the daily dub

July 14th, 2011

Urban Diversions: Yosemite

My wife recently started a new job, planning an hosting events with Urban Diversions.  Things like happy hours, trips to Yosemite, and rock climbing.  Things she gets to do for free (even being payed for).  That doesn’t suck right?

Here’s some photos of a recent trip to Yosemite she hosted:

Group Photo

This is the majority of the group posing for a photo on the foot bridge below Vernal Falls.

Vernal Falls

Speaking of Vernal Falls.  Look at how FULL that is!

Mike on the last bit of the Mist Trail

Discussing the size of caught fish...

Halo around the sun


Top of Nevada Falls

Top of Nevada Falls (other side)

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July 8th, 2010


Posted by rdub in Photography, Trip Reports
Fizz Ball Jousting

Fizz Ball Jousting

Click the photos for higher res versions, where you can see that this rider is wielding a hatchet to slash a beer can in half.

FizzBall Jousting

FizzBall Jousting

In this photo, the rider used a machete to slash the beer can in half … at about 15 mph.

View of JuPlaya from afar

View of JuPlaya from afar

A few photos from my trip out to JuPlaya.

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May 11th, 2010

Round Top Trip Report

Posted by rdub in Sites to see, Trip Reports

Crescent Moon Couloir

Our route of choice is the formidable Crescent Moon Couloir (known as CMC to the regulars). The Crescent follows a crescent moon shaped dog-leg right up the center of the North face of Round Top, a peak topping 10,381 feet just east of Kirkwood Ski Resort.

Crescent Moon Couloir Route

The Crescent Moon Couloir Route

With the summit located ~2.5 miles from the road, and having been skunked on a previous trip, we decided a day-trip up the route was in order.

Being a day trip, we both knew we’d be expending serious amounts of energy to make it up this route.  To that end, we both brought about 5 packs of “Gu” – the energy/calorie gel products marketed by the same people who make Clif/Powerbars – along with a ton of Cytomax electrolyte drinks and Clif bars.  I myself took 3 liters of water/Cytomax, and my partner, Rob, took only 2.

After a 3am wakeup, a large breakfast (and mucho coffee), I was on the road from San Francisco at 4am.  I met Rob in Sacramento at around 5:45am, and we headed towards the trail head!

We arrived at the Carson Pass Trailhead at about 8:45am, loaded up our gear, and were on the trail by 9:15am.

At the Trailhead

At the Trailhead

By 10:40am, we were at Lake Winnemucca making great time, beginning the steep approach to the base of the even steeper climb. By 11:29am, we made it halfway to the base from the lake.  Once at the base, it was time to refuel.  Having eaten as much “Gu” as I could stomach, and a whole Clif Bar on top of that, we rested up, and began our ascent.

The Ascent

Rob had one 65cm Mountaineering Ice Axe, leashed to himself with paracord looped onto his harness.  I opted for a dual tool approach, citing the possibility of hard ice on the route.  I had one 65cm mountaineering axe, and one 55cm technical ice tool, both leased to my harness with cord.

Looking up the Couloir

Looking up the Couloir

Once we entered the main couloir, we were stunned by its sheerness. We knew this would be a challenging climb, but felt comfortable with the level of commitment and plowed on.  Back at the car, we had opted to leave all our rope-gear behind, citing the unknown protection options, and added weight. I believe it was a good call, at least until the exit from the couloir, where it would have been super nice to have a belay.

Crescent Moon Couloir Route

Looking Down

This gives you an idea of how steep the route is.  It only got steeper from here!

This gives you an idea of how steep the route is. It only got steeper from here!

About 1/3rd of the way up, the routes split off. There’s a left couloir and a right couloir.  The right couloir is the CMC proper.  The left is another variation, but I don’t think its crux is as hard as the right couloir’s crux. At this fork in the road, I stopped to take a leak.  On a 45-50 degree slope – first time in my life I’ve ever done that!

The climbing gets scarier from the split – the route increases in slope to probably around 60 or 65 degrees at the crux.  At one point, when trying to take a step up/forward, the route was so steep, my knee pushed into the snow in front of me, forcing my center of gravity precariously back of my heels. That’s a scary feeling, especially with the view of the funnel of rock below.

The crux starts at the last 1/5th to 1/4th of the route, with the steepness approaching 60-65 degrees.  At this point, the depth of the snow (and thereby the amount of ice-axe purchase available) begins to decline to the point where you cannot plunge your shaft completely into the snow.  It’s at this point that the climb becomes a zero fault zone – any mistake here could cost you a ride in space. Then, the exit from the couloir takes you out onto sun-exposed snow, melting under your feet.  Gone are the solid kick-steps of the steeps below; here is where your steps start melting away beneath you, and time is of the essence.  Do not loiter here – those photos you want to take may end up being your last.  That said, at this point, you are mere feet from the top.

At the Notch at the top of CMC

Rob at the Notch at the top of CMC

Once on to horizontal terrain again, you’ll be in a gun-sight notch between two bouldery crags.  The one to the west is the false summit – to the east, over the first crag, and up onto the second (a little class 3/4 scrambling) is the proper summit, at 10,381 ft.  Give it a climb, enjoy the views, sign your name in the register (if that’s your thing), and head on down.

If conditions allow (e.g., the snow isn’t hard as shit), ski the couloir – you just climbed it, so you should know all the hazards right?  If the couloir is too steep or committing or rotten for your taste, and you brought your skis to the top, descend to the saddle to the west between Round Top and the sisters.  If you have energy, climb the sisters (highly-recommended, and not much effort needed here), and descend one of the chutes on the north face  – you’ll be in a beautiful, powder covered bowl.  If you’re out of energy, simply descend the saddle, ski back towards Lake Winnemucca, and out to the trailhead to complete your trip.

All in all, I’d rate the climb a solid 5.5 (in terms of climbing ratings), with a scary factor of 8 (out of 10), increasing to 9 as the day goes on (since the exit snow starts to melt). There were no super technical moves required, but the route was very committing and exposed, especially near the top. Do not let it get too late in the day when you hit the exit snow field, or you’ll either be taking the great space-ride down, or descending the way you came up.

The crux of the climb was moderately technical, the main obstacle being the “no-mistakes” zones along the climb, and the shallowing out of the snow towards the top making purchase come in short supply.

This is a great climb, and well worth a go if you’re in the area, and into a good snow climb.

We hit the summit at 2:14 pm, which is a little bit late for my taste.  Like I said, the sun-exposed snow near the top had started to melt, making the exit from the couloir a bit dicey.  If you’re reaching the top any later than that, I’d give serious thought to a either a roped-up exit, or bailing out.

Our hike out took us a couple hours, likely because we were quite exhausted, but we made it to the car by 4:45.  I was back in Sacramento by 7pm, and home by 11 (I stopped for food).

This is definitely doable in a day-trip, but I recommend getting the earliest start possible.

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April 15th, 2010

Yosemite Trip Report

Posted by rdub in Trip Reports
Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Falls

Last weekend we travelled to Yosemite.  My uncle had an unused campground reservation that he emailed to me for the Upper Pines campground in the valley.  Right on the first loop (read: with the most sun), site # 9, we pitched our tent.

On this trip, I learned a valuable lesson: never pitch a tent under a tree when possibly expecting snow.



On Sunday night, at around 6pm, it began to snow. This was all fine and good because, frankly, we were all tired of the rain.  As it snowed, we ate kabobs and celebrated my Grandpa’s 85th birthday.  Congrats, Grandpa! The snow changed back to rain, then back to snow a couple of times before we headed back to camp.

We basically went straight to bed (because, what else is there to do when it’s dumping wet snow on you at 8pm at night?!?), listening to the silence of the snow falling… until…  WHUMPH!

“We’ve been hit!” I said to myself. A split-second later,  I realized my mistake: the tree above us was releasing the snow built up on its boughs, right onto the top of our tent.  “No problem,” I thought, as this tent has seen its share of shit-weather.  Well, it wasn’t a problem until there was enough wet-snow on top that the next “WUMPH!” broke a tent pole.  And… we had a candle burning (mistake #2).  The tent wall collapsed in, and if the candle handn’t have had a glass covering, we might have lit our shelter on fire in a hurry.

Luckily, there was no fire, but it was midnight, and I still had to deal with the problem of how to address the tree dropping bombs on us in a now-broken tent.

With a little beer-engineering, I shimmied up on the bear-box, tied a line as high as I could reach on a tree, borrowed a few tent-stakes from the tent to anchor the other end of the line to the ground.  The line was now directly over the broken canopy of the tent, about 2 feet above the rain fly.  “Perfect,” I thought, and went to grab a tarp.

With the tarp draped over the line, I borrowed yet more stakes from the tent, and anchored each corner down. I basically built a larger, stronger tent on the outside of the actual tent to protect us from the pelting snowballs falling from the tree.

Tent-crisis aside, I personally had a lot of fun in Yosemite.  That place always recharges my batteries, so to speak.  It was cold, though, and I think Athena didn’t like that much.  But she was a trooper, and made the best of things right up until the end.

Now that you’ve heard about my epic adventure, how about some photos?

Adventure, Ho!

Adventure, Ho!

Grandpa, King of the roost

Grandpa, King of the roost

Blue Bird looking for crumbs

Blue Bird looking for crumbs

Half Dome

Half Dome

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March 28th, 2010

Round Top: Trip Report

Posted by rdub in Trip Reports

On Friday, Robert and I drove up to Carson Pass for a little climbing adventure.  And adventure we had!

The drive up was the start of the adventure to come.  We had been anticipating this trip for at least a month, and excitement was high. But, much to our dismay, on a perfectly sunny and warm day, about 30 miles from the pass there was chain control!  So, we had to turn back from the Ranger Station, and go pick up chains at the exorbitant Sierra Foothills price of $80 in order to continue on our trip.  I’ll admit, there we a few spots where they were necessary, but most of the road was okay to drive… Frustrating.

Once we got the chains on, we were off! We reached the Carson Pass Trailhead just before noon. A little gearing up and we hit the trail.  Hiking in winter after a recent storm is both freeing, and hard work. The trail was only broken for about half the hike, and the rest allowed us to blaze our own trail.  In about 2 hours we had made 2 miles of progress in the snow. After reaching tree line, we found a good spot to make camp.

We dropped our packs, and started to dig in.  We had planned on making a snow cave, so didn’t bother with a tent.  Luckily we had bivy sacks, as we would end up needing them later.  We took turns digging out the cave, and building up a kitchen area with snow blocks.  I definitely need practice with building snow caves – it’s not easy work.

We both ended up sweating, and soaked, and the sun had set while we were digging.  At about 8:30pm, we decided to call the cave a loss: it was no where near large enough, and it was starting to get cold. Our spirits sunk, as we anticipated the cold night ahead.  We started building a backup shelter: a small wall against the wind. We found out over night that the wall we built up was no match for the 20-40 mph winds that would hit later that night.

The night was sleepless, wet, and cold. My watch thermometer read 17.5 degrees F, at only 9pm.  It only gets colder from there. Our flags (which we intended to use to mark the snow cave) flapped all night long in the intense wind, as snow blew into every seam of our bivy sacks, iced up, and blocked our air paths.  At least 15 times, I would drift off into sleep, have some wild dreams, and wake up gasping for air.  I’d sit up, knock the ice off the mesh of my bivy sack, and lay back down (on about a half-inch of freshly wind blow snow). It was a cold and miserable affair.

By morning, we were literally buried under 6 inches of snow transported by the wind, which didn’t stop blowing until around noon. It was good thing the snow cave hadn’t worked out, because the entrance tunnel was buried under about 3 feet of snow.  I’m not sure what we would have done in the morning, or if we could have made it out without destroying the cave.

With so much wind transport, we decided that wind slabs were a major avalanche concern, and scope out the route.  A closer inspection via monocular showed obvious wind slab formations on the slopes leading to the entrance to Crescent Moon Couloir.  The wind was an easterly, and given that the couloir has a Northern exposure, it had appeared to have loaded the entire couloir with “fresh” snow, just waiting to go.

We kept arguing with ourselves: “maybe if we finish the cave, and look again tomorrow?”  But our avalanche research told us that wind slabs don’t go away overnight.  Checking the avalanche advisory today agrees that the route still wouldn’t have been 100% safe, so it’s good we bailed.

Rather than suffer through another night of high-wind hell, we packed up camp and headed out.  Leaving was a much faster process than hiking in – our hike out only took about an hour. Maybe it was the promise of In N Out Burger, but something drove me on to the trailhead.

In hindsight, checking the forecast would have been helpful, as the overnight lows on Friday night were 10 degrees colder than they would be on Saturday night.  Staying home one extra day could have made our trip much more enjoyable.

Live and learn.

The trip wasn’t a complete loss, as we both honed our back country skills, trusted our instincts, and decided to make a day trip out of the climb in the future.  We’ll be back, Round Top.

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