Monday, April 13, 2009
I spent the Easter weekend the only way I know how, lost in mother nature. Saturday my buddy Dave Ludwick and I hiked up Mount Tallac on the southwest shore of Lake Tahoe (http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/activity/7979794).
Mount Tallac from Emerald Bay.
I had hiked Mt. Tallac in the Fall several months back, but I heard there was some good skiing to be had off the northeast face, so Dave and I cruised up to check it out. The approach started with a 1.5 mile easy, manageable incline. After that we gained a ridge and followed that to a saddle just north of the peak, another 2.5 miles. From there we boulder climbed about 500 feet to the summit.
Our Route in Blue.
The views were just as impressive as they were months back, only this time I was more interested in the sweet lines off the summit instead of the breathtaking views.
Ludwick and I at the Summit.
The descent was a 3,300 vertical foot drop back down to the car, skiable the entire way – a rarity in the backcountry world. It started with a moderately steep bowl (35 – 40 deg) right off the summit to the northeast. The bowl was a huge snow field about 500 yards long and 200 yards wide, huge. The bowl narrowed at the bottom where it split into a well spaced glade at approximately the same pitch as above to the left, and to the right, several advanced (fatal falls) shoots dropping down the face at about a 45 to 50 degree pitch. I skied the glades and watched as other backcountry skiers (much better than myself) jump-turned (on tele skis!) down the extreme shoots to the right, an impressive sight indeed.
Northeast Bowl, my descent in blue.
The hike was, round trip, about 8.5 miles and took us just over 6 hours, no land speed record, that’s for sure. The snow conditions at the top were phenomenal, fresh tracks in ~8” of newly deposited, wet, large crystal snow over a consolidated, breakable snow/ice crust. Towards to bottom the snow turned to 1-2” of slush on top of unbreakable snow/ice crust – mmmmm, sloshy spring skiing.
Easter Sunday, I met a few other friends, Zachi, Jeff and Orion, bright and early at the coffee shop for an exploratory canyoneering trip down the Rock Creek (http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/activity/7988977), just outside of Downieville near Goodyear’s Bar. The purpose of this trip was to locate a waterfall on Rock Creek worthy of coming back to with bikes for an ‘extreme’ photo shoot of mountain bikers repelling down a cliff next to a waterfall. Why? I’m not really sure, but I’ve never really needed that much of an excuse to go for an adventure. The trip consisted of hiking up a ridge to a point known as Serpentine Rock, where we had lunch, then a repel/scramble from that point down to Rock Creek. On the hike up the ridge we came across an abandoned mine shaft that appeared to be bottomless (from our stick tossing experiment), we scoped out the area and marked it as a waypoint, we’ll be back for more later.
On the climb up we came across this amazing tree, easily climbable, which we named ‘Gnome Tree’.
A little further down the trail we came across this abandoned mine shaft. Who knows how deep it goes, we dropped a couple sticks down which we heard falling for a long time...
We had lunch on Serpentine Rock – a 50 foot tall outcropping of serpentine rock positioned on an already amazing ridge vista.
Once we got down to Rock Creek (about 500 vert feet below) we climbed around in the creek bottom from rock to rock trying not to fall in or get washed away. Even though Rock Creek doesn’t have a high volume flow, the deep pools, long cascades, and numerous waterfalls meandering though steep canyon walls over blocky granite made travel difficult and consequences costly. We managed to snake our way down the creek, repelling and climbing where necessary. And yes, I DID fall in. The water was crazy cold and I fell into a pool just before a waterfall, so I was able to scramble to the shore before…well, I made it to the shore and did NOT go over the falls! Great Success.
The crescendo of the trip was our discovery of an 8 to 10 story raging water fall with near vertical canyon walls on either side! This will be the waterfall for the photo shoot in a couple of weeks. We repelled down the north canyon wall to the mossy green micro-climate that often surrounds waterfalls. After a short while of exploring the area we continued our descent down the creek another ½ mile to the car. We got a few more repel sessions and a few more wet feet in the process.
Jeff repelling down the north canyon wall of the big waterfall.
More random repelling, we did a lot of repels.
So my feet are pretty haggard with blisters and a few bruises, but all in all, I can say the weekend was a success and I am no worse for the wear. The weather is getting nicer here, the snow levels are rising, more and more mountains will become accessible soon! Hallayluya, Christ is Risen and Spring is Here!
Wish I could have celebrated with you all. The Weidinger egg bash and the Krazy Kremer shenanigans were greatly missed. I think I’ll go cook up some ham and bash some eggs on my own head tonight.
Other recent happenings (via pictures, cuz I’m too lazy to type and you’re too lazy to read) from most recent to last post:
Eric and I bought our season’s pass to the Prairie City Race Series mountain bike races (www.racemtbikes.com) and had our first race last Wednesday (4-8-09). The PCRS is a 12 week mountain bike race series that races every Wednesday.
Eric placed 10th in his class, 124 overall, and I placed 3rd in the singlespeed class, 74th overall. This was our first race with 11 more to go, we shall see how the competition stacks up. There were around 500 racers last week.
The weekend of the 3rd, I headed for SF with Zachi on an FTA (www.foresttrailsalliance.org) publicity mission. We helped the SF Urban Riders construct about 1000’ of new trail on mt. Sutros (UCSF).
I found this little guy while digging up trail…hope I didn’t kill him.
We rode Sunday after helping build trail all day Saturday. The SF Urban riders put on an urban ride for us the linked various singletrack together with city assault riding between sweet singletrack sessions.
Prior to that was my birthday, which was celebrated on the dirt via an out and back on the South Yuba River Trail with Dave Ludwick and new roomie Eric.
On April fools day, the master bedroom of 323 Alta Street received new inhabitants, Eric and Becca, who had just arrived from Denver.
The weekend before that (March 27th), Dave Ludwick and I headed to Dave’s old college stomping grounds of Chico for a Mother Hips show, some socializing, and of course, some biking in the legendary Bidwell Park. The ride was epic.
And finally, sometime before then and sometime after Abdul and I’s Homewood ski trip (previous post), Adele flew in to win the prize of my first MO visitor. We checked out Yosemite Valley with friends Kate and Andy, stayed in a historic hotel in Coulterville, CA, did some serious road tripping, checked out the local hiking trails near GV, and topped the weekend off with a trip to Sugar Bowl for some fresh turns.
Abdul and I played in the bowl just north of the Palisades, which included this awesome 30’ cornice to a fresh powder transition.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
After the great ski day I was satisfied with my snow desire for the week so I switch focus to bike. My attempt to make a few improvements to the Rig yielded a garage strewn with bike components and a frame with a seat post and rear break...oops. I guess the miles of riding with little bike maintenance in between rides had really taken it's toll. I spent all week applying attention to various issues until finally, friday night, I had a fully functioning Rig ready to cruse down to the bar.
Saturday I hit up the Missouri Bar Loop. This was the very first ride I did in Grass Valley when I moved here. I did it on a barley functioning Rig with no front brake and 9 speeds. Rocco kicked my ass all over the trail, all day long, literally, all day long. I was pleased to return to the loop with a single speed 6 months later and destroy it with my best time yet. I guess something can be said about cross training with tele's.
I do not know if we will be getting any more big snow dumps this ski season, but either way I'm perfectly content now that I have a fully functioning bike. Cheers!
Monday, March 9, 2009
After the ride, a few of us headed over to Zachi's place to do some work on FTA's webpage design (hopefully soon coming). The meeting was real productive, after Zachi gave us the initial tour of the place, which was incredible mind you. Zachi is a skilled, out-side-the-box contractor constantly coming up with crazy ideas. Check out his offical site.
The vine running up the tower is a ferro-cement sculpture that covers an irrigation system that is used to keep the house skin cool in the summer.
So the snow wasn't that good in the side country either, but at least I got to try out my new shtuff, and I caught some views.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
To kick off February, Dave put together a hut trip to the Ludlow hut in the Desolation Wilderness along the Pacific Crest Trail. Our GPS rout in can be found here: http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/activity/7596726
The skin in went fairly well, we were staying for 2 nights and three days so we each packed moderately light packs. The snow cover was pretty scarce for the first 500 or so feet and never really got all that impressive at the summit. January was a hard month for Tahoe.
The hut was a happening place that weekend. Not only was our party of 6 staying there but also another couple from Grass Valley, a father-son trio from Kings Beach, a couple from the bay and a couple from Sac and a couple of dogs. CA is a full state.
The Ludlow hut is a quant little A-frame primitive mountain hut with two small pot belly fireplaces, one on each end, and a loft that sleeps 12-15. It was no Motel-8, but it but it served us well and made winter camping much more enjoyable, almost too enjoyable.
We skinned in Friday, which took much longer than it should, so by the time we arrived at the hut we were pretty beat and just spent the remainder of the day relaxing and enjoying the mountain hut.
Saturday, Nick, Dave and I headed to the top of the only peak around, Lost Corner Mountain, where the clouds broke and we got some good views looking west to the central valley all the way to the Coastal Range.
Is that a member of the Israeli arctic-ops armed forces? No, it's just Ludwick snowshoeing up Lost Mountain.
We (I) skied all day Saturday, in which time I only managed to get two runs off Lost Mountain and One off the south face of SoughDough Hill. That night we defeated our hunger by celebrating canned seafood specials, as depicted in this wonder full ensemble of pickled Sardine, sharp cheddar and trisket:
What would the backcountry be without a little canned seafood?
We skinned out Sunday and headed back to Grass Valley satisfied by the adventure but concerned about the snow depths. Fortunately mother nature smiled upon us during the first couple of weeks in the year of the Ox. Storm after storm brought in ample powder days, most of which were undocumented. Nick had his camera for one powder day in Sugar Bowl a few weeks back:
A Sierra Blue Bird Powder Tuesday.
Jeff, Nick and I enjoying the day at Sugar Bowl.
One thing I've noticed about NorCal riders, they like to jump off shit. And I've found that I do too (fortunately I don't mind eating shit every now and again either):
Cooper, Jesus and I headed to Boreal for some night skiing last Thursday. This gave me a great opportunity to try out several items. I just received some new bindings for my touring skis in the mail the day before, so I needed to give them a go, I just got my new weather-proof cell phone, so I wanted to test it out in some harsher conditions, and I was yet to see what CA night skiing was like. I must say I was impressed, not blown away, but impressed, about everything. My bindings performed great, the phone worked well, and Boreal wasn't too terrible.
Jesus had his first day on the snow and quickly got the hang of snowboarding. It won't be long before he's ready.
This last weekend Zachi organized a local ride through various parts of Grass Valley open space, of which I never even knew existed. The ride was an interesting twist on mountain biking, more like "adventure biking." There were few trails to speak of, more like true free-riding, and the goal of the ride was to find an abandoned mine.
The Grass Valley free-ride scene.