Saturday, May 23, 2015

Junipero Serro Peak, Santa Lucia Mountains, CA

May 16
Junipero Serro Peak via Santa Lucia Memorial Campground
12 miles roundtrip
~4000 ft

I spent a week as a teaching assistant helping the geology seniors at Northern Arizona University produce a geologic map of Cenozoic sedimentary rocks in the Santa Lucia Mountains. The students and myself spent long days in the field. But on Friday, I decided I needed to get up Junipero Serro before work started at 8 am. So I got up at 4 am and made the 12 mile, 4,000 ft. trek to the summit and back by 7:30 with time to get breakfast and wash up.

The trail leaves the Santa Lucia Memorial Campground and heads east towards the high peaks above. I left in the dark under cloud cover and made my way quickly up the narrow and slightly overgrown trail with my headlamp on and a small backpack with a water bottle, snacks and an extra layer.  I mostly hiked up the steep trail at a steady 3 mph. The sun lit up the skies around 5:30. By this point, the brush wasn't as high and I could see the surrounding countryside. I reached the summit by 6:10 am. The sunrise was partially blocked by low clouds but the views were still quite nice. And considering the early start, I didn't see another person the whole time, which kept the hike quiet and aesthetic. At 6:20 I began the descent. I ran the whole way down and reached the trailhead by 7:40 (about 4.5 mph).  

Looking west from the Junipero Serro Lookout 
Looking southwest from Junipero Serro Lookout 
Panorama from Lookout

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Abineau Canyon Backcountry Skiing, AZ

May 6, 2015

Paul and I skied the Crossfire Chutes in Abineau Canyon on the north side of Humphreys Peak on Wednesday this past week. I just finished my first year of my PhD and Paul just submitted his thesis, so we decided to celebrate. The conditions in Abineau Canyon were quite good. We hiked on bare ground until we reached the base of the avalanche chutes, where the snow coverage was great. From there we climbed up the edges of Crossfire Chutes up to the summit ridge. Spring corn snow was developing just in time for us to ski down in great conditions. A quick 5 hour trip.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Sedona's Scenic Cruise (5.9 trad, 5 pitches)

May 2, 2015

This is a must-do route for the Sedona area. It offers a wide variety of quality climbing, protects well, and was pretty challenging for me. The route climbs the west prow of Gibraltar Rock, one of Sedona's biggest walls. The approach and the first pitch tied for the crux of the day. The descent essentially rappels the route (4 double-rope raps).  

We spent an extra hour and a lot of extra energy on the approach than we should have. We read various approach descriptions and ended up wandering a bit before we found the approach. Here's my description of the approach, which we learned on the way out:

Park at Little Horse Trailhead. Follow the Bell Rock trail to the south until you cross the second bridge. Turn left (east) and follow the wash to the base of Gibraltar Rock. Continue up the left side (north) of Gibraltar Rock following prevalent cairns to the base of the route.    

Sedona's Scenic Cruise approach (image from Google Earth)
After a slightly demoralizing and exhausting approach, we reached the base of the climb. We started climbing after 1 pm. I led every pitch and was pretty tired at the end of the day. 

Pitch 1: The first pitch was the crux - a nice corner system transitions into a hand crack and then transitions into a wide leaning crack. At this point, I used small face holds and jammed my shoulder into the wide crack and inched my way up until I could protect it. Fun and challenging pitch.  5.9+
Janelle moving into the easier section on pitch 1

Pitch 2: The second pitch was a bolted cruiser. 5.7
Cruising on easier bolted terrain
Pitch 3: The third pitch starts out doing an exposed traverse (see money shot below) and then climbs a sweet crack system to a large ledge. This was my favorite pitch. 5.8
Money shot #1 - 3rd pitch
Money shot #2 - beginning of third pitch
A view of the upper portion of the third pitch $$ (I took this on our way down)
Pitch 4: The fourth pitch follows 10 bolts up and over steep terrain to a small belay ledge. 5.9
Janelle approaching top of 4th pitch
Pitch 5: The final pitch requires some delicate, unprotected moves into a chimney with a chockstone and a small roof. Then you follow a corner system to the top. 5.9
Looking north from the top of Sedona's Scenic Cruise - you can see the Peaks in the Flagstaff area on the right side of the horizon
Looking west 
Sedona sunset
Sedona sunset 2
Moonrise over Gibraltar Rock