Mount Starr King Yosemite WTC Experience Trip

September 22nd to 24th, 2017
Mount Starr King (9,092')
Day 1: 10 miles, 1,800'
Day 2: 3.3 miles, 2,000'
Day 3: 8.2 miles, 1,700'
[Pics] [CalTopo] [Map]

Mount Starr King is a granite dome located near Half Dome and is one of the 247-ish peaks on the Sierra Club Sierra Peak Section list.  It's higher than Half Dome though it lacks the massive cliff overlooking Yosemite Valley which makes the other so iconic.

Also unlike Half Dome there are no cables or other mechanisms to get to the summit of Starr King except for doing a bit of 5th class climbing.  This means it's visited a lot less often than it's neighbor.

This would be the 4th time on the summit for Jack Kieffer and I.  We've been leading it biannually for a number of years now and have settled on a relaxed 3 day schedule camping well off the trail.  The nature of the climbing lends itself to being able to safely bring along a decently large group of varying experience levels which makes it ideal for an exciting Wilderness Travel Course Experience Trip.

This time around we had along a group of 16 people with an additional 30+ more who had requested to join but we didn't have room for them on the permit.  And this time it got interesting right off the bat when our trailhead ended up being closed due to to both being technically on fire while also covered in snow...

Koip & Kuna via Bloody Canyon Mono Pass WTC Experience Trip

September 16th & 17th, 2017
Koip Peak (12,962')
Kuna Peak (13,002')
Day 1: 8.4 miles, 3,300'
Day 2: 16.3 miles, 3,700'
[Pics] [CalTopo] [Map]

This trip came about as an attempt at finding something WTC Experience Trip friendly using a less heavily utilized trailhead without repeating a peak I'd done before.

Koip Peak is on the Sierra Peak Section list while Kuna is the 3rd highest peak in Yosemite behind Lyell and Dana.  Since the peaks are only about 500 ft apart they're easily done together once you get all the way up to 13k.  As an added bonus there's a plane wreck to explore on the saddle between them and some mining ruins at Mono Pass.

Mount Baldwin via Convict Canyon To Bright Dot Lake WTC Experience Trip

September 9th & 10th, 2017
Mount Baldwin (12,598')
Day 1: 6.35 miles, 3,100' gain
Day 2: 10.93 miles, 2,500' gain
[Pics] [CalTopo] [Map]

Baldwin has been on my radar for a number of years.  It's most commonly done from the top of Convict Canyon which is an area I looked up at for years while fishing with my father at Convict Lake.  I finally got to go up there in 2010 when I led a trip to climb Laurel and Bloody.  The area was spectacular but the creek crossing on the way had caused us a bit of trouble.

Jeff Atijera and I had tried to do Mount Baldwin a few years later only to be told by the permit office that the stream crossing was too difficult and they wouldn't issue us a permit.

Kristen and I decided to try again this year scheduling it in September when theoretically the stream crossing would be at its most manageable.  And as an added plus we got a nice view of the peak from the top of Red Slate a few weekends before.

Sierra Bivy Spots: Sherwin Summit

Inline image 2
Sherwin Summit 395 Bivy Spot
[Google Maps] [Sierra Bivy CalTopo]

Since I often have to leave after work to drive up to the east side for trips it's useful to have places suitable for throwing a sleeping bag out for a few hours for those really long haul drives.

This is one of my most heavily used spots for anything north of Bishop.  It's low enough to generally be free of snow and quieter than a lot of alternatives (as anyone who has slept in the Crowley Lake BM Campground and listened to cars drone by all night can attest).

Newport Harbor Pizza Paddle - August 2017


August 25th, 2017
[Pics] [Map]

Once a month a group of us get together and paddle Newport Harbor after work. We launch from the beach next to the Newport Aquatic Center and paddle over to Pizza Nova in the main harbor in a combination of kayaks and SUPs. There we dock our boats, partake in feast of pizza and beer, and then paddling back to the cars. We do this all year round and in pretty much all conditions. Light, dark, rain, and the dead of SoCal winter where you're tempted to put a sweater on with your flip flops.
You can find writeups of other pizza paddles here. For notifications on when we're doing the next one see our facebook group Pizza Paddle Associates. (Send me a message so I know you're not a spam bot!)

It's getting towards the end of summer but we're still launching in daylight for a bit longer.  And of course I'm in the Sierra most weekends so it gets hard to schedule these!

Hengst & White Chief Mineral King WTC Experience Trip

August 18th to 20th, 2017
Hengst Peak (11,146')
White Chief Peak (11,159')
Miners Ridge (10,823')
Miners Nose (9,423')
Day 1: 6.4 miles, 2,100'
Day 2: 7.7 miles, 2,400'
Day 3: 6.4 miles, 700'
[Pics] [CalTopo] [Map]

I'd been back in town for three whole days following last weekend's trip to Red Slate so of course I was chomping at the bit when Thursday night came around and it was time to head for Mineral King!

This was a repeat of a trip I'd led back in 2011 which I'd really enjoyed despite suffering through legions of mosquitoes.  In addition to including my namesake peak it's just a really pleasant three day trip on the easier end and the Mosquito Lakes area seems to be a little less trodden than a lot of the other areas where we run comparable experience trips.  And of course it's Mineral King so the views are always spectacular.

Goat Mountain WTC Experience Trip

August 5th & 6th, 2017
Goat Mountain (12,207')
Day 1: 9.4 miles, 5,600'
Day 2: 12.5 miles, 1,800'
[Pics] [CalTopo] [Map]

After last weeks car stranding adventure in Mineral King I was looking forward to a nice straightforward buttkicker.

Enter GOOOOOOOOOOOAT!  Two days!  One peak!  5k up the first day followed by 2k up and 7k down the second!  Most of which was to be done with full packs.


Despite some initial skepticism potential participants were eventually won over by my constant wandering around yelling GOOOOOOOOOAT! at them and we ended up with 11 people meeting us at the trailhead at the end of the 180.

Mount Warren Via Lake Canyon And Lake Oneida WTC Experience Trip

July 22nd & 23rd, 2017
Mount Warren (12,327')
Warren Fin (12,160')
Day 1: 3.9 miles and 1,950'
Day 2: 10.06 miles and 3,000'
[Pics] [Caltopo] [Map]

After last weekend's mosquito fest of an attempt on Stanford North was turned back by snow I was just a bit concerned for this weekend's trip to Warren.   But not enough to do something drastic like not go to the mountains of course.

Mount Warren seems to be done more popularly as a dayhike from Tioga but there's a route up from Lundy that climbs Lakes Canyon past a really nice lake called Oneida.  Even better the trailhead is non quota and you're allowed to have campfires.  Mileage was extremely reasonably making it seem like an ideal candidate to make a two day WTC Experience Trip.

Newport Harbor Pizza Paddle - July 2017

July 20th, 2017
[Pics] [Map]

Once a month a group of us get together and paddle Newport Harbor after work. We launch from the beach next to the Newport Aquatic Center and paddle over to Pizza Nova in the main harbor in a combination of kayaks and SUPs. There we dock our boats, partake in feast of pizza and beer, and then paddling back to the cars. We do this all year round and in pretty much all conditions. Light, dark, rain, and the dead of SoCal winter where you're tempted to put a sweater on with your flip flops.

You can find writeups of other pizza paddles here. For notifications on when we're doing the next one see our facebook group Pizza Paddle Associates. (Send me a message so I know you're not a spam bot!)

It's prime time for after work paddling right now since we get to launch in the light and enjoy a sunset on the way to pizza.  It's also prime time for Sierra backpacks so everyone seems extra busy!

Stanford North WTC Experience Trip Attempt with Too Much Snow

July 15th & 16th, 2017
Mount Stanford (Attempt) (12,838')
[Pics] [CalTopo] [Map]

Thanks to the heavy snow year regular backpacking trips to the Sierra had been pushed back a bit.  But here we were in the middle of July which is when I'd conservatively hoped the snow would be manageable and it was time to finally start climbing high!

This was also a Sierra Club I provisional for Gracia Plascencia.  I was here to eval which is why I was attempting this peak for a third time.

The first time I turned back 200 ft from the summit with some students who were really struggling and ended up not getting them back to the trailhead until midnight and not getting back to Orange County until 6 am.  The second time I made the summit only to be nailed by a rainstorm which proceeded to soak us for the entire 5 hour hike out.  Then there was this trip where the mosquitos were epic, we nearly lost someone during a stream crossing, and we couldn't summit due to a section of steep snow.

I'm really starting to think this area is just bad luck for me...