Friday, June 29, 2012

Intermission

We had originally planned to spend some time climbing in the Tetons, but after coming out of the Wind River Range we decided we'd satiated our need to go alpine climbing, and we needed a break from long approaches. It was time to go sport climbing!

Our friend Trish highly recommended that we go check out Ten Sleep Canyon while we were in Wyoming.  In her words, 'we would fall in love with sport climbing'. I'm not sure that happened, but the climbing was incredibly fun, and we spent 3 days climbing many classic routes on the heavily featured limestone. We got a bit lazy as far as taking pictures goes. The canyon is quite pretty (only slightly marred by the highway running through it) but after climbing at the Cirque of the Towers the views just didn't seem all that epic. Here is Kristal rapping off of  one of the classic routes - The Eldorado Coral Club.


On the hike out one evening a couple of burrowing owls emerged from the brush and started to freak out at us. It was a bit creepy the way they just kind of swayed in place all puffed up clucking at us.


After three days of cranking hard we were pretty sore, and it was time to move on. We had to get up to Calgary to catch a plane back to Toronto for the long weekend. One of Kristal's friends is getting married and Kristal is in the wedding party. It will be good to take a bit of a break, to let our various aches and pains heal.

We had time for one more quick stop in Montana, at Gallatin Canyon outside of Bozeman. We made a quick ascent of the Standard Route 5.8+ up Gallatin Tower. With a super short approach and only 300 feet of climbing we were up and down and on the road again before noon.  Here is Kristal following up the second pitch.


The view from the top.


Random nothingness during the drive through Montana.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Cirque of the Towers

We just finished a nice little backpacking trip into the Wind River Range, to do some climbing in the spectacular Cirque of the Towers area.  It's the first time we've backpacked in somewhere to do some climbing and, wow, hauling in camping and climbing gear makes for some pretty heavy packs.  The hike in to where we camped was about 14 kilometers and took about 5 1/2 hours.  Here is Kristal coming over Jackass Pass, elevation around 10,500 feet.


And here is the view of the Cirque of the Towers area from the pass, with the prominent Pingora Peak on the right.


We set up camp in the meadows below.  Thankfully the snow pack was incredibly light this year.  Normally there would be no way we'd be climbing here in the middle of June without ice climbing gear.  Here I am eating breakfast one morning in our cooking/eating area.


Here is Kristal on our way to climb the Northeast Face 5.8+ of Pingora Peak.


It's about 1200ish feet high, and even though it doesn't look that far away, it was still over an hour's approach from camp to the base of the climb. The climb itself was pretty awesome, and despite being so remote there were 2 parties ahead of us on route (it is one of the 50 classic climbs of North America).  Here is Kristal coming up the 4th pitch.


It marks the highest we've ever climbed, with the summit being at 11,884 feet.


As usual, the views from the top were pretty stunning.  Photos do not do them justice.  Here's the North Popo Agie River valley.


And Mitchell Peak.


We were also hoping to climb the East Ridge 5.6 of Wolf's Head (on the right below), but the approach and descent had a bit too much steep snow for our liking, and we decided to do some hiking in the area instead.




Saturday, June 16, 2012

Oregon

From Tuolumne we headed north to finally do some climbing in Oregon. Despite driving through the state on numerous occasions we had yet to actually climb in it. We were in need of a couple of rest days on the way though. Our first stop was at Lava Beds National Monument, which boasts the highest concentration of lava tubes in the United States. It was really cool to be able to hike through a few of these awesome cave systems.


The ones we hiked were pretty large, and we could walk upright most of the way (well, at least Kristal could), but there were a few fun constrictions we had to pass.


Our next stop was Crater Lake National Park, which is an amazing lake in the caldera of a dormant volcano.  At 1,934 feet deep, it is the deepest lake in the United States, and the ninth deepest in the world.  It is also remarkably blue, and the surrounding scenery is breathtaking.  It also gets a ridiculous amount of snow (533 inches a year!), and as a result there were still massive amounts of snow on the ground.



We finally stopped to go climbing at Smith Rock State Park, a hugely popular climbing and hiking destination. The place was a zoo of people, and we could only tolerate it for a couple of days, but it is quite pretty and we did get on some fun climbs. We kept forgetting the camera though, so no pictures.

Our next stop was Trout Creek, which has been on our list for quite a while. Despite only spending one day there we climbed a full day of amazing splitter cracks. It almost felt like being at Indian Creek again! We would have stayed longer, but we could barely move the next day, so decided to move on. It has definitely been added to the list of destinations we'd return to though.



Thursday, June 14, 2012

Tuolumne

We spent a few more days climbing in Tuolumne, getting on some pretty memorable routes. We pushed our limits on Crying Time Again 5.10a R and the amazing first pitch of Bombs Over Tokyo 5.10c. We got on the classic Blown Away 5.9, on which every pitch was unique and excellent, with some amazing exposure. As we were topping out we noticed Faith and Dirk, with their friend Rob, had just finished a climb on the dome next door (It was uncanny how many times we ran into them).  They took a picture of us on top of Daff Dome.


And here was our view of them.


As usual the views of Tuolumne Meadows were amazing.


On our last day we decided to simul climb the Northwest Buttress of Tenaya Peak.


We ran into a marmot a few hundred feet up.


Between the approach and the climb it gains about 2000 feet, but the climbing is mostly really easy 5th class (and quite a bit of 3rd and 4th class), so it felt like going on a long hike and we ran up it pretty quickly. Here's Kristal on an outcropping near the summit.


With the days being pretty long, we decided to get on one more climb after dinnner and flew up West Country 5.7 just before dark. One advantage of starting so late was that we didn't have to wait for any parties ahead of us. The views of Half Dome from the top were also pretty awesome.


It was really hard to leave such an amazing place, but it was time to move on. We'll be back!




Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Ghost Town

After a restless night sleeping in the car we woke up to find the road to Tioga Pass still closed. We decided to head to the nearby Bodie State Historic Park. Bodie was a gold mining town that had it's heyday in the late 1800's, and what remains (after 2 fires and the ravages of time) has been left mostly untouched since the last residents left in the 1940's.


It was really cool to see the old houses and learn about the history of the town. In 1893 the mining company built a hydroelectric plant about 20 kilometers away to power the mill. It was one of the first installations in the country to be powered by the transmission of electricity over a long distance. Apparently they built the power lines as straight as possible because they weren't sure if the electricity would be able to turn corners.






We were still a little apprehensive about out tent.  Thankfully by the time we got back in the afternoon the pass had finally re-opened, and aside from some dirt that had blown in our it was still in good order!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Inclement Weather

We spent the last week enjoying some amazing climbing in Tuolumne Meadows, the higher elevation part of Yosemite National Park. We were there two years ago, and were excited to be back to get on some climbs that we were unwilling to do on our last visit. First up was South Crack 5.8 R, which despite some serious runouts was a nice jaunt up the Stately Pleasure Dome.


Next up was one of the 50 classic climbs of North America, The Regular Route 5.9 up Fairview Dome.  Despite it being a super popular route we decided to climb it on a Sunday, hoping that a late start would see most of the traffic already out of our way. Unfortunately a seemingly slow party had just started as we got there, and we still had to wait an hour at the base. We decided to use the time wisely.


Thankfully the party ahead of us, who self admittedly had very poor crack climbing skills, were actually reasonably fast once they got through the first few crux pitches, and we didn't have to do any waiting on route. Here I am on our 3rd belay ledge, 600ish feet up, looking across to Daff Dome.


Here is Kristal leading our 4th pitch, just after being passed by a free soloist.


And here we are at the top, with Tuolumne Meadows in the background.


The views were spectacular as usual.


Even the walk off was pretty cool.  Here is the party that climbed behind us as they started down the descent.


For the most part the weather was pretty much ideal, except for one day when a storm decided to roll in.


We opted to take a rest day and head down to Mammoth Lakes to enjoy the hot springs and resupply. Little did we know that while we were watching the hail from the comfort of a restaurant, the road to Tioga Pass, along with access to our tent, was being closed. At least the storm made for some interesting pictures.


Thankfully we ran into our friends Faith and Dirk (again!) in Lee Vining and between some of our extra sleeping gear and an extra blanket from them we were able to survive the night in the car without freezing too badly. We were a bit apprehensive about our tent though. The last time we left it unattended during a storm, a couple of years ago in Utah, it was completely destroyed when we returned. Hopefully the same thing wouldn't happen this time.


Monday, June 4, 2012

Bishop - Exploring

Since the hot weather limited our bouldering to morning and evening sessions, and we were camping up in the tablelands north of the town, we spent a quite a bit of time exploring the area.  We were most excited by the many traces of native Owens Valley Paiute people that we stumbled on pretty every time we went for a hike, along with the cool wildlife and amazing views.


These little guys are everywhere.



The view out of one of several caves we found containing pictographs.


One of two Short-Horned Lizards we stumbled upon.



View of the Owens River from the top of the Tablelands.