Monday, May 18, 2015

Winter returns to the Sierra- But We Are Still Sending!

Well it seems as if Winter has returned to our local mountains, laying down coat upon coat of fresh white paint.  This has been a good thing for those who have decided to keep gardens for the season, but bad for pretty much everybody else who want to get out and enjoy spring in the Sierra.  Passes have opened and closed, Mammoth Mountain has closed and then reopened, and the winter kit has been pulled back out of the closet.

Despite the wet May and the unpredictable pattern we seem to be in, some very cool trips have been completed over the past couple weeks.

First, Alex came out to do a private mountain camp, during which we had hoped to complete a large traverse in the Palisade area, but with the forecast we chose to day-trip based in Mammoth.  So after a day of crack climbing skills, we tackled the North Ridge of Mt. Conness, and a seldom done peak in Little Lakes Valley near Bear Creek Spire.

After Alex's trip was over I got to do a couple of day trips with return guests who wanted to develop some new skills, and then hiked in to the Mount Thompson area with Hartej to make an ascent of the Harrington Couloir.  The conditions were far from the late season ice which make it the classic climb that it is, but were still challenging enough to make for a good day out in the mountains.  We rappelled the route, and I installed some new anchors and replaced old ones, as the Knudsen Couloir looked to be in poor shape to make the standard descent down.

The next morning I repacked my kit and headed up the North Fork of Lone Pine for a very wintery attempt on Mount Whitney with 4 guys from the Bay Area, but our attempt ended at the Notch (14,000') after too many hours of knee-crotch deep snow wallowing left us pretty depleted.  Who would have thought that we should have brought powder skis with us in May?!

So continues what will likely shape up to be the busiest work season I have had in a while, and with more interesting weather on its way, opportunity for real deal alpine climbing still exist- we have not yet transitioned into our CALpine climbing season!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Carabiner Coffee- Serving Up The Goods

Gone are the days of Folger's, Maxwell House and Sanka, unless you happen to do most of your coffee drinking at Waffle House or the Shell Station on the I-70.  For the rest of us, a lot of options are out there for delicious coffee, roasted the way we want it.

Enter Carabiner Coffee.  Erik Gordon, the founder of the small roasting company, roasts small batches of beans and sells them locally and through an online store, basing much of the operation out of his 1971 VW van.  After embarking on a long bike tour, he devoted himself to the mission of putting good coffee in the hands of adventurous people, who are out there climbing, hiking, skiing, paddling and enjoying the wonders of the world.
How is the coffee?  Delicious.  I have been trying to ween myself off of Starbucks Via Packets for some time now, and although they still have a place on long alpine routes where weight is key, I have now traded up to a French press and a bag of grounds on base camp trips.  The roasts are spot on, with a medium and dark roast now available (the "Skootch" and the "Business"), with a light roast on its way.

But we can get good coffee from a lot of sources now, so why go to the trouble of going online to buy it?  Well, like a lot of the other ways we choose to spend our discretionary cash, using our purchases to support causes, local economies, and lifestyles we identify with has become a powerful thing.
So when you buy beans from Carabiner, you are not just getting a good cup of coffee, but also helping to keep the adventure alive.  Hey, the next time you roll up to your local crag you might even see Ol' Blue parked in the lot serving up some brew!