Sea to Sky to Valley and Back: Stone Memorial Loop

Silver Lupine, Stone Ridge and Cone Peak The Stone Ridge Sea to Sky is a classic Big Sur route from the Pacific Ocean to the summit of Cone Peak ascending over 5,000 feet in a little over 5 miles. The Carrizo Trail combined with the North Ridge is the interior version of Stone Ridge Sea…

The Drain via Cabezo Prieto

“The Drain” is an aesthetic and spectacular route that ascends from the depths of the Ventana Creek Cirque to the summit of Ventana Double Cone in the most rugged coastal terrain of the lower 48.  The route provides an authentic sense of adventure in a truly wild canyon that is rugged and unspoiled.   The feature…

2018 Snow Cone Roundup

It’s past mid-April, temperatures are warming and wildflowers are blooming higher up the mountains. The snow cone season is coming to an end.  Snow events happen occasionally in April, and in fact it snowed an inch or so earlier this week, but the chances for a large snow event are rapidly diminishing.  Now is a…

Cone Above the Clouds, 2018 Edition

I have written about Cone Peak many times on this blog, a mountain that I call the “King of Big Sur.”  Cone Peak rises 5,155 ft above the Pacific Ocean in less than three miles as the crow flies, making it one of the steepest gradients from ocean to summit in the contiguous United States….

Uncovered Route: The Window & Kandlbinder via Cabezo Prieto

Kandlbinder Peak and the Window are two of the more remote spots in the Ventana Wilderness.  For extensive background on these spectacular locations see a prior post here.  Prior to the Soberanes Fire the standard route to both Kandlbinder and the Window was via the Pico Scout Camp up the Little Sur River and then…

Black Cone Loop

The Black Cone Trail bisects one of the most remote regions of the Ventana Wilderness from Pine Ridge to Strawberry Valley with outstanding views of the seldom-seen North Fork Big Sur River drainage and Ventana Double Cone.  The trail has a reputation for being rugged and difficult with sloping tread, brush and lack of reliable…

Return to Ventana Double Cone

With the unreasonably long closure post-Soberanes Fire finally over, it was time to return to Ventana Double Cone.  If Cone Peak is the King of the Big Sur Coast, Ventana Double Cone is the Queen of the Ventana Wilderness. Rising 4,853 ft above sea level, no other peak in the Ventana Wilderness possesses such a rugged face…

Photo Guide: Carrizo Trail & North Ridge

The Carrizo Trail and North Ridge Route is the inland version of the classic and well-known Stone Ridge Sea to Sky route on Cone Peak’s south face (of which there are many posts on this blog). In less than 7 miles the route travels from the Milpitas Special Interest Area at the North Fork San…

The Science of Snow Cone

The “Snow Cone” is somewhat of a mythical event to experience. A snow on Cone Peak is not rare in itself, but rather the ability to experience and capture a fresh snow. Most years have snow on Cone Peak, and sometimes multiple times per year, but as I will describe, they are virtually always difficult to…

Cone Above the Clouds

Since the non-winter travel season in the Sierra ended I’ve been fairly active in Big Sur but have not blogged on those trips, partially due to time constraints, but mostly because I have already posted on these particular routes many times in the past. The Soberanes Fire burned a good deal of the Ventana Wilderness…

Pine Valley

Jack English’s passing on March 3 at the age of 96 brought back memories of my first visit to the Ventana Wilderness in November 2009, a point-to-point run from China Camp down the Carmel River to Los Padres Dam with Gary Gellin and Jim Moyles. It was an amazing introduction to the Ventana and I…

Marble Meadows & Boronda Lupine

One can find some wildflowers in Big Sur virtually any time of the year, but the time of year when the hillsides erupt with sky lupine and poppy lasts only a few short weeks in the Spring. The season can start as early as mid March and can run as late as mid May with the wildflowers starting first…