2012 Adventure Runs Video Recap

2012 was an awesome year for me in terms of adventure runs. While I didn’t take video clips on every adventure, below are all the videos I did create this year in chronological order. It’s nice to see them all in one place as there is over an hour in aggregate total footage. For best viewing, make sure to adjust the quality setting as high as your internet connection will allow (HD is best). I’m also in the process of completing a coffee table book of the mountain photography highlights and it will be great to actually see physical copies of some of my photos.  Check back for a post recapping the year’s adventures with my favorite images and a few words before the end of the year.

Secret Beach: 

Big Bird & Deadman Canyon (June 17, 2012): 

Hyatt Lake Loop (June 24, 2012): 

Lost Coast – King Range (July 7 &8 , 2012): 

Desolation Six Summits (July 15, 2012): 

Ritter-Banner Loop (July 29, 2012): 

Ptarmigan Traverse FKT (August 16, 2012): 

Suiattle Crest 50 Mile (August 20, 2012): 

Desolation Marathon (August 25, 2012): 

Parsons Loop (September 8, 2012): 

Rae Lakes Loop & Mount Cotter via Sixty Lakes Basin (September 30, 2012): 

Sabrina Basin (October 20, 2012): 

Dusy Basin (October 20, 2012): 

Finger Lake (October 21, 2012): 

Kuna & Koip (October 28, 2012): 

Dinkey Lakes Wilderness & Three Sisters (November 3, 2012): 

Hell for Sure & Red Mountain (November 4, 2012):

Snowshoe Ideas!

A good snowpack is far from a guarantee in California and not to be taken for granted. The high elevations have already accumulated a nice base this fall and the forecast for the second half of December has the potential to provide a series of cool and wet systems through the new year.  This forecast would give any snow-sports fan a wide grin, and if it materializes, it would provide a phenomenally great start to the season.

With all the excitement, I’ve been thinking about some snowshoe adventure ideas that would be awesome to check out this winter, some of which are located below from north to south:

  • Mount Lassen, Lassen Volcanic National Park: A 20 mile roundtrip to climb this peak that seems much more aesthetic in the winter when snow covered (as opposed to a pile of volcanic pumice).
  • Castle Peak & Peter Grubb Hut: Easy access off Interstate 80 with nice views of the peaks of north Lake Tahoe.
  • Mount Rose, Mt. Rose Wilderness: Gorgeous views of the second highest point in Tahoe.
  • Pyramid Peak, Desolation Wilderness: The highest point in the Desolation Wilderness and the views looking over a snowy Lake Aloha would be amazing to see.
  • Mount Tallac, Desolation Wilderness: One of the best views of Lake Tahoe, with a great climb.
  • Freel Peak & Trimmer Peak: The highest point in Tahoe with a fantastic view of the lake.
  • Round Top, Mokelumne Wilderness: A classic snowshoe route from Carson Pass with great views of the surroudning wilderness.
  • Horse Ridge & Ostrander Hut, Yosemite National Park: I have never been to this corner of Yosemite National Park and it looks beautiful, especially in winter conditions.
  • Winter Alta, Pear Lake Hut & the Tablelands, Sequoia National Park: A visit in 2011 to the summit of Winter Alta was amazing. This time I hope to explore further along the Tablelands with a summit of Big Bird Peak and close views of the Great Western Divide.
  • Mount Williamson, John Muir Wilderness: Lots of vertical to reach the summit of the second highest mountain in the Sierra Nevada mountain range and the state of California. Williamson also has one of the best views of the Kaweah Range and the Great Western Divide.
  • Mount Whitney, John Muir Wilderness: It would be great to ascend the highest point in the contiguous United States in winter conditions.

Hopefully I will get to a few of these this winter!

Dinkey Lakes Wilderness & Three Sisters

The afternoon prior to the Hell for Sure Lake & Red Mountain adventure run, I decided to make a quick exploration to the Dinkey Lakes Wilderness area to the west of Courtright Reservoir. This 30,000 acre wilderness area was added to the National Wilderness Preservation system in 1984 and features numerous alpine and subalpine lakes and a granitic crest with several peaks over 10,000 feet. I decided to make a small tour of the region including Cliff Lake, Rock Lake, Second Dinkey Lake and Island Lake. The trails in this region are moderate and very runnable. I also climbed the highest point in the wilderness, Three Sisters, at 10,619 feet. This climb was not without complexity for me as deep and slippery snow on the north slopes caused me to misjudge my route and ultimately retreat off a precarious position on icy granite cliffs. After adjustment, I made my way to the summit of Three Sisters via a more circuitous but safer route. The panoramic views of the entire High Sierra to the east are breathtaking. However, since the Dinkey crest is so far removed from the High Sierra, the distant view of the mountains is diminutive compared to the close encounters I am accustomed to on my adventures immediately beneath the peaks. The whole outing was only a bit over 4 hours, but it became cold and dark for the last 4 miles of running back to the reservoir. The snow definitely enhanced the scenery and my favorites are below with more here.

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Hell for Sure Lake & Red Mountain

Fall is a beautiful time in the High Sierra and some of my most memorable experiences have come during this season. This year was no exception with many great outings. On my last adventure run in the High Sierra before the peaks became buried in snow, I explored a region of the range I have yet to see (as hard as that might be to believe) – the LeConte Divide. This often overlooked area west of the Sierra Crest features spectacular scenery and numerous opportunities for off-trail exploration. The LeConte Divide is quite rugged belying its lower elevation compared to it’s neighbors to the east. It’s also one of the more remote sections of the range and therefore solitude can easily be achieved. All of the peaks along the Leconte Divide are guarded by long approaches as some are well over 20 miles away from the nearest trailhead, and that’s just to reach the base of the peaks. These approaches are ideal for adventure running as they are fairly moderate (runnable) and are within the montane forest zone for a large portion (not much scenery to distract). Since the LeConte Divide is so remote, only a handful of peaks have names and the remainder are simply identified by their altitude. The peaks along the divide harbor dozens of gorgeous alpine lakes, tarns and meadows; quintessential Sierra scenery.

For my first trip to this region, I started out at Courtright Reservoir (which features numerous domes for quality rock climbing) and headed to Red Mountain Basin where I ascended to Hell for Sure Lake, over 15 miles from the trailhead and much of that mileage in the forest. I’m curious what is the origin and etymology of the name “Hell for Sure” since this region is simply stunning – beautiful for sure! This late in the season, I encountered substantial snow on the last few miles above 9,000 feet, but it was well worth the effort to reach the lake, which features a backdrop of the sheer north face of Mount Hutton. I continued from the lake up a steep path to Hell for Sure Pass with a perfectly framed view of Hell for Sure Lake below. After a few photos at the pas, I headed up snow slopes to the summit of Red Mountain where I encountered much post-holing along the way. Finally at the summit, I marveled at the 360 degree views including the Sierra Crest, Goddard Canyon, the LeConte Divide, and the Sierra foothills. I could see all the way to the peaks of Yosemite high country to the north and the Great Western Divide to the south. The position of the LeConte Divide to the west of the crest affords great views up and down the High Sierra. The best view of all, however, was Red Mountain Basin immediately below, with at least seven shimmering lakes tucked beneath Mount Hutton and Hell for Sure Lake being the large centerpiece. Back at Hell for Sure Lake after the descent from Red Mountain, I made a diversion to Horseshoe Lake at the foot of Mount Hutton. The route was mainly  along the shores of Hell for Sure Lake over granite slabs and patches of unconsolidated snow. Unlike Hell for Sure Lake, Horseshoe Lake is aptly named with an obvious horseshoe shape. This lake is perhaps the most stunning in a basin filled with spectacular lakes. Horseshoe Lake is situated among polished granite cliffs, clumps of trees and the north face of Mount Hutton towering directly above. I enjoyed this trip so much that it produced at least three new ideas to visit other parts of the LeConte Divide in the future, including Bench Valley and it’s numerous lakes, Mount Reinstein & Ambition Lake, and Finger Peak & Cathedral Lake. Beyond the LeConte Divide, I’m particularly interested in the upper Goddard Creek valley area and lake 10,232, one of the most remote spots in all of the Sierra with no trail accessibility for miles around.  I would also like to revisit Red Mountain basin for further exploration including an ascent of Mount Hutton and stops at Devils Punchbowl, Little Shot Lake and Big Shot Lake. Complete photo gallery here.