Sunday, April 28, 2013

Trinity Alps pt. 2

So besides avoiding eating spam (see pt. 1) you are probably wondering what I did for six days, right? Well here is a general schedule:

Day1: hike in (yay so much fun!)
Day2: Slay to the East (epic!)
Day3: Slay to the West (epic!)
Day4: Slay to the North (epic!)
Day5: Slay to the South (epic!)
Day6: Slay to the East again, because we just didn't slay enough the first time (also epic!)

So you are probably going to be like, "give us the beta Sam! Give us the beta! Show us where all the awesome lines are!" But I can't. I took a solemn oath to not reveal exact locations or share photos of the most awesome Coulis. "Why would you do such a thing Sam?" Because I can. And because myself, Joe, Brian, Ryan and Ryan want those first descents to ourselves, because we are selfish. But hold on folks, before you get your panties in a bunch, stop and think: does it really matter? I mean let's be honest here, you probably don't have what it takes. Ten mile hike in with all your gear just to get to the end of the trail, then the adventure is only beginning. Approaching, climbing and descending... do you really have the cahones to rail that pencil-thin line that drops 3,000 feet at 50 degress? Nope, probably not. "Well, you are probably just lying Sam, you dirty little liar!" And you are right I probably am lying: the Trinity Alps don't get that much snow, the terrain isn't that good, the lines all suck. You should keep telling yourself that. In fact, tell your friends too. "Never go to those dinky little mountains in California, there is a reason that no one goes there, they suck, totally worthless!" Besides, its such a long hike in that its not even worth checking out. You wouldn't want to waste your precious time, so why gamble?

Now that you realize how much better we are than you, watch this fun video...

Oh, and just because I'm a peak bagging braggart I'll show you these selected awesome photos of sending and summit top outs. Yes, you should feel honored...

Brian and Matz...
...still sending.
Summit of Thompson with Shasta in the background.
Relaxing on Thompson... its easier to rock climb barefoot than in snow boots.
Boot pack up the ridge on Hilton.
The headwall we skied off the summit of Hilton.
Wedding Cake... rock climbing potential?
A nice lunch spot.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Trinity Alps Ski Trip pt. 1

On April 15th four other guys and I hiked into the Trinity Alps with back country ski gear and food for seven days. The Trinities are the highest sub-range of the the California coast range. These mountains get so much snow that they have permanent snow fields, and even some glacial action, despite never reaching 9,000ft. I could talk a lot about all the sweet couliors, perfect blue skies and corn snow. But instead I'm going to share some real deep campfire wisdom from the back country. When you are skinning up every run there is only so much skiing you can do in a day. Thus you spend a large portion of time sitting around a camp stove waiting for that dehydrated bean powder to rehydrate. It is during this mouth watering lull in activity, surrounded by boundless vistas of alpine glory, that we "shoot the shit." These conversations are so deep and profound that I feel the need to share them here.

L-R Matz, Ghelfi, Joe and Brian survey potential lines during day 3.
First some terminology:
Pow- powder, light fluffy snow, the stuff of dreams, non-existent during the spring ski season
Corn- hard snow that is made soft by solar radiation, the best you can get in the spring ski season
Mashed Potatoes- snow that is made too soft by the sun, heavy and wet, it sticks to everything
Slay- to ski awesomely, usually used in conjunction with pow, "slaying pow"
Shralp- like slay, but more agressive (I always think of scalping, only putting tracks on a ski line instead of knifing a dead guys head), "Lets shralp this shit!"
Shred- again, like slay or shralp
Rip (ripping)- another term for awesome skiing, like shred/slay/shralp, "Watch me rip this shit!"
Charging- like ripping, "charging hard"
Huck- to go off a jump or cliff drop
Huck your meat- to huck big, putting your meat or physical body in jeopardy for the sake of the huck
Rad (radical)- something cool or awesome
Gnar- Gaffney's Numerical Assesment of Raddness, watch this video for further explanation:
Gnarly- something having the characteristic of gnar
Stoked- excited to something
Psyched- see stoked
Next level maneuver- doing something like a pro, really well, so well that its an innovation and a revelation, borderline genius
Jengis- failing to do or doing something badly, inefficiently or ineffectively, usually in the backcountry, this is usually visually obvious, the opposite of a next level maneuver
Couli (pronounced cool-E)- short for coulior, a snow filled gully, idealy steep and narrow, the gnarlier the better
Death Cookie- balls of hard snow and ice that have rolled down into the middle of a slope, oft hidden under nice snow
Spam!- a cry in favor of eating spam for dinner, this is always a bad idea, more on this later
Winco- a large discount supermarket chain with awesome bulk foods sections
Winco veggies- dehydrated carrots, onions, celery, and tomato mix from the aforementioned Winco bulk section
Personal cheese- we each had a 2lbs block of cheddar cheese with us on the trip, except for Ghelfi who had a 2lbs block of cheddar AND an 8oz block of pepper jack

That was probably pointless but anyway...
Stream crossing on the hike in. L-R Brian, Matz, Ghelfi and Joe.

Convo #1:
We have hiked in 8 miles with 70lbs packs while it started to snow. We pitched our tents and got inside. It is kind of windy and hard to hear each other talk since our tents are flapping and if we open the door we get a face-full of snow blown in.
Dude #1- Dudes, it is coming down!
Dude #2- I know man! Pow day tomorrow!
Dude #3- I don't know guys, I don't think it will dump that much.
Dude #1- But bro think about the potential for windblown pockets!
Dude #2- Yo guys, how much snow do you think is going to fall by tomorrow morning?
Dude #3- Dude, bro, no way will it be more that 2 inches.
Dude #1- No way man, at least 4-6 inches.
Dude #2- Hey, you guys up the hill... how much snow do you think is going to fall?
Dude #4- I can't hear what you guys are saying!?
Me- I'm betting on 10 inches!
Dude #1- NOOOOO! Don't jinx it!
Dude #3- No way.
Dude #2- Hey what do you guys want to do about dinner.
Dude #1- Personal cheese!
Dude #3- Yeah I vote we stay in our tents.
Dude #2-Anyone, want to cook dinner and bring it to me?
Dudes- silence....
Me- Personal cheese!
Dude #1- Spam!
Me- What!?
Dude #1- I'm eating spam!
Me- Yo, I can barely hear you. What are you saying about dinner?
Dudes #2&3- laugh
Dude #1- I love Spam!
Me- I love you too bro, but I don't understand what you are saying!
Dude #1- Spam! Spam! SPAM!
Dude #2- We are going to slay tomorrow!
Dudes- F*$% YEAH!

Yeah! Inspirational! But it gets better, really.
Wind and snow blast our tent village at Lower Canyon Lake on day 1.

Dinner of champions on night 1. Sourdough bread with cheese and sausage plus wasabi peas.

Convo #2
A couple days later under sunny skies and after ripping some gnarly lines.
Dude #1- What do you guys want to have for dinner?
Dude #2- Spam!
Dude #3- Spam is made out of pork ass-hole... and it tastes like cat food.
Dude #2- No way. It is not made out of pork ass-hole.
Dude #3- Read the ingredients.
Dude #2- Ingredients are... pork, water, salt, dehydrated potato starch, sodium chloride. That's it!
Dude #3- Yeah, pork. That means pig ass-hole.
Dude #2- No way!
Dude #3- Think about it. They take the best part of the pig and make pork chops. The next best part goes into ham, and then bacon. After that they make sausage and then hotdogs, pepperoni and salami. At the end the only thing left is pig ass-hole and that's what they make spam out of.
Dudes- Whoooooa! That makes sense!
Dude #2- I still don't believe you but I am less tempted to eat it right now.
Dude #1- We should make those dehydrated hash browns on the last day and fry the spam to go with that for breakfast. I bet it will taste okay then and we don't want to pack any food out.
Ghelfi and Matz double team the ravioli with powdered cheese sauce as Joe day dreams about beautiful women.

First ski run of the trip... awesome!

Convo #3
The last day after decidng to hike out that afternoon instead of spending the night at camp. We have still not had any spam and have just gotten back to camp and started to take our tents down.
Dude #1- Spam!
Dude #2- Are you actually going to eat that now?!
Dude #1- Yeah! Do you want some?
Dude #2- Uh, sure. I might as well try it.
Dude #1 opens can and an overwhelming smell of cat food wafts across the pristine alpine valley
Dude #3- I told you it tastes like cat food.
Dude #2 (gagging)- Oh god! That is awful! I take it back! I take it back!
Dude #3- That is so jengis.
Dude #1 starts eating spam out of the can with his pocket knife- Ugh, this may have been a mistake!
Dudes- You think!?
Dude #1 (gagging)- I can't do it!
Dudes (chanting)- Eat it! Eat it! Eat it!
Dude #1 shamefully wraps opened spam can in a plastic bag and sticks it in his pack

Wow, aren't you glad you read that? See what you missed out on? Anyway, I should probably become a playwright, but in the meantime here are some more skiing photos...

Epic shralping.
Waiting for Matz and Brian to slay the Couli on Thompson.
Shasta rises behind granite buttresses.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Zebra Zion

Plans get made, changed and cancelled. Life is busy but at least I can go rock climb. Caitlin and I are stoked for June. We're going to Alaska for three weeks but first we're stopping in B.C. to visit family and climb in Squamish. Caitlin's climbing has been improving by leaps and bounds but we want to be ready to take advantage of world class granite when we get there. With that in mind I took her up what many people (Fred Beckey included) call the best multi-pitch route at Smith Rock... Zebra to Zion. This is a 4 pitch, 5.10 trad climb up the biggest wall in the main area. It starts with an easy traverse across large huecos to a hanging belay. From here you climb the crux pitch up a dihedral with small overhangs and roofs to a tiny ledge. Pitch 3 continues up the crack and then traverses face holds to another crack system, which lead up easy slab to another hanging belay. The final pitch traverses over 300ft of air and ascends a flake to ledges that lead to the top of the wall. It was a beautiful sunny day and we were actually worried about sunburn for once. It took us 3 hours from tying-in to topping-out which, while not fast, isn't really slow either.

Morning Glory Wall, Zion follows the crack systems up the middle.
Belaying at the top of pitch 1.
Looking up the route.

Caitlin relieved/happy to be done.

Next week I'll be in the Trinity Alps of Northern California's coast ranges for a week of ski touring. Until then...