With the shorter days I am trying to catch up on my summer of climbing blogs. Here’s one from the week of July 20th.
With El Dorado county and Lake Tahoe just opening up from the Covid19 shutdown, and people still not sure what to do with themselves, Lover’s Leap Guides business was slow. A perfect time for a climbing trip to the High Sierras! I contacted my favorite Superhero “Flower Power”, our dates worked out, and she was heading towards Lake Tahoe.
Arriving in Strawberry late afternoon on Sunday, we had time to go over to the East Wall of Lover’s Leap and climb the classic East Wall route Psychedelic Tree. This climb is off on the far right side of the East Wall just past another classic, “The Line”. The first pitch is sustained, steep, and thought provoking. Corners, cracks, and flakes(some loose) brings you to a ledge at 200 feet. The second pitch has steep jamming on quality rock finished by awkward roofs. Originally the roofs were bypassed by climbing the tree to the left, but now the tree is dying and the upper two thirds look brittle.
Early Monday morning we head into South Lake Tahoe to buy our food for our trip. Plans are to head to Rock Creek and the Little Lakes Valley by Toms Place to climb the North Arete of Bear Creek Spire.
The trail was packed with day hikers, fishermen, and backpackers. Once we left the main trail and headed towards Dade lake, we had it to ourselves. Getting to camp, we quickly set up our tent just as the first drops of rain from a thunderstorm came down.
With the storm cycle forecasted to last all week, an early start was planned for the following morning.
With the light winter we had, most of the snow was easily avoided to get to the base. Temps were just right with the sun hitting the climb and we made quick progress up the classic arete.
We summit out just before noon with and awarded with killer views of backcountry lakes and stunning peaks. We enjoyed the summit with snacks, signing into the summit register and started our descent with the days thunderstorm starting to build.
One short rappel brought us down to the ridge and to the descent notch. A short section of soft snow and we were back on the scree and talus. Descent was quick and back at camp we made some coffee and started to pack. Leaving our tent up with the approaching storm was the call, the skies opened up with hail and lighting. We waited out the storm and had a quick power nap.
After the passing of the storm, a quick, cool, and empty trail brought us back to our truck. Driving out in lower Rock Creek a lightning strike had started a small fire. Emergency vehicles were parked along side of the road, and access into the canyon was shut down.
We found camp above Owens River gorge and settled in for the night.
After a leisure morning with lots of coffee and breakfast, we head towards Bishop, turn west on Line Street and head towards Cardinale Pinnacle. We plan on climbing the West Face route, a four pitch 5.10a, which we had never climbed. Pulling up we are happy and surprised that no one else is there. Fun climbing up corners, cracks and slabs on perfect rock.
A dip in North Lake and we are off north towards Tioga pass to camp by Saddlebag lakes for the night. Our plan is to climb the Third Pillar of Dana the following morning. We are still in the cycle of afternoon thunderstorms, so an alpine start is called for. Leaving the trailhead around 5:30 we make good time up to the Dana Plateau, and the descent ridge. We see packs stashed under a boulder, so we were not the first to the base. I had climbed this route in ’97 and had forgotten how good it was!
We head out with the thunderhead building. We are quite surprised with parties showing up to do this climb with the building storm. We hike out as it starts to drizzle and head into the Meadows to hang out at Tenaya lake. The storm was keeping to the east and the lake was perfect for place for the Meadow Lie Back.
The thunderstorm makes it way to the west and briefly rains on us. We head towards Puppy Dome after it passes and climb Do or Fly. Back out of the park and to camp on Tioga with plans to climb the Regular route on Fairview the next morning.
Pulling into the parking area, we are happy to see only one car in the lot. Getting to the base, we see the party already starting pitch 4. We make good time on this super classic route. Flower Power asks why such a good route has such a boring name? Good question!
We head down back to the car and drive off towards Lee Vining for a greasy lunch at Mono Cone. After the gut bomb we continue north on 395 towards Lake Tahoe, over Echo Summit, and back home to Strawberry and Lover’s Leap.
A great five days packed with great climbing!