Posts Tagged 'expedition'

Fall Rock Climbing!!

I just finished what is likely to be my last alpine trip for the season this weekend. The day we said goodbye in Bishop it was just reaching 70 degrees. Fall is here, the aspens have turned golden, and the top of the peaks are dusted with snow. Its time to break out the skis, sharpen the tools, and get ready for another winter…
Forget that – let’s go rock climbing!
Seriously, now that its getting damn cold in the mountains, the temperatures in the valleys just can’t be beat. We’re talking highs in the 60’s and 70’s, folks. That means if you want to come to Bishop and work on your technical climbing skills, it won’t get any better then Clark’s Canyon and Owens River Gorge for clipping bolts, and Little Egypt for clipping gear.

Want to go out for a little more “expedition” experience? El Potrero Chico, outside of Monterey, Mexico, is where its at. We’d stay at the Posada, which features a full community kitchen, rooms with private baths, and if you don’t want to cook Luis’ Mom has a fantastic restaurant on the premises. Just next door is the best coffee and the rock climbing is less then 15 minutes walk up the road. El Potrero is an incredible formation of limestone, known most famously for its multi-pitch routes. The only caveat emptor: The climbing starts at 5.8, and is dominantly 5.10. You should be ready to follow 5.10b if you really want to make the most out of a week here.
Does that sound like a little much? Then there is someplace just as big but closer than you may think – Red Rocks, Nevada. Located just outside of Las Vegas, this place is equally famous for incredible multi-pitch trad routes – especially those below 5.10. If you are still working on your technique, but want to climb longer routes, then this is the place to go. We can either stay at the group campsite from 24-28 October, or at a single site any other time, or you can stay in a hotel in town and be driven out to the climbing daily – the Strip is less then 30 minutes away!!
But multi-pitch routes aren’t for every one. Maybe you just want to work on your technique in an incredible desert setting, only a few hours drive from Los Angeles. It can only mean Joshua Tree National Park. With over 1000 individual routes to choose from, this is the place to work on your climbing. They say if you can climb the grade in J-Tree, you can climb anywhere. And like Red Rocks, camping or hotels are possible.
But not everyone lives in LA – some of us are lucky enough to live near San Francisco Bay. And for us, we have Lover’s Leap and Donner Summit. Both are great destinations for single to four pitch climbs up to 5.9 in difficulty. Both have camping and hotel options nearby: Lover’s Leap looks down on the historic stage stop of Strawberry and the Strawberry Inn and Restaurant. Donner Summit is only a few mile west of the historic and adventure summit town of Truckee.
So that’s what is on my mind, as I wait for the snow to really fall and skiing to start at my new ski area: Alpine Meadows. Until then, you can count on my heading out and enjoying cool air and warm rock this fall. Interested in joining me? Send me a comment with your email and I’ll get back to you within 24 hours.
Cheers
Chris

Single Shot: Stories in a Crevasse

Lazlo asked, “I’ve read plenty about haul systems and anchor, etc. I’m stoked about glacial travel. But I’m curious to read other reports on crevasse falls and how the hauling and/or ascending went. Thanks!”

This reminded me of an experience I had in Alaska, so I thought I’d write him back.

“I have a story I don’t mind sharing because it proves a technique.

“In the spring of 2003 I went to the Ruth Gorge with DPS, and while descending from the Mooses Tooth back to our camp, my partner and I simply followed our ski-tracks through the ice fall. DPS was in front, I was following. We had one last corner to negotiate at the bottom of the ice-fall before reaching the main glacier near the airstrip, and I pushed a little to make sure I passed the corner without pulling on DPS.

“Just as I kick-turned, the floor dropped out beneath me. I yelled/screamed ‘CREVASSE!!!‘ as I dropped.

“DPS says he heard, ‘something that made me turn around,’ saw our rope snaking into a hole, and took off running.

“When he reached the end of the slack, he was a bit surprised to find he wasn’t having to arrest anything. So he built an anchor, transferred the rope over, and self-belayed back to the hole to figure out what had happened. Maybe I had landed on a bridge?

“Not even. I was hanging about 20 feet in the hole, shaking from the adrenalin rush. Scarier still was the running water from a moulin tube 10 feet below me. So what happened? In 2002 I had learned about a technique to use stopper knots – butterflys were the general consensus – between two climbers on glacier travel. I insisted to a skeptical DPS that we use them. And one of these knots had jammed into the lip of the hole, holding all of my falling weight, saving DPS from having to arrest at all.

“Pretty cool.

“DPS lowered a rope to haul up my pack and skis, and I jugged out on my own with some assistance to get over the majorly overhung lip.

“Its likely if that knot hadn’t caught, I would have been dipped, and soaked, in the glacier stream below my feet. What was a simple exit from the crevasses would have been a serious environmental medical issue.

“This technique of using stopper knots is also common practice now amongst AMGA guides.”