March 31, 2008

‘Battlestar’ Returns

‘Battlestar’ Returns

It’s no secret I’m crazy for SciFi’s Battlestar Galactica series. Battlestar is easily the best show currently on television, and I’d be hard pressed to name anything from the past that even remotely compares. Way back in the day, when ABC first released the original Battlestar in 1978, the show was widely derided as an impoverished Stars Wars copy. There was perhaps an element of truth to that assertion (more…)

Posted in Film & Television | 1 Comment

March 29, 2008

Whitney Portal Road: ‘Closed’ vs. Closed

Well, I drove up to Lone Pine yesterday with big plans for some climbing and skiing in the Whitney Portal region, only to discover the road, which is normally “closed” for winter had been Closed (more…)

Posted in Current Conditions | 5 Comments

March 27, 2008

Death Valley to Telescope Peak

Allow me to say I’m just green with envy on this one—a group of skiers (or perhaps more accurately, madmen) hiked from Badwater Basin, Death Valley, elevation -282, to the summit of Telescope Peak, 11,049, some 20 miles of rough country away, skied the peak, and hiked back down. My favorite part of the Trip Report: when they’re 20 hours overdue, and they decline a ride from a concerned ranger back to their car, still some nine miles away!

Read all about the insanity at TGR: Part One | Part Two

Posted in Skiing | 0 Comments

March 26, 2008

Off to Everest…

Bishop-area guide and climber Kurt Wedberg is guiding a client up Everest via the south approach this year. You can follow their progress at the IMG Website, and also the personal blog of Kurt’s client, Michael Andrews.

This looks like a really unlucky year to be paying the usual fortune for an Everest bid. Civil war in Nepal has threatened to close off south-side access, and the Chinese government has apparently closed the entire north side of the mountain as part of an Olympics promotion stunt (they want to carry the torch to the summit). Just to add to the mix, China is reportedly pressuring Nepal to close the south side of the mountain as well. I guess they need the whole mountain to themselves for the torch ceremony?

Sounds like it will be an interested time on the world’s highest peak—but then again, it always is.

Posted in 8000m Peaks, Climbing | 0 Comments

March 25, 2008

Backcountry.com on Plastic Toxicity

This month’s Backcountry.com newsletter features an article on plastic water bottle concerns and alternatives. Some of you may be aware that Canada’s largest outdoor retailer recently pulled polycarbonate (Lexan) water bottles from its shelves, citing safety concerns about the ingredient BPA, which leeches from polycarbonate plastics, and which acts like a hormone when ingested by lab animals (more…)

Posted in Health | 0 Comments

March 23, 2008

Mt. Baldy – North Face

Mt. Baldy - North Face

Mt. Baldy - North Face

Mt. Baldy North Face

AFTER SCOUTING Mt. Baldy’s north face from Mount Waterman, I thought I’d hike up for a ski attempt this weekend.

There was no question there would be snow—lots of it.

But I was a little concerned about ice.

This has been a strange season for north aspects in the San Gabriels. Things have been persistently icy, even when temps get warm enough that you’d swear things should soften up.

To get a nice 2000′ vertical boost, I decided to access the mountain from Mt. Baldy Ski Area’s helpful chairlifts.

After all, whatever you ski on Mount San Antonio’s north face, you’ll soon be climbing. What goes down here must go back up—at least, unless you want a visit from S&R.

Via the mostly-dry backbone trail, I made great time to Baldy’s summit, arriving around 11 a.m. My plan was to ‘feel out’ the north face, hopefully finding good conditions, or else give the west face a look.

Well, despite quite warm temps, the north face looked pretty darn icy.

The snow was hard, smooth, and streaked with sheeny spots that clearly looked like trouble. I dropped a few vertical yards from the summit, and began traversing across the north face on a relatively lower angle pitch, bouncing on my edges, trying to see if the snow was soft enough for safe skiing (more…)

Posted in Skiing | 4 Comments

March 20, 2008

Route 2 – Mt. Waterman Report

Mt. Waterman

Mt. Waterman

Mt. Waterman

BUT IS THERE SNOW?

That’s certainly the question that was on my mind, so I packed up the skis and the boy and hit the road.

Figuring I’d try to find snow a little closer to home, I drove up Route 2 from La Canada.

I’ll tell you, things looked pretty bleak at first. When I passed the turnoff to Mt. Wilson, there wasn’t a speck of snow as far as I could see.

Thankfully, snow appeared a bit later, when I reached Mount Waterman (and the Mt. Waterman Ski Area – closed).

I parked the car around 6700′, put the boy in the Ergo, and did a very modest tour up to the ridge crest around 7300′ via some sort of decrepit rope tow path at the east end of Waterman.

Terrain for ski touring would be better straight up the peak from Route 2 a mile or so to the west, but I was looking for lower-angle fare today, seeing as I had a copilot.

At the crest, we played in the snow a bit, and I got to scout the surrounding area. Nearby Twin Peaks, which would be loosely accessible from the summit of Waterman, looked like it would make for a fine ski earlier in the season, when the south slopes of Waterman are covered. I’m always amazed by the steepness of the San Gabriel range, and its abundant (and technical) little summits. Put snow on these mountains, and there’s always a treat to be had.

Conditions at Mt. Waterman ski area looked totally doable. For such a small ski area, the terrain looked diverse and quite lively. I’ll have to give it a try sometime. Maybe the resort is still opening on weekends—I don’t know. Really, the only downside here (compared to the farther drive to Mt. Baldy Ski) is the slow, windy road, which pushes travel time up a bit.

I also got a chance to scout Mount Baldy’s north and west faces, which are easily snow-covered enough for skiing. Just be aware that either option requires you to summit first, then ski into no-man’s-land, then hike back to the summit to get home. Lots of work. Still, that’s probably where I’ll be this Saturday.

Bottom line: north-facing aspects in the eastern San Gabriels are still in good shape above 7000′, with a dense, 2-4′ snowpack that shows no sign of going anywhere in the near future.

Posted in Current Conditions, Skiing | 2 Comments

March 18, 2008

AAC Changes to Global Rescue ‘Service’

The American Alpine Club has posted more information on its website about the organization’s shift from offering rescue insurance as a member benefit to a rescue ‘service’ managed by Global Rescue Worldwide (more…)

Posted in Climbing, News | 0 Comments

March 18, 2008

8000m Crime

The Alpinist’s web site is running an excerpt from High Crimes: the Fate of Everest in an Age of Greed by Michael Kodas. High Crimes documents the shocking but very real emergence of theft as yet another deadly threat climbers must face on 8000 meter peaks. You’ve probably heard about the ‘borrowing’ of oxygen bottles on Everest and similar tales, but the depth of the crime on Everest and other big peaks (including K2!) is truly astonishing (more…)

Posted in 8000m Peaks, Books, Climbing | 1 Comment

March 15, 2008

Skiing Palmyra Peak

Skiing Palmyra Peak

I am standing on Palmyra Peak’s summit ridge with two Telluride ski patrollers, and they seem every bit as amazed as I am to be here. From our perch at 13,150 feet, we can see deep into the vast high-altitude cirques and spines of the Telluride backcountry—Lena Basin, San Joaquin Ridge, Bear Creek Canyon. But we are not chasing backcountry turns today: we are here for in-bounds, avalanche-controlled skiing (more…)

Posted in Skiing | 4 Comments

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