always got a pullout plowed and it’s the ‘safe’ alternative on high avy danger days. more on that later.
#januburied

my last time skiing with ashley. i’ll miss her. follow her adventure with coalition snow at hutchski.com
#januburied

1/7 – powderhouse on a high avy danger day. we kept it to low angle but the skiing was marginal. i was more worried about falling head first into the snow than i was of a slide

1/10
this was a high danger day and we got away with one. our first run was spectacular
jeremy
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harold
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then we got a little greedy and went a little higher. our decision making process took us up until we started to feel uncomfortable before dropping. i dropped in first and felt the snow tearing as i skied through it so i decided to cut left and stop to rethink. the left turn was basically a ski cut and started what i thought was a small slide a little above and behind me that i skied out of. looking back i realized it wasn’t a very deep slide, but much wider than i had thought. as i changed positions where i was standing another slide broke out about 15′ in front of me. we then skied down the slide path and realized it ran the entire length of the run and buried the skin track just above the highest flat shelf. fortunately there was only 1 other group there that day and they were out of harm’s way. here’s the report on sac and below is the video (which isn’t like an exciting avalanche video) maybe turn the volume down a bit i might even drop an f-bomb in there

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so after letting things settle for a few days of neverending shoveling i got a call from meghan asking about bearscratch the next day (1/13). when we got to the top things didn’t look good. what was supposed to be a sunny day ended up at the top in howling winds and an ice fog. the entrance didn’t look good but the trees we skinned up through did
meghan
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hey that’s me just getting below the ice fog
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dominique
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afterward we were heading back to the south shore when we hit the traffic backed up all the way to cave rock from multiple head on accidents (also from the ice fog). we turned around to go hit the little christmas tree run above the ranger station on spooner summit. turns out it’s an old ski area that operated until the giant winter of 1952 closed it down. white hills ski area tahoe
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1/16 – with the ice fog on the east shore we headed west across the lake to maggies. it was pretty much all time
me dropping in off the top
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jeff finds a steep face
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we live in a nice place
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scotty runs from nacho
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nacho is on my arse and whiskey waits below
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we finished with a run to the lake shore
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1/20 – powderhouse. this one turn from jeremy says it all
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1/22 – then things got scary deep. that’s whiskey. the pile of snow in front of whiskey is nacho
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1/23 – leaving the house going for a skin
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laughing at whiskey trying to get out of the tree well (he could have done so easily behind him)
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1/24 – things have settled a bit but were still too deep for the dogs unless i found a well used track. i checked around carson pass but the pullouts weren’t even plowed yet so i decided to see how the work was going and walked up there with the dogs. they won’t get the giant walls on both sides this year (yet) since they’re taking one side down with the dozer. by the way. they aren’t fans of you walking up the closed road.
#januburied

so we headed to powderhouse and i skied down next to the skin track so they could run down it.
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1/25 – now it was game on so we got a group together to hit the cross on mt. tallac. for some reason i had never skied this
harold
#januburied

jeremy
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in the throat
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that’s me!
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the snow up top was ok but on the heavy side. the fields underneath were glorious
#januburied

seriously though. go buy something

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1/27 – talking mountain
me and whiskey – picture by troy
#januburied

picture of troy
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1/28 – red lake peak with troy and the pups. nacho is stoked
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our first run was mostly wind affected with some soft pow in the middle
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then we hit the ice tube, which was a bit sun baked
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to end the day we skinned up the east ridge to the top of the main gully which we dropped back to the car. troy drops the gut and takes the dogs with him
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somehow whiskey gets back to me
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looking back. there is a group of about 6 in the shadows that just put all those turns on the face too.
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1/30 – stevens peak to luther pass. i’ve done this before and i thought with experience and a cell phone i could turn it into less of a slog. it was less of a slog but a slog nonetheless. jeremy had to work at 5 but we were getting an early start. then my car battery was dead, but we were still probably ok. maybe.
heading up under stevens. a month ago that bowl was filled with cliffs
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high above the maddening clouds on the shoulder of stevens. we would drop from here to round lake via a secret passage
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jeremy drops in above the couloir
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closeup of the last pic. tioga don’t give a %$#& who’s skiing by.
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the pups were all, ‘what’s taking so long?’
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hey that’s me!
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view from the lake
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at a little less than two years old he’s finally pooped, but we still had the slog ahead
#januburied

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mountain collective (de)tour – the traveling auto repair show

last summer when i bought my mountain collective pass it was with the idea of traveling around the west in the lavish comfort of the bumble beast, a spacious sprinter van with my partner in crime, hutchski. those plans fell apart but i wasn’t about to let the pass go to waste. so i told my boss i needed three weeks off in late march and prepped my jeep (coco) for the trip. by ‘prepped’, i mean got a roof rack and new tires. there were numerous things wrong with coco but there was no way i could afford to fix them all so i would just have drive off and hope for the best, armed with a set of tools and a few hundred extra dollars. the basic plan was to hit all the resorts from taos to banff and then come down from whistler through the cascades. there was no place i had to be at any given time so the plan was subject to change based on snow conditions. then my father’s failing health necessitated a trip to florida in the middle of the tour so i booked a round trip flight from denver. this cut out taos and banff (taos was having a sub-par year anyway).
my new plan had me heading straight up to whistler with some undetermined stops on the way. before leaving i got in touch with lindsey in bend and asked what she was up to. as luck would have it she was planning a trip to mount hood just as i was passing through. i’d never been so this was perfect. we had planned an early start but a partner coming from portland called to say he was running behind. and then again, and again.
mt hood in the not so early morning light

we finally set off at 11:00 with him still a while behind. the goal was only illumination rock so the delay wasn’t a big deal. in the back of my head i kept thinking about the summit however, but i knew our start was too late.

at 3pm i got to illumination rock a bit before lindsey so texted to say i was heading up to crater rock

at 3:49 i sent her the following “staring at the pearly gates and i’m not likely to get this opportunity again”. she said go for it, so off i went. not sure if i could ski off the peak, i left my skis under the hall of rime and put the points on (the pic is from the downclimb). i reached the top at just after 5pm.

afterward i enjoyed a citrus mistress before the ski. this may have been a mistake as things were firming up by the minute. it was 6 pm when i dropped. the skiing was less than stellar.

lower down i hooked back up with lindsey. her goal was to get 1 good pic from the day since it was the 100th of her awesome season. i think this qualifies.

while we may have missed the morning light, we nailed the alpenglow.

my goal for the night’s drive was to get up into washington so i could be somewhere east of seattle the next day. didn’t really have plans to ski but just wanted to see the cascades in winter (of course i would ski). coco had other plans. i made it to portland and holed up in a walmart parking lot and started researching auto repair options. everett street autoworks was able to replace the cv joint that day, and they were right downtown which allowed me some sightseeing.

as well as some smellsniffing. the food truck court was the bomb

the waterfront wasn’t bad either

beside chewing up most of the cash reserves, the repairs ate up an entire day which basically eliminated whistler from the trip. the good news was that without whistler i was able to take more time to explore and my cash reserves were back in case of another issue. my new next stop was anthony lakes. it was a place i always wanted to visit but i could never envision a trip that would take me near there. another place i wanted to visit was multnomah falls. the falls were beautiful but the overall experience was underwhelming. they basically sit right above a hyoooodge parking lot.

on the way to anthony lakes i spent the night at the la grande walmart. had i known how welcoming anthony lakes was to campers i would have continued on. a sno-park permit is required to park at the resort, even for day skiers. california sno parks are good in oregon

beer. it’s also good in oregon.

my first run in anthony lakes bc was a good one. my second run was the shot just to looker’s left.

next up was sun valley, the collective’s newest member. conditions in the resort were kind of meh, so i chose my beer accordingly (every resort has meh conditions from time to time. i try not to let my impression of a resort be based on 1 day so I’ll be back).

i only stayed a day and took off to jackson so i would have three days there including the drive to denver and flight to florida. but before leaving ketchum i hit the y for some time on the wall and my first shower of the trip.

stopped for coffee at the craters of the moon national monument

and i always stop at falls river falls. it was late night and this is one of several times on the trip i wish i had a working tripod. filters to the rescue!

for the first two nights i slept at the walking bridge across from the transit lot. it was after midnight and snowing when i arrived, and the ruts on the way in were deep enough that i wasn’t too concerned about being kicked out.

since it was the first day of a storm i figured conditions would be on the meh side so i made this a chore day. chores included laundry and getting a u-joint replaced on coco (there goes the reserves). i took a stroll while she was at roy’s. along flat creek i came across this kill zone. there were two spines in the frame and at least one more nearby. coyotes i would guess.

having been to jackson a number of times i had always heard of the t.a. moulton barn so i went to check it out

and have a beer

the following day i hit the resort for the morning before realizing i really don’t like skiing inbounds much. patrol at the top of the new teton quad chair successfully attempted to scare me away from granite canyon so i wandered around the cody bowl area.

my last day in jackson i hopped on the tram and went straight out the gates

i found an open slope and put some tracks in it while the hordes caught up, and boy did they. i rarely (never) do 8s but on my second run the light disappeared so my tracks were the only way i could see. only as i’m writing this did i find out it’s called the powder 8 face.

looks like no name was the place to head. a little local knowledge would have gone a long way for me here.

saw 4 people hit central while i was there that day. this guy didn’t make it.

the only two that cleared the rocks at the bottom took the path of the arrow

to finish out my stay in jackson i wandered up the chute on the right here and (you probably guessed) had a beer.

but wait. as i was leaving town for denver i got a call from american airlines. denver airport was closed for the first time in 10 years. my next available flight was two days later from colorado springs. looks like i get to play in jackson for a couple more days. wanting to get into the park, i had planned to go up albright peak the next day. as i drove toward wilson the cloud deck got lower and lower over the tetons. with no visibility and no local knowledge i decided skiing above treeline alone would be a no no. my google told me i could get a long treed run off jackson peak so i decided to check it out. the first blog about it i found sent me a long way the wrong way through the national elk refuge. when i got to where the interwebz told me to go i was surrounded by no hiking-no tresspassing-no entrance signs. but i didn’t mind as on the way there i got to sit and wait while a herd of hundreds of elk crossed the road right in front of me. a few miles later i came across a roadside herd of bighorn sheep. i never knew that all the males hung out together while the females gathered elsewhere.

after a call to the fine folks at skinny skis i got my bearings straight and made my way to the cache creek trailhead. a few hours later i was nearing the top of nowlin peak. it had been snowing heavily for quite a while and it was clear i was hiking up a slide path so i stopped in the trees to the right of the lone tree in the center and changed over. the skiing was awesome.

the best part of waking up (i actually was drinking folger’s instant for the trip)

my last day in jackson i decided to hit the pass. i parked at the bottom, skied to the road and caught a ride before i could even get my skis off

glory bowl. the problem with getting first tracks in a somewhat scary place you’ve never been before is that it’s hard to know where to go. i had great turns down until the forest of little trees. then things started to roll over and i had to ski it very timidly. it’s a good problem to have though.

after 3 days in florida i was back to colorado springs heading to aspen. google maps was really upset with me when she found out i was taking the slower road. but as usual, it was worth it. garden of the gods looks like a good place to return to sometime and get some climbing in.

ugggh, again. coco was coughing and hiccuping more and more. a quick scan however revealed it was just a misfire in the 5th cylinder. finally the tools i brought would pay off. a new plug and she ran like a dream the rest of the trip.

then there was this place, conveniently located between where i was, and where i was going.

i spent three days in aspen. the first was at snowmass in poor light so no pictures there (should be some video though). the second day i headed to aspen highlands. on the way up to ski highlands bowl i looked at the sidecountry to the right. it looked lonesome so i fixed it.

after hitchhiking back to the resort i headed back up and ran into these two goons, all dressed in their 4/1 attire

they even brought me this awesome onesie. the zone for tomorrow’s fun is just over my head

the next day my goal was, well, i try not to make goals in these situations, or, at least, keep them very vague. so my goal was to go back toward the maroon bells and maybe make it up onto the flank of the north maroon just under all the rocks. on the way out i got a beautiful view of the terrain i started in the day before

as well as a beautiful view of pyramid peak in the early morning light

my ‘if everything comes together perfectly’ goal was to get to the col that separates the north maroon and sleeping sexton, and then see if it’s safe to go higher. clearly that wasn’t going to happen and would either require camping or a sled to get to where i was now.

other options were opening up on the northern flanks of pyramid however

it’s hard to beat colorado in april when then lines like this are safe to access

yessss!

powtrails and chemtrails.

then it was off to take advantage of my two days in snowbird/alta. i wasn’t super stoked since it had been 4 days since the last snow, and the skiing inbounds was not going to be awesome. as i drove west on i-70 i glanced south and the la sals caught my eye. i stopped at the next rest stop and had a chat with my google, then beelined it towards moab.

utah sure has some beautiful country

and some good policy for recreation. they plow this dirt road to the trailhead around 9,800′, complete with restrooms and 4 bars of lte

at this point i want to give a shout out to the folks at google for their incredible maps app. my goal was mount tomasaki but i was surprised to find out the entire gold basin is riddled with trees where there should be a giant parking lot ;). google kept me on course without losing elevation (this was something that was repeated throughout the trip, and that doesn’t even take into account how it helped me on the road).

my first view of tomasaki made clear that i wouldn’t be skiing it. the north side was probably awesome but out of reach for me and the southwest side was basically snow free. so my google pointed towards mount mellenthin (12,645). i booted up it and was able to share my beer with a herd of mountain goats at the top.

just kidding, i wasn’t sharing anything. the goats are the white dots on the left. mount tukuhnikivatz is across the way, and probably the most popular skiing destination in the la sals (along with little tuk).

a closer view of tuk

and even closer. the way it funnels sort of forces everyone to take the same line.

i was happy to share mount mellenthin with someone from the past

after scoring pow in the elks and the la sals i was looking forward to hitting up jeff davis peak in the great basin national park. i made my way late night to the road closure at the upper lehman campground at 7,600′. with the peak at 12,772′ i was in for a big day. nature had set an alarm for me. these turkeys were all over the place.

sadly, as i geared up i also watched all the fresh snow blow off my line.

my fears were confirmed. it still went, but didn’t look like what i came for.

so i decided to make the day about sightseeing and hiked and skinned up into the cirque between jeff davis peak and wheeler peak. wheeler (on the right) is the tallest peak in nevada at 13,064′.

this coolie petered out near the top and ended in the talus at the bottom, but looked fun nonetheless

i kept going to the back of the cirque and chose another

it was kind of a long way to go for a beer, but it was a good beer. knowing what i know now i would have hiked up wheeler and skied down to the shots i’m staring at here.

back in the jeepdominium i went over the day’s pics and prepped dinner for my last night, which was at spencer hot springs near austin.

the next day i took a soak before heading back to tahoe. the hot springs have a great view of the toiyabe range.

posted in backcountry, climbing, hiking, photography, skiing | Comments Off on mountain collective (de)tour – the traveling auto repair show

wandering in the desert

tahoe has been stuck in a long dry spell for pretty much all of february with the exception of one large event. a week ago hutchski and i headed to the rubies to ski terminal cancer. it was awesome, especially for her since it was her first couloir. another highlight was driving back the next day via highway 50. i had never seen the toiyabes or sand mountain during the day and they both had me excited for a return.
don’t have any decent pictures from then but this was as i was driving away from the toiyabes on tuesday. they look good right?

it’s all an illusion. this is big creek campground, which was an excellent place to sleep. free camping by a creek with excellent bathrooms.
what’s not to like?
1. the lack of snow on the lower and west facing slopes that i never saw before.
2. at the second creek crossing there was too much snow on the opposite bank to make it up, and i was still miles from consistent snow.
3. the fact that i left my clothes bag at home which meant i’d be hiking those miles and skiing in jeans, with no socks, and without ibuprofen (it’s a requirement for the knee now).

so i decided i would bite the bullet and drive to the opposite side of the range. that would also take me through austin so i could get some supplies. the chevron mart had everything on my list, and i got their one and only pair of socks

since i was missing stokedog, i took a quick trip up to stoke’s castle. nacho was obviously missing him too and tipped one out for stoke.

we thought we’d try kingston canyon road, but ran into too much snow on the road again, with no snow in sight on the mountain. the town looked beautiful though and i’ll be back when they’re open

birch creek was the same story, so we headed back to austin summit, which had lots of snow right at the road, but only about 450′ of vertical.

still it was two fun laps and the snow wasn’t bad. i bet the higher north facing slopes held decent powder

and if the north facing slopes aren’t holding the powder, check in here.

that night we (me and the wonderpup) slept at sand mountain, and awoke to head up at sunrise. nacho setting the track

riding solo was theme (and the beer) of the trip

the sand wasn’t bad, and nacho is super fast in it.

don’t know why they say this is a lonely road

but i survived it

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powder with a view

pretty much every time you go backcountry skiing here in the sierra you’re treated to great views. often the views are alpine lakes or even tahoe itself. but every now and then, you get to slice through the powder with a lake filling you’re goggles so much it’s hard to concentrate on your line. since most of these zones at least start and stop at lower elevations, it’s been a while since they’ve had the level of attention they’re getting this year. all you need to find these mountains is a map, but a map won’t get you to the top. for that you need a friend or local knowledge. despite overlooking lake tahoe, or fallen leaf lake these peaks are typically not easy to get to. jake’s peak would be the main exception to this rule and as a result, can get crowded. the reward for the extra effort can be awesome though

as you can see the lakeside peaks are clustered together in two main zones. one on the southwest shore and one on the north and east
Tahoe Map

angora peak – there are three ways to get to the base of the peak, have the gate code or key, snowmobile, or just under a 3 mile skin. if you choose the latter chances are someone with access is gonna get there first. the views of fallen leaf lake with tahoe beyond are magnificent


we were a little late in the day for pictures. to see the true possibilities follow this link

mt tallac – access to mt tallac used to be considerably easier before spring creek tract road was closed to the public. to be fair the parking was often a shitshow for the residents and backcountry use has exploded in the 6 years since it’s been closed. tallac is somewhat removed from the lake and the most expansive lake views are from the top whether you’re heading down north bowl or into the cross
tallac backcountry

maggies peaks- maggies can be easy to get to if the road is open but the conditions are best when the road is closed. avalanche danger can be fairly high here especially in the different zones that provide the best lake views. as a general rule, if you’ve got a good unimpeded view of either emerald bay or cascade lake, it’s because you’re in a slide path. the views are awesome though.


jakes peak – jakes offers easy access, great views in many directions, and multiple terrain options. the downside is it can be like a ski resort at times. part of this is the easy access, and part is that it gets hit by both the north shore crowd and the south shore crowd. it is also notable for being one of the few that offers excellent spring skiing with great views.



rubicon peak – rubicon offers excellent lake views in the right conditions. typically though, the best lines face more north through the trees and take the lake out of view. park smart and don’t ruin it for everyone.

rose knob – rose knob does offer great views, although you are somewhat removed from the lake. i’m not sure how access is in a good year. when i did it there was a lot of bushwhacking to get to the snow.
Rose Knob backcountry

herlan peak – bear scratch is the name of the zone, and it could be considered the crown jewel of lake view skiing. partly because it has the most expansive lake views, partly because the views are of sand harbor, but mostly because it is so hard to get when it’s good. it’s on the east shore so it doesn’t get as much snow as the others. it faces east so the winds often play havoc with the snow near the top. it goes to lake level so the entrance and exit is usually a bushwhack.






even when you hit it good, there’s scraping and bushwhacking

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summer’s last hurrah – a week on the eastside

work was over for the summer, the weather was great, and hutchski was heading down towards bishop before taking the bumble beast east for a while. with some free time i decided to head down there too.
i mean, who could resist a crew like this
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in a place like this
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obviously the pups were happy to see each other
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we started off in the happies? happys?, happy boulders?
nacho is happy. i am too.
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hutchski on future planet of style
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she found the high road to be a little loose, and backed off (or maybe she didn’t know what was on top)
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around the corner still on the heavenly path boulder is celestial trail
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the next day we wanted to check out pine creek canyon. the place is amazing
pratt’s crack gully and sheelite canyon
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we were headed up to psom (palisade school of mountaineering) slab, which is pretty much everything in the picture
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our destination was slow ride, a mixed 5.7. this was the start of like 9 pitches between 5.6 and 5.10b (on top rope) that hutchski and i would each do ever the next several days without hanging on the rope.
i started to think maybe i could climb
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hutchski started to think maybe she could dance
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two dog night in the alabama hills
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lone pine peak looms over whitney
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the next day we headed to the tall wall. hutchski makes her way up rotten bananas, a long 5.7. click for larger pic (then hit view full size)
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then i led my way up the spur, another 5.7
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from the spur anchors we top roped tall t, a 5.10b.
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then we climbed a few routes over on the walnut. we slept at the tall wall while a group of night climbers had their way with everything we did that day. our plan for the next day was to head for the shark fin arete and get the required picture and then head into town for a shower and to dump they gray water. the shark fin had a line up so we decided to come back later.
we did hit ranger of the north on the sunday matinee wall. it’s rated as a 5.6 but finishes with a 5.7 or 5.8 move.
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after a visit to lone pine we finally got onto shark fin, but the light was flat and the pictures less than stellar
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i had been wanting to do the center dinosaur crack as it looked pretty easy from afar and the comments online said it was even easier than it’s 5.7 rating. they also said it was an ‘awkward’ approach. on our first attempt ashley had found the belay station and when she came back to the little downclimb section i noticed stoke’s paw bleeding enough to cause some concern, especially since she said the belay was not dog friendly.
our turnaround point at the down climb.
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after dropping the dogs back in the van we headed back up. this is where climbing gets humbling. after getting about 4 pieces in i looked up and just didn’t feel it. not sure why i didn’t just put in gear and pull on it so i could at least learn something but instead we backed off. i must get better at crack.

to make ourselves feel better we went to the paul’s backyard, which offered the easiest climbing we found all week.
me on de ham bone, a 5.7 cruiser
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the next day we planned to hike up the whitney trail as far as possible to get the dogs some fun and exercise. plus, hutchski had never been in the area. dogs aren’t allowed on the peak since that’s in sequoia national park so summiting wasn’t a consideration. with that in mind we couldn’t pass up an opportunity to climb the shark fin again in perfect conditions.
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and then off to the whitney trail.
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it was a perfect crisp day for a hike.
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isn’t that fighter jet amazing?
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the amount of trash in the lake at trail camp was astonishing. somewhere an italian-american actor that plays a native american is crying.
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i had one more day free so we headed to the buttermilks (so i could leave bishop totally demoralized).
yes these things are tall. the sunshine boulder is but a pebble compared to the peabodies just downhill. even so, when i got to where hutchski is here my fear of heights got the best of me in a big way. one day i’ll be back in the proper frame of mind. the climb itself is easy.
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grandma peabody does have some fun stuff for mere mortals to play on. me on essential peabody.
bishop-climbing

i returned to tahoe as hutchski was planning her trip south and east. fortunately her plans were thwarted by flooding in death valley and she ended up back in bishop a few days later and i had 2 days free so we met in tom’s place and drove to the catacombs. neither of us had ever been. the place is awesome. plenty of easy bouldering to be had. naturally we were drawn to the church of the lost and found but found it was church of can’t get off the ground at least on the v1.
the opposite wall had lots to play on though. cossaboom bang bang was fun.
bishop-climbing

some was super easy, and featured beer holders.
bishop-climbing

just messin’ around here. this wall was featureless but slippery
bishop-climbing

hutchski, stoke and the mary poppins boulder. i love this picture.
bishop-climbing

the unmandatory heel hook
bishop-climbing

not only does the weekend retreat feature beer holders (out of picture), but also a handy cell phone carrier even for the new iphone 6.
bishop-climbing

after that i headed back to tahoe since the storms were supposed to start that night. they did

posted in climbing, doggies, hiking | Comments Off on summer’s last hurrah – a week on the eastside

new plan – let’s hit the redwood coast

work ended (until december) on the 12th of this month. on the 14th we planned to head south to do some climbing around mammoth (crystal crag) and then maybe something in tuolomne since it had been so warm. then the forecast took a turn for the worse with much rain in the forecast for the duration. a quick change of plans had us heading north for two days of sunny climbing on the redwood coast then some mountain biking in downieville. fate had other plans and we would not climb in the sun, but still had much fun.
wednesday we get our usual late start but no worries. we don’t have too far to go and grizzly dome doesn’t have too much to offer, especially for the dogs who would have to remain in the car. but then we notice that the bumblebeast is all over the road and wicked scary to drive (and passenger). hutchski just put new shoes on the van so we stopped by the placerville les schwab to see what was up. they said the front tires (which were replaced a month before the rear) were over 100psi. problem is she also has a readout from very recent oil change where part of the service is to check tire pressure, and the front tires were both listed at 55psi. the consensus is one of the front tires was not installed properly and was very loose, but they didn’t want to say that, making their company look bad. either way the issue was solved and for free.
we arrived at the dome as the sun was setting and quickly set up our belay. fortunately that was just a matter of backing up the beast to three weenies doing 5.12 (5.7)
grizzly dome

the artsy shot from the gopro
grizzly dome

the next day we headed to land of the lost. it looked like a 2 to 3 hour drive so we would arrive with plenty of time to climb. then we saw signs. expect a 1 to 2 hour delay on highway 299 between here and where you’re going. also google maps took us a roundabout way to get to titlow hill road, adding another hour (a scenic one though). we climbed, but not in the sun.
we went to the pinch me wall since it was pretty close and had plenty to offer us. the climbs were generally pretty easy for their repsective grades.
me on surprisingly delightful (5.8)
redwood coast climbing

hutchski is easily amused (5.6)
redwood coast climbing

tossing the rope off emerald forest (5.7)
redwood coast climbing

pulling the crux of pinch me i’m dreaming (5.10a)
redwood coast climbing

the chalk grab never goes out of style
redwood coast climbing

on the way out we stopped by sunset spire cause it was sunset so we had to. we both climbed hell if i know (5.7)
redwood coast climbing

redwood coast climbing

but then after rapelling down hutchski couldn’t budge the rope. we gave it a couple yanks but given it was pitch dark we bailed. it would be a good reason for me to come back the next morn.
the next morn. #homeiswhereyouparkit
redwood coast climbing

nacho was certainly excited to be up early
redwood coast climbing

i went up using an autoblock for protection. fire it up (5.9). very fun climb, and look, it’s the sun.
redwood coast

this was finally gonna be our day in the sun. we got a good start and it was only an hour to the coast and another 45 minutes up to patrick point state park and climbing right over the pacific. awesome!
except apparently the sun never shines on the redwood coast. cove south of wedding rock
redwood coast

who needs the sun though? cove north of wedding rock
redwood coast climbing

we climbed a couple routes on the rock way left in the first pano. me on an unknown 5.7ish crack
redwood coast climbing

hutchski following
redwood coast climbing

then we toproped a fun crack next door, maybe 5.9 with a low roof
redwood coast climbing

and wittle bugz
redwood coast climbing

redwood coast climbing

redwood coast climbing

we weren’t sure where we were headed next so we drove north on 101 and stopped at humboldt lagoon state park so the dogs could run on the beach.
nacho enjoys a serene moment
redwood coast climbing

then stoke happened
redwood coast climbing

we found a cave. i dub thee shaka cave
redwood coast climbing

looking at maps ashland, oregon was not too far at all. we heard great things about the biking there. we opted not to shuttle since we were planning on shuttling downieville the next day and the pups need their fun too. we rode from lithia park up to four corners and back. the trails were pretty rutted, especially catwalk and bti. there seems to be official trails and plenty of unofficial trails in the area. i’m guessing some of the unofficial would have been more better. no pics from ashland??

that evening we started the 5 hour drive to downieville. the evening light and the clearing storm made for great skies.
then this happened. omg what does it mean?
what does it mean

in contrast to our riding in ashland, downieville was in near perfect condition. great technical riding, smooth flowy singletrack through moss covered forests, and the trailwork they’ve done over the recent years up top is awesome.
downieville mountain biking

downieville mountain biking

downieville mountain biking

downieville mountain biking

next up, the eastside

posted in biking, climbing, doggies | Comments Off on new plan – let’s hit the redwood coast

a little fun in the back yard

living at the base of one of the better mountain biking trail systems in the country definitely has it’s rewards. it doesn’t hurt that the same system connects to the rim trail which provides much more in the way fun in the sun. one day in july i took off from the house to go on a 15 minute ride to get the pups some exercise. i passed the river at powerline trail and decided to head up corral loop to hit the tabletop section. well things were going so well i headed higher to the top of corral. still feeling good i went up oneidas to the top of the armstrong connector. having recently been up to armstrong pass i knew there were two more clean water sources before star lake so what the heck. along the rim trail between armstrong pass and freel pass i came upon this gem, the buddha. it was then i hatched a plan.
rock on rim trail

over the next several weeks i rode up there several times. once stashing a 60m rope and some nuts, the next time a tent and pad, and once more with some larger cams. hutchski isn’t so much into epics but all that was needed was a little deceit. “it’s gonna be easy” i said, and she fell for it. fast forward to august 19 and we were on our way, leaving #vanlife behind for 35 pound packs.
bike camping

this is not easy
bike camping

there’s the buddha just over her head (but still miles away).
bike camping

finally, armstrong pass. it’s all downhill from here. except for the uphill parts.
bike camping

we made it by mid afternoon, walked around the entire rock looking for a suitable spot to camp. finding none, we opted for a spot under the rim trail with great views.

then it was time to climb. we knew we could walk off this one behind the tree. what i didn’t know was that it would use all but 10′ of our 60m rope. thus the name, honey it’s longer than it looks, a 5.7 that would probably clean up to a 5.6. the rock quality was good.
bike camping

hutchski up about 2/3 of the way. the tree up top sets up well for a shady belay.
bike camping

by this point the sun was getting low. 15 minutes from the rock and our camp is a spring fed stream. we filled up our water supply as well as the pups’ and enjoyed bellinis amongst the wildflowers. with the clouds and smoky haze over the crystal range we knew we were in for an awesome sunset.
bike camping

heading back to camp i was impressed with some the recent work the rim trail volunteers had done.
bike camping

the sunset did not disappoint
bike camping

bike camping

bike camping

who me?
bike camping

bike glamping? the mountain house spaghetti with meat sauce was awesome. can’t say the same about their scrambled eggs with bacon for breakfast.
bike camping

nacho and hutchski in deep conversation
bike camping

after a night under the stars the next morning we rode to star lake. just before freel pass is this impressive rock. maybe another trip.
bike camping

macaskilling at freel pass
bike camping

bike camping

star lake is awesome
bike camping

and refreshing
bike camping

the primal quest adventure race was going on and several teams got to freel pass when we did (when we were on the way to star lake). their demeanor after coming from star lake had us dreading the climb back to the pass but it really wasn’t too bad, and had awesome views along the way.
bike camping

back at the buddha, we decided to climb in the shade on the upper back side. the rock quality here was very poor compared to the front and i don’t recommend it. hutchski lower down on two fingers (5.7). the rock here would basically fall apart when you touch it.
bike camping

nearing the top you can see why it’s two fingers. the gold rock is much better.
bike camping

as you can see by the opening picture there is a ton to climb here. we would have liked to do more but didn’t want to leave gear behind for anchors and couldn’t do any multi-pitch leaving the pups behind (especially along the rim trail). definitely would like to get back when i could.

posted in biking, climbing, doggies, gear reviews and tips | Comments Off on a little fun in the back yard

remember that one time when it snowed in tahoe

it’s no secret that tahoe has been hurting for snow this year. as the year started we had promises of storms of the century that yielded nothing more than ‘much needed wind’. our best storms became the inside slider, which in most years simply ushers in colder air. when one of these moves west enough to grab a little moisture off the pacific they can bring some decent cold snows, and with little wind. as one approached at the end of february things got more and more promising as it neared. there was a forecast of up to 6-12″ (tiny by normal tahoe standards) with a possibility of twice that wherever the deformation axis set up.
so on friday morning we were a bit disappointed to find that kirkwood had only received around 7″ while the north shore resorts received up to 17″. even so, we skinned up dangberg to get a few quick laps in with the pups while kirkwood’s finest did their patrol work.
febuly 28th. the pups could care less about no defamation ackses. they just like the snow (and each other obviously).
Carson Pass backcountry skiing

hutchski, nacho, and stoke nearing the top. no more pics from today cause it started dumping again

watching the snow fall during the day and the radars echo away at night we decided to dawn patrol the next day. hutchski had never been on one (doubt she’s ever seen a sunrise) so we were stoked. we opted to leave the dogs behind since they make it hard to take pics when it’s just us.
marchtember 1st. sunrise was pegged for 6:34 and we made to the top of our line above red lake exactly then. the sun, however, was nowhere to be seen.
Carson Pass backcountry skiing

even in big years this is a pillowy zone.
Carson Pass backcountry skiing

there’s lots more pillows now but it’s hard to get a good continuous line.
Carson Pass backcountry skiing

these are fun, but i want my pillow. waaaah.
Carson Pass backcountry skiing

below the old road, things opened up
Carson Pass backcountry skiing

pillows
Carson Pass backcountry skiing

and dreams
Carson Pass backcountry skiing

the next day we hooked up with the frush and headed back to the carson pass skinning resort. having a third person makes it easy(er) to corral the dogs while taking pics.
marchtember 2nd. nacho. deep thoughts
Carson Pass Backcountry skiing

stoke plows through while nacho is doggy paddling.
Carson Pass Backcountry skiing

the frush
Carson Pass Backcountry skiing

and again
Carson Pass Backcountry skiing

on our second lap we were going to to hit something similar to our first but this ramp with a bit of southeast to it is so rarely light and fluffy we decided to get it while the sun was out. of course as soon as we started the sun disappeared
Carson Pass Backcountry skiing

my bros and my bros
Carson Pass Backcountry skiing

i took us a little lower to a what is normally an awesome zone to get deep pow pics backlit by the sun. it was a tad rocky still.
the frush
Carson Pass Backcountry skiing

yessssss!
Carson Pass Backcountry skiing

more pillows below the road.
Carson Pass Backcountry skiing

i’m still getting used to jumping. i miss it so.
Carson Pass Backcountry skiing

nacho vs the goat
Carson Pass Backcountry skiing

our next lap took us to dead tree bowl. the sun finally decided to join us. the frush enjoys a techy line
Carson Pass Backcountry skiing

hutchski goes deep
Carson Pass Backcountry skiing

Carson Pass Backcountry skiing

once again, things are awesome below the road. me and stoke, stoked.
Carson Pass Backcountry skiing

Carson Pass Backcountry skiing

our last lap of the day was a bit further skiers right. the frush goes deep again
Carson Pass Backcountry skiing

the next day the forecast was for bluebird. we decided to tour from carson pass to kirkwood with nacho and stoke. this meant we didn’t have to get too early a start since we wouldn’t want to finish while the backside was still open. kirkwood and unruly pups don’t mix.
marchtember 3rd. nacho. rollin’ in the deeee-eeep.
Carson Pass Backcountry skiing

nacho and hutchski with moon couloir in the background. not bluebird.
Carson Pass Backcountry skiing

when art imitates life. or art imitates art. i can’t decide
Carson Pass Backcountry skiing

skintrack stoke. and nacho and hutchski
Carson Pass Backcountry skiing

stoke’s bane, the snowshoe hare. he came back so tired
Carson Pass Backcountry skiing

life on the edge. this is the main ski goal of the tour. the top portion was awesome although there were a few scratchy turns
Carson Pass Backcountry skiing

Carson Pass Backcountry skiing

down lower we ran into the season’s main problem. limited to no snow below 8k. fourth of july lake in the background
Carson Pass Backcountry skiing

after shooting pics hutchski was making her way across very easy terrain to the lunch log when she hit some rocks, caught her ski, and supermanned her way into a broken hand. i owed her a rescue but the situation didn’t warrant it. even so i did open her beer cause i’m a gentleman and all. chivalry’s not dead.

looking back from the top of our next line
Carson Pass Backcountry skiing

this normally windblown or icy face turned out to be the best lines of the day.
Carson Pass Backcountry skiing

i took a spill as well. came out of it without a pole. fortunately hutchski had an extra she didn’t need.

anybody know how to hotwire a chair?

the day’s final skin pull as the sun drops below the horizon

on wednesday, hutchski hit the hospital where they told her she had fractured (just barely that wuss) her hand. so we took the day off. reports from wednesday included tales of very icy conditions on the west shore of emigrant lake. we decided to head around to the more north facing areas and then head back to where i lost my pole (the pov footage showed me exactly where to find it).
marchtember 5th. solar freakin’ roadways

hutchski in sally alley. the top was decent hotpow over ice and the midsection (here) was a bit crusty. then it softened up below.
Carson Pass Backcountry skiing

i managed to hit this small air without dying but am used to splitting the uprights above. there’s always next year.
Carson Pass Backcountry skiing

then it got good
Carson Pass Backcountry skiing

back in the always shaded shark tooth. everything above this had turned to wind crusted nastiness. good to finish with sweet pow turns though
Carson Pass Backcountry skiing

until the next storm, wherever we find it

posted in backcountry, doggies, photography, skiing, Uncategorized | Comments Off on remember that one time when it snowed in tahoe

summer in the city

back in 1950 (actually it was early july this year) ashley and i hopped in the bumble beast and headed east, and a bit north as well to city of rocks idaho. this was our first long test of the beast and she performed beautifully. we left after work around midnight and traded shifts driving and sleeping throughout the night. the sun rose as we passed through wells, nevada. there we both grabbed a catnap parked outside mcdonalds while we used their wifi to download a movie. does mickeyd’s wifi make you fat?
city of rocks
sunrise over i-80

we continued on to the city and arrived early in the afternoon in time for another nap. the pups (you remember sir fartsalot and chief poopsinside) were ready for action though.
city of rocks
bumble beast and crew in the upper breadloaves picnic area

we headed around the corner to decadent wall where we could climb and the pups could run
city of rocks
me on twilight (5.6)

city of rocks
ashley being chased by twilight on twilight

the book says walk off to the left. i was supposed to be even further left but no biggie
city of rocks

while i was climbing down the second time, ashley was soloing up something nearby
city of rocks
how do i get down from here?

turned out that night someone had poached our camp site. no biggie though since there were plenty available. we found one and had a good night’s sleep. the next day the sun rose.
city of rocks
idaho sunrise

the pups were anxious to get started
city of rocks
twin pups and twin sisters

3 hours later hutchski was up too so we went for a bike ride to climb at site 18. site 18 offers great shade most of the time and a nice progression of climbs from 5.7-5.10.
city of rocks
ashley on skin the cat (5.7)

city of rocks
belayer’s view of ashley on skin the cat.

city of rocks
me clipping on skin the cat (5.7)

next up was looker, a 5.8 that ashley led and i top roped. them we moved over to bomber, fun 5.9 we both led.
city of rocks
yours truly on bomber (5.9)

we headed up the road to the parking lot rock area and hiked around to the east face of window rock. i tried the climb in the pic below last year with my daughters but moved left just below this crux. at the time i thought the guide listed it as a 5.6 and was disappointed i backed off on such an easy grade. turns out it’s a 5.7 that’s not in the guide so i feel a little better now.
city of rocks
me on drunken cowboy (5.7).

the anchor at the top of drunken cowboy works for several climbs to the left as well
city of rocks
ashley on pure pleasure (5.6)

we originally came to parking lot rock to climb some routes on it, but when we got there we weren’t happy with the belay ledge for puppy safety. after the hike to window rock and some running around we figured they’d be ok in the beast while we climbed a couple long single pitches. plus we were able to set up the camera in the front seat with the timer to take pics. unfortunately the focus was off just a tad. norma’s book was listed as an excellent 5.5 trad route and delay of game was supposed to be fun 5.8 sport route. both were closer to 5.7 than their given ratings. they were both a blast too.
city of rocks
me leading norma’s book (5.5 in the guide, 5.6+ on mountain project)

we set up a top rope with two ropes for delay of game. it was one of the easiest 5.8’s we’ve ever done.
city of rocks
ashley on delay of game (5.8)

city of rocks
me on delay of game

after climbing for the day we had to see what all the hooplah was about window arch. it’s a short, maybe 150 yards, hike from one of the camping areas and well worth it. especially if you have a dog to look over you.
city of rocks

for some reason this area always seems to have beautiful skies in the morning and at night
city of rocks
the bumble beast in the evening light

morning rays light up today’s objective, elephant rock
city of rocks

these two are obviously very excited
city of rocks

each morning we’d get up to watch the kangaroo boxing matches.
city of rocks

wheat thin is a super popular route. fortunately we arrived early and got a lap in.
city of rocks

i moved the anchors over to the top of just say no (5.9) and sinsemilla (5.8). both are fairly runout but on top rope, who cares?
city of rocks
ashley on sinsemilla (5.8)

after ashley i top roped sinsemilla as quickly as possible so i could set up the rappel and get down in the thunderous downpour. the day’s climbing was over but this was exactly why we brought the bikes. we started from the camp site and headed up to the breadloaves which is also the start of the tea kettle trail. behind us in the picture is some of the previous day’s climbing. between us is window rock and to the right of ashley is parking lot rock. norma’s book is the obvious corner. a little while later we lost the trail and ended up doing the mountain bike version of bushwhacking.
city of rocks
tea kettle trail with climbing in the background

the next day was our last so we decided to see what castle rocks park was all about. partly for the climbing and partly because we heard they had hot showers which would be welcome before the long drive home. they definitely have climbing. this is a very well bolted route on the south face of the main castle rock
city of rocks
ashley on high times (5.7)

it’s a two pitch climb that can easily be done in one pitch if you have enough draws. the good news is you can skip plenty of bolts if you want.
city of rocks
me on high times

after lunch we decided it would be fun to pull on some stuff beyond our ability.
city of rocks
me on cryin’ shame (11b). i did the indirect 11a version

posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on summer in the city

is tahoe dying? hell no

about a week ago i came across an article via facebook stating that tahoe (particularly south lake tahoe) is dying. the piece went on to blame the situation on the lack of snow and the trpa. interestingly, the article used several images to prove tahoe is dying which in fact prove the opposite. for instance this picture of the old bonanza hotel was used to show dilapidated south lake tahoe has become
old hotel

the problem is that the hotel in the picture has been torn down and is now (as of 2012) a neighborhood park. edgewood companies bought the old hotel in order to gain tourist accommodation units (basically toilets) to use in their planned lodge. they built the park and donated it to the city. the tau program is a brainchild of the trpa.
bonanza park

the article also used this picture of the now defunct horizon casino ‘resort’.
horizon

the horizon has been in a bad way for quite some time. but as of the writing of mr. morse’s article, it was well on it way to becoming this
hard rock hotel resort

driving highway 50 provides many more examples of tahoe coming back to life. the fence has been removed and the hole in the ground is now partially filled with shops and restaurants. there are a number of new projects in town as well as old hotels being completely refurbished.
the landing, formerly the royal valhalla
the landing tahoe

tahoe new construction
construction of the lodge at edgewood, auto zone in the middle of town, and the new bevmo at they y

to prove how the weather is killing us mr. morse provided this image, which most of us saw last year. the problem with this is that it does not paint a complete picture at all. in fact if you were to show the january 2012 picture next to the 2013 picture you would get the impression that tahoe’s winters are getting better and better
snow

while it’s true that last year was horrible for skiing, even in drought years, tahoe typically gets more snow than most resorts in the rockies. sure a season like last year might make us travel to whiter pastures to get our fix, it’s not going to make us give up on tahoe. for the beauty of tahoe is not just our amazing winters, but also our amazing summers, and falls, and springs. tahoe is truly an amazing place year round and economically the winters pale in comparison to our busy summers, something no other ski destination can claim.

having said all that there is one thing that gives me hope for tahoe’s future. it’s the new attitude of our city leaders. somewhere along the lines they realized there had to be something beyond gaming to make south lake tahoe whole. the casino corridor is no longer the complete focus of everything they do. this is best reflected in new events in the center of town. lakeview commons and the summer concert series are prime examples of this. this is a series of events created for south lake tahoe residents and benefits south lake tahoe rather than solely the stateline district. snowglobe is another example. it is events like these which are not targeted towards the casino corridor or the gambling demographic that will ensure that tahoe moves forward as a viable community with a diversified economic plan.
five or six years ago, commercial space in the y area was largely empty and unrented. with the bevmo and the new shoe store moving into the garfinkle building (tj maxx), and wells fargo moving into the old sports ltd in the raley’s plaza, all the stores at the y will be filled for the first time i remember. so if you ask me, tahoe isn’t dying, it’s thriving.

posted in rants, Uncategorized | Comments Off on is tahoe dying? hell no