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Location: Kirkwood Mountain Resort, CA

Date: Sunday, November 28, 2010

Skiers & Boarders: Jon, Alex & Nick

Location: Kirkwood Mountain Resort, CA

Photos: As noted

Synopsis: Quite simply, this was just plainly the most ridiculously awesome opening day to a ski season I have ever experienced. The fact that it took place in November further emphasizes the fact.

From Friday, November 19th – Thanksgiving Day, the Tahoe Basin was lucky to receive one of the largest November snow storms on records. Six to eight feet of snow fell depending on the location and altitude – not including wind-loading along the Crest. Then during the late stages of Saturday, November 27th, another 16-24 inches of snow fell in Tahoe. The end result was Jon, Alex and I hoping in the car Sunday morning, and heading to Kirkwood for what we expected to be some ridiculous conditions… in November.

The pictures pretty much tell the tale…

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Locations: Plan “A” locations included the North Couloir on North Peak (12,242 ft.) and the North Couloir on Mt. Gilbert (13,106 ft.). Plan “B” locations included either the North Couloir on Mt. Gilbert or the Harrington Couloir on Mt. Thompson (13,494 ft.). Actual locations were the basin of Mt. Gilbert and Mt. Thompson.

Dates: Friday Night, October 29 – Sunday, October 31, 2010

Climbers: Nick & Jon (and Brandon for the first hour of Friday night!)

Photos: Nick (unless otherwise noted as Jon)

Synopsis: When travelling in the alpine zone, one’s plans are largely dictated by weather and conditions. Flexibility is the key in my mind. Set forth below is a chain of events that started with a plan developed over the course of the work week, weather monitoring, a change of plans and then further plan changes up through the entire weekend.

Ultimately, this TR is mostly an account of our plan changes and a bunch of scenic pictures – as alas, nothing was actually climbed. Would I depict it as a “failure” of weekend, absolutely not. Any weekend spent in the High Sierra after a beautiful coating of snow is amazing, regardless of what is accomplished. Therefore, this TR is an account of a great weekend, in cool area I had not been, and depicts some mountain decisions that I am proud of. It always feels good to know that you recognized unfavorable conditions and made the decision to back down.

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Locations: High Sierra of Yosemite National Park – Tenaya Peak, W. Ridge of Mt. Conness and the approaches in between (including Ragged Peak & Young Lakes)

Dates: Saturday, September 25 – Sunday, September 26, 2010

Climbers: Nick & Jon

Photos: Nick & Jon (as noted)

Weather: Both Saturday and Sunday were bluebird skies, with 0% chance of precipitation. During the day, weather was in the mid-60s on both days, with nighttime lows in the mid-30s.

Synopsis: As the week began to pass, I could sense the stars aligning and a sequence of events shaping up that would miraculously enable me to climb two ultra-classic, High Sierra alpine routes of varying difficulties (in both exposure, technical climbing and approach commitment: the Northwest Buttress of Tenaya Peak and the West Ridge of Mt. Conness.

Note: Sierra Alpine Weekend – Part I – Tenaya Peak (Northwest Buttress)

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Locations: High Sierra of Yosemite National Park – Tenaya Peak, W. Ridge of Mt. Conness and the approaches in between (including Ragged Peak & Young Lakes)

Dates: Saturday, September 25 – Sunday, September 26, 2010

Climbers: Nick & Brandon

Photos: Nick & Brandon (as noted)

Weather: Both Saturday and Sunday were bluebird skies, with 0% chance of precipitation. During the day, weather was in the mid-60s on both days, with nighttime lows in the mid-30s.

Synopsis: As the week began to pass, I could sense the stars aligning and a sequence of events shaping up that would miraculously enable me to climb two ultra-classic, High Sierra alpine routes of varying difficulties (in both exposure, technical climbing and approach commitment: the Northwest Buttress of Tenaya Peak and the West Ridge of Mt. Conness.

Note: Part II – West Ridge of Mt. Conness (VonTrap Style!)

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Location: Nevados de Chillan, Chile (f/k/a Termas de Chillan)

Dates: August 29 – September 4, 2010

Skiers & Boarders: Ken, Jon and Nick (as well as some special appearances by Claire and Travis)

Photogs: Nick (unless otherwise indicated as Ken, Jon or Claire). I was pissed though as I dropped by good camera off of a climb in Yosemite several weeks ago, so had to roll with my old backup. Oh well.

Weather: August 29th and 30th dropped about 1.5 feet of fresh Andean pow. Skies went bluebird for the next 2 days, with cold temps at night to keep the snow soft. Avy conditions were stable in the surrounding side-country and backcountry. More snow fell on September 2 (about 5-6 inches).

Synposis: Jon, Ken and I were scheduled to head down with CASA Tours to ski and board the main areas North of Santiago (Arpa, Portillo and Tres Valles). Ken and I had done this same trip 2 years prior with CASA with great success (with an abundance of fresh snow, a fun group, good guides and untracked BC-zones).

Last year, Jon, Ken and I were scheduled to head down to Bariloche only to get skunked by horrible conditions at the last minute. Dave, the owner of CASA, was cool to call us several days prior to our flights and give us a heads up on the turn of conditions (a warming spell brought a lot of rain, followed by a deep freeze creating boiler pack all over Patagonia). After discussing alternatives, Dave was supremely cool and refunded our money.

Looking to go back down again this year, we turned to CASA again due to the logistical advantage they offer with transportation, lodging and familiarity with good BC terrain. We were all really impressed with Dave’s flexibility with our cancelled Bariloche trip the year prior.

Once again, the flexibility of the CASA team proved invaluable. We were scheduled to head to the Northern areas again – but based on obvious weather conditions and thin coverage, we shifted down to the South to follow the snow. Large storms were scheduled for Chillan during our visit so the decision to switch it up proved a no-brainer.

Note: This Trip Report is several pages long – just click at the end of each page to continue.

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Date: Saturday, July 24, 2010

Climbers: Colin & Nick

Photos: Nick (unless otherwise noted as Colin)

Weather: The forecast called for the dreaded “High Sierra 20% chance of thunderstorms after 11 A.M.” Therefore, based on past experience of watching the thunderheads develop along the Sierra Crest at a rapid speed, we knew that it was inevitable it was going to rain. Just call it a feeling.

Add in the fact that Cathedral Peak is essentially an overgrown granite lightening rod, we planned on a very early start with the goal towards descending before any storms hit. As noted below, we essentially satisfied the goal (although we were only 1/3rd of the climbers’ trail down when the lightening and hail hit…)

Synopsis: In my humble opinion, Cathedral Peak offers some of the best alpine rock climbing in Yosemite (if not one of the best moderate alpine routes in the country!). Such a great climb: (i) fun and scenic approach, (ii) good routes with plenty of alternate ascent options, (iii) a spectacular summit and (iv) amazing views.

Colin and I drove up from the Bay Area on Friday night and camped out in the Golden Arrow area. After an alpine wake-up and the remainder of the drive to Tuolumne Meadows, we were on the trail early and moving at a fast pace. I believe we made the approach from the car to the base in exactly one hour.

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Dates: Saturday, June 26 – Sunday, Jun 27

Climbers: Nick & Colin

Photos: Nick & Colin (as noted)

Weather: Both Saturday and Sunday were absolutely gorgeous. Highs in the mid-60s, lows in the upper 40s. Interestingly, on the drive back to the Bay Area on Sunday evening, we saw some massive thunderheads growing up by Sonora Pass. Given the temps of 102 in the Central Valley, this was not particularly surprising. Notwithstanding the crazy warm temps at lower elevations, Tuolumne was super pleasant.

Synopsis: With a spell of warm weather recently and after some beta received re: approach conditions on SuperTopo, it seemed as if the climbs around Tuolumne were drying and the snow was melting. Colin and I decided to head up and climb some moderate multi-pitch dome routes. All in all, there is still a good amount of snow on many of the larger alpine routes (e.g., Mt. Conness, North Peak, Tenaya), but the lower domes in and around Tuolumne were *relatively* dry (except for Dozier Dome – more on that later) with snowless approaches.

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Location: Lover’s Leap, South Lake Tahoe

Date: Saturday, June 13, 2010

Climbers: Nick, Jon & Jon’s friend Rachel

Photos: Nick, Jon & Rachel

Weather: Amazing day, as usual. Clear skies, with a decent breeze. The morning started out pretty crisp (in the low 50s), but gradually warmed with the rising sun to around the low 70s.

Synopsis: Jon and I had plans to get up in San Fran at 4:00 AM and hit the road for the short drive up to South Lake Tahoe, and hit the smooth granite at the Leap. I had been up the weekend before with my buddy Brandon, and being desperately hung over, we climbed Pop Bottle (5.7) on the East Wall and Deception (5.7) on Hogsback.

On plenty of sleep and sans a hangover, Jon and I had more ambitious plans, which would largely be dictated by how crowded the Leap was. We wanted to try and climb the following combo:

1. Bear’s Reach (5.7) on the East Wall
2. East Wall (5.7) on, well, the East Wall
3. The Line (5.9) on, you guessed it, the East Wall
4. Surrealistic Pillar (5.7) on the Lower Buttress

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Location: Lower Sacramento River, Redding, CA

Date: Memorial Day, Monday, May 31, 2010

Anglers: Pat & Nick

Photos: Nick (unless otherwise noted as Pat)

Weather: Intermittent clouds throughout the day. It was raining up in the mountains by Mt. Shasta (and snowing up top), but we avoided the rain all day. A nice 15 mph breeze in the evening.

Synopsis: After skiing 1.5 ft of untracked, fresh pow up at Leavitt Peak at Sonora Pass on Saturday , I headed North to Mt. Shasta late afternoon on Sunday. Pat and I would camp around 5,000 ft. on the approach to Mt. Shasta, and then head down to the Lower Sacramento River in Redding on Monday to float fish with our guide Bryan from The Fly Shop .

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Nota Especial: This Guest TR is written by Alex, one of the Lunaticos Dementes listed below – his words with the pics provided by the Fotografos listed below.

Fechas: Mayuary 29 & 30, 2010

Localidads: Las Pasadas de Sonora y Tioga, California

Note: This Guest TR is several pages long – just click at the end of each page to continue.

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Locations: Denali National Park – S.E. Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier, including summits of Control Peak Tower (8,670 ft / 2,643 m) and Mt. Francis (10,450 ft / 3,185 m)

Dates: Thursday, May 13 – Thursday, May 20, 2010

Photos & Video: Nick

Weather: It’s the Alaska Range, so expect the unexpected as I have come to find out. Generally, we really lucked out with the weather and had perfect climbing conditions and bluebird days on our 2 summit days. We only encountered white-out conditions (and only partial days) during 2 of our 8 days on the Kahiltna.

Temperatures fluctuated greatly during the day depending on the amount of cloud cover and wind, and temps were generally relatively cold at night.

Synopsis: After skiing the Sierra High Route and climbing and skiing Mt. Williamson with Jon, the end of my May would be spent in and around the Southeast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier, located in Denali National Park.

While we do have some smallish glaciers (e.g., the Norman Clyde Glacier around the Palisades and the Whitney Glacier on Mount Shasta) here in California, I was craving a forum to formally learn the technical aspects of large-scale glacier travel and crevasse rescue. As I fully intend on making trips into the Alaska Range in the future, I felt it was the best location to take such a course. A beautiful setting with heavily glaciated terrain – it fit the ticket perfectly.

Note: This Mega TR is several pages long – just click at the end of each page to continue.

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Location: Mt. Williamson (14,375 ft / 4,382 m), Eastern Sierra

Dates: Friday, May 7 – Saturday, May 8, 2010

Skiers: Jon & Nick

Photos & Video: Nick (unless otherwise noted as Jon)

Weather: Both days were bluebird, with warm temperatures and no wind on Friday, but a 20-30 mph wind up high on Saturday.

Avalanche Conditions: We did not encounter any instabilities in the snow pack on the ascent or descent. The snow is undergoing a strong freeze/thaw cycle (although cold winds on Saturday kept much of the snow from significantly thawing).

Synopsis: After finishing the Sierra High Route, my plan was to meet Jon and ski both Mt. Tyndall and Mt. Williamson. However, after skiing along the Tyndall Plateau on Day 5 of the SHR, I did not think the North Couloir on Tyndall was worth the massive approach to get back there. While it is an aesthetic line, Jon and I would rather save Tyndall for summer climbing on the East face.

Therefore, our plans were changed to only ski Mt. Williamson, the 2nd tallest peak in the Sierra.

Note: There are several pages to this TR.

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Locations: Sierra High Route

Dates: Saturday, May 1 – Thursday, May 6, 2010

Skiers: Geoff, Barry, Mike & Nick

Photographers: All photos in this TR were taken with my camera. Most were taken my me, but the pictures of me were taken by other members of the team.

Synopsis: We were embarking on the Alpine Skills International (“ASI”) 2009 6-day Sierra High Route, from West to East. The trip would be lead by Geoff Clarke, an ASI Guide and former Chief Telemark Examiner for the PSIA.

The planned route crosses the Sierra Nevada over 9 high cols and passes, beginning at old Wolverton Ski Resort on the edge of Sequoia National Park and ending at the valley floor outside Independence (off 395). The planned route starts at approximately 7,200ft., climbs to around 10,000ft. and holds the line between 10,500ft. and 13,000ft., until dropping down on the Eastern side of the Sierra.

I attempted the same route last year with Geoff, but we turned around near Copper Mine Pass due to High avalanche conditions.

Based on Geoff’s running GPS, we traveled approximately 47 miles and climbed over 17,000 of vert over the course of the 6 days.

Note: Each Day is on a separate page, and the bottom of each page has a link to the next day.

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Location: Crescent Moon Couloir & The Sisters, Carson Pass

Date: Saturday, April 17, 2010

Skiers: Jon & Nick

Photos & Video: Nick (unless otherwise noted as Jon)

Weather: Bluebird and warming – really a perfect day. By 1 PM on the skin back to the car, it was nearing the 60s around 8,000 ft.

Avalanche Conditions: From the Sierra Avalanche Center:

Early this morning, avalanche danger is Low for all elevations and aspects. Pockets of Moderate danger will form at all elevations on E-SE-S-SW-W aspects in response to daytime warming. Very isolated areas of instability may exist on northerly aspects. Normal caution is advised.

During our tour, Jon and I did not encounter any instabilities.

Synopsis: With the call for good weather, stable avalanche conditions and the promise of wintry snow at higher elevations that do not get any sun, Jon and I decided to head to Carson Pass and ski Crescent Moon Couloir as the primary objective. With an abundance of other options and easy access, we intended on skiing other lines in the area as well, but giving ourselves an easy bail if the snow got too warm too quick.

Other than a vital gear mishap in a somewhat exposed spot, the day was awesome.

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Location: Halls of the Gods Couloir, Indian Cliff Chutes (Angora Peak)

Date: Saturday, March 6, 2010

Skiers: Bob & Nick

Photographers: Nick (unless otherwise noted as Bob)

Weather: On Saturday a small Low system was moving through the Tahoe region. Skies were grey-bird, with light winds out of the E/SE. Around mid-afternoon, light snow showers quickly move in and out of the area (with little to no accumulation).

Synopsis:

After hitting Halls of the Gods Couloir last year with Frank and Coling in very good snow conditions TR Here, I knew I had to get back during good snow conditions. Only this time, definitely better to take the appropriate route up the ridge between Angora and Echo Peaks. Shaved off a good amount of time (at least an hour and ½) off the approach time.

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Locations: Dick’s Peak, Janine’s Ridge, Maggie’s Peaks (Desolation Wilderness)

Dates: Saturday, January 30 – Sunday, January 31, 2010

Skiers/Riders: Alex & Nick

Photographers: Nick, unless noted as Alex (although Alex’s shots pretty much blow mine away! Time for me to get a new camera and learn how to use it…)

Weather: Saturday was the tail end of a small Low system that was moving through Tahoe. Skies were grey-bird with intermittent, light snow. Winds started the day slow, but were howling up at Dick’s Peak. Temps at night got to around 10-15 degrees at 9,000 ft. Sunday was blue-bird and generally warm, although once again the ridge top winds at Dick’s Peak were consistent 30 mph. Janine’s and Maggie’s had no wind, fortunately.

Avalanche Conditions:
From the Sierra Avalanche Center:

On Saturday, near and above treeline, pockets of moderate avalanche danger will form in wind loaded areas on NW-N-NE-E aspects, 37 degrees and steeper. Below treeline, avalanche danger is low in wind protected areas.

On Sunday, near and above treeline, pockets of moderate avalanche danger remain on wind-loaded, NW-N-NE-E aspects, 37 degrees and steeper. Below treeline, avalanche danger is low in wind protected areas.

We found the snow to generally be very stable at both Maggie’s and Janine’s. As discussed further below, Dick’s was very wind-effected and in most areas had 6-inch wind-slabs sitting on lower density snow. We were able to ski cut and otherwise trigger some small, very slow moving wind-slabs on Dick’s N face.

Synopsis: With Alex and I both about to turn the dredded 30 (me, well, today actually, and Alex on Friday), we figured a good early present would be to get back into Desolation Wilderness and get in some powder skiing. Nothing better than avoiding the fact you are turning 30 by essentially continuing to “live the dream” so to speak. Was a great trip and a good early present.

Warning: There are a lot of scenic pics in the TR, but some great skiing ones near the end as well.

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Location: Alpine Meadows

Date: Saturday, January 23, 2010

Skier/Boarder: Nick & Kenny

Photographers: Nick & Kenny (as noted)

Synopsis:

This past week, Tahoe got on average 6-7 feet of snow from Sunday-Friday. With Matt, Kenny and Dan in town for the weekend, we headed over the Alpine Meadows on Saturday to partake in some of the snow.

It was continuously snowing both Saturday and Sunday, so I only have few pictures from Saturday at Alpine.

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Locations & Dates:

Kirkwood – Thursday, December 31, 2009

Carson Pass Backcountry – Thursday, December 31, 2009 – Friday, January 1, 2010

Mt. Rose Backcountry – Friday, January 1, 2010

Alpine Meadows – Saturday, January 2, 2010

Skiers: Nick & Jonathan

Photographers: Nick (except as otherwise noted as Jonathan)

Synopsis:

With the holiday weekend approaching, our original intention was to go on a 2-day tour on Thursday and Friday with some resort skiing over the weekend. As Thursday approached, however, it became clear that a weather system would be moving in on Friday that may make backcountry conditions suspect.

Therefore, our *first* set of modified plans was to ski Kirkwood on Thursday, skin into Carson Pass on Thursday night and camp and then ski various shots off of Roundtop, Elephants Back and possibly Red Lake Peak around Carson Pass on Friday. As noted below, the weather did not cooperate and we modified our plans accordingly.

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Location: Yosemite Valley

Dates: Thursday, November 26th (Thanksgiving) – Friday, November 27th

Climbers: Jon & Nick

Jon and I decided to head to Yosemite Valley to do some climbing over Thanksgiving. This was a trip of firsts for me, including:

1. This was my first time climbing in Yosemite Valley. To any climber, this is a huge development. I hope this to be the first of many trips in the future.

2. This was my first time climbing since I tore my meniscus in September. I had plans of grander this Fall to make many trips to the Meadows and the Eastside, all of which were derailed by my knee injury. After a lot of PT and still potential surgery, I felt it was time to “test the knee” so to speak.

3. This was my first time climbing on Thanksgiving. Last year I was skiing powder at Mammoth Mountain over Thanksgiving. This year, I thought climbing took the lead (no pun intended!).

4. This was my first time climbing with Jon. Jon is far and away a more experienced climber and a good friend to make the trip with. Enthusiastic, willing to teach and, most importantly, willing to down grade the routes we were on to fit my abilities (both from an injury standpoint and leading standpoint).

On to the trip….

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Locations: John Muir Wilderness, Dutch Lake & Hidden Lake

Dates: October 10, 2009 – October 11, 2009

Hikers/Fishers: Colin & Nick

Photographers: Nick (unless otherwise noted as Colin)

Colin and I decided to head out into the John Muir Wilderness for a brief weekend hiking and fly fishing trip. I recently tore my meniscus as well as additional cartilage damage, and Colin currently has a leg like the terminator resulting from a broken tib/fib/ankle accident at Squaw last winter.

Needless to say, we are both gimps but wanted to get out of dodge deep into the Sierra. The result: Kaiser Pass Road. Kaiser Pass Road is a seasonal, single-lane paved road that ventures up to Thomas Edison Lake and Florence Lake. Sitting at approximately 7,500 ft., Florence Lake is accessible by car but serves as a jump-off point for several trailheads.

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