February 28, 2006

Okay, it Rained—a Lot

Word from Mount Baldy is that the ski area received a staggering 8-10 inches of rain. A little colder, and that one storm could have turned the season around down here in the San Gabriel Mountains.

All is not lost, however. Mammoth and the Southern Sierra were utterly hammered by this last storm: 5 feet of new snow and 120 mph wind gusts.

In case you’re wondering, avalanche danger in the Sierra Backcountry is currently Extreme.

Obviously, until things settle down, it’s time for another Mammoth Road Trip. Better pack the tire chains—looks like more snow is on the way…

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February 19, 2006

Tuttle Creek Shakedown

I’ve been trying to think of a good motto for this website, and one of my ideas, which seems especially apt right now, is “We make the mistakes so you don’t have to.”

My trip up Tuttle Creek was certainly educational, in the sense that I was well-schooled by the mountain. For all you snow-campers out there, all I can say is you people are hardcore!

So, here it is, the first trip report for 2006: Tuttle Creek Shakedown.

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February 8, 2006

Cerro Torre Mystery Solved?

National Geographic Adventure magazine is running a story on a recent ascent of Patagonia’s 10,262′ Cerro Torre, considered one of the world’s hardest climbs.

Mountaineering Geeks out there are probably aware that Cerro Torre is the site of one of climbing’s greatest controversies. Here’s a little background:

Cesare Maestri, a legendary Italian climber, claimed the first ascent of Cerro Torre in 1959. The mountaineering world was thunderstruck. At the time, Cerro Torre was not only unclimbed, it was considered unclimbable.

Maestri’s route was years ahead of its time, so much so that subsequent climbers failed, year after year, to repeat it. They also failed to find any evidence that Maestri had actually reached the summit.

Since Maestri’s partner, Toni Egger, died during the descent, there were no witnesses. And Maestri himself provided contradictory details about the route, eventually refusing to talk about it and angrily denouncing those who questioned his accomplishment.

The dispute opened a rift in the mountaineering community between those who believed Maestri and those who didn’t. A 2004 American Alpine Journal investigation concluded Maestri did not climb the peak, but the controversy remained.

Last November, Rolando Garibotti, Ermanno Salvaterra, and Alessandro Beltrami made a brilliant ascent of Cerro Torre’s north face, as well as climbing thousands of feet of Maestri’s alleged 1959 route. What did they discover? Visit National Geographic’s Adventure Online to find out.

Posted in Climbing | 0 Comments

February 7, 2006

This Just in: New Gloves Warmer than Old

Our cutting-edge research team has just confirmed new gloves are indeed warmer than old ones. With morning temperatures hovering around 9° during my Colorado tour, my ancient Marker racing gloves weren’t up to snuff anymore.

I decided to try Marmot’s Randonnee glove. The Randonnee is simple, comfortable, and warm, with a waterproof Gore-Tex XCR insert. I wore them through several intense blizzards, and was quite pleased with their performance.

I’ll put up a review of these toward the end of the season, after I’ve gotten to know them better.

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February 6, 2006


Home Again, Home Again…after many happy memories in Telluride (and 35 inches of new snow in seven days), we’re back once again in sunny, snowless SoCal.

Conditions here in the local mountains remain pretty bleak, with the storm track remaining well to the north, so I’ve been adding a few more shots to the Photo Gallery to fight off the culture shock.

For those who don’t know the area, Telluride, Colorado, sits in the San Juan Mountains, perhaps the most spectacular part of the Colorado Rockies.

I find the San Juan Mountains, with their dramatic cliffs, spires, chutes, and flutings reminiscent of parts of the Sierra (especially Mount Williamson’s west face). The backcountry options in the Telluride area are extremely enticing, though avalanche danger is a constant and serious threat.

Interestingly, skiers in Colorado can now purchase Search and Rescue Cards, which offer SAR insurance at a reasonable rate. To the best of my knowledge, no similar program exists for Sierra Skiers at this time.

As for the in-bounds skiing, I can only say that Telluride is a special place, remote, beautiful, and blessed with a unique blend of Southwest sunshine, Colorado powder, and dramatic terrain.

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