I recently got the chance to do a few days of "work" for CAMP USA, and this time it wasn't doing manual labor in their Denver-area warehouse. This was the cause for my first ever visit to the Sierras. And finally let me climb Red Rock's "Rainbow Wall". I also learned that the high point and low point in the continental USA are merely 100 miles apart. However, only one of them houses an 18-hole golf course. Take that Mt. Whitney!!
I met up with Jesse, (1/2 of the climbing-crazed staff of CAMP USA) and our trip began with a 100k Evolution Loop thru-hike with Sierra Mountain Guides. These guys have blended the skills and philosophy of ultralight alpinism, long distance backpacking, and mountain running, and are working on designing some guided/supported trips in the mountains near Bishop, CA that they can offer as part of their guiding service.
|Are we having fun yet?|
|Jesse VS The Storm|
They also use and sell a ton of CAMP gear, and Jesse, myself, and unheralded badass Justin Lichtner got to go along and help them on a trial-run of their trip. After 3 days in the mountains talking gear and sharing stories with the guides in the group, Jesse and I found a couple days to climb white granite near Whitney Portal and on Lone Pine Peak.
On Lone Pine's south face, we climbed the ~15 pitch Beckey route on the Bastille Buttress. I'd rate it 3/5 stars, and although the rock was clean and there were a couple great pitches, it was fairly crumbly and grainy throughout. We had hoped to free the old bolt ladder, but it proved blank, apart from the constant crumbles.
Maybe after some major scraping, a 5.14 slabster would be all over it. We'd hoped to climb the North Ridge of Lone Pine that same day and after being in the sun all day with one quart of water each, we managed to slog over to the start and do the first 2/3 of the scramble before bailing down to the north and completing a loop to our campsite at Whitney Portal.
On our return trip, we stopped in Red Rock to climb the Rainbow Wall!
I got to lead all but 2 pitches of the route, and we both had a blast. This route is spectacular. It is also very "non serious". You can bail from anywhere with plumb-line raps using a 60m rope. There is no loose rock or weird routefinding. The protection is great. The rack is light. And it is in the shade. Jesse and I had hiked up to the base of the wall the evening before, where we randomly ran into my good friends Lisa Stern and Scott Bennett, themselves just returning from the Rainbow Wall via the better-looking direct "Rainbow Country" variation. Scott gave us a few extra draws, and with 14 QDs, a rack to #1 camalot, and a couple extra finger pieces, it was easy to link any two pitches on the route.
Now I am packing up and preparing to move away from Denver, with a planned October stopover in Zion and/or Moab.