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Archive for January, 2012

Dates: Saturday, January 14 – Sunday, January 15, 2012

Locations: Peak 12,542 and the Northwest Ridge of Four Gables

Climbers: Jon & Nick

Photos: As noted (with some processing edits on a couple of Jon’s shots from Nick)

Synopsis: With Tioga Pass continuing to remain open, the lack of snowfall this year continued offered a unique opportunity to those so inclined: access to long, granite alpine rock routes with minimal amounts of snow in otherwise “Winter” conditions. By “Winter” conditions I mean (i) very short days, (ii) very cold temperatures and (iii) very strong winds.

Jon and I were itching the entire week to undertake a true winter alpine route that would involve a bivy at a high altitude. We combed through the High Sierra Secor Guide looking for route descriptions. Our search had a couple of parameters. First, since we were coming from the Bay Area on Friday, altitude was a key factor. We were hesitant to bivy up around 13,000 ft. + on Saturday night for fear of getting absolutely worked by the altitude. Second, the weather report was not looking promising. While Saturday day and night called for great conditions, Sunday was anticipated to deteriorate rapidly with a very strong wind event moving in (with Sunday night expecting sustained 100+ mph winds along the High Sierra Crest).

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Date: Saturday, January 7, 2012

Location: North Couloir of North Peak

Climbers: Brandon & Nick

Photos: Nick (unless otherwise noted as Brandon, with some processing edits from Nick)

Synopsis: While the lack of snow in the Sierra has delayed the start of ski season, it has also offered a historical statistic of sorts – namely, Tioga Pass is currently open in January. According to data compiled by the Mono Lake Committee, since 1933 Tioga Pass has only been open six times post-December, with the former record being January 1 in 2000. Being an optimist of sorts, I was excited as this offers easy access to the High Sierra for one approaching from the West side of the range.

Brandon and I had our eyes set on the classic alpine climb of the North Couloir of North Peak (12,242 ft). With the lack of snow and constant cold temps at that elevation, we were hoping that the North Couloir would possibly continue to hold ice conditions – although we were actually expecting hard neve. In either case, the chance to climb the North Couloir in January with a mostly snowless approach in winter weather conditions (think (i) cold and (ii) very windy) sounded too good to be true.

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TR: Cascade Falls

Date: Saturday, December 24, 2011

Location: Cascade Falls

Climbers: Jon, Rachel, Tony & Nick

Photos: Nick (unless otherwise noted)

Synopsis: First, let me say that wanted to get this up much sooner to offer some good beta on current Tahoe ice conditions, but a hectic schedule around the holidays prevented that. So unfortunately I can’t attest to whether this is representative of the current conditions at Cascade Falls (e.g., there has been a rain event and general warming spell as of late).

Having said that, although Tahoe (and pretty much all of California, Utah, Wyoming and Colorado) has received little to no snow, December proved to be a very cold month. Consistent cold temperatures and lack of snow make for good ice conditions in Tahoe (as fickle as they can be).

While climbing up at 90-Foot Wall with Brandon the week prior, we spotted Cascade Falls from the road and it looked very thick. After some more research, I got some good beta on conditions, so Jon, Rachel, Tony and I decided to head and check it out.

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