Friday, December 23, 2011

Stoney Point Climbing

Placeholder for Stoney point climbing.



Stay tuned....

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mt. Williamson - First Attempt

My climbing partner in crime, Mark, and I set off to the Eastern Sierras with our sights on two of Cali's finest offerings: Mt. Williamson and Mt. Tyndall. In this early season attempt, we were hoping for some good winter conditions to test our mettle against. Thus far, the precip this winter has been dismal... in other words, nonexistent.
As per usual, we worked our mandatory half-workdays that Friday and then split. for the mountains. Coming from Phoenix, my attempt at beating LA traffic failed, despite the early start. Tack on another 1.5 hours. I rolled into Lone Pine around 8pm, got our permit, some quick food and then set out to meet Mark in Independence. I reunited with Mark, we split a beer at some quaint lil' French coffee shop, convinced a really sweet Indian lady to make us subs after-hours, and then drove off into the darkness.



We both took turns drifting our front-wheel drive cars along the dirt roads.
KEEP READING...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mt. Williamson & Mt Tyndall (Eastern Sierras)



Check out that beautiful sight! In two days my climbing brotha, Mark, and I will be trekking deep into them Sierras and climbing the west face of Williamson and the north rib of Tyndall. It shall be an epic 4 day backcountry trip. Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mt. Rainier - Kautz with Our Pants Down - Aug 18-20, 2011

The Low Down...

Wednesday, August 17:
  • 8:30 pm  - Fly from Phoenix to Seattle
  • 11:30 pm - Arrive at SEA-TAC
Thursday, August 18
  • 12:30 am  - Finally secure bags, catch shuttle to shmotel, meet up with amigos
  • 3:00 am - Attempt to fall asleep after sifting through gear, unpacking
  • 3:30 am - Mark arrives at shmotel, hugs, banter, another attempt at falling asleep on the flimsy pullout
  • 8:00 am - Wake up, jump out of bed. Coffee. Gear check. Pack again
  • 10:00 am - Begin caravan out to Rainier NP (I'm sorry, "Rainler" as google calls it)
  • 11:30 am - Stop for breakfast at grocery
  • 1:00 pm - Arrive at Rainler NP, begin unpacking cars, gearing up. Permit shenanigans with Rangers.
  • 2:30 pm - Set out from Paradise (5400'). Turn right, not left and head wrong way up skyline trail
  • 3:30 pm - Realize error and traverse through the "protected" alpine meadows, up the hill to Glacier Vista
  • 5:00 pm - Reach Glacier Vista point (6280'), quick break, then drop into Nisqually Glacier
  • 7:00 pm - Reach The Fan - Couloir leading up to Wilson Bench (6800')
  • 9:00 pm - Sun goes down, continue trekking up Wilson Glacier, turn left towards west unnamed ridge
  • 10:00 pm - First real crevasse encounter, head south to end-run the crevasse while continuing up ridge
  • 11:00 pm - Top out on west ridge of Wilson. Begin probing for crevasses, digging camp, melting water
  • 12:30 pm - Finish camp, eat dinner, sleep at camp I (7400')
Friday, August 19
  • 8:00 am  - Wake up. First glimpse of existing, pre-dug camp site 200m down ridge - UGH!
  • 8:30 am - Begin breakfast, breakdown camp, gear-up
  • 10:00 am - Set out up ridge
  • 10:30 am - 7800' - Climber (Name hidden to protect the "innocent") drops helmet while adjusting gear. Helmet slides 400 vertical feet down the glacier, missing 2 crevasses before settling on a flat part of Wilson Glacier.
  • 11:00 am - Helmet Rescue Effort - Mark and I set out on separate rope, without bags, only pickets, slings, and prusiks.Group continues up ridge
  • 12:00 pm - Finally meet up with group after successful recovery. Rob owes us 40 beers each. Ooops! Haha.... Group continues up ridge
  • 12:30 pm - Group reaches end of snow on ridge. Must cross up and over ridge to Van Trump Glacier side. Horrible, horrible scree & loose boulder slides. Set series of anchors to belay climbers up onto ridge. 
  • 1:30 pm - Group continues up Van Trump snowfields, cross snow under rockband at 8700' to west. Continue up steep slopes on west side of the Castle.
  • 3:00 pm - Pass the Castle, continue up to Turtle snowfield
  • 5:30 pm - Reach SE corner of the Turtle. Continue up east side in giant sun cups
  • 8:00 pm - Find place to dig camp in middle of Turtle snowfield (10,400'). Entire team has run out of water. Sun is setting, air gets cold very fast. Begin digging platform through hard snow and ice
  • 9:00 pm - Finish camp, begin eating. Everyone in bed by 10pm. Group discussion about summit day - Group decides not to pursue the summit. Promises of 5 quart homemade lasagna when we return by Dave's fiance is mainly to blame.
  • 10:00 pm - Everyone to bed - hard night at altitude
Saturday, August 20
  • 7:00 am - Alpine Start! Not even close ;-). Wake up, boil water, breakfast.
  • 8:00 am  - Begin packing up gear - Mark and I decide to head to ice chute for some climbing
  • 8:30 am - Side trip up the Turtle to check out the Kautz Ice Chute with Mark
  • 10:00 am - Top out at 11,000' on the Turtle. We decide to turn back in order to help the group on the descent -- Turns out to be long day.
  • 11:30 am - Camp is packed up, everyone is geared up. We begin the descent back to Paradise
  • 12:15 pm - Exit the Turtle
  • 1:30 pm - Get through tricky sections on upper Van Trump snowfields / rock areas
  • 2:30 pm - Get onto west ridge of Wilson Glacier
  • 3:00 pm - Quick stop at camp I to change, eat, drink
  • 4:00 pm - Reach bottom of Wilson Glacier
  • 4:30 pm - Top of Fan
  • 5:00 pm - Bottom of Fan, Begin crossing Nisqually
  • 6:00 pm - Reach end of Nisqually, begin heading up to Glacier Vista
  • 7:20 pm - Reach Paradise Trailhead and parking lot. End.

I will post a more thorough trip report, especially detailing the fun times of glacier navigating in the dark, building multiple tent sites from scratch in the middle of the night, dropping helmet and helmet-rescue shenanigans and much much more...

MORE PICTURES . . .

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Climbing the Kautz! Rainier 2011 - Part Duex


[ From Mt. Rainier's Ranger's climbing conditions blog ]



We've set up a strong team to head back to Seattle's infamous volcano with my fellow climbing buddy, Mark.

Tonight, we leave for Seattle!

Tomorrow, we set out across the Nisqually & Wilson glaciers to first camp

Friday, we climb high to Camp Hazard up at 11,000ish ft.

Saturday, we head up the Kautz ice chute and hopefully top out at the Columbia Crest!

Should be fun. Can't wait.

Instead of carb-loading, I'm bean-loading... Tonnnns of Chipotle burritos...

Love you all, Cheers!

--Ben

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mount Rainier via Dissapointment Cleaver - June 17-19, 2011

My ninja self with Sam and Lee atop the highest, most heavily glaciated volcano in the lower 48!


video

Summary Recap:
Day 1 (Friday)
  • Paradise (5,400 ft) to Camp Muir (10,080 ft)
  • Blistering hot ascent on the Muir snowfield
Day 2 (Saturday)
  • Camp Muir to High Camp (Ingraham Flats, Ingraham Glacier: 11,200 ft)
  • Overnight snowstorm turns back other group summit pushes
  • Storm continues throughout morning: 3-4 fresh inches of snow
  • High winds continue throughout Saturday night
Day 3 - Summit Day (Sunday / Fathers Day)
  • High Camp to Summit (14,411 ft)
  • Wake up 12:30 am, breakfast, prep for final climb
  • On glacier by 2 am
  • Ascend Disappointment Cleaver and traverse the crevasses of Emmons Glacier
  • Columbia Crest crater rim at 6:55 am
  • Summit at 7:25 am
  • Back to high camp by 10 am
  • Pack up high camp, head back to Camp Muir at 11 am
  • Lunch at Muir, leave at noon
  • Descend Muir snowfield to Paradise
  • Arrive at Paradise at 2:15 pm

KEEP READING...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Scoping, Bushwacking, Recon Efforts to Rapp the Lion Head - May 16, 2011

For years, I have been eying a prominent rock-face in South Mountain park, just south of Phoenix. It's nearby one of my go-to trail-running routes that I frequent and until this year, I definitely did not have the skill set to thoroughly explore it. Now that I'm fairly at ease out on the rope, I feel like my wish-list of places to explore just scaled itself up by orders and orders of magnitude. Ah man, I love it!

 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Spelunking in a Lava Tube and Prusiking in the Pines - May 14, 2011

With a late start at heading up north on a Saturday, Krystal and I exercised our Humphreys contingency plan. We still headed up to Flagstaff, but instead of bagging the peak, we opted to explore the Lava River Cave and hang out in the Coconino backcountry for the afternoon.

The Lava River Cave (officially "Lave River Cave" as suggested by the signage below), is apparently a old underground lava flow that cooled on its upper, lower and side walls allowing what was left in the center flow through it, leaving nearly a mile-long void. It's amazingly pristine in how well it formed, almost resembling a half-tube volume shape of a New York subway.

We donned our flashlights, gloves and jackets and crawled into the void... along with 80-thousand other people it seemed :-/ Quite the popular attraction, I guess...


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Tonto Natural Brige Hike - April 23, 2011

The lady and I took a much-needed drive up north to get away for the day. We opted to explore the Tonto Natural Bridge area, just northwest of Payson, AZ. It's essentially this huge naturally-carved bridge made up of entirely travertine -- apparently one of a kind (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonto_Natural_Bridge).



Monday, April 18, 2011

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Whitney Reflection...

Looking back at my prior trip to Whitney, I have been mulling over many of the details and decisions made for quite some time now. It has been three long weeks since I made the attempt with six others, including my good friend Mark. Though the each member in the group had the potential to make the summit, only two of our members topped out. Now each story is different, but there is some overlap between the many possible perturbations of causes. I can speak from my own experience what contributed to my miss at the opportunity. Rather than delving too heavily into each, I'll keep it brief. Whether or not this helps anyone else, it's a record to myself of what I can change next go-'round. Already we are considering another visit to the Eastern Sierras to attempt the mighty summit again under winter conditions.
Whhhyyyyy????...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mount Whitney's Mountaineers Route, CA -- Mar 10, 2011 (First Attempt)

New video (as of 3/27/2011)
First Attempt at Mt. Whitney (Inyo National Forest)


Until I can muster up the energy to give a TR, here are some pics to wet the appetite...

Mount Whitney and the Needles looming in the distant ridgeline. Thor Peak at the center.


Some intersection near Edwards AFB, where the 395 crosses an actual paved highway. Quite the picturesque restaurant.

On the drive in at sunset, this huge lenticular cloud sat above the southern end of the Sierras, just over that hill.
Click to see more...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Prepations for Whitney...

Those who know Whitney, understand the severity of the title above. Indeed, I am referring to Mt. Whitney, the temptress of the Eastern Sierras. For those who are not aware of her solitary presence, she stands as the tallest peak in the contiguous states, highest in the lower-48, and above all a formidable opponent to test one's winter climbing mettle against. At 14,497 feet, this cascading array of tilted, granite slab is a prize sought after by many. 

Mt. Whitney (14,497') lies at a picturesque center among the Eastern Sierra range.
Until recently, she was off my radar... at least for the time being. The amount of foresight and time that goes into the trip can be substantial. However, after lining up some experience, proficient climbing partners, this prospective goal has been moved up on the list. We will take a conservative approach, splitting the Mountaineer's Route (MR) ascent into two days, taking time to acclimate as we move to a high camp at Iceberg lake. The next day we will set out early with an alpine start, in hopes of gaining the last few thousand feet to the notch and the "Final 400", en-route to the summit. At the end of day two, we'll move camp lower down the mountain, with the last day reserved for hiking the rest of the way back to our cars.
. . .

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Mount Baldy, CA -- Feb 5, 2011

Mount Baldy, CA - 10,064 ft - San Gabriel Mountain Range, just north of Los Angeles, CA
Trip:  7.35 miles roundtrip, 4474 feet of total elevation gain (more stats at bottom)

Our route to the top!

Trip to Baldy... success. Over four thousand feet of elevation gain in a little over seven miles, round trip... conquered.

As soon as work let out Friday afternoon, I headed due west. Car was saturated with winter gear, a cooler with the usual snacks and beverages, and one stoked fella at the wheel. I made great time, rolling into Palm Springs just after sunset. After correcting for the horrible route my phone gps toured me through, I found my way into the worst stretch of stop-and-go main street, I've ever experienced. Twenty minutes of slow going from one red light to the next, dodging nearly hundreds of Maseratis and nefarious Aston Martins changing three lanes at a time, and slamming on the breaks to avoid crazy pedestrians, were just a few of the notable obstacles through downtown Palm Springs. I finally found the Big Five Sporting Goods, ran inside and bought my permit to enter the San Gabriels. First sigh-of-relief. Having that piece of paper in hand took the pressure off the rest of the night. From here on, it was simply a matter of getting to LA, finding a spot to sleep along the mountain road, and wrestling some z's from the anxiousness that seemed most prevalent at that point.
. . .

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What an abysmal winter...

Well, here we are... it's been a whole month since I've even looked at this thing. But there's much to recap.

First things first... big middle fingers go out to my love-hate relationship with Arizona. I realize that Arizona doesn't really get in to the whole "winter" season thing like other parts of the country, but occasionally we get a few glimpses of what could be. December was a great month with a series of three storms over the Christmas holiday that just dumped on the higher elevations. Since then we've been suffering through one of the driest months in decades. Not a single ounce of precipitation until yesterday. Slopes are either wind-scorched or iced over from the sun. Even though that mother of a nature tried to redeem herself, she's still not off the hook in my book.

My lady and I went up north two weekends ago to climb an icy Humphreys with our crampons and axes. What would have been a perfect day to summit was spoiled by timing. We didn't actually make it up north and onto the slope until after noon. After a series of equipment malfunctions -- thankfully at the lower elevations -- we decided to call it a day after hiking a couple miles or so on the established trail. Bummer. We never even made it to the rock field. Her crampons we just slightly too big for her boot and shimmied into two pieces on several occasions. We celebrated failure with beers back at the car and a brew at Flagstaff's Beaver Street Brewery (http://www.beaverstreetbrewery.com/). Well worth the postponement!

Three weeks ago I completed the half-marathon here in Phoenix. In the week leading up I finally decided to drop from the full marathon to the half due to never-ending complications with my knee and IT band issue. While somewhat disappointed, I just wanted to make sure that I could focus my efforts back to hiking and climbing without further injury. Looking at the calendar, I have 18 weeks until I'm on Rainier. That really isn't too much time left. I need to get some long distances and high elevations under my belt before then...

Mt. San Antonio, aka: "Mt. Baldy" -- 10,064 feet above sea level

This upcoming weekend, I've scoped out Mount Baldy, in California (just northeast of LA). I'm looking at about a 10-mile hike up the ski hut route and Baldy bowl with about 4,000+ feet of vertical. They too have been experiencing much of the drought this past month and apparently there's already the early spring conditions forming in the snow pack. I'm eager to get out there and really put some mileage on the crampons and axe before all of the snowpack succumbs to wet avalanche.
. . .

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hiking in the Supes amongst rain, wind and snow - Dec 30, 2010

My lady and I made a quick visit to the mountain range that borders the eastern extent of the valley of Phoenix. We were welcomed with rain storms, immense wind, and even a few snow flurries, providing a multitude of weather variety for our adventure. Our seven-mile hike meandered through the prairie, up to the cliffs themselves, and eventually reconvened with the Siphon Draw Trail that snakes its way through some drastic elevation changes before arriving at Flatiron...

[ Click for full-size images ]
Behold, the dramatic western face of the Superstition Wilderness
 . . .