Sunday, August 18, 2013

Creative Energy...

...If you can call it that.  In any case, much of mine has been spent in these videos I've been cooking up.  Sure, sure, they're super rough.  But I'm still figuring out the mechanics of the editing software, both on the computer and on the phone.  And I'm into it.  I've never considered myself a "creative" person in the traditional sense.  Writing, taking pictures, and now these videos is as close as I get.  However, I've also been expanding my own personal definition of what it means to be creative.  And it feels good to nourish the creative soul inside me.

In any case, here's the latest effort.  On this trip I was too busy laughing to get a great deal of footage.  How many 9 year olds are confident and witty enough to dish it out to the 34 year old bearded guide?  I wish I had captured some of Sam's humor...

Monday, August 12, 2013

Best Rock Climb in the High Sierra

Who's gonna argue?  The South Face of Charlotte Dome presents impeccable moderate climbing, long pitches, and enough of them to make it more than worth the scenic walk.

Charlotte Dome starts as a speck on the horizon.  With each step it looms larger.  Art F on the "trail".

 Speaking of the non-climbing experience, the traditional and best approach is a beautiful walk through backpackers' paradise.  A high pass, beautiful, warm-watered lakes, biomes from Eastside desert to lunar high country to Westside manzanita scrub, and gradually thinning crowds enhance the athletic climbing portion. The latter portions of the "trail" are undeservedly maligned for brush and route-finding difficulty.  The truth is, enough climbers (and off-trail backpackers:  just google "Gardiner Pass" and see countless reports of adventurous hikers' trips through the zone) tromp in there that the route is clearly defined, well-trodden, and almost-a-trail.  

The camping right close to the dome is unparalleled.  Charlotte Dome sits in the convergence of three classic hanging valleys, with more visible across Bubbs Creek.  A small creek drains the south side of Mt. Gardiner.  Up out of sight, this creek disappears dramatically into a flat sandy zone.  Just before the topography plunges to Charlotte Creek, the creek resurfaces in an idyllic oasis immediately adjacent to perfect flat campsites.  

Charlotte Camp's Disney-quality spring.  Where are the frolicking gnomes?

Gardiner's south creek plunges over it's hanging wall to Charlotte Creek, which in turn drops to Bubbs Creek.  This leaves Charlotte Dome and the convenient camping perched well above the canyon bottom.  

Perfect camping.
On route, in Art's words, "the rock seems made for climbing".  Cracks, holds, friction abound.  When the terrain kicks back, the holds get smaller.  Where the rock is steeper, the holds are huge.  Climbing basically never drops below 5.6 and certainly never rises past 5.8.  

Featured, bomber rock.  It's almost like a cliche.  

Pulling out of the steeps into yet another comfy and exposed belay ledge.  About halfway up, Art glances back and involuntary exclaims "We're really f***ing high".  

Summit ridging.
All in all, Charlotte Dome's a perfect experience.  The classic three-day itinerary from the East is head-and-shoulders above any other way to do it.  However, there are more ways than one to skin this cat.  Other ways I've done the Charlotte Dome thing include, from Road's End on the west (twice, and not recommended...), on skis in April (totally bitchin'!), from a camp at Charlotte Lake (in order to leave time on the exit for a University Peak attempt), and via 6 passes and Sixty Lakes.  Be creative, it pays off.  Or follow the formula and you won't be disappointed.    

Monday, August 5, 2013

Wilderness Climbing in the Central Sierra

It's a couple weeks ago now, but Alex and I busted out a sweet trip through new-to-us country. We cooked up a video and snapped a few pics.

This is the video:

And some still pictures reside at this link: