Friday, October 22, 2010

Stormy Sierra Climbing

Its not often in the Sierra that we get to climb in a true storm. First of all, the Sierra doesn't receive too much stormy weather so we are pretty spoiled in that respect. Summertime brings the occasional afternoon thunderstorm which we steer clear from. In the winter, storms are usually associated with high avalanche danger so we find other options on those days and weeks. But this time of year, as we've said before, brings a variety of conditions to think about.

Jon A. is an SMG client that loves a good adventure. Fit, fast, and with the mouth of a sailor, he is a guy we love spending a couple of days with in the woods. When personal life took over his summer and thwarted his Evolution Traverse plans he decided to squeeze in a Palisades climb before winter took over entirely.

Little did he know that October had other things in mind. From 3rd lake onward, he and his guide Jed Porter,  were walking in snow and by the time they hit the glacier it was knee deep. Their plan was to climb the V notch and moderate temps and low wind allowed for this wintry ascent. Whiteout navigation and postholing on the glacier verified Jon's decision to take a guide. Bergshrund crossing was fairly straightforward and the V notch was covered with 6-8 inches of new snow over the icy couloir. The top of the couloir was ice free but the ridge was covered in icy rime.

Overall the guys had a great and unusually wintry ascent of the V notch. Thanks Jon!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Winterish Ascent of Mt. Whitney

October can be a tricky time of year for a guide service. On one hand the weather in the valley is spectacular and the sun shines brightly. On the other hand the mountains can be finicky and the weather just never knows. This year we have gotten little flurries of storms and cold spells, covering the mountains with a thin layer of snow in the high country. Sport climbers and boulderers traveling from afar start to fill our parking lots and coffee shops looking for 'sending temps' in the shade and a tan in the sun. Guide services aren't hugely employed during these times and guides find themselves catching up on work or traveling to do some personal climbing. This year we have been pretty fortunate and have run several trips so far. Most recently, Jed porter took two accomplished Swiss climbers up to Mt. Whitney to give it a try. Between the two they had climbed over 40 of the alps 4000 meter peaks, completed numerous ski mountaineering (randonee rally) races, and traveled around the world for climbing and ski mountaineering.  Their goal was the summit and their preference was the east face. However, suspicions of the seriousness of doing the east face in October were confirmed once they arrived. The route was cold and snowy and the days are just short. So the group decided to head up the Mountaineers Route instead. Jed led the way and they all thought it would be fun to ascent a gully on the east side of the notch. 7 pitches of 5th class alpine climbing led them to the summit. The climb was described as climbing rock, snow, ice, talus, and scree in crampons. Not an easy feat! What we love about this trip is that they went for it. You won't find Eastside climbers waiting for a better time of year to accomplish their goals and you shouldn't either. There is ALWAYS something to do on the Eastside.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Evolve Dealer Camp

Hello Loyal Sierra Mountain Guiders!

We are pleased to announce the beginning of our blogging career. Sure. We may be a little behind but we are growing and we are excited to start sharing all of our news with you. Most recently our office has undergone a couple of changes. Annie, our most recent office manager, has retired from 'regular' office hours to pursue a life of guiding and marketing. She has opened her own company; Cloudripper Designs and Sierra Mountain Guides has hired CRD to handle all of their marketing and product development needs. Our new office manager, Danielle Kuhl, will be in the office 5 days a week from 9:30-5:00pm to answer all of your questions and get you signed up for trips. We are the only guide service in the Eastern Sierra that has a full time, year round office manager.

This week we were also proud to host vendors from  Evolv, Black DiamondKelty, Sierra Designs, Sterling, and Icebreaker in the first annual Dealer Camp in Bishop, Ca. Folks joined us from Adventure 16, REI,, and Sierra Mountain Guides taught clinics to all the employees, Wilsons Eastside Sports donated slideshow equipment, Idle Hands entertained, Lisa Rands and Peter Croft gave a great slideshow and Paula Richards slaved over stove and cast iron to cook everyone the best food the Eastside has ever tasted.

It was a fun three days that began with some anchor clinics in the Tungston Hills. We toughed it out through the hail to learn how to place gear and make anchors appropriate for the terrain. On day two we headed to the Owens River Gorge. Some folks learned how to lead, some practiced taking whippers and some took advantage of our rope gun, Jed Porter to get their paws on some challenging climbs. On day three we took about 20 bouldering pads for 15 people and had a spectacular day sending at the Buttermilks. Sending temps in the shade and t-shirt weather in the sun with a backdrop of Tom, Humphreys, and Basin covered in a gorgeous layer of sparkling snow made for a classic day at the Buttermilks.

Be sure to keep and eye on our blog for up to date trip and conditions reports.