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.