Friday, June 29, 2012

Adventure Climbing= Keep Your Helmet On!

From the cabin at the top of the hill in Old Mammoth, comes another installment of the Eastside Report!  This past week's theme has been Adventure! Climbing... with ascents of an obscurity on the Third Pillar of Dana as well as a backcountry classic.  Success was had on both projects, and my quota for loose and otherwise consequential climbing has been met for at least a little while.

Lenticular Limbo is a bold free route on one of the finer pieces of Sierran granite, put up by hardmen Peter Mayfield and Scott Grafton in 1980, and likely climbed very seldom since.  There is a pretty good Supertopo thread about LL here:  Lenticular Limbo Thread with some great FA history by Mayfield.

Either way, I was stoked to get out and try it, especially given the lack of available info.  Taylor Lamoureaux and I climbed it in a casual day from Mammoth, finding several difficult cruxes, likely much harder to protect with 1980 hardware, and more than one spot where a fall would have serious consequences.  Lucky for us the mountain gods were smiling that day!

Once we joined up with the regular route's final pitch and a half, we were psyched!  A couple of the nicest splitter alpine pitches around to top off a great day before soft-serve ice cream at Mono Cone!

A whole day later, I found myself hiking up the most heinous dusty shaley switchbacks out of Pine Creek with Jen Reynolds, en route to climb the North Buttress of Merriam Peak, a route which has been getting quite a bit of press lately proclaiming it's reputation for being a backcountry gem.

After spending the afternoon dipping our flies in the recently thawed Royce Lakes, with no luck, we ate some tacos sans fish, had a tasty hot toddy and relaxed with a bright moon overhead.


Mt. Humphrey's from Royce Lakes

The next day was long.  We climbed the route, encountering much more looseness than we would have expected, trundled a very large block that luckily did not detach fully when I grabbed it, and generally tried to keep having fun despite a brisk wind.  The triple cracks pitch and the final 5.10 corner/layback pitch are both some of the cooler pitches I have led in the mountains, but don't be fooled by the number of people who have climbed this recently, it is still an alpine route and you need to keep your head on you, all the way to the top.


It was a long hike out, 10 miles or so, dropping 6,000ft before we pulled into my favorite taco truck in Bishop, Taqueria mi Guadalajara for late nite burritos.

Keep climbing, keep it safe.  Ryan

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Mountain Madness in the Palisades!

Ah, the Palisades.  The Sierra Nevada have a lot to offer, but it is in the upper reaches of the South and North Forks of the Big Pine where a truly spectacular and humbling mountain environment exists.  Here the mountains rise up in the greatest grouping of 14,000 ft peaks in the range, dropping down along their gendarmed and complex ridges and faces towards the Palisade glacier and a host of milky azul lakes and groves of aspen and lodgepole pine.  In other words, it is pretty cool.  

Over the past week I have climbed a cool route on Temple Crag with my friend Jonathan Cooper, and then guided a 5 day mountain camp for Sierra Mountain Center along with fellow guide Andrew Soleman.  With Pete, Alex and Bronson, we worked on snow and rock skills, then put those new skills to the test on the Fornication Arete of Mt. Robinson, the Yellow Brick Road on Mt. Gayley, and the Starr Route on Mt. Sill.  
With incredible (and very windy) weather, we were able to do all the climbing we hoped for, and have a really fun time on the way.  

Thanks to Tom Kurzeka, our tireless (now probably pretty tired) intern, who took most of these photos for me as we climbed our routes.  

Coop navigates the upper reaches of Venusian Blind

The Youth, doing his best to make a graceful entrance into Third Lake

Pete Barry enjoys the corners on Fornication Arete

Pete climbing over towers high on Mt. Robinson

Andrew brings Alex and Bronson over the first tower

Alex self arrests high above Moraine Lake

Above the L-shaped snowfield, into the rock part of the Starr Route

Atop Mt. Sill, perhaps the single greatest vantage point in the Sierra

Lowering down after climbing Mt. Sill in a vrey quick camp to camp time

The season is really just getting started, and it is shaping up to be a very fun one with a lot of good trips coming up- Whitney, Mt. Lyell, Temple Crag, Crystal Crag, the list goes on!  
Now it is time for some relaxing and being light duty for the next week...