Powderjunkie had been thinking about this trip for a long time. He did field work in the Klamath mountains once upon a time. They are not one of the most hugely visited ranges in California, but they're really beautiful.
We spent some time looking for beta online but only found a few shots of the area in wintertime and no real descriptions. We had no idea what to expect.
On the map the terrain look pretty nice, although not high elevation. The climb in would be about 2000' over six miles. So theoretically not too bad. But it was up a canyon so we were thinking it could possibly be a traverse in from hell if there was snow. We decided to bring boot crampons for that possibility because we both liked our Spark Bindings too much to leave them at home.
But then we lucked out. My friend Will announced the release of his Spark R&D crampons on Thursday and on Friday, just before cutting out of work early, two pair showed up in the mail at work. Sweet!!
By nightfall we were off the highway.
Wavy found out at the last minute that he could get time off work and when we woke up in the morning he was there & ready to go. We're off!
Uhm.. let's see. There was some kind of sign at the trailhead and the lady on the phone had said there 'were a few trees down' on the trail. No problem!
It started off bad right away with this gigantic tree that had smashed down over the path.
And then this rapist log had an obnoxiously placed knot that tried to make sweet love to anyone who skootched across it. Ouch!
It seemed like there was a lot of deadfall.
But we were at such low elevation that it took a long time to figure out what had happened.
Due to the low snow levels climax avalanches had ripped through areas that hadn't seen avy activity for many decades.
Ever see a mature oak in avy debris before? This one was at 3300 feet.
It went on like this for four or five miles.
It was a pretty solid schwack.
If you are getting tired of these pictures, imagine how tired we were getting of lugging our full packs through all this carnage. We were hurtin'.
It was mind blowing to imagine this whole traverse getting smashed so badly. The forces involved must have been huge!
Eventually we made it out of the destruction zone and into the blessed sanctuary of the posthole zone.
That meant another mile or so of postingholing through to stones, streams, spring runoff, and waterfalls when the terrain was steep. Sweet!
Finally we reached continuous snow in the valley above and we could skin. Whew.
It was a long day.
We set up camp and climbed some very wet snow to check out the surroundings.
On one side of the valley most of the terrain seemed really cliffed out down low.
The other side had these honkin' bowls that drained over cliffs and through narrow gullies. They were choked with avy debris this year.
The next morning we were up early & facing a long skin to our destination.
Have I mentioned that Spark R&D crampons rule?
The snow had barely frozen overnight and as we got into the sun the snow became really wet. It was obvious that we'd never hit our intended peak. But then - it seemed like there could be something fun right there across the valley. Hmmm... there might even be room to set a skin track to the right of the line.
It was hot. We started running out of water and then we lost wavy to dehydration. He had to cool off for a while so he rested up and then lapped the lower part of the mountain.
The track got steep and we worried a little about wet slides.
But finally we rolled over to the upper zone and we were home free.
That's the line lurking over there on climbers left, BTW.
PJ is a very stylish rider.
We were in a giant half pipe in the sky.
It was like a dream. A 2300 foot chute, un-named and un-known.
The next morning we packed up under foggy skies.
And the hike out sucked.
Thanks wavy and PJ!! It was a painfest, but worth it. What a great weekend in the mountains.
Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2005 2:23 pm Posts: 453 Location: Howell Mt., Napa Valley
Looks like some serious wind damage to me. Lots of branches on the snow in those pics.
Lots of downed trees in the Coast Range this year. 90% of the trees on Porcipine Ridge at Hull are gone. And there are reports of numerous downed trees on the way to Snow Mountain this year.
Either way, looks like a fun trip. Way to get your log on.
Jibby - this was avy damage for the most part. It's more obvious in pictures like this where you can see the flagging on the trees and trunks broken at the mid-winter snow level:
Check out how high the flagging occurred on the tree in the background! As the snow melted back it left all that debris behind. I even saw a whole tree trunk up entirely off the ground, suspended in the trees above! We met a telemarker who said he'd never seen anything remotely close in 20 years of hiking the trail.
bcrider - It's about a 4 1/2 hour drive from Oakland. The hike in wouldn't be bad at all if not for the debris and the low snow level that made the posthole section suck ass.
Eco - there were tons of lines with potential on that East side of the canyon. We were hoping to explore more terrain Saturday evening and Monday morning but the hellacious schwack in ate up all of our time and willpower.
If you look across the canyon on the right side of this pic you'll see a big North Bowl that drains through a little E-W gully. Across the gully from the N. Bowl are a whole mess South facing chutes that reminded me a lot of the S. chutes on Jakes for their steepness and size. There are 4 or 5 gullys with this same setup feeding into the main canyon.
It would be fun to go back and invest more time to check them out. Some of the bowls may cliff out, though, and there was wet slide debris out of all the gullys on that side. The low elevation there may leave a relatively small window of cornage before the wet slide carnage. It's hard to say...
I like the sasquatch theory. That is deep in sasquatch territory after all. But you know wherever sasquatch is, Chuck Norris will be hot on his tail.
Now that looks like a serious sufferfest. SF I'm glad to know that you can't blame all your sufferfests on me now.
I've never blamed all my sufferfests on you, jim. Just the worst ones, until now. I also liberally blame Buffy, Breadbox, TEX,... the list goes on. Of course I am never personally responsible for any of my own pain.