Betsy and I went on an epic week-long climbing trip in the Sierra at the end of May and beginning of June in 2022. We climbed three tall peaks, each via a steep chute topped by a summit plateau and summit pyramid. Here is what we did each day.
Day 0 (Monday, May 30): Drive from Del Mar to Lone Pine. Climb giant boulders in the Alabama Hills, and camp at “secluded” Campsite 39 in the Whitney Portal Campground. Day 1 (Tuesday, May 31): Backpack up the Meysan Lakes Trail from the trailhead at 7,900 ft to Meysan Lake at 11,446 ft. This takes us 9 hours, including finding a good campsite. Online blogs say that the distance is 6 miles, but Betsy’s GPS says it is 7 miles. I packed up this trail in 1978 with Mary, my brother Jay, and climbing buddy Don McEachern. Day 2 (Wednesday, June 1): Climb Mt Irvine at 13,770 ft in 12-1/2 hours. Betsy’s GPS says that the day’s distance is 10 miles. Day 3 (Thursday, June 2): Climb Lone Pine Peak at 12,944 ft in 12-3/4 hours. Betsy’s GPS says that the day’s distance is 9 miles. Day 4 (Friday, June 3): Relax, read, and hike on a rest day. Day 5 (Saturday, June 4): Climb Mt Mallory at 13,850 ft in 12-1/2 hours. Betsy’s iPhone battery is dead, so we don’t have a GPS distance, but it is probably 10 miles. I climbed Mts Mallory and LeConte in a single day with Mary, Jay, and Don in 1978. Day 6 (Sunday, June 5): Backpack out in 4 hours. I drive home, while Betsy joins her friend Emily for another climbing trip 🙂
Betsy and I spent five glorious days climbing and biking in Joshua Tree National Park and Owens Valley in November 2021. Here is what we did each day.
Day 1 (Thursday, November 4): Climb in Joshua Tree. Day 2 (Friday, November 5): Bike near Lone Pine. Day 3 (Saturday, November 6): Take Smoke’s climbing course in the Buttermilks near Bishop. Day 4 (Sunday, November 7): Betsy takes a second day of the course, while Wayne bikes nearby. Day 5 (Monday, November 8): Climb in the Alabama Hills near Lone Pine.
Here is my blog of our trip with lots of cool photos by Betsy.
After missing a year because of the pandemic, Betsy and I were happy to again spend five days backpacking and climbing in the Sierra in June 2021. Our primary objective was the summit of Mount Lyell, the highest peak in Yosemite National Park. The morning of the sixth day we kayaked on Mono Lake to the east. Here is my blog of our trip.
Immediately after our 2019 bike tour in Chile, Betsy, Gordon, Mary, and I did three days of trekking in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park and another two days of trekking plus a day of glacier viewing in Argentina’s Los Glaciares National Park. Our trekking tour was arranged by Cascada Expediciones, who did an amazing job of orchestrating the many shuttles, rooms, and guides in two different countries.
Our main motivation for going to Argentina was to see and trek to the base of the two most iconic Patagonian peaks: Monte Fitz Roy (11,171 ft) and Cerro Torre (10,262 ft). Fitz Roy was first climbed by Lionel Terray and Guido Magnone of France in 1952. The first undisputed ascent of Cerro Torre was by the “Ragni di Lecco” climbers in 1974.
We had incredibly good weather for the trekking tour as well as the earlier biking tour. We never got wet while biking or trekking in Chile; the few times that it rained were overnight or during shuttles. In Argentina we had sprinkles one morning, but even then, the sun broke through from time to time to give us rainbows. We had occasional wind, but many days were calm. It seems that March is a good time to do these tours.
Here is the itinerary for our trekking tour.
Day 1 (Tuesday, March 12): We shuttle from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales where we have lunch and meet Roberto Carlos, who will be our personal guide in Chile. We then continue our shuttle to EcoCamp where we spend the first of four nights in Torres del Paine National Park. We sleep in a luxurious suite loft dome.
Day 2 (Wednesday, March 13): We shuttle to Lago Pehoé and take a boat across the lake to the Refugio Paine Grande. We then trek 12 miles out and back to Mirador Francés (the French lookout). We spend the night camping in tents next to the refugio.
Day 3 (Thursday, March 14): We trek 8 miles to Glaciar Grey, take a boat across Lago Grey, and shuttle back to EcoCamp. We again sleep in our suite loft dome.
Day 4 (Friday, March 15): We trek 13 miles out and back to the base of the famous three towers for which the park is named. We spend one last night at EcoCamp.
Day 5 (Saturday, March 16): We shuttle to Cerro Castillo at the border with Argentina and take a public bus to El Calafate in Argentina. We have lunch there and then take another public bus to El Chaltén where we spend the first of two nights at Hostería Senderos.
Day 6 (Sunday, March 17): We meet Marcelo, our guide for the day and shuttle to El Pilar. We then trek along the Río Blanco, up to the base of Monte Fitz Roy, and then back to El Chaltén for a total of 14 miles.
Day 7 (Monday, March 18): We meet our second guide for a day and trek 14 miles out and back to the base of Cerro Torre. We then catch the public bus back to El Calafate where we spend the first of two nights at Hostería Los Hielos.
Day 8 (Tuesday, March 19): We shuttle to and from Glaciar Perito Moreno where we hike a little and ride a boat on Lago Argentino to the face of the glacier.
Day 9 (Wednesday, March 20): We fly from El Calafate to the domestic airport in Buenos Aires, shuttle to the international airport, and catch our overnight flight back to the US.
Betsy and I spent five days backpacking and climbing in the Sierra in June 2015. We did a big clockwise loop that took us through the Evolution Basin where many peaks are named after famous scientists who did pioneering work in evolution and genetics. We climbed three mountains, packed over three passes (one without a trail), got snowed on the last two days, and did not see another person from the time we left the trailhead until just before we returned.
Betsy and I climbed Mount Shasta at 14,179 ft in June 2013 for our second climbing trip of the year. Here is our itinerary for this two-day trip.
Day 1 (Saturday, June 8): Drive from Oakland to the town of Mount Shasta to eat lunch. Drive from town to the Bunny Flat trailhead at 6,950 ft. Pack 4-1/2 hours up the trail in Avalanche Gulch to Helen Lake at 10,400 ft where we camp for the night. Day 2 (Sunday, June 9): Leave Helen Lake at dawn, and climb to the summit and back in 9 hours. Pack out in 2-1/2 hours, have dinner in town, and drive back to Oakland.
We were incredibly lucky with the weather. It was in the 50s with no wind when we were on the summit. Two days later the forecast was for a high in the 30s with gusts to 70 mph!
Betsy and I climbed Mounts Haeckel and Wallace in May 2013. Here is our itinerary for this three-day trip.
Day 1 (Sunday, May 26): Pack from the trailhead at Lake Sabrina (9,128 ft) to camp at Midnight Lake (10,988 ft). We go 7 miles in 5-1/2 hours. Day 2 (Monday, May 27): Climb Mounts Haeckel (13,418 ft) and Wallace (13,377 ft). This takes us 12-1/2 hours roundtrip from camp. We make the first ascents of the year for both peaks! Day 3 (Tuesday, May 28): Pack out 7 miles in 4 hours.
Betsy and I climbed Banner Peak and Mount Davis in June 2012. Here is our itinerary for this four-day trip.
Day 1 (Wednesday, June 6): Backpack from the trailhead by Silver Lake (7,215 ft) to camp at Thousand Island Lake (9,833 ft). We go 8 miles in 7 hours. Day 2 (Thursday, June 7): Climb Banner Peak (12,945 ft) in 13 hours. Day 3 (Friday, June 8): Climb Mount Davis (12,311 ft) in 10 hours. Day 4 (Saturday, June 9): Backpack out 8 miles in 5 hours.