(1) Yes, in case you were wondering, that is a Chevron
cotton utility work shirt, found at a thrift shop on
Valencia St. in 2001 complete with "Rich" name patch.
I probably would've paid $700 for it, but only had to
shell out $20.
(2) AT Anonymous,
my alter ego, turned 38 on this day, so we're here to
celebrate his birthday, just the two of us.
Went to bed with a righteous sunset, and woke to much
of the same. The magic hour, ho hum....
Skied down from camp, past Nydiver Lakes, to the flat
valley below the B/R-saddle. Here's the route up.
Pretty steep and refrozen corn at this hour, so a
mandatory switch to crampons.
Up the first 1,000', the views southward open up. Not
even close to the summit yet, and can already see
Abbot and Bear Creek Spire (in the middle), Gabb,
Hilgard, and even Mr. Darwin on the far right.
Up the SE Glacier until I reach the two chutes leading
to the summit snowfield. The left one is a no-go. With
this weather, the right one looks like it has just a
few days left, but is still climbable/skiable. I
decide to check it out.
A pretty steep climb ("had to be like 70 degrees
*minimum* bro-bra!!") and I'm in view of the summit.
I'm dragging at this point: it is about 100 degrees
cooking on the snowfield, and what keeps me going is
the sight of perfect carpets of Anso IV grade-A
California super-stylie corn all around me. I stagger
to the summit.
And bask in the views...
Spinning around to the north...
Looking west towards Yosemite Valley and the backside
of Half Dome.
Had to get a shot of Mono Lake over Banner, even
though bcrider once told me (quite validly, I would
add) that "Tufa shots are sooo played out dude."
First one to sign in this year. Looks like the last
group had a birthday too. [In case you are wondering,
AT Anonymous signed on the next page in the register,
but in invisible ink]
I ponder busting out the cell phone to call Mitch, who
is most certainly skiing Mammoth 10 miles away right
now ("Hey Mitch, dude, look to your left! I'm waving
at you dude!"). But it is 11:50am and I've got some
birthday cake to get to. Time to drop. Grrr....
Cue the Sting tune!
You'll remember me when the west wind moves
When you are getting gnarly
Youll forget the sun in his jealous sky
As you shralp the fields of corn
Chute still goes. Quite thrilling, I might add!
Stoked but tired.
The lower half of the line. Had to bank hard right on
the descent since in my hypoxia I nearly forgot the
800 foot cliff band.
After a lunch break in the sun, I skinned back up to
camp and packed up. Headed back the way I came. Back
at Garnet Lake. Sorry about the weather.
Stripped the skins above Thousand Island Lake and
skied more corny goodness down to the lake. Here,
conditions were simply perfect for speed skiing. Very
tough to beat the feeling of being deep in the
backcountry on a perfect day, in stellar surroundings,
with no soul around, and just reeling off the miles. A
great day to be alive indeed. Was able to kick and
glide or ski downhill until below Agnew Pass. A quick
skin up and had my last view of Ritter/Banner.
Pleasure turns to pain when I get down to Gem Lake. My
fear was realized -- the nice solid lake I crossed the
day before was now looking super suspect. Somehow I
had to get my way back over to the dam without an
epic. Oh well, at least there's an 800 foot corn field
before I get there.
Fears realized as I get to the lake. It was like a
lunar landscape. The entire south shore had "whoomphed"
and collapsed on the hollow pockets underneath. Those
things sticking out are tree stumps that popped out
when the snow collapsed. Huge snowchunks were cracking
and sliding into the lake. Hmmm... Starting to look
very Type II-ish here.
My old tracks along the shore now disappear into a
blueberry slurpee, requiring me to do some mixed
climbing along the shore, alternatively scratching my
way up rock or postholing up to my waist. If not for
how stoked I was an hour ago at Thousand Island Lake,
this would be a true Type III experience. All things
considered, I rank it a solid 2.9 on the modified AT
Anon stoke meter.
Several calamities ensue, most of which are more
annoying than life threatening, and none of which I
shall repeat here. Scaling of dams, negotiation of
cables, much thrashing of limbs, waltzing with the
sagebrush (a classic Sierra spring pastime) and some
additional postholing, but at last I reach my cached
sneakers and the snowline. Then it gets surreal as I
am greeted with the sight of Big Thunder Mountain.
Which unceremoniously dumps me into a nuclear power
plant (ok, I'm just kidding about that).
High fives and beers with AT Anonymous followed, then
a drive back to Squaw Valley to see the family for my
birthday cake. The Sierra Wave was rocking the sky
over Antelope Valley as I banged a left over Monitor
Pass. Sunset over the Central Sierra peaks was a fine
conclusion to another successful quasi-solo trip with
my alter ego.