Thursday, November 27, 2014

Mountain Ice Skating

Last weekend I hiked up to Loch Leven with my ice skates to investigate the alpine ice. It was sort of drizzling at first, but then at higher elevations it was more sleety with some mini graupel. The trail was almost completely clear of snow with only a few steps that were more than an inch deep. A few wet spots were icy though. Once I passed the ridge it was very windy. I don't think the temperature was much under freezing but I am sure the wind chill was severe. I drilled a few holes in the ice with an ice screw. I went in about 4 inches and didn't strike water although it looked like there was a bit of very thin ice and open water near the inlet. I stayed well clear of this area.

it was a gray and windy day

Next I laced on the skates and started sliding about. The ice was decent but not all that smooth with a few snowy patches. The wind and the fact that I am not a particularly good skater and I think my skates are dull did not help. You could just sail downwind without doing anything - but upwind travel was a little more work.

my feet look really small here
Once I started getting cold I switched back to my boots and slid down to the end of the lake before walking back. Sometimes I was unable to stand still with the wind - it just slid me sideways on the ice - luckily there wasn't a hole or anything too scary downwind of me.


This is a video I took when I was leaving.

there was an odd texture where precipitation stuck to the ice
also note the snow blowing just right of the trees

In other news, there were some new birds at city park - Canada geese and American wigeon

Canada goose head

American wigeon

Monday, November 10, 2014

Fall Highball Classic

This weekend (November 7-9) was the Fall Highball Classic here sponsored by the American Alpine Club, Access Fund, etc. It involved a showing of Valley Uprising Friday night, Clinics and Climbing Saturday, A party and big alpine granite slideshow by Dave Nettle, cleanup and other work at the Buttermilks Sunday, and of course more bouldering and climbing. It was nice to catch up with a few people there, and someone even recognized the name on my jacket tag and asked if I was the one with the blog (someone not related to me has actually read at least some of this!). There were some 60 or more people getting a variety of projects done at the Buttermilks including dispersing (mostly into holes in the road) a large pile of soil produced when the toilet was installed. Hopefully that will help keep things a little nicer in the area. Then I did some bouldering mostly on the green wall - it was a little warm and felt harder than last time I tried it. Oh well.

warming up at the party Saturday night

some of the people gathered to work on the Buttermilks

soil pile before

soil pile after (and new toilet)

our fearless leader Andrew tells us what is up

bouldering on the Green Wall

Bouldering season is well and truly here - it is like someone turned the climber switch on. I have mostly just been bouldering with a few bike rides thrown in - and trying to insulate my ceiling. It sure is nice to have cool nights and sunny days even if they are starting to get short. I also got enough gear to set up a longish line (up to 110 feet long so far) so I have been working on that from time to time. It still doesn't feel comfortable, but I am getting better - and better at holding my arms up for a long time.
longline in the park

gratuitous Owens Valley sunset
In other news if you haven't seen it Sam, Raquel, and Ben have been hard at work trying to get kickstarter funding for making a movie with all the footage they took during the 50 state Peace Love Car end of the road tour this year. Sam and Raquel didn't actually drive to all 50 states, but they visited them all and drove to all but Hawaii and also all the Canadian entities that you can actually drive to. This is a worthy project so if you are interested in this sort of thing check it out - there aren't many days left and they are in the final push.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Fall, Winter, and back to Fall. Photos and more.

Thursday was summer with 90+ degrees and hot sun, Friday was fall with some clouds and a cold breeze, and Saturday was winter(ish). I went out with a bunch of other photographers Sat morning to take pics of the fall color. There were lots of other photographers out, especially at N. Lake. Then we got together to look at some of the pics we had taken.  Here are some of the pics from that.

N Lake

ground with dusting of snow
creek below S. Lake
the Everest challenge was Sat - lots of bikes on the roads

Mt Humphreys Sat. morning
That afternoon I went bouldering at the Buttermilks. It was cold and there was definitely better friction. There were also lots of non-locals there. Sunday was also winter. I went bouldering at the Happys. It sprinkled a bit, but the real action was up in the mountains and to the north.

looking up towards Mt Tom from the Owens Valley on Sunday

It rained in town a bunch that night but was clear the next morning and the surrounding mountains had a fresh coat of snow.

Mt Humphreys Monday morning

Soon it was back to fall again and I went out to take some bird photos... It might even be back to summer by the end of the week.

American coot

yellow bird hiding among yellow flowers

Mt Humphreys from a distance - note how much snow has melted by Tuesday morning

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mount Clarence King and Gardiner Peak

Originally Jonathan and I planned a longer trip to the Great Western Divide, but a number of factors including the weather changed our plans to a more modest trip. We delayed another day for weather (wisely it appears) and then hiked in over Kearsarge and Glen passes and into 60 Lakes Basin where we set up camp. The next day we climbed Clarence King and then headed over towards Gardiner but walked past the base in Gardiner Basin opting to head back to camp to swim in the lake before it got too cold and climb it the next day. So, the next day we headed back and climbed it including a most excellent summit ridge. J headed back to camp and I traversed along the ridge passing a number of un-named peaks along the way before dropping down and back to camp for another swim. The last day we hiked out up towards Dragon lake and then south cross country and over the ridge west of Gould and back down. There was a lot of frosty dew - especially the first night. I took heaps of pictures of the lovely scenery. As usual there will probably be a more extensive trip report with more pics to come - I'll post a link here to it if I remember.

Jonathan on the summit of Clarence King

Jonathan picked up mylar balloon litter - it made a nice Thomas the Tank Engine doormat

some of the most excellent summit ridge on Mount Gardiner

Milky Way reflected in a lake

here I am relaxing on a summit

Rae Lake and Painted Lady Peak - quite scenic really

Monday, September 15, 2014

Bouldering and Boating

It is finally cooling off a bit here, so that means bouldering season is beginning... or at least that time of the year when you fall off your old warm-ups and re-realize that bouldering is hard and your fingertips are soft. In any case I have been out a few evenings and mornings and it is starting to get good.
Julie tops out the Green Boulder

Andrea climbs the Hero Roof

Andrea on the Tut Boulder

bonus for evening bouldering = sunset

Julie got a new boat, so we went down the Owens River from Pleasant Valley CG. Unfortunately the water was running pretty fast and the willows had grown a bunch since the last time I went down so the current really wanted to take you into the willows. I was able to mostly avoid this with more experience with swiftwater and avoiding willow entrapment. Julie wasn't prepared for this and got swept into the overhanging branches a number of times. After a few swims we swapped boats which helped, but not enough. Despite traveling down river for a while Julie had a pretty short walk back to the put in because of all of the meanders. I continued on to the take out with my pack raft. I saw a Great Blue Heron, lots of ducks, a coot, a kingfisher, some fish, and lots of yellowish warblers and swifts.

Julie paddles

Julie paddles her boat "Supernova"
Sorry I didn't get any pictures of the heinous willow tunnels - I was too busy trying to not get trapped myself.

another Buttermilks sunset pic

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Hurd Peak

Yesterday I hiked and scrambled up Hurd Peak. I started from S Lake and hiked up to Long Lake. From there I cut cross country and started scrambling. I went up the rocky part on the NE slope up a ridge and a gully. The way I went probably up to hard 4th class but I could have made it a bit easier w/ some downclimbing and more careful route finding. From the top of the N ridge I had to traverse quite a bit to get to the true summit. After spending a good bit of time on the summit enjoying the view, eating lunch, and taking some pictures I headed back to the N and then cut down to the west down to some little lakes that were chock full of sierra yellow-legged frogs and tadpoles. It looked like 2 sizes of tadpoles - some that were bigger and sprouting legs and some that were pretty small. They certainly weren't endangered in these little lakes unless they were endangered by overcrowding.

Then I went down to Treasure Lakes (no frogs here) and back down the trail. Back at S. Lake I met a guy who had just finished the N Lake to S Lake loop so I gave him a ride back to his vehicle at N Lake.

Hurd Pk from Long Lake. I went up just right of the rock spire in the center

view from part way up - long lake, chocolate pk, cloudripper, Bishop Pass, etc.

it is always nice to see some friends in the summit register

gratuitous summit selfie

no shortage of tadpoles here

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day Weekend Climbing

This labor day weekend Skip and Craig came up from LA and SD to climb in the Bishop area. Saturday we went to the dike wall by Mammoth and did a number of most excellent climbs there - a few new ones and a few repeats for me. A good time was had by all despite some humbling by the rock gods. Sunday we went to Cardinal Pinnacle and did the west face. What an awesome fun route and great rock. The mostly spacious belay ledges were appreciated as we were a party of 3. I sort of bungled the raps, but we got down ok. Then we wanted to go to the demolition derby at the fair. By the time we had eaten and headed over there it was sold out. Monday we had originally planned on heading to Pine Creek, but a tightening of schedules had us heading to the Sad boulders for some fun bouldering in the shade before they had to go.

Sometimes it takes a visit from people from out of town to make me re-appreciate just how nice things can be here on the east side, thanks for coming up guys.

Skip leading "Cro Magnon" at the Dike Wall

Craig leads "Black Lassie" at the Dike Wall

I sit on a little ledge at the top of P2 of West Crack on Cardinal Pinnacle