Finger Rock North of Tucson

December 30th, 2013
Finger Rock (6,475')
8.6 miles, 4,000'

This was the 4th day of an extended New Years 2014 Trip out to the Tucson area. We'd spent all day underground in Crystal Cave, used Peppersauce Cave as a recovery day, attempted Elephant Head, and then Finger Rock before planning to finish with Cave of the Bells. And we probably would have done that one if wasn't for a slight animal encounter the last night.

Finger Rock is the tiny spindle in the picture above.  It's not usually the sort of peak I go for but had the reputation for being a fun 5.6-5.8 climb with a relatively short approach.  This meant we could run into town and pick up the cave permit we needed in the morning.

Elephant Head Santa Rita Mountains West Gully Attempt

December 29th, 2013
Elephant Head (5,640')
[Pics] [Map]

This was the 3rd day of an extended New Years 2014 trip out to the Tucson area. We'd spent a day underground in Crystal Cave, used Peppersauce Cave as a recovery day, and now we were attempting Elephant Head.

Elephant Head is a large rock outside Tucson which promises 5.6 and below climbing for 1,000 ft

Peppersauce Cave Arizona

December 28th, 2013

This was the second event in an extended New Years trip out to Tucson.  We did Crystal Cave, used Peppersauce Cave as a recovery day, climbed Elephant Head, and then Finger Rock before planning to finish with Cave of the Bells.  And we probably would have done that one if wasn't for a slight animal encounter the last night.

Peppersauce wasn't as big of a draw as Crystal or Bells but it fit in well as a partial day.  We'd been warned by some of Jen's friends that this place wasn't exactly pristine but my god did they understate that.  If you wonder why they put those gates on some of the other caves just take a look at this place.

Crawling Around Chiricahua Crystal Cave In Arizona

December 27th, 2013
Chiricahua Crystal Cave
[PicsM] [PicsJ] [Map]

Wheeeeeeee!  The previous day had been a mad dash flying back from Sacramento where I'd spent Christmas with my parents only to stay in Orange County just long enough to throw all my climbing gear into the jeep and take off east with Jeff and Jen reaching Tucson late that night.

A long long drive later we found ourselves driving down a slightly less remote dirt road that I generally prefer in order to find a quiet -ish place to bivy for the night.  We settled down amid the scattered debris and passed out.

The only reason we were camped this close to a major city was because the following morning we were picking up a key for Crystal Cave which would kick off 5 days, 3 caves, 2 5th class peaks, and a fair amount of driving.  Throw in a middle of nowhere speeding ticket, a technical peak bailout, and one skunk attack to the face while sleeping (yes skunk and yes to the FACE), and we were in for a suitably eventful few days.

Garmin 650 Followup Review

My initial look at the 650 was positive but I had a few concerns.  This follow-up is both to address those and share what I think the actual strengths and weaknesses of the device after having spent a few hundred miles hiking with the device.

I have the Oregon 650 but most of the items below apply to the entire 600 series.  The Oregon 600 has less memory, lacks a mediocre camera, and doesn’t come with the rechargeable battery pack the 650 gives you.  The Oregon 600t and Oregon 650t are the same as the base unit but include a chip with maps preloaded.  I opt for buying the Garmin 24k topo maps and loading them by hand since the chips only have 100k maps.

The Oregon 450 is an inferior unit and I wouldn’t recommend anyone get it.  The money you save isn’t worth how much slower the unit is moving around on maps and how frustrating the touch screen is.

A Snowy Visit to Leviathan Cave in the Worthington Mountains

December 14th, 2013
Leviathan Cave, Basin and Range National Monument
[PicsMatt] [PicsRon] [Map]

While I spend a good portion of my time running up and down peaks I have a fascination with caves and mines that I don't get to exercise very often.

So when I happened across this trip report mentioning a rather neat cave requiring a 30 ft rappel / rope ascent sitting on the side of a 3rd/4th class peak in Nevada it was something I was eager to make happen.

As of 2015 this is now a part of the newly created Basin & Range National Monument.

Mount Tipton DPS

  Mount Tipton (7,148')
When: December 2nd, 2013
Where: Near Kingman Arizona
Who: Matthew Hengst, Kristen Lindbergh
Pictures: [Matt]
GPS Track: [Map]

This was the 6th and final day of the 2013 Turktacular and rather than bum around Sedona for part of the day I wanted to grab a peak a little closer to home.

Tipton is in the northwestern corner of Arizona just north of Kingman but close enough to the California border where the drive home after was reasonable.  Also unlike many of the peaks on the DPS list there isn't anything obvious nearby to combine it with if you want to drive out there for the entire weekend.  (I've seen it listed with Spirit but I'd already done that with McCullough for last years Mustache Mosey)

Sledding The Dunes At White Sands

  Sledding The Dunes At White Sands
When: November 11th, 2013
Where: White Sands, New Mexico
Who: Matthew Hengst, Kristen Lindbergh
Pictures: [Matt]

Similar to our quick tour of Biosphere 2 a few days back this was something I've wanted to do for some time now and had just been waiting for an opportunity.

White Sands is a national monument in New Mexico known for its strikingly colored sand.  In addition to the usual driving through and taking pictures the major activity for visitors is to go sled down the dunes.  Usually while screaming...

Guadalupe Peak Texas State Highpoint With El Capitan (and a side trip to Biosphere 2)

November 28th, 2013
Guadalupe Peak (8,749')
El Capitan (8,085')
[PicsBiosphere2] [PicsHike] [Map]

It's become a tradition the last few years to take advantage of the long weekend around Thanksgiving to get out in the wilderness somewhere.

Last year it was Valley of Fire Nevada (and some surrounding DPS peaks) and the year before that it was Zion and Bryce Canyon in Utah.  This year circumstances allowed for a longer trip so I set my sights a bit further out and planned a 6 day long haul roadtrip that would include a tour of Biosphere 2 in Arizona, the Texas state highpoint Guadalupe and nearby bonus peak El Capitan, sledding the dunes at White Sands, two days roaming around Sedona with a peak or two included, and a finish on another DPS peak I needed on the way back called Mount Tipton.

Palen Mountain High Point DPS Peak Near Blythe

  Palen Mountains High Point (3,848')
When: November 2nd, 2013
Where: Near Blythe, CA
Who: Matthew Hengst, Kristen Lindbergh
Pictures: [Matt]
GPS Track: [Map]

After yesterdays slightly overlong stroll up Granite #2 the plan was for the slightly easier Palen Mountains High Point followed by a leisurely drive home.

However the fact we again woke up a bit on the late side and our decision to camp near Granite #2 meant we had a good hour and a half drive to get to the Palen trailhead before we could actually start walking.

Good thing I like headlamps...

Granite Mountain #2 Out Near Blythe

   Granite Mountain (4,331')
When: November 2nd, 2013
Where: Near Blythe, CA
Who:  Matthew Hengst, Kristen Lindbergh
Pictures: [Matt]
GPS Track: [Map]

Last weekend was a bit on the rough side as a quick two day to grab some interesting looking peaks out near Lake Mead ran a little late.  The cherry on top was a 5.5 *hour* delay to get through a 13 mile section south of Baker after a bad accident all but shut down the 15 until 3 or 4 in the morning.

So this weekend I decided to stick a little closer to my nebulously defined home and grab something off the dwindling list of Sierra Club Desert Peaks Section peaks I still "needed" (for list finish #1).

Jumbo and Mica South of Lake Mead

  Jumbo Peak (5,761')
  Mica Peak (5,758')
When: October 27nd, 2013
Where: Near Lake Mead, NV
Who: Matthew Hengst, Jeff Atijera
Pictures: [Matt]
GPS Track: [Map]

After the previous days successful climb of Mormon Peak ended a bit early when we couldn't find a way to traverse to a nearby bonus peak set off further east along the 15.  A quick refueling stop in Mesquite later we started down the long bumpy road to Whitney Pockets and beyond.

The main draw for the entire weekend was Jumbo Peak, a short low 5th class peak near Lake Mead I'd heard about from Harlan Stockman and others.  And as long as we were out there we planned to grab the nearby bonus peak named Mica.

Mormon Peak In Nevada

   Mormon Peak (7,414')
When: October 26th, 2013
Where: Nevada
Who:  Matthew Hengst, Jeff Atijera
Pictures: [Matt]
GPS Track: [Hike] [Hike+Drive] [Whole Drive]

Mormon Peak is one of those oddly prominent bumps out there that makes you question why the club would leave it off the Desert Peak Section list while a number of significantly less memorable peaks are included.

Granted it is near the far more memorable Moapa Peak which tends to grab ones attention a bit more from the free but still.

And then I climbed it.  Suddenly I'm not such a big fan of adding it to the list...

Mount Starr King In Yosemite Via The Southeast Saddle

September 28th to 30th, 2013
Mount Starr King (9,092')

Well crap, end of Sierra season already.

For me the Sierra season is bounded by the Spring and Fall Advanced Mountaineering Program courses that I help teach.  I really enjoy helping but they do keep me local Those keep me local to OC and tend to make a delimiter between run out to the desert time of year and run out to the Sierra.

This year things had started the third week of May with a two day to Mt Julius Cesar and trip #16 has been the hard and fast 9 days on the JMT

And now there was one more.  A laid back, 3 day, 1 peak, 16 person, *16 person*, 1 peak though requiring ropes and two low 5th class pitches...

Starr King was going to be fun :)

John Muir Trail - Happy Isles To Kearsarge In 9 Days

September 14th to the 22nd, 2013
The John Muir Trail
Happy Isles to Kearsarge Pass
[Pics] [CalTopo] [Map] 

The  John Muir Trail is 220 miles of some of the more spectacular scenery the Sierra has to offer.  The trail runs from Yosemite Valley in the north to Mount Whitney (the highpoint of the continental US) in the south and its a popular goal to hike it from end to end resupplying along the way.

I've eyed doing the John Muir Trail for the last few years but always stopped well short of making serious plans due to not having 2+ weeks away from work.

Then came this year where the eternally "it's really bound to end sometime" Boise project was in a convenient place and a combination of events in my personal life left me with more flexibility than I figured I was likely to see again anytime soon.

And so I went for it.

North & Conness 3rd Class Routes From Lundy Canyon

September 6th to 8th, 2013
North Peak (12,242')
Mount Conness (12,590')
Day 1: 4.3 miles, 2,300'
Day 2: 8.3 miles 2,900' (Conness)
Day 3: 9.2 miles, 2,100' (North & Out)
[Pics] [Map]

With summer largely over and with my compressed JMT trip looming I wanted to fit in  trip or two with a little more relaxed party bent to them.

But of course I still wanted peaks!  To that end Neal Robbins and I planned a max permit size outing to the Saddlebag Lake area to grab the 3rd-class-if-you-really-want-them-to-be peaks North & Conness aimed at WTC students for the weekend before I was set to start the JMT.

Seven Gables & Gemini From Lake Thomas Edison

August 31st to September 3rd, 2013
Seven Gables (13,080')
Gemini (12,880')
[Pics] [Map]

Seven Gables was one of the trips I'd planned last summer only to have it derailed by the mystery illness that took me out for a good chunk of the season.

The trailhead at Lake Thomas Edison is a bit of a drive from OC but after hearing repeatedly how spectacular it was camping back there I was determined that the trip was going to happen this summer.

This time I decided as long as we were doing the long haul (the drive + 13 miles hiking in) I might as well add nearby Gemini and push it out from 3 days to 4 making it a relatively laid back affair as they go.

Alta Peak Via Alta Meadow WTC Experience Trip Meadow-Tacular!

August 24th & 25th, 2013
Alta Peak (11,204')
[Pics] [Map]

After the last few hard haul trips I was looking forward to taking it a bit easier and and a WTC experience trip camping in a scenic meadow on the west side was sounding rather nice.

Iron Mountain From Devil's Postpile For Laurent's Sierra Club I Provisional

July 20th to 21st, 2013
Iron Mountain (11,148')
[Pics] [Map]

After last weekends somewhat more relaxed three day weekend it was time for another Sierra Club provisional outing.  This time we were headed to the east side for the I provisional of the one the only the mightily bearded Laurent Hoffman.  Two days, a long drive out to Devil's Postpile aiming to grab Iron Mountain, and as an added bonus we were in the middle of mosquito season and in an area I've come to associate with relentless blood sucking hoards.  Fun fun!

Silver Peak For Jeff's Sierra Club I Provisional

  Silver Peak (11,878')
When: July 13th to 15th, 2013
Where: Lake Thomas Edison, Sierra Nevada
Who: Matthew Hengst, Jeff Atijera, Gracia Delavida, Laurent Hoffman, Karyn Strong, Steve Kotzbauer, Elizabeth Bell, Jai-Meng So, Kamyar Miremadi
Pictures: [Matt]
GPS Track: [Map]

One of my main leisure activities is leading trips for outdoor outings program of the Angeles Chapter of Sierra Club.

I never knew Sierra Club had an outings program until I ran across it almost by accident a few years ago.  While criticisms about paperwork and bureaucracy could be made the program has an advantage over many other similar groups (like Meetup, Outdoors Club, ect) in that trip leaders are actually trained and certified by the club to lead at various levels.  This means the occasional incidents of people getting abandoned mid outing don't generally happen.

In Angeles the chapter rating are divided up into 4 levels.  Easiest to get is the O rating which allows you to lead trips on trail only.  Then there's the I rating which lets you lead trips involving cross country travel where navigation is more of a challenge.  Above that you have the M rating which allows you to lead 3rd class rock and snow climbs that use ice axes and crampons.  And finally there's the E rating which lets you lead 4th class or low 5th rock and steep snow where a fall could result in someone dying.

There are increasingly difficult requirements for each level that stretch from basic classroom courses to field evaluations of navigation, rock, and snow skills.  Once you've completed all the qualifications the final step is to lead a provisional along with someone who has had the rating for at least two years after which you both submit a written evaluation.  (Yay paperwork!)  Then not only can you lead for the club but you get a swank certificate and patch.

This particular weekend was fellow WTC Kaweah staffer Jeff Atijera's I provisional and I was acting as the evaluator.  This means it was one of the rare occurrences where I just basically show up and someone else does most of the work.

Gear Review: Garmin Oregon 650 Initial Thoughts

Garmin Oregon 650 GPS

(A followup can be found here)

My habit of returning to camp well after dark has made me rather appreciative of handheld GPS units.  I had a GPSMAP 60csx that lived a good life before getting lost followed by a Oregon 450 originally intended to be a temporary solution that turned into something more permanent.

After my Garmin Oregon 450 GPS developed a habit of loosing satellites while under clear skies I ended up taking a look around at options while working my way through tech support.

I spoke to some rather helpful folks at the Garmin tech support number and they offered to ship me out a refurbished unit for $99.  Even better they would send me a unit out immediately and just charge me 2x $99 until they received my unit.  Not too bad!

Just to cover all of my bases I checked what the other Garmin models offered and saw there had been an updated Oregon released, the 6xx line.

Brighter screen?  More resistant to scratches?  Faster maps?  Better interface?  Rechargeable batteries?

It was enough to get me to drive out to an REI in the few precious hours before the next trip and throw down $500.

U Notch Attempt Becomes Sil & Gayley Via Glacier Notch

June 28th & 30th, 2013
Mount Sill (14,153')
Mount Gayley (13,510')
[Pics] [Map]

The Palisades are a collection of rugged peaks are somewhat of the crown jewels of the Sierra Nevada.  In addition to the emblem peak of North Palisade there are a number of other peaks all of which are challenging by their easiest route.

This weekend we were aiming for something particularly interesting hoping to get North Palisade vie the U Notch.  This entails a snow climb amid rockfall followed by a 5.6 rock climb up top and 6 rappels on descent.  We'd originally planned the weekend assuming an average snow year only to end up with the second low snow year in a row.  As a result of this and a warm weather trend we knew we were likely a bit late.

This trip was being linked with the big 4th of July Shepherds Pass peakbag the following weekend so the initial fly back to OC, grab all my gear, and run like hell for the Sierra was going to be a little more chaotic.

Golden Trout Mini Massacre: Bagging Orphans Left Behind From The 2012 Memorial Day Massacre

   Brown Mountain (9,958')
   Kern Peak (11,480')
   Templeton Mtn (9,960')
   Monache Mtn (9,400')
   Deer Island (8,270')
   Anderson Point (8,510')
When: June 21st to 23rd, 2013
Where: Golden Trout Wilderness, Sierra Nevada
Who: Matthew Hengst, Amin Faraday, Jen Blackie
Pictures: [Matt]
GPS Track: [Map]

The 4th Annual Memorial Day Massacre was a beast of a trip.  5 days, almost 100 miles and 20k of gain, lots of bushwhacking, and a final day involving 26 miles and more blister milking than I ever hope to do again.

While it could be called a very successful trip a few minor factors kept us from getting all the inconsequential yet still named peaks we'd planned.  So, as I said in the trip announcement email...

"Don't you hate it when you have a massacre and leave orphans behind?  Join us for the 2013 Golden Trout Orphan Bag..."

East Side White Mountains NS10K Hike From Indian Creek

  Peak 11784 (11,784')
  Headley Peak (12,676')
  East Headley Peak (12,751')
  Indian Peak (11,297')
  Mount Hogue (12,751')
When: June 15th, 2013
Where: White Mountains, East Side
Who: +Matthew Hengst, Paul Garry, Keith Christenson, Daryn Dodge, more...
Pictures: [Matt]
GPS Track: [Hike] [Hike+Drive]

After surviving 20+ hours of driving for last weekends Jefferson and Arc Dome outing there was one last desert outing to be done before returning to the distressingly awesome early season conditions in the Sierra.

Paul Garry had asked me to assist on a two day outing to the east side of the White Mountains with the goal being some relatively rarely visited peaks on the Non-Sierra California 10,000-foot Peaks list.  We'd be dayhiking, we'd get a number of peaks, and we'd be doing around 8k worth of gain on Saturday alone.  Sounded like fun.

Mount Jefferson & Arc Dome Long Haul DPS

  Arc Dome (11,773')
  Mount Jefferson (11,941')
When: June 8th & 9th, 2013
Where: Central Nevada
Who: Matthew Hengst, Jen Blackie, Amin Faraday, Mark Butski, Jeff Atijera, Gracia Delavida, Wasim Khan
Pictures: [Matt]
GPS Track: [Arc] [Jefferson]

If you look at the geographic locations of peaks on the Sierra Club Desert Peaks Section list you'll see two peaks located in central Nevada far from pretty much everything.  That would be Mount Jefferson and Arc Dome.

I'd been staring at those for some time and after having knocked off the even further north Ruby Dome (700 or so miles from Los Angeles) last year after two tries.  At 11,000 ft they seemed perfect for a late season desert trip.  (Granted if I'd known how nicely things would be shaping up in the Sierra this year I might have chosen otherwise...)

Mount Goode, Mount Agassiz, and The Mighty Chocolate Peak From South Lake

  Chocolate Peak (11,682')
  Mount Goode (13,085')
  Mount Agassiz (13,893')
When: June 1st & 2nd, 2013
Where: Sierra Nevada, South Lake TH
Who: Matthew Hengst, Jen Blackie, Stephanie Gylden
Pictures: [Matt]
GPS Track: [Track]

The initial thought for this weekend was to do an easy recovery trip after the previous weekends Memorial Day Massacre.

In 2012 the 100 miles and 20k gain over 5 days Massacre had gone fairly well until the last day where 26 miles with bad blisters and sore feet made things somewhat...memorable.  The following weekend on the thankfully gentle Excelsior and Dunderburg was so painful I had to drop back from the group and limp back on my own.

This year the Massacre went much smoother and I was pretty much back to normal after the three short days back in Orange County working.  All the better to enjoy an easy two day trip with east side resident Stephanie Gylden to grab the (relatively) easy Goode and Agassiz from Bishop Pass.

4th Annual Memorial Day Massacre: Courtright In A Kilt Edition

May 24th & 27th, 2013
Three Sisters (10,612')
Dogtooth Peak (10,302')
Black Peak (9,773')
Zingheim Heights (11,138')
Mount Henry (12,196')
[Pics] [Map]

Memorial Day is somewhat of a problem.  On one hand it's an opportunity for a long weekend close enough to Sierra season to make me want to run amok up at altitude.  But on the other hand it's a bit early for trailhead access and for the snow pack to be melted not to mention the history of somewhat bad weather.

But of course a long weekend isn't something to be wasted.  So enter the now annual Memorial Day Massacre.  It started way back in 2010 as a normal enough three day backpack with an aggressive schedule.  A planned hike from Canebrake back down to Walker Pass along the PCT grabbing 7 or 8 peaks in the process went a bit downhill after a (not uncommon) route finding issue on Spanish Needle followed and a water source reported to be running which turned out to be dry.  Cue a bit of a reroute lasting until 10:30 pm or so followed by a few somewhat long days and the majority of the group not getting near all of the planned peaks.  Fun was had by all.  Except those that took an extended break from hiking as a result.

Following the aftermath of that little jaunt I rebranded it the Memorial Day Massacre and started making plans for the following year.

In 2011 we headed for Shepherd's Pass only to have an only unpleasant weather forecast transform into a 100 mph fun fest.  One retreat from altitude, a torn tent, and a night spent in a rather friendly bush with snow coming down on top of us later we bailed out and settled for a dayhike of Olancha.

The Third Annual Masochistic Fun Fest we stuck further south.  This time bad weather was largely shrugged off and we managed an impressive 100 miles, 20k gain, and 6 peaks.  Granted I limped out of Haiwee Pass 5 days later with some of the worst blisters I'd ever had and was barely able to walk for the trip the following weekend.

Having found success in that model (Gee, Kern can be done as an easy 2 or 3 day from this trailhead, lets get it from waaaaaaaay the hell over here) I set my sights on Courtright for the sure to be legendary 4th annual outing.

Mount Julius Caesar Kaweah Snow Outing

May 18th & 19th, 2013
Mount Julius Caesar (13,200')
[Pics] [Map]

It's been a fun start to the year with the occasional desert trip snuck in between the always awesome 10 week Wilderness Travel Course and the spring session of the Advanced Mountaineering Program but at long bloody last it's time to kick off the Sierra season.

This particular weekend along with the Alabama Hills rock climbing trip a few weeks back were planned as private outings to give the WTC students of Kaweah group the opportunity to learn some more advanced skills beyond what we teach in the course.  (WTC used to be called BMTC and included rock climbing and ice axe and crampons but these days we are limited to rock scrambling and winter backpacking)

The original plan had been more along the lines of a car camp with a day of ice axe and crampon practice followed by a easier but non trivial peak climb to put the new skills to use.  Unfortunately this seasons rather apathetic snow levels meant that there wasn't much that was easily accessible.  So instead we changed it to a backpack with the plan of hopefully finding some decent snow up high.

After some last minute debate I settled on Julius Caesar out of Pine Creek.  It had spectacular views, the approach was a trailhead I'd never used before, and at 13,220 ft I figured we'd probably be able to manage some amount of snow.

Kaweah Run Amok At Alabama Hills

April 20th & 21st, 2013
Alabama Hills, CA

We're currently in the lull between the end of the 10 week Wilderness Travel Course (WTC) and the start of the 3 week Advanced Mountaineering Program (AMP) both of which I help out with and enthusiastically sacrifice weekends to.

Usually the unclaimed weekends between these two classes are spent in a series of mad dashes out to remote areas of the desert car camping and grabbing all manner of peaks raining from impressive and enjoyable to nondescript and painful with large blazing campfires and much fun had by all.

Every now and then I like to throw in something different and so this weekend was an open call weekend for anyone in Kaweah to come join us for a weekend of sport climbing out in Alabama Hills.

Spectre Peak DPS and Mt Lowe HPS With Not A Lot Of Sleep In-Between

     Spectre Peak (4,482')
     Mount Lowe (5,603')
When: April 13th & 14th, 2013
Where: Joshua Tree & Altadena, CA
Who: Matthew Hengst, Jen Blackie, & a bunch of others on Sunday
Pictures: [Spectre] [Lowe]
GPS Track: [Spectre]

By all outward appearances this should have been a much easier weekend than the average long haul desert climb. Instead of driving all the way out to some remote spot in California or Nevada we just had to make it out to the mountains north above Altadena for a day hike followed by a quick drive out to Joshua Tree to camp then grab one of the relatively near desert DPS peaks called Spectre. Easy stuff.

Unless you say misread the email about your friends provisional, wake up at 3 something am Saturday morning, and drive all the way out to Altadena only to realize said friends provisional is actually on Sunday. Oops.

Rainbow Wall, Gunsight Notch Peak, Juniper Peak In Red Rocks

   Rainbow Wall (6,924')
   Gunsight Notch Peak (6,160')
   Juniper Peak (6,109')
When: March 30th, 2013
Where: Red Rocks Nevada
Who: Matthew Hengst, Jeff Atijera, Harlan Stockman
Pictures: [Matt's Flickr]
GPS Track: Track

This weekend had a lot to live up to as the previous Easter was spent climbing Weavers Needle out near Phoenix which ended in an encounter with armed US Marshall's.  Interesting way to start an Easter morning but hard to follow.

After initial talk of banging out two more DPS peaks we settled on heading for Red Rocks and climbing something off list with Harlan Stockman a Facebook acquaintance and extremely active hiker I hadn't had the chance to meet in person yet.

Wilderness Travel Course 2013 Joshua Tree Outing

What: WTC Joshua Tree Rock Scrambling & Navigation
When: February 9th & 10th, 2013
Where: Indian Cove Campground, Joshua Tree
Instructors: Matthew Hengst, James Montross, Laurent Hoffman, Paul Warren, Jeff Atijera, Wendy Miller
Pictures: Matt's Flickr

January through April is the season where myself and many other regulars on my peakbagging trips wander in from the wilderness, start showering regularly again, and act as volunteer instructors for the Sierra Club Wilderness Travel Course.

2nd Annual Mustache Mosey DPS Outing To Spirit & McCullough

January 19th & 20th, 2013
Spirit Mountain (5,639')

Last year while trying to come up with a way to liven up a two-day desert climb of the somewhat unremarkable Manly & Needle a few of us hit on the idea of making it a theme trip. And hence the First Annual Mustache Mosey (then referred to a the Manly Mustache Mosey) was born!

Two peaks, one sausage-themed happy hour, 3.5 popped tires, a minor freeze, and a whole hell of a lot of wild donkeys later we declared victory and got the hell out.

Tin & Dry DPS Peaks In Death Valley

January 5th & 6th, 2013
Dry Mountain (8,674')
Tin Mountain (8,953')

Another winter weekend another long drive out to the desert to grab a pair of DPS peaks. And sadly they can't all be as pleasant as the pre-Christmas set had been.

This time it was off to Death Valley to climb Tin & Dry from Racetrack Road. Others had commented these two were a rough slog and after having done them (admittedly on a very cold weekend with bad weather) I can say they don't have near the appeal of some of the other nearby climbs like Corkscrew or Grapevine and Palmer. Not to mention the camping opportunities are poor and no campfires are allowed which takes away one of the perks of desert outings.