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Date: Sunday, April 20, 2014

Location: Half Moon Bay, CA

Photos: Sarah (unless otherwise noted)

Well, race season has now officially started for me for 2014 (although training season started back in February)! I have a pretty decent schedule of events this year, with my highlights being Ironman 70.3 Hawaii on May 31st and Ironman 70.3 Vineman on July 13th. Rounding out those half-Ironman distance events, I also have the California Sprint Triathlon on June 28th, which will be my first sprint-distance and I am excited to go “all out” for a race, and the Mammoth Fall Century & Grand Fondo 102-mile bike race on September 6th. Add in a 10-day trip planned in August with Jon climbing in Bugaboo Provincial Park in British Columbia and the Big Sur Half Marathon on November 16 (which I ran last year and loved), it will be a pretty busy season. Fortunately, Sarah lets me get away with all of this stuff!

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Date: Saturday, March 8, 2014

Locations: Sierra Crest, North Lake Tahoe Basin

Skiers: Colin & Nick

Photos: Colin & Nick (as noted)

Synopsis: Armed with high-pressure, clear skies, a decent re-freeze the prior night and a light, Southwesterly wind, Colin and I decided to head out last Saturday for the classic Sierra Crest tour from Sugar Bowl to Squaw in the North Lake Tahoe Basin. I don’t think I am surprising anyone in saying that this season has been pretty bleak in Tahoe for snow accumulation, and I think a lot of the pictures below will show how thin the sun-exposed aspects are right now. Still, it felt great to get out on a longer tour and get some exercise. I particularly like these “meadow skipping” type tours where you cover longer distances to see a lot of terrain. I particularly like multi-day tours in the Eastern Sierra in the Spring, but this season (like last season) is looking like May will be more devoted to High Sierra climbing.

Warning – there are not a ton of action ski shots in a tour like this, but figured I have not posted a TR in a while so why not.

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TR: Snake Dike – Half Dome

Date: Sunday, January 26, 2014

Location: Yosemite National Park

Climbers: Jon & Nick

Photos: Jon & Nick (as noted)

Synopsis: It is no surprise that California is really struggling right now for water and in an official drought. Calendar 2013 ended up one of the driest years on record for the Sierra. Up until this writing (when we are finally forecast to have a multi-foot snow storm occurring in Tahoe), the “winter” this year has been dry and warm. With forecasts for highs in 60s in the Valley and mid-50s at 8,000 feet, Jon and I thought the last weekend in January would be a great time to head to Yosemite Valley for some climbing.

During the day on Saturday we simply cragged over at Five and Dime cliff, trying some nice hard 5.10 routes and practice off-width climbing. It was unbelievably hot for January, and I was climbing in a tee shirt and desperately wishing I had shorts on.

Jon and I decided that a trip up to Half Dome to climb Snake Dike was the call for Sunday. We were both really excited to head up to the climb in January (a rarity as there is generally too much wetness from snow-melt this time of year).

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Dates: Saturday, August 31 – Monday, September 2, 2013

Locations: Trinity Alps Wilderness – Preacher Meadow & Swift Current/Granite Lake Trail to Granite Lake

Hikers: Sarah & Nick

Photos: Nick (unless otherwise noted as Sarah)

Synopsis: It has been a very busy Summer for Sarah and me, with a combination of work and planning for our wedding! We were long looking forward to an enjoyable weekend of backpacking over Labor Day up in the Desolation Wilderness in the Lake Tahoe Basin and had a trip all planned. However, the horrible Rim Fire in Yosemite has been blowing smoke up in a direct line towards Lake Tahoe, making for some pretty rough air conditions. I actually had triathlon scheduled in Lake Tahoe in the weeks prior to Labor Day that was cancelled due to unhealthy air quality. As an aside, a special thanks to all of the fire service workers that are out trying to control the Rim Fire. It is a massive undertaking and will be really interesting to see the effects heading into Yosemite next year.

Needless to say, Sarah and I were looking for a different plan and decided to head up to the Trinity Alps Wilderness in Northern California near Mount Shasta. I had never explored the area, but it has been high on my list for a while given the size of the wilderness area. The Trinity Alps Wilderness is actually the second largest wilderness area in California – it currently has over 600 miles of trails and embraces over 500,000 acres of land.

Sarah and I decided to hike into Granite Lake via the Swift Creek and Granite Lake trails. Our plan was to drive up Saturday afternoon and car camp in Preacher Meadows camp, which is relatively close to the Swift Creek trailhead. Then on Sunday morning we would wake up early and hit the trail to hike up to Granite Lake.

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Date: Sunday, July 14, 2013

Location: Sonoma County, CA

Photos: Sarah (unless otherwise noted)

Last Sunday I participated in the Ironman 70.3 Vineman Triathlon, which consisted of a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run, and was held in Sonoma County, California. This was my first half ironman distance and I had a blast! Thanks to the generous donations of friends and family I was able to raise $825 for Building Bridges Worldwide, a not-for-profit organization founded by several of my friends from college that is committed to constructing schools, orphanages, clean water wells, medical clinics, and bridges in impoverished communities both domestically and around the world.

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Dates: June 16, 2013 (SF Half Marathon), and June 9, 2013 (Folsom International Triathlon)

Photos: Nick (SF Half Marathon) and Sarah (Folsom International Triathlon)

Sarah and I had a pretty fun month of June with a couple of races – Sarah raced in the San Francisco Half Marathon and I raced in the Folsom International Triathlon (Olympic Distance). We both scored great weather and had a blast!

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Climbers: Jon & Nick

Dates: Friday, May 17 – Sunday, May 19, 2013

Photos: Jon & Nick (as noted)

Synopsis: We awoke Friday morning to clearing skies and what looked like a dusting of snow up on the high peaks. The clouds were still engulfed on the Sierra Crest, but weather forecasts called for a general clearing trend. Our plan was to hike in from Mosquito Flat trailhead towards the Rock Creek area to camp at a lake near the base of Bear Creek Spire, and get an early alpine start Saturday morning.

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Climbers: Jon & Nick

Dates: Wednesday, May 15 – Thursday, May 16, 2013

Photos: Jon & Nick (as noted)

Synopsis: Upon returning to our camp at Third Lake after climbing Venusian Blind Arête, we settled in for yet another 4 AM wake-up to go climb Moon Goddess Arête the following day. That night the winds were picking up pretty strongly, clouds were increasing and the temperature dropped pretty significantly.

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Climbers: Jon & Nick

Dates: Monday, May 13 – Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Photos: Jon & Nick (as noted)

Synopsis: After climbing the Direct South Face of Lone Pine Peak, Jon and I headed back the next morning to try and get permits for the North Fork of Big Pine Creek. Our initial soft plans going in were to hike in that Monday and set up a camp by Second or Third Lake, and climb Venusian Blind Arête on Tuesday, followed by Moon Goddess Arête on Wednesday (both of which we ended up doing). We then tentatively planned to move camp up beyond Sam Mack Meadows to the Palisade Glacier, with a potential objective of climbing Starlight Buttress on Starlight Peak. More on that later.

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Climbers: Jon & Nick

Dates: Saturday, May 11 – Sunday, May 12, 2013

Photos: Jon & Nick (as noted)

Synopsis: Similar to the winter of 2012, this Winter was a pretty low snow-year throughout the Sierra Nevada. Throughout the Winter, Jon and I had been tentatively planning a week-long ski-tour in the Eastern Sierra. As the months passed along, days grew longer and the weather warmed, we realized that once again the Winter would not provide optimal Spring ski-touring conditions.

On the other hand, the low-snow year lent itself to great, early season alpine climbing opportunities throughout the High Sierra. With that in mind, Jon and I headed with a loaded car down Highway 395 to the high peaks of the Eastern Sierra to try and take advantage of a good weather forecast and climb some classic, big routes.

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Skiers: Alex, Andrew & Nick

Date: Sunday, March 21st

Photos: Andrew (edited by Nick in Lightroom)

Synopsis: Alex, Andrew and I headed out Sunday to a higher elevation zone around Tahoe to try and take advantage of a couple of inches of fresh snow that fell over the weekend. Below 8,500 ft, the approach conditions are getting rough and involve quite a lot of patch to patch skinning and indirect routes. Up above 8,500 ft however, there is still good enough coverage for some good turns.

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Skiers: Pat, Alexis, Alex, Andrew, Jakob & Nick

Photos: Alex & Nick (as noted)

Synopsis: While we have received very little snow since early January, I have actually be having a great time in Tahoe out in the mountains. The days are getting longer, with great weather, great views and good friends. Below is a collection of photos from a number of days out in the Tahoe Basin backcountry (as well as some Big Basin shots thrown in). Intermixed with all of this has been a number of days at the resorts just ripping groomers with Sarah, which has been a lot of fun.

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Locations: Trimmer Peak, Grouse Rock & Munchkins

Dates: Sunday, December 30th & Tuesday, January 1st

Skiers: Tony, Jason, Jon & Nick

Photos: Nick (unless otherwise noted, but with Nick’s camera)

Synopsis: It’s been a while since I posted a full TR, so figured now is as good as a time as any. Conditions around the Tahoe Basin have been great recently, with a dramatic change in snow amounts since December of last year. Although we do have some interesting things going on in our snowpack due to some deeply buried PWLs, which led to a pretty sizeable avalanche cycle just after Christmas. Therefore, we played it pretty conservative in the trees, with great skiing to be had!

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TR: More Early Season Turns

Dates: Saturday, November 10 – Sunday, November, 11, 2012

Location: Alpine Meadows, CA

Skiers: Alex, Brandon, Jon, Marcus, Mike & Nick

Photos: Alex, Jon & Nick (as noted)

Synopsis: During late last week, another early season storm fell across the Tahoe Basin with extremely cold temps (by Tahoe standards) and light, dry snow. A group of us headed up to Alpine Meadows for a couple of days of backcountry touring. I note “backcountry” as Alpine Meadows is currently closed until the resort opens in December, and therefore the terrain and snowpack is uncontrolled from an avalanche perspective at this point.

Ultimately, we had a great time skiing in good conditions without much incident over the course of both days. Alpine Meadows must have had upwards of 100 people backcountry ski touring, boarding and snowshoeing around the mountain on both days. I have heard of similar reports from Kirkwood and Sugarbowl.

However, as I write this Trip Report, I do so with some sadness and an introspection about the fragility of life in general. As I found after this past weekend, at some point on Saturday (likely after we had left for the day) a young skier suffered a traumatic accident while telemark skiing at Alpine Meadows. She was telemark skiing for the first time, likely enjoying a beautiful day with her friends in the exact same fashion we were elsewhere on the mountain. I since learned that she suffered a crash while skiing (and wearing a helmet) and struck a rock buried in the snow relatively hard. Ultimately, due to the strong efforts of her companions and the Alpine Meadows Ski Patrol (who were on site conducting training at the base), a valiant effort was made to transport her via helicopter to emergency care. Unfortunately, she suffered critical injuries in the fall and she has since passed on.

Since I first heard about this, a stark reality struck me:

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Date: Sunday, November 4, 2012

Location: McNear’s Beach County Park & China Camp State Park, San Rafael, CA

Photos: Sarah

Synopsis: After participating in the 2012 Golden Gate Triathlon (Olympic Distance) this past January and completing a century ride with my father and step-mom in October, I had one additional triathlon scheduled for 2012: the Marin County Triathlon (Olympic Distance).

The Martin County Triathlon was a great race, and very well run. The Olympic Distance involved 1.5K swim in San Pablo Bay, followed by a 22 mile bike course through China Camp State Park and finishing with a 10K run along San Pablo Bay.

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Skiers: Alex, Andrew & Nick

Date: Saturday, October 27, 2012

Location: Alpine Meadows, CA

Synopsis: Last week, the Tahoe basin was blessed with an early season storm that 2-3 feet of powder along the upper reaches of the Sierra Crest. Therefore, Alex, Andrew and I headed up to Alpine Meadows for some early season skinning and skiing. In the afternoon once the weather got too warm and the snow conditions too sticky, we got in some good practice on our avalanche rescue scenarios in a mock debris field we created near the base of the mountain. Generally, I tend to shy away from early season skiing in the backcountry as I get concerned about thin coverage and getting hurt. Alpine Meadows seemed like a good bet on both coverage and being familiar with the underlined terrain if we stayed closed to historically groomed areas. Although it was definitely pre-season conditions and AM is not yet open for about month – so we took it easy.

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Dates: Friday, August 24 – Monday, September 3, 2012

Locations: Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Photos: Sarah & Nick

Synopsis: Last November, I recall sitting back on the porch of Sarah’s mother’s home and discussing cool trips we would like to go on. After some discussion, I mentioned that I really wanted to go back up to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. I had been to each as a very young kid with my parents (around age 10), but wanted to go back one day and fly fish, hike, kayak and generally see the terrain and wildlife. Sarah was immediately hooked on the idea, so we began planning the trip. This was Sarah’s first visit to to the area, and I could sense how excited she was becoming in the weeks leading up to the trip as I forwarded pictures from the area during the work week. We were both excited as we had a large number of activities planned, including white water kayaking, fly fishing, hiking and lake kayaking. I was secretly also very excited as I was planning on proposing to Sarah during our first night (suspense, suspense!).

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Date: Sunday, July 15, 2012

Location: Lover’s Leap

Climbers: Andrew & Nick

Photos: Andrew & Nick (as noted)

Synopsis: Andrew and I headed up to Lover’s Leap in the South Lake Tahoe area to climb East Wall (5.7) and Haystack (5.8) (both on the actual East Wall face). We were able to get on the route East Wall in the morning, and afterwards we headed to Bear’s Reach (as Haystack had some other groups on it). I had been wanting to climb East Wall for a while, as it is a wandering route with an exposed second pitch that travels almost horizontally across the face of the East Wall. Andrew had never climbed Bear’s Reach – so seeing it was open, we decided to jump on it.

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Date: Sunday, June 24, 2012

Location: San Francisco, CA

Synopsis: Given the lack of snow this past winter and the generally awesome weather around the Bay Area, I decided that I wanted to start training for some triathlons this season. I bought a new road bike in January and hit to the streets – quickly realizing why the greater Bay Area is considered one of the best road biking meccas in the country. The hill climbing around the Coast mountains is incredible.

Anyway, I signed up for my first ever triathlon – the Golden Gate Triathlon (Olympic Distance) put on by Tri-Freaks. The Olympic Distance was planned to involve a 0.93 mile swim, a 25.82 mile bike and a 6.17 mile run. Because of the hilly nature of San Francisco, the bike leg involved 2,919 feet of climbing! Fortunately, my hill climbing training really paid off in the end.

Most importantly, I was able to raise $1,985 dollars for the American Cancer Society of California through generous donations from my family and friends. I really appreciate the support from everyone who donated for such a good cause!

Ultimately, I was able to place #3 overall in the race out of a total of 87 competitors in the Olympic Distance. This also included placing #1 out of 26 in the male age group of 30-39. I was very pleased with the results for my first ever triathlon and plan on continuing training this summer for the 2012 Marin County Olympic Distance Triathlon in November.

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Date: Saturday, May 12, 2012

Location: Middle Cathedral Rock, Yosemite Valley

Climbers: Cuauh, Jon & Nick

Photos: Jon & Nick (as noted)

Synopsis: With a great weather forecast and climbing season back in full swing, Cuauh, Jon and I headed to Yosemite Valley for a quick day trip to climb the East Buttress of Middle Cathedral Rock (5.10c) in Yosemite Valley. Included in Fifty Classic Climbs of North America by Steve Roper, the East Buttress is an extremely popular route and actually offers two variations with some chances to pass folks. The “50 Classic” Variation includes a 5.10a traverse that bypasses the 5.10c bolt ladder.

Cuauh had climbed this route before and wanted to try his land at leading the 5.10c bolt section and 5.9 roof above, so we went with that variation.

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