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psathyrella last won the day on November 13 2022

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About psathyrella

  • Birthday 10/01/1981

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  1. Trip: Reconnoitering Tower Mountain - None Trip Date: 09/12/2023 Trip Report: Tower mountain, like Mt Baring, has an impressively steep face whose profile tends to taunt from a variety of easily accessible viewpoints. After years of staring at its leaning silhouette, I had developed a minor obsession. To my knowledge, attempts at the central part of the NE face have been ended quickly by poor rock quality. But, I thought, perhaps an approach less focused on going ground up and boltless might yield some decent climbing? There is, after all, a third class gully to the top. Encouraged, then, by a friend's gorgeous aerial photos, I finally schlepped my way in (twice) this Summer. The first view coming down Hardy shoulder, with Tower's tower obscured: Looking back at the business side of Hardy: not as steep, and by reputation just as chossy, as Tower: Tower's normal route goes up to a large cave on the west side, then traverses to access a west-facing couloir. It's straightforward (albeit with some steep loose dirt) to keep scrambling at this level all the way around to the SE-pointing shoulder/arm overlooking the NE face. All the blocky south- and west-facing terrain under which you pass here seems to be composed of solid granite with amazing splitters. You also pass a glorious bivy site: The SE-pointing shoulder/arm has a nice vantage point for the wall, accessed by a few moves on absolutely classic Wa Pass kitty litter. That vantage point, amazingly, has a survey marker, which must have been... interesting to place, with tremendous drops on all sides of a barely larger than butt-sized summit: At this point, you have to understand I'd built up quite a lot of excitement to finally see the face. Unfortunately this evaporated entirely within seconds of actually seeing it up close, along with any desire to actually lay hands on the rock. It's hard to appreciate at the image quality of my ancient (but pleasingly teansy) climbing phone, but the face just looks like... all loose blocks. There's tons of cracks, but I don't think I saw a single one that looked solid enough that I'd want to plug in a cam without a fat bolt a few feet below me. But I mean, hey, I could be wrong; here's some pictures to motivate someone else to go in and check it out. Or to avoid it, ha ha. Here's the upper and lower face, presumably you'd start with the steep bit off the frightening-looking ledge: And a few binocular shots. The solid/splitter granite that predominates on the West/South aspects disappears almost immediately on the NE face, although if you squint, the tippy top of the wall doesn't look so bad (I've got a lot more of these, of the whole face, if anyone's curious): But it wasn't so bad. Just as I was going to sleep a coyote-like wail pierced the nearby air, solidifying the wilderness experience. And I was treated to sunrise on Black Peak and its neighbors on the way out: Finally back at swamp creek near the highway (it's not swampy here -- what's it like higher up?) after several thousand feet of largely face-in heather descent: Gear Notes: Shoes, poles, and binoculars. Approach Notes: Having gone in and out both via the PCT and Hardy shoulder, if I went in again I'd try swamp creek. The PCT is straightforward, of course, and probably the easiest and least technical way to access the face is by leaving the PCT at the 6350ft col a mile or so past Granite Pass. This SE/NW trending arm has a short bit of screescalator but no real scrambling. The Hardy shoulder approach is overall much more direct and much much faster (coming in this way you'd want to access the face by traversing past the W face cave), and if you stay well left on the way up to avoid a burn scar there's almost zero bushwhacking. But the traversing below Hardy near 7200ft is steep, loose, and unpleasant, and the efficiency with which you gain elevation going up Hardy is less enjoyable once you remember you're gaining an extra 1000 feet that you'll then have to lose compared to swamp creek.
  2. A friend and I had designs on this last weekend, it's an amazing area and I'd highly recommend the Columbia scramble even late season, but I wouldn't be tempted to go back without substantial snow cover. Unlike, say, the (WA) Sisters, where lack of snow just adds some inconvenience to accessing a lot of good scrambling, it seemed to me in the Monte Cristo area that snow covers up a lot more super steep dirt/scree gullies that become quite challenging without snow. Here's a picture of the diagonal ramp that I think was used to access Kyes, it looked pretty dire (although this is the closest we got to it). The geology is *really* cool -- lots of different rock types smooshed up against each other. The S ridge of Columbia looked to have a ~50m band at the top of splitter cracks in corners (sandwiched among layers of multicolored, featured, choss).
  3. That's great to hear, sounds like you're doing really well. I just started touching trail, I should be up for scrambling in a month or so, I'll PM for your info.
  4. Hey that's rad! That's really impressive. You've leapfrogged me, I'm walking a lot around town but haven't graduated to rough terrain yet. PT is getting more exciting though, and being stuck in a regular gym for quite a few months yet at least means I should come out of this a lot stronger than before.
  5. Hey! Glad you're doing well. That's awesome you got out, and the one nice thing about crutching is it's freaking exhausting, eh? After two wonderful months of fighting insurance I finally had surgery this week, so in bed 23 hours a day at the moment, and on crutches for a month, but psyched to be finally moving in the right direction.
  6. Well, a week after posting upthread I wrecked my knee coming back from the grocery store (brakes didn't work on one of those little electric scooters), so when all's done it looks like I will be joining you in the full year off club. Although probably with less impressive scars! And my shoulder is now finally back to normal so, while I'm going to have to take up (flat!) kayaking I can also be hate*!@%ing my hangboard. Also PM me if you want to kvetch, my wife at least is probably a little tired of hearing about injuries 😉.
  7. Mostly climbing related, plus some maps (swiss/french). "Accidents" are a mix from early aughts to present. Priority given to anyone that'll take all of them. I'm sure you could sell some of them for a bit of money.
  8. I am only a few years saltier than you, but jfc man that fucking sucks. I luckily haven't had that level of traumatic injury, but I just started treadwalling this week after four months of no climbing after a shoulder surgery, and have cumulatively missed much more time in the past to various other injuries. The first month after surgery can be rough -- if you need the meds to sleep, you need them, but they are as addictive as all fuck and get off them as soon as you can. After that, figure out goals and hobbies and things to work toward. Having a spouse/partner helps a lot. Patience is key, so this is way, way easier at 40 than at 20; months pass so fast now. If your lower body is messed up, obsess on training your upper: hangboard, pullups, etc. Dive into the Anderson bros book and the New Alpinism. Oh, and physical therapy is *magic* if you are diligent.
  9. I think it depends partly on your preference for what fraction of moves should be near your limit -- do easier pitches add to the experience, or detract from it? El cap is obviously much, much taller; but like squamish and the bugs, yosemite granite is so smooth that you're mostly limited to continuous crack systems. This makes the grade more dependent on crack size than wall angle, so there are many easier pitches. For instance taking a cursory look at a salathe topo, if you ignore everything easier than, say, mid .11, you get I think around four pitches of .11+, four of .12, and two of .13. Personally I'm probably more of an alpine dork than a sport climber on most days, and lean toward the more-total-vertical end of the spectrum, but on lots of other days, climbing stacked difficult pitches seems more appealing. I think the effect is pretty similar whatever the top grade you're climbing -- adding mid-fifth-class pitches to a 5.10 route in many ways feels similar to adding 5.10 pitches to a 5.13 route.
  10. Trip: Idaho - Heart of Diamond, Milwaukee's Best Trip Date: 09/15/2022 Trip Report: I've spent chunks of the last two Septembers helping some friends scrub, trundle, and bolt on a unique 800 foot granite wall on a subsummit of Storm Mountain, north of McCall, Idaho. At least for the time being, we're finished, and would love for folks to get on the two resulting routes to get some traffic and confirm grades -- everything about them is geared to optimize the experience of subsequent ascents. The wall has an extraordinarily consistent angle at just under vertical, and is littered with overlaps, layback flakes, and small roofs, which together create routes that are extremely sustained and with varied and high quality movement. It's just the right angle, and has just enough edges and dikes, that it is almost never slabby, and also almost never requires cranking on micro edges. While covered in cracks, many of them are too shallow, flaring, or fragile for bomber gear (but are great for climbing), resulting in routes with around a third natural protection and two thirds bolts. It also tends to excellent free climbing conditions, facing northeast (so warms up quickly before going in the shade) at around 8000 feet in a relatively dry range. Last year started by pushing a route ground up, since that seemed like an important thing to do. It was hard, scary, dangerous and required lots of aid and drilling on lead (not by me), and would have (as is) resulted in a route that was very poorly suited to repeats. So, from that point, we went top down and focused on making quality routes. For instance, much of the wall is initially covered in loose potato chips, which make free climbing ground up extremely challenging (and not very fun), but scrubbing invariably reveals bomber edges, divots, and dishes pointing in wild directions to create interesting boulder problems. As far as protection -- if there's bomber gear, you place it; but if it's questionable we put in a bolt. You can expect sizeable (but safe) whips at cruxes, but will always have confidence in whatever you're whipping on (well, except in a few .10 ish bits), and everything should be both clippable for short folk while still protecting talk folks' ankles. Last year's route, "Milwaukee's Best" (MB, nine pitches, with two options for the last pitch), mostly tries to follow cracks on the left side of the wall, and is sustained at .11 to .12, with one pitch of .9 and one of .10. The two easier pitches are meh (easy .9 slab, somewhat fragile .10 cracks), but every other pitch is really good. This year, we had figured out that the climbing is often better if you avoid the big, obvious crack systems, and "Heart of Diamond" (HoD) zig zags right up the middle of the wall. Of the seven pitches, one (p5, a leftward .12 ish traverse) is perhaps a bit forgettable, but every other pitch is extremely high quality, with sustained and varied movement. There's one or two pitches of .11, two or three of .13 (so I'm told -- I can mostly do the moves but do not send that hard), and the rest some flavor of .12. Also worth saying -- these are real YDS grades, not Washington grades -- for instance I had little input, since my diet of index and ungraded bouldering gyms, and weird body proportions, mean my opinion isn't very transferrable. Michal wrote up an excellent description on mountain project: https://www.mountainproject.com/area/123065053/storm-dome, so I'll just dump some photos here. Northeast face of Storm Dome: The NE aspect enforces the pleasure of relaxed mornings, during which you can explore the variety of shapes into which wood can burn. Maybe these holes were woodpecker homes: MB pitch 3 before the roof: MB pitch 3 at the roof: MB pitch 3 after the roof: MB pitch 7: MB pitch 8, before the groove peters out: MB pitch 8, right where the groove peters out: Through the roof on MB pitch 9a (right option): Starting rightward on HoD pitch 4: Continuing rightward on HoD pitch 4: Starting the journey on HoD pitch 6: Near the top of HoD pitch 6, hanging in a hueco: Immaculate, perfectly sculpted and oh-so-crucial dual pinches on HoD pitch 6: Topo for MB and HoD: Smokey sunrise from camp, which is a pika-filled meadow between the lake and the wall: Gear Notes: Light rack and draws (see MP link for details). Approach Notes: 7 miles, 2800ft, 4-5 hours in, 2-3 hours out, see MP link for details.
  11. First of all -- descriptions of grades, pitches, and overall character of the route were very accurate. Thanks for a quality experience. One of my first thoughts on topping out was now I'm *really* psyched on "after hours". Overall, I thought "memento" was quite reminiscent of "fire on the mountain" -- lots of steep featured gear-protected face climbing, some poor rock but mostly pretty decent. The face that "memento" climbs is, overall, much steeper (sloan has lots of ledges), while "fire" involves pulling harder (but seemed less sustained). The gear from the accident -- a pink tricam in a marginal placement in poor rock, girthed to a few feet of webbing with a biner, on which was cloved a few shreds of rope -- was in a roof/overlap below two side-by-side corners just above the [eric/rolf] belay at top of pitch 4. It seems possible that the decades of rockfall and avalanches that shredded the rope also degraded the tricam placement (and/or removed anything else that was in the belay). If anyone with a connection to the deceased would like them I'd be happy to pass them along (@Skeezix?), I just felt it better to clean up the mountain. I believe I ended p3 5m or so higher than the fa, at the top of the vague pillar/face you've been climbing, belaying on a slung block + #1. I'd recommend this to avoid the semi-hanger. As mentioned above (sorry...), I didn't read the p5 description carefully, so was just looking for a corner when ending p4. When you pull onto a slab at end of p4 (25ft below where the tricam was), there are two side-by-side corners above you: left looks good, right looks shitty and mossy, I incorrectly belayed under the right corner (good #4 + ok #1, just above where tricam was) to set up to climb the left corner. The correct way, I believe, is to belay as soon as you're on the slab, and then traverse pretty hard right above the roof to begin p5. Which at least to us looked quite improbable (steep face with little obvious gear) but gear tends to appear in this rock as you get closer. So now that the old gear is gone, I'd amend description to: pin belay on slab below two side-by-side corners (p5 goes to right of both corners). And yeah, on the last pitch we did climb the distinctive rock-scarred corner with decent rock, so were probably in the same place. The short offwidth to right (picture above) seems like a good idea for the start of that pitch, although we didn't climb it. The cutest little chipmunk came over and hung out while I was belaying here. Rack seemed good. The pins (+ northwall hammer + msr tent stake hammer) seemed somewhat optional to me, but otoh I wouldn't be brave enough to launch up a route like this without them unless I'd done it before.
  12. For me a good heuristic is just that it's good when nwac is greenish (sometimes their low yellows are clearly more like green based on probability/size info), and of course temps/sun exposure/intensity are such that nothing is melting or falling on your head. This doesn't really prioritize ensuring enough water ice to make steep climbing easy, but I at least find that that is not really practical to accurately predict (although I'd love for those ^ guys to contradict me). As long as things are consolidated enough that nwac is near green, rock will be bare enough that it's not too miserable to climb, and if nwac is issuing reports then you're in mid winter so there will be some ice, just hard to know how much. If ice conditions turn you back on something steep, have a backup low angle ridge scramble in mind. Maybe in another ten years we'll all be more relaxed about bolts and there'll be some cool steep routes on the many many many amazing features up there, but until then I think it's knifeblades and not falling, i.e. slab practice.
  13. The base is super thin (3mm?) plywood wrapped in shiny silver metal tape, with two elastic loops sized to loop over the valve of either size of cannister. I copied the base from a backpackinglight post, although I cant' find it atm. And yeah plain aluminum foil wrapped many times, and don't try to tape or glue it together it'll burn into a sticky gross mess. It actually turns out that bpl is where the real stove nerds are, and they mostly use non-integrated stoves (e.g. pocket rocket deluxe), which work surprisingly well these days unless you're making water in a gale. This article: https://backpackinglight.com/canister-stove-fuel-warming-techniques/ has a huge rundown of different methods, I've been playing with the heat reflector/wind screen recently, it works surprisingly well.
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