Sunday, December 28, 2014

Hiking in Tenerife: Montaña de Guajara


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Hiking in Tenerife: Paisaje Lunar


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas/New Years in Tenerife: Climbing

We fled the Northern European darkness for some sun and climbing in Tenerife.

Sunday, 21.12

Arico Arriba
Sector Mini to the right of Sus Villa (right hand side of canyon), 2x no name (no. 7 and 8), 4+ and 5- (Tanz) or IV and V (Roxtar)
Sector Escuela (left hand side of canyon), "Smearing", no. 4, V and "Pacha", no. 3, V
Both Vorstieg and top rope each (exception Andrea no Vorstieg of V with no name)

we are not the only ones in Arico Arriba

Monday, 22.12

Sector Yerto (left hand side of canyon)
- "asi pone el ayuntamiento los bancos", no 6, V- (both vorstieg and top rope)
- "el 5 de Clark", no 5, V (both vorstieg and top rope)
- "sin animo del lucro, sin animo de etica", no 4, V- (both vorstieg and top rope, at the end of the day)
attempt at sector Martillo (right hand side of canyon), "Quinto de travesia", no 15, V (both failed after 3rd bolt)
sector Paloma (right hand side), "en busca de la alianza perdida", no 21, V (Andrea vorstieg after some trying..., both top rope)
climbing with cacti at Fantasma

Tuesday, 23.12.

New area in Barranco de Tamadaya near La Degollada
Sector Aparat (at very end of climbing area)
- "Unicornio" (last one on left hand side), no.21, V
- "Prejuicios" (last one on right hand side,) no. 20, V+
- "el arbolito" (left hand side), no. 23, V
- "universo parallelo" (left), no. 25, V+
Both Vorsteig and top rope on all, exception: the last one, vorstieg greg only, Andrea top rope in hiking boots.....

Climbing in the in Barranco de Tamadaya

Wednesday, 24.12.

Thursday, 25.12.

Lazy Rest Day (TM)

Friday, 26.12.

Arico Arriba (in the morning)
Sector Los Quintos
- "La Guarra", no. 4 IV+, both vorstieg and top rope
- "Pa empezar", no. 6 V-,  both vorstieg and top rope
- "Iniciación", no. 5 V-, greg only vorstieg
Barranco de Tamadaya near La Degollada (afternoon)
Sector Apapart (left hand side)
- "El Universo"
- "Unisex"
- attempt at "El Pequeno Putlitz"

Saturday, 27.12.

El Hoyo
Sector La Traviesa, route "Picolo", no. 13, 4 (Tanz) greg vorstieg, Andrea top rope
Attempt at "Diedro" (sector Arizona), no. 8, 4, (Tanz) both failed after 1st bolt
Sector Yerto (again)
- no. 04, 05, 06, (repeat from Monday, both vorstieg and top rope)
- no. 03 "Yertoman", no. 03, V (greg vorstieg, Andrea top rope)

Sunday, 28.12.

Hiking on the Cañadas Caldera

lunch break with a view to el Pico del Teide

Monday, 29.12.

Climbing in the afternoon in the Barranco de Tamadaya near La Degollada
Sector Cuarto Largo (right hand side)
- "TCH", no. 10, IV+, almost 30 m (both vorstieg and top rope )
- "der Spagat", no. 8, V, about the same length (both vorstieg and top rope )
- "Mystical slab", no.7, 6a (both top rope)

Tuesday, 30.12.

Arico Arriba
Sector Peña del Lunes  (left hand side): 
- "Rebecca", no. a, V ( both vorstieg and top rope )
Sector Vivac Derecha (right hand side):
- "Monkey", no. 43, V+ (Greg vorstieg, both top rope )
- "Mónica Diabólica", no. 40, V (both vorstieg and top rope )
"Mónica Diabólica"

Wednesday, 31.12.

City/rest day in Santa Cruz
market in Santa Cruz

Thursday, 01.01.

Climbing in the afternoon in the Barranco de Tamadaya near La Degollada
Sector Tubería (left hand side)
- failed both at "La Cleta", no. 41, V+ (Andrea didn't try too hard though...)
Sector Cuarto Largo (right hand side)
- "der Spagat", no. 8, V  (repeat, greg vorstieg, andrea top rope )
- "Mystical slab", no. 7, 6a (greg vorstieg, andrea top rope)
Sector Tubería (right hand side)
- "Transworld", no. 3, V (both vorstieg)
Greg at the top of "der Spagat"

Friday, 02.01.

El Hoyo
Sector La Traviesa
- route to the right of "Fisurini", not in any book, IV or easy V (both vorstieg and top rope)
- "Fisurini", no. 36, V+ ( greg vorstieg, andrea top rope)
- greg had another go at "Diedro" (sector Arizona), no. 8, 4, (Tanz), didn't get anywhere....
Sector Pajaritos (at the very end to the right)
- "Mandate una papa", no. 50, V (both vorstieg and top rope)
- "Nui-Nui", no. 49, V (both vorstieg and top rope)
- "Espolón Fantasma", no. 48, 6a+ (greg vorstieg, Andrea top rope). This is the first 6+ route greg has completed in vorsteig without having top-roped it first.

getting to the end of the Barranco de Piedra Bermeja

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A ridge above the Kloentalersee

text to come


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Schwaendli to the Kloentalersee via the Vorder Glaernisch

text to come.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Climbing the Galtigentürme

This climbing tour along the Galtigentürme was on our list from earlier in the year: we had signed up to do it with the SAC, but then the tour ended up being cancelled due to bad weather (like so much this summer). Since we had good weather forecast for Sunday, we decided to give it a try on our own. It's been raining a fair amount, so we figure a climbing day is better than doing one of the "more interesting" hikes involving steep grass slopes.

After the train to Alpnachstad we buy tickets for the cog railway up the Pilatus. The woman at the counter lets us know that if we want to come down on the cog railway, we will need to reserve a slot for it. She recommends that we do this "as soon as possible" once we get up top. Yikes... guess big crowds are to be expected! Mixed in with the large group of Asian tourists waiting to board the train are a fair number of climbers (recognizable from the helmets and/or ropes on their packs)... not too much of a surprise that we're not going to be lonely on the mountain today. ;-) We, along with the rest of the climbers, get out at Ämsigen and head up the trail towards Matt. This takes us up, at first through woods, then up, up along a nice, if somewhat muddy, trail.  When we hit Mattalp we can already see at least two groups on the "standard" route up the Mattalpplatte and there are three groups who've arrived in front of us who are waiting and at least one behind us. Hrm. That's a crowd. There are other routes up the face, but we don't have a real topo with us and aren't sure which ones are both of an appropriate difficulty level and go all the way to the top, so we opt to skip this first bit and go straight to the first of the towers.
crowd heading towards the Mattalpplatte
There seems to be something like a path along the cliff to the left, so we head up that way along with another pair who seem to not be interested in waiting. Partway up someone calls them back and directs them around the cliff the other way; being stubborn (imagine that), we continue up. The traces of trail are steep, particularly once we get into the grass, but the footing is good, so it's no problem to get up to end of the face and then around it and back to the entry point for the first tower. Here we wait for two groups to clear the way and then start climbing ourselves. The first three towers don't have anything more difficult than 4a, so we climb in our boots (as does pretty much everyone else we see).
view down along the grat of the 1st towers and further down to Mattalp

The ridge is a fun climb: it's not particularly difficult (though quite exposed), but it's interesting and the views of the surrounding mountains rising over the sea of clouds are great. We do some waiting because of the two in front of us, and cause the two behind us to wait a bit, but there's enough room at all the stands so it's not overly cramped and the atmosphere is good. We do an ok job with the communication bits, certainly better than on the Brüggligrat, despite the occasional noise from the cog rail below us.
climbing above the clouds

Between the third and the fourth tower we take advantage of the broad grass ridge to take a lunch break. It's a nice spot for a break, but this turns out to be a strategic mistake. The first pitch of the fourth tower is the trickiest bit on the ridge (4c), so it's a natural choke point. By the time we're done with lunch there are two groups climbing the first pitch and another four groups waiting to start. We opt, reluctantly, to skip it rather than dealing with that line. It might have been better to do lunch "in line" at the bottom of the tower (though that still would have resulted in climbing in more of a crowd than Greg is enthusiastic about).
long line at the bottom of the fourth tower

Up the steep grass slope to the right of the tower we go, until we hit the ridge at it's top, from there along the ridge, with a bit more scrambling, until we hit the Rosegg. From there we opt to head up to the Esel. This bit ends up being just as fun as the climbing itself. There's a clear use path that leads us to the wall below the Esel. From here there are blue markings along with the use path that lead steeply up, up, up. There's a great mixture of scrambling and steep grass, snaking back and forth, at times very exposed, great views all around (and down), until the path ends at the walkway down from the Esel to the Pilatus Kulm. We climb the fence, getting some funny looks from the tourists atop the Esel, and walk the last few meters up to the top to enjoy the views. Looking down, the funny looks are completely understandable: it really doesn't look like there's a way down there. :-)
view from Pilatus Kulm

At the Kulm itself we manage to get a reservation for a train leaving in an hour and half, so we go grab some cool beverages and enjoy the people watching, mountain views, and the memories of a very nice tour.

The track:

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Back to the Rigi Hochflue

We tried the Rigi Hochflue four years ago but ended up not finishing the hike (Greg slammed his knee into a rock and that evaporated his self-confidence for the scrambling with steep drop-offs on either side). We took advantage of a great-weather day to go back.
view down to lake Lucerne
We followed the same route as last time: starting the hiking in Brunnen, then up, up, through the woods and then through the fields, up, up past the top of the gondola at Timpel, to the ridge. After a short snack break we continue along the top, skipping the Gottertli this time, to the turnoff for the blue-white path to the Hochflue. Now up, up again, again with good scrambling and drops to either or both sides, past the spot we turned around last time, cross the saddle to the main ridge (there are people climbing below us... an interesting one to think about), and then up, up the last bit to the main ridge. We've progressed a lot in the last four years (particularly Greg's self-confidence), and the route isn't particularly tricky, so it's all good fun. :-) On the ridge we continue for a bit until we find a good spot with views to the South for our lunch break. Now it's along the ridge until we get to the end with its cross and loads of people (we haven't seen many people, but there are multiple blue-white paths up). After some picture taking and a bit of waiting for the ladder to clear, we head down the ladder to the North. Now it's down, down, down, past a number of groups coming up, no scrambling this way, until we hit the Gätterli. This is, much to Greg's disappointment, closed, so there are no refreshing beverages to be had. We've got two choices here and opt for heading to Goldau (more efficient route home). More down, down, down, along an interesting path through the woods, down, through town, to the station and the train back to Basel.
views and lots of people
more views and even more people....

The track:

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Returning to Lake Ediza: Thousand Islands Lake to Agnew Meadows

Banner Peak reflections in Thousand Island Lake
 Another day-out hike...

We have a somewhat leisurely start and are underway shortly after 8:30. We're following a use trail around the lake, so it's easy going. This combined with the short day and the number of people we start seeing once we're closer to the outlet (boy this lake is popular) leads Greg to an overly enthusiastic pace. Andrea points this out, so he winds it back. ;-)
hiking around Thousand Island Lake
After leaving the lake, the trail leads us down beside the outlet stream (not much in it) and into the woods. At the High-trail/River-trail junction we opt for the shorter, easier River trail. Down, down we go, under the trees, on the dusty (very dusty) trail. There are a surprising (to us at least) number of people about, going in both directions, particularly after we pass the junction with the trail that goes up to Shadow Lake and Lake Ediza. Mostly we're under the trees, but there are some bits exposed to the sun, with manzanita around, reminiscent of hiking Henry Coe (except there's a breeze).
dusty descent under the trees
Back at Agnew Meadows we cram all the stuff into our little rental car, head to Devil's Postpile to drop Chris and his stuff at his car, then head back to Mammoth to check into the hotel, shower, unpack a bit, and then go out for a big, late lunch.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Returning to Lake Ediza: Lake Ediza to Thousand Islands Lake

Underway by around 8:30, we head up the same wooded slope that Andrea and I had climbed the day before on the way to Ritter. We continue past the beginning of the gully until the slope up to the Nydiver Lakes is visible to our right. In front of us there are a couple of people with a tent and someone else is crossing the talus towards Ritter's face. Curious, we watch this for a while, wondering what they are up to, until they start to scramble up the face and then begin climbing. Obviously a solo climber. Wonder how far they're going; we won't know, because we're moving on. We finish the last bit of climb to the first of the Nydiver Lakes and admire it for a bit. Here we finalize the decision that we're going to take the longer route around the crest to Garnet Lake instead of taking Roper's White Bark Pass (with its promised loose-talus descent). Onwards, around the first and second lakes, down a bit to a couple of tarns.
heading off in the morning in front of Mt. Ritter and Banner Peak
reflections in Nydiver Lake

A short break at the last of these and then we head cross-country steeply down into the next valley, past some old exploratory mining trenches (at least that's what we think they are), to about 3020m. Here we contour a bit around the valley wall before climbing the other side, steeply up through nice-smelling trees and scrub until we hit the broad ridge. Cross this ridge with some dried-up tarns and then lovely Garnet comes into view. We take a lunch break in a shaded spot with nice views over Garnet and then descend to the shore of the lake itself. Here we pump a bit of water (not-so-nice-tasting water) and then, since Garnet's shores are not walkable, climb back up a bit to the first shelf to get to the west end. Along the way we go by Roper's pass... sure enough, it looks loose and possibly unpleasant. Now we climb up a bit to the first crest, where the pass over to Thousand Island Lake becomes visible. Onwards, past a couple tarns, to get to the slope leading up to that pass. We traverse this on the diagonal, including some very enjoyable large-talus hopping, to reach the pass itself. From here there's a nice view down to the west end of the lake. We plan our campsite strategy to optimize morning sun and then set off along a clear use trail down to the shore. This leads us around the end of the lake (between it and a couple of tarns) and then onto a broad meadow of sorts (probably marshy when things are wet). We go past a group of camping fishermen, spot a bunch of Belding's ground squirrels (mis-identified at the time as prairie dogs), and finally get to an area where there are some trees and large rocks. Here we scout around a bit until we find a good campsite, set up camp, pump water, wash, and do all the usual things. As the sun vanishes behind the wall of mountains behind us, we get a new surprise: howling coyotes. What a wild sound. Hope they don't come visit.
Garnet Lake
campsite at Thousand Island Lake
 After dinner we stroll around the empty, and mostly empty, ponds and tarns that scatter the complicated landscape around us.

Dinner: broccoli cheddar soup with chipotle and cumin; mashed potatoes with curry and salami.


Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Returning to Lake Ediza: Climbing Mt. Ritter

When we were camping around Lake Ediza years ago we ran into a couple who were on their way up to climb Mt. Ritter. At the time that seemed like a rather strange thing to be doing... how times have changed for us. ;-)

While planning this trip we looked into climbing Ritter and decided that it was feasible for us and that we didn't need to carry too much extra equipment with us; crampons and ice axes would be adequate. So we planned an extra day at Ediza to allow us to give it a try. Monday's rain caused some doubts, but there were no clouds in the sky when we got up, so we packed minimal packs and set off. Our intent was to follow the so-called Clyde Variation, as described here.

We start by heading up the slope to the lovely bowl between Ritter-Banner and the Nydiver Lakes. There's no use trail on our side of the stream, but it's easy enough to pick a route through the woods and then, higher up, the meadow until we reach the bottom of the "Lower Gully". Along the way we spot a group of 4-5 deer who aren't overly concerned by our presence. Of course there's not even a trace of snow in the gully at this point, so we make our way up the steep grass/gravel/talus until we're at the top. We proceed there to make what seems to be exactly the same mistake described in the linked report and, by not turning right sharply enough, end up in terrain that's more difficult than planned. With a bit of careful scrambling and following Andrea's simple guidance: "there's no higher point on the map than where we're headed, so as long as we keep going up everything's fine" we top out and head towards the "Upper SE Snowbowl"; this has a bit of snow left on the steeper slopes, but is otherwise just loose talus with rock-covered ice at the bottom. We navigate the moraine-like side of this until down on the ice, put on the crampons, and then head to the chute that takes us to the "SE Col". This starts very loose and gravelly, so we leave the crampons on (they are great in loose gravel) until we're up on more stable rock. As we reach the top of the col, we realize that the "snow" wall that's been visible for quite a while (and that we saw on other days) is, in fact, ice.

From the col our plan is to get onto the glacier, traverse down a bit to a gap in the rock spine splitting the two pieces of glacier from each other, then head up and around the "three-toed buttress", following Alan Ritter's description. The problem is that we need to first get onto the glacier. In order to do that we have to get from the rock up a 3-4m vertical wall of ice. This is a problem. Our ice skills are not the best (not much practice), we have the wrong equipment (our ice axes are really not ideal for vertical climbing), we don't have anything with us to belay the transfer, the ice is pretty rotten, and the consequences of a fall are bad (~10m onto the rocks in an inaccessible narrow crevasse between the glacier and the cliff). Removing any one of those and we might have done it, but the combination was too much: we decided that we couldn't safely make the transition. We also rejected the option of starting on the ice on the col side and heading over the ridge to the transition: we weren't comfortable with the long stretch of exposed bare ice. Looking down, it's clear that the Alan Ritter's SE glacier route is not only doable, but the glacier has shrunk enough that it's probably doable without crampons. We picked the wrong route. Would we have known this if we had remembered to ask at the ranger station when we picked up our backcountry permits? Who knows. After a break and some gnashing of our teeth, we turn around and head back down.
testing the ice
parts of Ritter's South-East-glacier

view down onto Ediza Lake and Shadow Lake
We end up scrambling down beside the col instead of descending the steep talus/gravel bit. Back at the edge of the "snowbowl" we enjoy the fantastic views for a bit, then head down the correct (=nice talus hopping instead of scrambling) route to the top of the Lower Gully. Rather than continue back the way we came up, we opt to loop around and descend the head of the valley that lies to the West of Ediza (where we camped). This fun descent (including chancing upon a very curious buck who is too impatient for us to leave to run away) leads us to the valley floor, where we contour around, past a not-yet-dry tarn, and then climb up to the ridge overlooking Iceberg Lake. What a view of the lake, the wall up to Lake Cecile, and the Minarets! After enjoying the views for a while, we head back down to our tents where we do all the usual end-of-day stuff.
rest after a long day
Post-dinner stroll back up to the end of the meadow.

Dinner: chicken-noodle soup; freeze-dried chili with cous-cous added.

Track (there are all kinds of problems with the bits close to cliffs when viewed at high zoom levels):

Monday, September 08, 2014

Returning to Lake Ediza: Minarets Lake to Lake Ediza

Rain the night before and clouds; climb to ridge over Lake Cecile on obvious use trail past a small tarn; nice views from ridge, people on other side in saddle, lots of talus; traverse talus to saddle, passing people coming other way with dog; break in saddle, scouting two possible routes, choosing one near outlet; descent along obvious use trail from outlet, no real scrambling, not at all hairy; pass couple coming other way with dog with hiking booties (!); no snow field to cross this time; lunch break on shore of lake enjoying views despite the clouds; continue to meadow above Ediza by following a use trail left of the main trail from outlet; scout around a bit, find a camp spot, pitch tents just as rain starts.
Longish break since we're there pretty early and it's raining; go for walk along slope to Nydiver Lake; wait out short rain fall under some trees; Andrea, fed up with the rain, goes back; Greg and Chris continue to reconnoiter the beginning of tomorrow's Ritter climb; come back on use trail on other side of main stream; have "challenges" finding a crossing (rocks are super slippery because of the rain) and end up crossing on a broken log bridge almost all the way down at Ediza.

Dinner; post-dinner stroll down to Ediza; dramatic "sunset" because of clouds, but no further rain.
Dinner: broccoli-cheddar soup, cous-cous with toasted sambar and salami.
campsite underneath the Minarets
on the way to Cecile Lake
talus hopping along Cecile Lake
steep descent to Iceberg Lake


Sunday, September 07, 2014

Returning to Lake Ediza: Devil's Postpile to Minarets Lake

Drop our rental car at Agnew Meadows trailhead;  drive with Chris to Devil's Postpile, start hiking.

Follow clearly marked trail towards JMT and PCT; make one route-finding mistake due to interesting signage, catch it within 100m; up, up through the forest, going from shelf to shelf. Clear, heavily used trail, not too many people. Tantalizing, though somewhat infrequent, views until we are right on top of Minarets Lake. Packs are, as always on the first day, heavy, but the day is short.

Scout around for a while to find a good campsite; end up with something nice in a meadow above the lake and to its east. Optimized for wind shelter and morning sun.

See several deer on the slopes up to the cliffs above us; they don't seem much concerned by our presence.

Post-dinner stroll around the lake; see a few other people; scary clouds coming in make for very nice pictures.
climbing up towards Minaret Lake
short break in front of Minarets

Minaret Lake

Minaret Lake with Minarets behind it

Dinner: Chicken noodle soup (a different kind, much better); mashed potatoes with salami and garlic.


Returning to Lake Ediza: Overview

Five days backpacking in Ansel Adams National Wilderness with our friend Chris.

We visited Lake Ediza with Chris nine years ago. This time we did the hike in the other direction and added some extras. After nine years there should be some extras. :-)

The days:
  1. Devil's Postpile to Minarets Lake
  2. Minarets Lake to Lake Ediza
  3. Climbing Mt. Ritter
  4. Lake Ediza to Thousand Island Lake
  5. Thousand Island Lake to Agnew Meadows
Aside from the addition of crampons and ice axes for the Ritter climb, our packs were more-or-less the same as what we had with us for the six days on the SHR. We also followed the same frequent-snacking-instead-of-lunch strategy.

Friday, September 05, 2014

A piece of the Sierra High Route: Granite Park to Pine Creek trailhead

We aren't perfectly situated for morning sun (another way of looking at this is that our planning was perfect but the sun just rose in the wrong place), but we still get sun while getting everything packed up. We're underway by 8:15. Today is almost entirely down, down, down. We start in light forest on a nice clear path with good views back; easy going. As we get lower the trees get denser until we're clearly in a pine forest. We pass a few lakes and, at Lower Pine Lake, see the first people we've seen since day one (not counting that guy we barely noticed on day two). At Lower Pine Lake we also get close to the crazy striped mountain we've been watching the whole way down, play a bit in the striped boulders, and collect a small souvenir rock.
Honeymoon Lake with the Striped Mountain in the background
striped boulders in front of Striped Mountain

After a bit more through the forest we hit the main descent. The day you hike out is never particularly great, but this last descent on an old mining road, switchbacking slowly down the mountain in the sun, is really not something to think more about. We do see some cool flowers and a great tree stump along the way. The last bit to the trailhead is through a nice mixed forest. We find that our car is still there, nothing inopportune has happened to it and it starts; yay! We change clothes, load everything in the car, and drive off.
looking down onto the end of the road and Pine Creek trailhead
We stop in Bishop for lunch at the same place we had dinner the night before we left (greg has been thinking about the pie that he didn't eat at that dinner), do some shopping and then drive to Mammoth Lakes where we check into our hotel and take long, much appreciated showers. At both lunch and dinner we end up eating way more than usual... what a huge surprise! :-)