Thursday, July 9, 2009

Mt. Shavano and Tabeguache Peak via Brown Creek Trailhead

Cary and me on top of Tabeguache

One needs to cross a stream some how

Katie climbing up

2 pics I shot near our camp

Katie and Sis on top of Tabeguache

Brad, Kris and me climbing up Tabeguache

Me rocking my new hat

Cary climbing up the snow shoot

Climbing up the snow shoot

Over the fourth of July weekend me and some of my buddies did some climbing in the Sawatch mountain range in Colorado. I had previously never even been to Colorado none the less the Rockies so I was pretty excited to get out there and climb! On Friday the 3rd, Cary, Katie and I met up with Brad, Kris and Kelsy on route to Brown Creek Trailhead. We got to the trailhead around 12:45 and started the 6 mile hike up to Brown Creek Lake were we set up our camp for the next two nights. The hike was gorgeous, it followed a well flowing creek with aspen trees littered all around. About 3 miles from the trailhead we stopped at the "falls" for lunch.

Around 4:15 we arrived at the lake and set up our tents just north of there. Cary and I were bunking together as usual, Katie was with her sis and Brad and Kris were together. Cary and I have camped so many times together I feel we are a well oiled machine, very proficient at setting up camp. That night we set up a camp fire and relaxed. I tried capturing water blur photographs near the creek near by but nothing really turned out to my liking.

The next morning we woke up around 5:30 and got ready for our climb. We headed out of our camp (11,300 ft) by 6, just as the sun was painting the mountains a nice shade of pink. We climbed up a gully filled with scree and loose rock for the first hour and a half. Around 12,500 we started climbing up a ridge, luckily climbers above us showed us which route "not" to take. While climbing up the ridge a climber above knocked down a bowling ball size boulder down the shoot and went whizzing past us. It wasn't close enough to hit us but it was heading towards where we were before we started climbing the ridge. None the less it definitely got our attention. After climbing up the ridge we traversed to a snow shoot in a gully and climbed straight up until we hit the saddle (13,800 ft), which connects Shavano and Tebeguache. Brad and Kris did a terrific job kicking in steps up the hard pack snow! Once at the saddle we climbed up to Tabeguache (14,155 ft). There was a small cornice that we climbed over to reach the summit (roughly around 10:30). Once on the summit we relaxed for about 20 minutes with the 5 of people who were already there. Katie also brought chocolate for all of us as well. Thanks Katie, you rock!

We soon headed back down to the saddle and left some gear there as we hiked along the Mt. Shavano ridge to Shavano's summit. It took us about 30 minutes to reach Shavano's summit (14,229 ft). Once there we met a guy who put an American flag on the summit. After a picture I headed back down to the saddle where I ate my salami, cheese and cracker lunch. Kris hung back a little and sang the star-spangled banner with the patriotic climber:-)

On our decent, going down the snow shoot was a little tougher that I expected. I had hoped the snow would be punchy and easy to heal step down. It was definitely manageable but not as soft as I would have liked, so the last 40 feet I got on my butt and glissaded down. We arrived back at our camp around 1:30. The rest of the day we relaxed around the camp site. I took some photos, took a nice nap and then sat around the campfire and discussed important topics like swamp @$$ and the town of Rifle.

The next morning Cary, Kelsy and I headed back down to our cars. Cary and I needed to start our drive back to California. Brad, Kris and Katie stayed and climbed Mt. Antero, good job guys!

The weather was great the whole weekend. We did encounter a thunderstorm in the middle of the night one night but that's about it. It was cloudy on and off throughout the weekend.

  • Brown Creek Trailhead: 8,950 feet
  • Brown Creek Lake (Camp): 11,300 feet / 6 miles from trailhead
  • Saddle: 13,800 feet
  • Tabeguache : Peak: 14,155 feet / about 1.5 miles from Brown Creek Lake (our camp)
  • Mt. Shavano : 14,229 feet / about .5 miles from saddle

Lessons learned:
  • Subways in Colorado don't offer avocados
  • The town of Rifle has the best Starbucks ever (ask Cary)
  • You must drive a Subaru to live in Colorado
  • Mini tripods take terrible water blur photos, too low to the ground.
  • Mel and I should move to Colorado

** Thanks to Kelsy, Katy and Cary for contributing their photographs to the blog.
** Thanks to Brad and Katie for planning such an awesome trip!!!

View Brown Creek, Co in a larger map

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Lassen Volcanic National Park

On June 20th my brother Erik, our buddy Nic and I went backpacking in Lassen Volcanic National Park. This is about 4 hours north east of San Francisco. We arrived at the park around 12 and stopped at the Lassen Peak parking lot to climb the mountain. The trailhead was at 8,400 ft and the climb was a well worn, mellow trail the led up 2,ooo feet to the summit (10,462 ft). There was still a little snow of the trail which we climbed through. After an hour and a half we reached the summit to take in beautiful views of the park. We got back down to the trailhead around 4 and headed to the summit ranger station where we hiked in 5 miles to Rainbow lake where we set up our camp for 2 nights. Rainbow lake was a great place to camp. We had the place all to ourselves.

The next morning we headed to cinder cone peak, painted sand dunes and the fantastic lava beds. It was an absolutely beautiful hike there, unlike any terrain I have seen in my life. My pictures don't do justice to what it looked like in person. The dunes were a grey color with yellow and red sand strewn across them. In the background there was a large section of black lava beds that starkly contrasted the dunes. We hiked up half way up Cinder Cone ( which is an odd, 600 foot mound of volcanic sand and rocks, see pic below) and had lunch. Nic (our swiss friend) brought salami, avocado, cheese and bread for lunch. That was definitely a nice change of pace compared to my normal back country lunch of luna bars and trail mix. Thanks Nic! After lunch we headed up to the top of the Cinder Cone. We took alot of pictures and admired the view of Mt. Lassen which was peaking through the clouds. On our way back down we hiked near Snag lake on our way back to our campsite. We hardly saw anyone that day. I was blown away by how many downed trees there were due to lightning strikes.

The next morning we packed up and headed back to our car. We drove through the national park and stopped at Bumpess Hell trailhead where we hiked to this fumarole/hot spring phenomenon. This was an easy 3 mile round trip stroll. There was still a little snow on the ground but nothing to deter us from going. When we got there we snapped some photos and toured the place via the wood slat trail. After an hour or so we headed back to the car and left the national park.

All in all the backpacking trip was great. I could easily have spent another 3 or 4 days photographing the original landscape of Lassen Volcanic National Park. The park has something for everyone, fumaroles/hotsprings, 10k fooot peak, lakes, sand dunes, lava beds and much more. And a special thanks to Erik and Nic for scouting and planning such an awesome trip. I had a fabulous time.

Mt. Lassen (10,462 ft): 4.4 mi round trip. 2K elevation gain.
Bumpess Hell: 3 mi round trip
Backpacking: 19 mi round trip (5 mi to rainbow lake & 3.5 mi to cinder cone)

*** Thanks to Nic for "donating" the 2 pictures above with Erik/Me and the three of us in front of the lake

My Google Map for Lassen is not working right now. Below is a screen shot of the map for now.