Friday, June 22, 2012

Soaring Mt. Sentinel

Wednesday Jeff, Josh, and I were busting out some harness parts when the sky started to look promising.  Promising was all we needed.  We called it quits for the day and grabbed our flying gear.  As is typical, the sky looked amazing over the mountains with well spaced cumulus clouds, but over the valley the sky was blue.  No worries though, we knew there was still some activity out there.  

The new Wild Things logo on my glider

Everyone headed up the hill and began setting up immediately.  Josh launched his paraglider quickly and after a short period, was well above launch.  I hooked in and joined him in the sky.  I climbed out immediately to 6800 ft and went on glide to Dean Stone mtn where I met up with Josh.  We thermaled together for a short bit before he headed south down the Bitterroot valley.  I did my best to gain enough altitude to pull the trigger and head south but it just wasn't in the cards for the day.  After an hour of trying, I called it quits and headed towards the north.

 Looking north from Dean Stone mtn

I noticed everyone was beginning to land so I took a quick tour of the Rattlesnake and town before headed for the LZ.  After a misjudged approach, barely clearing some trees, my feet came back to earth and I met the others to break down.  The flight was exceptional and cleared my overcrowded mind.

 South down the Bitterroot

Pattee Canyon

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

California Climbing

The road stretched out before me as far as the eye could see.  The left led to home and the right, Yosemite.  I sat on the porch of “Latté Da” in Lee Vining enjoying an iced latté contemplating my options.  With no climbing partners I could either head home or go to Yosemite to take pictures.  I made two calls; one to my buddy Roger and the other his girlfriend Robin, as a last ditch effort for a partner.  Then I waited. 

 Brad climbing in the Owens

 Unique rock layering of the Owens

 Pine Lake

I had just come from Bishop and the Owens River Gorge where I was climbing with Brad Potter.  The gorge was great.  Filled with amazing climbs, well-groomed trails, and the occasional swimming hole.  He gave me the royal tour through all the classic areas enjoying all the great climbing the place had to offer.  Temps in Bishop were around 98 degrees, but conditions weren’t too bad in the gorge.  Temps were still high, but shaded areas made climbing possible. 

 Yosemite Falls

 Roger rapping into the Muir Wall

We enjoyed two days of great climbing and camping at the gorge before it was time for Brad to head home.  Bishop isn’t too far from Yosemite so before driving North, I went for a hike to Pine Lake.  It’s a crystal clear lake filled with trout nestled in between the peaks of the high Sierras.  I spent the afternoon at the lake and then continued my journey North where I found myself in Lee Vining.

 El Cap and the Cathedrals 

 Roger jugging high on the Nose

 Last belay on the Nose

 Justin on Central Pillar of Frenzy, Middle Cathedral

I had been scrolling through the Internet for about twenty minutes when my phone rang.  It was Roger and he was on his way to Lee Vining with some buddies for dinner.  When I met them at the diner, everything started to fall into place.  Roger would be busy doing some geological mapping of El Cap, but would have a little time to climb.  His friend Justin however, was on the same program I was so we quickly made plans to climb.  After meeting a few other folks, I had more options than I had time for, cragging in Yosemite, walling on El Cap, or the Whitney range.  In the end, I decided to hang in Yosemite to experience the great climbing it had to offer. 

 El Cap

 Brad and Roger crushing the Dawn Wall, Day 3

Over the next week I ran around Yosemite climbing several of the classic lines.  Our casual pace in the mornings had us savoring coffee and missing most of the usual traffic jams at the base of climbs.  We would role in around noon and comfortably finish the climbs with enough time to enjoy the evening lighting from the valley floor.  After a week of great climbing, our time in the valley eventually came to an end.  With many more amazing climbs to experience, I look forward to my next visit there.