2014 Adventure Recap

From Big Sur to the High Sierra, 2014 was another tremendous year of adventures. As I did in 2013 and past years (links to past year’s recaps located on right sidebar of homepage), this post lists all of the adventures for 2014 in chronological order with a link to the blog post, where available, or photo album. My most notable adventure the year was completing the John Muir Trail in a new FKT, and in the process holding the FKTs for three of the most famous and iconic trails in the High Sierra at the same time: the High Sierra Trail, the John Muir Trail and the Rae Lakes Loop.  I am grateful to have the opportunity to make these improvements in the FKT/adventure sport in the High Sierra. I also achieved FKTs in the California coastal ranges including Big Sur and the Lost Coast. I have no doubt these times will be lowered in the future. However, much more than any time or split, what stands out the most as I look back on 2014 and my entire portfolio of adventures is the volume of experiences I’ve had exploring wild and rugged places in the mountains. The greatest award or achievement I can find in this sport is not a place or a ranking, but the joy of exploration and discovery of the splendors of nature. Being in the wilderness is a visceral and spiritual experience that is far form the pageantry and commercialization of organized sports. From sea to summit, I hope 2015 finds me on many more adventures!

  1. Cabezo-Molera Loop (January 4, 2014)
  2. Buckeye Loop (January 5, 2014)
  3. Mount Mars (January 5, 2014) 
  4. Big Sur Trail (January 11, 2014) 
  5. La Ventana Loop (January 15, 2014)
  6. Santa Lucia Three Peaks (January 25, 2014) 
  7. Circular Pools (January 26, 2014) 
  8. Shouey-Plaskett Loop (February 1, 2014)
  9. Stone Ridge Direct (February 1, 2014)
  10. Shouey-Plaskett Loop (February 15, 2014)
  11. Kirk Creek Ridge (February 15, 2014)
  12. Pico Blanco-Little Sur Loop (February 16, 2014)
  13. Cabezo-Molera Loop (February 23, 2014) 
  14. South Coast Adventure (February 24, 2014)
  15. Berry Creek Falls via Waddell Beach (March 1, 2014) 
  16. Cone Peak’s North Ridge & Lost Valley (March 8, 2014)
  17. Partington to McWay, Julia Pfieffer Burns (March 15, 2014)
  18. Silver Peak Wilderness Loop, Lion Peak and Mt. Mars (March 16, 2014)
  19. King Range 50, King Range Wilderness (March 23, 2014)
  20. Boronda Ridge & Marble Peak (April 5, 2014)
  21. Prewitt Ridge & South Coast Ridge (April 6, 2014)
  22. Kandlbinder & Ventana Double Cone via the Drain (April 13, 2014)
  23. Stone Ridge Direct Loop & Cone Peak (April 19, 2014)
  24. East Molera Ridge & Post Summit (April 20, 2014) 
  25. Cone Peak via Vicente Flat FKT & Stone Ridge Descent (April 26, 2014) 
  26. Big Sur Station to Bottcher’s Gap via Ventana Double Cone (May 4, 2014)
  27. Big Creek Reserve (May 10, 2014)
  28. Prewitt & Boronda Wildflowers (May 11, 2014)
  29. Humboldt Redwoods – Bull Creek, Rockefeller, Founders (May 23 & 26, 2014)
  30. Jedediah Smith Redwoods (May 24, 2014) 
  31. Damnation Creek – Del Norte Coast Redwoods (May 24, 2014) 
  32. Prairie Creek Redwoods (May 24 & 25, 2014): Fern Canyon; Rhododendron 
  33. Patrick’s Point and Trinidad (May 25, 2014) 
  34. Goat Mountain (May 31, 2014)
  35. Mt. Bago and Mt. Rixford via Road’s End (June 1, 2014)
  36. Granite Balconies (June 8, 2014)
  37. Complete Lost Coast (June 15, 2014) 
  38. Roof of Yosemite Loop (June 23, 2014)
  39. Virginia Peak via Viginia Lakes (June 28, 2014)
  40. Arrow Peak Northeast Ridge via Taboose Pass (June 29, 2014)
  41. Conness Lakes (July 4, 2014) 
  42. Observation Peak and Palisades Sierra High Route (July 5, 2014)
  43. Whorl Mountain & Sawtooth Loop (July 12, 2014)
  44. Mount Davis (July 13, 2014)
  45. Redwood Creek & Sykes Hot Springs (July 27, 2014)
  46. Tower Peak (August 2, 2014)
  47. John Muir Trail FKT (August 15-18, 2014)
  48. Pyramid Peak & Window Peak Lake (August 31, 2014)
  49. Electra Loop – Electra Peak and Lyell Fork Merced River (September 7, 2014)
  50. Black Giant, Charybdis & Mini Evolution Loop (September 13, 2014)
  51. Santa Lucia Wilderness (September 20, 2014)
  52. Montaña de Oro State Park Loop (September 21, 2014) 
  53. Andrew Molera (September 28, 2014)
  54. Ericsson & Genevra (October 4, 2014)
  55. Crique Crest Loop: Windy Point & Marion Peak (October 12, 2014)
  56. Red Mountain Basin Loop: Mount Henry and Red Mountain (October 26, 2014)
  57. Stone Ridge and Cone Peak Loop (November 2, 2014) 
  58. Diving Board (November 8, 2014)
  59. Wildcat Point, Cold Mountain & Tuolumne Domes (November 9, 2014)
  60. Pine Mountain Ridge, Reyes Peak and Haddock Mountain (November 15, 2014) 
  61. Cathedral-Tunnel Loop (November 16, 2014) 
  62. Dutra-County Line Loop (November 22, 2014)
  63. Pt. 2866 (Soda Peak) (November 22, 2014) [coming soon]
  64. Boronda Turkey Trot (November 27, 2014) [coming soon]
  65. Pico Blanco North Ridge (November 28, 2014) [coming soon]
  66. Marble Peak 50k+ (December 6, 2014) [coming soon]
  67. Big Sur Condor Loop – Anderson Peak Direct (December 13, 2014) [coming soon]
  68. Berry Creek Falls Loop via Waddell Beach (December 20, 2014) [coming soon]
  69. Soberanes Loop (December 21, 2014) [coming soon]
  70. Summit Rock-Castle Rock Loop (December 25, 2014) [coming soon]
  71. Big Sur Paradise (December 26, 2014) [coming soon]
  72. Alta Vista and Ewoldsen Loop (December 27, 2014) [coming soon]
  73. Coast Ridge including Twin, Cone, Mining Ridge, Marble and Timber Top (December 28, 2014) [coming soon]

2012 Adventure Run Recap

2012 was a fantastic year of adventure running with a diverse set of outings, each with amazing scenery. The following is a recap of the year’s adventures with some of my favorite photographs.

Clouds Rest via Yosemite Valley (May 20, 2012): Clouds Rest is a colossal granite formation with striking prominence. At 9,926 ft, it is not nearly the tallest mountain in Yosemite, but it’s close proximity and unobstructed perch above Yosemite Valley provides spectacular views and a unique vantage of both the high country and the valley. In a 360 degree panorama, one can gaze over to Half Dome, the Clark Range, Tuolumne Meadows. The most impressive feature of Clouds Rest is its northwest face, an immense granite slab polished by glaciers and descending 5,000 ft below to the base of Tenaya Canyon. I have hiked up Clouds Rest previously via Tioga Rd, but this was my first time via Yosemite Valley and it’s a great route and worth the extra efforts. Photos here and here.

Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne (May 28, 2012): The Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne is a rugged, wild and remote corner of Yosemite National Park. I completed this point-to-point adventure in 2010 and couldn’t wait to return this year. In 2010, we did the trip in July, but due to the unusually dry winter season resulting in meager snowpack, the trail was snow-free and we found similar water volume this year in late May as we did in mid-July 2010. Due to the fact that White Wolf campground and lodge were not opened yet, we decided to leave the car at Lukens Lake which added a few extra miles to the trip, bonus over the standard 50k distance (~33 miles total). Complete photo album here.

Emigrant Wilderness 30 Mile Loop (June 3, 2012): The Emigrant Wilderness is located north of Yosemite National Park and accessed via the Sonora Pass Highway. There are several trailheads that access this vast wilderness of glacier polished granite, lakes and meadows. For my first exploration into this region I decided to do a 30 mile loop out of the Crabtree Trailhead above Dodge Ridge/Pinecrest to visit a series of lakes. It’s nice that this trailhead is under three hours from the Bay Area, probably the closest area of the Sierra mountains from the Bay. Each of the lakes on the route deeper into the wilderness became progressively more scenic starting with Camp Lake, Piute Lake, Gem Lake, Jewelry Lake and the highlight of the loop was Upper and Lower Buck Lakes, which featured a great backdrop of granite walls. I also enjoyed Wood Lake as I began my return via Pine Valley. Photos here.

Forsyth Peak & Sister Lakes (June 9, 2012): The Sister Lakes region describes a chain of lakes that straddle the northern border of Yosemite National Park and Hoover Wilderness. The name “Sister” aptly describes the names of these lakes, which include Stella, Harriett, Helen, Ruth, Bonnie, Cora and Dorothy. Forsyth Peak serves as a rugged backdrop for all of these lakes with its permanent snowfields and impressive north face. Dorothy Lake Pass (on the Sierra crest) marks the actual boundary line between Yosemite and Hoover and Dorothy Lake is the only lake that actually lies in the national park (south of the pass) and flows into the Hetch Hetchy drainage and ultimately the Pacific Ocean. The other lakes (north of the pass) drain into the Walker River and the Great Basin. Photos here.

Granite Dome & its lakes (June 10, 2012): Aptly named Granite Dome is an immense granite massif with numerous basins occupied by stunning alpine lakes. All of the lakes are located on the northern side of the massive ridge that culminates in the summit while the south side features much less rock and more meadows. The region is accessed via Kennedy Meadows and features a moderately steep trail to reach Relief Reservoir and beyond, and then off-trail travel along granite slabs to reach a series of lakes including Lewis Lakes (lower, middle, upper), Sardella Lake, Ridge Lake and Iceland Lake. In my opinion Ridge Lake is the centerpiece nestled beneath the towering cliffs of the Granite dome summit. Photos here.

Big Bird & Deadman Canyon (June 17, 2012): The Great Western Divide region of the Southern High Sierra is one of my favorite spots in the entire range. On this day I scoped out a spectacular figure-8 loop out of Wolverton in Sequoia National Park that is mostly off-trail and stays high above the tree line nearly the entire way. The eastern loop of the figure-8 is the more challenging portion with big elevation changes and slab scrambling while the western loop is easy, open cross-country terrain. There was amazing clarity for mid-June with the Central Valley clearly visible over 10,000 feet below.Total time for the ~40 mile route was 13:36 roundtrip. Photos here.

Hyatt Lake Loop (June 24, 2012): Another adventure run into the Emigrant Wilderness, this time a spectacular off-trail loop departing the Pine Valley trail at Louse Canyon and including Hyatt Lake, Big Lake and Pingree Lake (complete photo album here). The stretch between Big Lake and Hyatt Lake was my favorite section with a continuous slab of granite arcing across the entire basin, a stretch that I called the “Granite Highway.”

Lost Coast – King Range (July 7, 2012): The Lost Coast is a spectacular meeting of land and ocean along the most undeveloped, remote and rugged stretch of coastline along the U.S. West Coast. I was eager to return here after an amazing experience in 2010 (see 2010 TRs: King RangeSinkyone). The northern portion of the Lost Coast is protected by the King Range National Conservation Area and 42,585 acres received Federal Wilderness designation on October 17, 2006. The southern portion is protected in Sinkyone Wilderness State Park, named after the Sinkyone Indians that lived on this part of the coast. The two sections are split by Shelter Cove, a small community of mainly vacation homes, but the parts are completely different in terms of the overall feel and experience. The northern 26 mile section in the King Range NCA from the Mattole River to Black Sands Beach at Shelter Cove is primarily a beach walk with two-thirds of the distance spent on sand, gravel, and rock-hopping and the remaining third on trails just above the beach on the bluffs. The southern 27 mile section from Hidden Valley to Usal Beach in the Sinkyone is entirely on the bluffs above the ocean with arduous climbs and narrow, brushy trails in the forest – a true adventure run with over 7,000 feet of elevation gain. The northern part features sweeping oceanside views at every step while the southern part has inspiring vistas from atop rugged cliffs. Complete album here.

Lost Coast – Sinkyone (July 8, 2012):  Part II of the Lost Coast adventure run is from Chamise Mountain to Usal Beach. Due to the remarkably persistent fog, the coastal vistas that I knew existed from the 2010 trip were not visible. Complete album here.

Desolation Six Summits (July 15, 2012): The Desolation Wilderness is the most rugged region near Lake Tahoe with the star attraction being Lake Aloha set amidst the granite slopes of the Crystal Range. Since it’s relatively accessible to Lake Tahoe, it is the most visited wilderness area in the United States per square foot. While there is no shortage of people on the trails on a busy summer weekend, I still found plenty of solitude in this granite playground. This adventure entailed an aesthetic ridge route climbing the six highest summits in the Desolation Wilderness over 11h42m roundtrip out of the Mount Ralston Trailhead.  Complete photo album of the six summits loop here.

Ritter-Banner Loop (July 29, 2012): Mount Ritter, Banner Peak and the Minarets are collectively the centerpieces of the Ansel Adams Wilderness. With numerous lovely alpine lakes surrounding these mountains and their close proximity to Mammoth Lakes it is no wonder this region is so popular with hikers and backpackers. It had been since 2007 since I last climbed Ritter and Banner and three years since I was in the Ansel Adams Wilderness (I did a climb of Clyde Minaret in 2009) so it was time to return this past July 29th. I aimed to do an aesthetic loop of the region and tour as many of the spectacular alpine lakes as possible (and take a ton of photos), particularly timing Garnet and Thousand Island Lake in the early morning when I figured (correctly) that lighting would be ideal. Many photos here.

Ptarmigan Traverse FKT (August 16, 2012): Uli Steidl and I completed the Ptarmigan Traverse in 12h17m a new FKT. It has been three years since I last enjoyed the Ptarmigan Traverse so it was time to come back to see some of the most beautiful scenery in the Cascades and refresh the prior FKT. Complete photo album here.

Suiattle Crest 50 Mile (August 20, 2012): I returned to repeat the Suiattle Crest 50 mile adventure run on August 20th. The original run was done on August 4, 2009 in 13h37m. Last week I completed it in 11h44m (1h53m faster). This complete loop, entailing six passes, covers most of the highlights in this region of the Glacier Peak Wilderness including a breathtaking view from Little Giant Pass, a tour through wild Napeequa Valley, 360 vistas from the High Pass area, verdant wildflower meadows, stunning Lyman Lakes, and Spider Gap. It’s quintessential North Cascades scenery – well worth a revisit after three years. Compete photo album here.

Desolation Marathon (August 25, 2012): My second visit to the Desolation Wilderness was in late August for an extremely pleasant loop entirely on trails that hits most of the highlights in the region including great views of Emerald Bay, vistas from Dicks Pass, and gorgeous Lake Aloha. Total mileage according to GPS was just under 26 miles, hence the “Desolation Marathon Loop” name. Complete photo album here.

Cottonwood Lakes (September 1, 2012): An acclimation hike the day before the High Sierra Trail with visit to these lovely lakes beneath Mount Langley.

High Sierra Trail FKT (September 2, 2012): I ran the 72 mile High Sierra Trail from Whitney Portal to Crescent Meadow in 15h46m starting at 3:19 am and finishing at 7:05 pm, a new FKT (previous mark was 18h39m). The High Sierra Trail is a masterpiece of Sequoia National Park traveling from the iconic giant sequoias to the highest point in the lower 48, and passing through some of the most stunning scenery in the Sierra Nevada Mountains en route. It was a great experience in an immensely scenic region of the High Sierra. Complete photo album here.

Parsons Loop (September 8, 2012): I remembered looking at Ireland Lake on the map and thinking it would be a neat spot to visit. I had also viewed the Lewis Creek Basin from Vogelsang Peak and wanted to explore the many alpine lakes I saw in the basin. A high pass separates Ireland Lake from Lewis Creek Basin including some cross country travel and scrambling on the west side of the pass making for a logical loop. We could also ascend to the summit of Parsons Peak about 700 vertical feet above the pass for sweeping views of the Yosemite high country.

Mount Dana (September 22, 2012): An acclimation hike the day before the  Evolution Loop with great views of the Yosemite high country.

Evolution Loop (September 23, 2012): The Evolution Loop is a magnificent route through some of the most inspiring terrain in the High Sierra. Technically the route is not a loop as the start and finish are at different locations (more accurately, it’s a horseshoe) utilizing the North Lake and South Lake trailheads (note: the trail and/or road segment that links these two trailheads would not be fun).  On ran the “loop” in 12h15m from North Lake to South Lake, which set a standard for speed on the route, starting at 5:01 am and finishing at 5:15 pm. The adventure entails ~55-56 miles and 10,000+ ft elevation gain including three high passes – Piute Pass (11,400 ft), Muir Pass (12,000 ft), and Bishop Pass (11,960 ft). About 25 miles of the route are on the John Muir Trail passing by the famous Muir Hut at Muir Pass. The scenery was stunning as expected, and even enhanced by afternoon cumulus clouds that created shade contrast on the granite. I couldn’t resist spending a fair amount of time on photography on both sides of Muir Pass from Evolution Lake to Helen Lake.The loop was later done in 10.5 hrs so I guess I’m leaving the camera at home next time instead of taking 300 photos. Complete photo album here.

Rae Lakes Loop & Mount Cotter via Sixty Lakes Basin (September 30, 2012): It has been a couple years since I visited the marvelous Rae Lakes region so it was time to return. However, having run the loop straight through twice in the past (deep snow in 2009 and FKT of 7:29:50 in 2010) I thought it was time for something new and Sixty Lakes Basin was intriguing place I’ve been wanting to explore. It also made sense to climb Mount Cotter as part of my explorations in Sixty Lakes Basin. After completing a photography extravaganza in the Sixty Lakes Basin, I decided to finish out the loop and descended towards Woods Creek and Paradise Valley. Complete photo album here.

Sabrina Basin (October 20, 2012): I was last in Sabrina Basin in May 2007 for an overnight peakbagging outing with amazing memories of this strikingly beautiful region. My photo session at Sailor Lake on that trip produced one of my all time favorite mountain scenery photos. It was time to return. I had just enough time to squeeze in a morning run to Hungry Packer Lake and make it back in time for a run to Dusy Basin later that afternoon. On this morning there was some breeze that precluded the type of mirror-like reflection in Sailor Lake that I had witnessed in 2007, but further explorations to Hungry Packer Lake’s outlet yielded some nice shots. I climbed up the ridgelines on both sides of Hungry Packer Lake to gain 360 degree views of the Sabrina Basin. The crisp and clear autumn air produced superlative clarity. A dusting of snow on the north and east facing slopes made it magical. Among my favorite scenes from this outing was a patch of pine snags above the Hungry Packer Lake. The contrast of the reddish orange snags with the deep blue lake and granite was mesmerizing. Complete photo album here.

Dusy Basin (October 20, 2012): While I have made the trek from South Lake to Bishop Pass and into Dusy Basin several times, the magnificent views of the Palisades never cease to inspire. Mount Agassiz, Mount Winchell, and North Palisade collectively form a wall of granite that towers above the basin filled with numerous alpine lakes. Aptly named Isosceles Peak is especially striking from the southern part of the basin and perfectly frames the Palisades “wall.” Columbine Peak and Giraud Peak complete the 360 panorama of rock and ruggedness. On this day, the concept was to do a loop through the upper part of the basin, a “tour de Dusy” and hit some of my favorite photography spots in the process. Complete photo album here.

Finger Lake (October 21, 2012): Finger Lake is a Sierra gem beneath the towering walls of Middle Palisade and Norman Clyde Peak. The aptly named lake is flanked by granite cliffs and features a glacial turquoise color emanating glacial remnants above. Complete photo album here.

Kuna & Koip (October 28, 2012): At just over 13,000 feet, Kuna Peak is the third highest point in Yosemite National Park behind Mount Lyell and Mount Dana. The summit provides a spectacular view of the Yosemite high country and Ansel Adams Wilderness including the entire Cathedral Range and Ritter Range. To the south lies Mammoth Mountain and the southern High Sierra while the north features Tuolumne Meadows, the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne and peaks of Northern Yosemite. The centerpiece of the view is from the rugged peaks of Banner Peak, Mount Ritter and Rodgers Peak to the “Roof of Yosemite” including Mount Lyell and Mount Maclure.  The view is not dissimilar from that achieved on Mount Dana, but Kuna is perched much closer to the Cathedral Range and Ritter Range with a direct and unobstructed view into Lyell Canyon. Complete photo album here.

Dinkey Lakes Wilderness & Three Sisters (November 3, 2012): I made a small tour of this Wilderness Area west of the Sierra crest 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.

Hell for Sure & Red Mountain (November 4, 2012): 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. 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! I ascended Red Mountain where I marveled at the 360 degree views including the Sierra Crest, Goddard Canyon, the LeConte Divide, and the Sierra foothills. 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. Perhaps the prettiest lake in the basin is Horseshoe Lake, situated among polished granite cliffs, clumps of trees and the north face of Mount Hutton towering directly above.

2012 Adventure Run Ideas – Cascades

The North Cascades of Washington state are a special place. These mountains were the inception of my adventure running in 2006. While I do many more trips in the High Sierra these days, I always look forward to a trip up to WA to visit some of my favorite mountains. The North Cascades have a unique character as glistening white glaciers beneath rugged summit pinnacles juxtapose deep green valleys choked with brush and forest. Here are a few ideas for this year:

  • Isolation Traverse: The traverse from Snowfield Peak to Eldorado Peak is the missing link to two areas that I have visited many times. I’m especially interested in views of the immense McAllister Glacier icefall and an up-close view of Backbone ridge. 
  • Pickets Westside: From Hannegan Pass to Diablo Lake, this route through the Pickets is even more remote and rugged than 2010’s Luna Cirque Traverse and passes underneath the towering walls of the Southern Picket “fence.” The terrain is arduous and challenging so the Westside is only traversed a couple times a year, if at all. Intense summit names like Challenger, Fury, Terror, Crooked Thumb, and Phantom manifest the difficulty of reaching this fabled region and there is virtually no evidence of human impact.
  • Mount Redoubt & Mount Spickard: The Redoubt region is located near the Canadian border and it’s been a long time since I’ve visited this highly scenic corner of the North Cascades. It would be nice to do the Redoubt High Route to Whatcom Pass with stupendous views of the Picket Range. 
  • Luna Peak: The highest point in the Picket Range, Luna Peak also offers the best view with its eastern position offset from the crest of the Northern and Southern Picket Range. The view from the summit at sunrise is pictured below and I would like to return to watch another sunrise from its summit. Plus, it’s been a couple years since I’ve had the honor of battling the Access Creek bushwhack!
  • Mount Logan: I have climbed Mount Logan twice, but the view from the summit of the Eldorado Ice Cap and Boston Glacier is breathtaking. This mountain is one of the more remote summit in the range, but lends itself to running with a long approach on trail.
  • Mount Formidable: A summit along the Ptarmigan Traverse that I climbed in 2005. This summit provides amazing views in all directions and the approach is equally scenic.
  • Wonderland Trail: The 94 mile loop around Mount Rainier has been on my mind for a few years. This outing entails a lot of planning and preparation so I’m not sure it will get done this year, but we’ll see if the opportunity presents itself.
Past adventure run ideas for the Cascades: 

Photo Locations:

  1. Dome Peak from White Rock Lakes, 2008
  2. The Southern Pickets from the summit of Luna Peak, 2005
  3. View from Austera Peak, 2011
  4. Mount Challenger and Whatcom Peak reflect in Tapto Lakes, 2005
  5. Ridge to Mount Fury, 2008
  6. View of the Eldorado Ice Cap from the summit of Forbidden Peak, 2006
  7. Dana Glacier, 2008
  8. View of Boston Glacier from the summit of Mount Logan, 2006
  9. View of the Dakobed Range from near High Pass, 2009
  10. Southern Pickets from the summit of West McMillan Spire, 2011

2012 Adventure Run Ideas – High Sierra

I have been fortunate enough to explore some amazing spots in the High Sierra over the last few years, but the outstanding scenery in the “range of light” keeps me coming back for more. Virtually every trip features a stunning combination of rugged granite peaks, placid alpine lakes and colorful meadows in an authentic wilderness setting. The High Sierras are a special place. Following are some adventure run ideas for next summer:

  • Glacier Ridge and Big Wet Meadow: One of the most remote spots in the entire range. In fact, just to reach Big West Meadows to get a glimpse of the Whaleback and Glacier Ridge requires a 40 mile round trip hike/run with substantial elevation gain and loss in both directions. However, the sheer granite cliffs rising above the picturesque meadows is simply magical. Last year I climbed the Whaleback itself but this time I’d like to ascend Glacier Ridge, the high point across the valley to the West. Glacier Ridge is a striking aiguille rising from an immense granite ridgeline. Panoramic views from the top include the Great Western Divide and Kaweah Range. 
  • Mount Winchell: A member of the Palisades subrange, the most alpine region in the High Sierra. I’ve heard the class three route up the summit is lots of fun and a trip up the North Fork Big Pine drainage is always a pleasure.
  • Ritter & Banner: Last climbed in 2007, it has been awhile since I have visited these two summits that form the centerpiece of the Ansel Adams Wilderness. This time I intend to make a large loop out of Agnew Meadows including Garnet Lake, Thousand Island Lake, Lake Catherine and Lake Ediza.
  • High Sierra Trail – Whitney Portal to Crescent Meadows: This magnificent route stretches 72 miles from Whitney Portal on the eastern side of the Sierras to Crescent Meadows on the western side in Sequoia National Park. The trip includes a big ascent of Mount Whitney right from the start but is largely downhill afterwards (except for the gradual ascent up to Kaweah Gap). This trail features stunning scenery throughout and passes through one of the most magnificent basins in the High Sierra in Hamilton Lakes and the Valhallas. The primary logistical problems don’t involve the trail and are twofold: (1) obtaining a permit to hike in Whitney Trail, even if it will likely be ascended in the middle of the night, and (2) the car shuttle with a substantial amount of driving to get from the start to the finish.
  • Arrow Peak & Bench Lake: The view of Arrow Peak from Bench Lake is one of the classic views in the Sierra. It’s quite a slog to get back there via Taboose Pass as the climb literally starts in the desert of Owens Valley, but it looks like it will be worth it!
  • Observation Peak and Amphitheater Lake: A remote destination with long approach routes by any means. I would likely ascend Taboose Pass and then head up the John Muir Trail towards Mather Pass before splitting off just before the pass and heading cross country over a different pass to the west and through a basin to the objective. Amphitheater Lake looks spectacular!
  • Middle Palisade: A 14er in the rugged Palisades group that I climbed in 2009. It would be nice to return and go for a faster time, but I would not sacrifice enjoying stunning Finger Lake, with its turquoise glacial water and towering granite slabs (pictured below). 
  • Langley: Another great trail run up the southermost fourteener in the Sierras and one of the highest trailheads at over 10,000 feet. A loop around Langley/Cottonwood area has been on the list for awhile but it’s about as far from the Bay Area as you can get.  Hopefully I’ll get to it this season in conjunction with acclimation for a run of the High Sierra Trail.
  • Tower Peak: An impressive peak in Northern Yosemite accessed from below Sonora Pass. This trip looks to be around 35 miles roundtrip.
  • Mount Stanford: The “shyest” major peak in the Sierra, Mount Stanford just barely misses the 14,000 foot level so it is infrequently climbed, but I’ve got to climb the peak named after my alma mater at some point!
  • Northern Yosemite 50: delicious 50 mile loop in northern Yosemite originating at Twin Lakes and entailing five passes, including highlight stops at Peeler Lake, the Benson Lake Riviera, Matterhorn Canyon, and Sawtooth Ridge. I ran this loop last year, but it’s so good that I definitely want to return.
  • Palisades Circumnavigation: A complete tour of the Palisades Group including passage through five  high passes: Scimitar Pass, Potluck Pass, Thunderbolt Pass, and Jigsaw Pass.
Past adventure run ideas for the High Sierra:

Photo Locations: 

  1. Dusy Basin, 2011
  2. Finger Lake below Middle Palisade, 2009
  3. Bear Creek Spire from Long Lake, 2011
  4. Milestone Peak from Milestone Creek, 2011
  5. Banner Peak (center) and Mount Ritter (left) from Thousand Island Lake, 2007
  6. The Whaleback from Big Wet Meadow, 2011
  7. Fin Dome near Arrowhead Lake, 2010
  8. Picture Peak from Sailor Lake, 2007

2011 Adventure Run Recap

2011 was another great year for adventure running with lots of trips to the High Sierra and a couple in the North Cascades of Washington State. It was great to venture into some of the most remote regions in both ranges and see terrain I have never seen. I’m already looking forward to adventures in 2012 but here are some photos and links to full reports from the adventures of this past year. See 2010 recap here.

  1. Cone Peak “Sea to Sky” - January 29th: Second annual trip from the Big Sur Coast up to 5,155 ft Cone Peak with spectacular views and a redwood canyon. I’ve dreamed of doing this run when there is fresh snow atop Cone Peak so we’ll see if I can get lucky with timing this year. 
  2. Winter Alta Peak – January 31st: Amazing views of the Great Western Divide on this snowshoe trip out of Wolverton in Sequoia National Park. 
  3. Bear Creek Spire & Mount Dade – July 3rd: My second visit to this lovely basin with picturesque alpine lakes and rugged alpine beauty. 
  4. Mount Sill – July 4th: My second time up 14,159 ft Mount Sill, known as the best viewpoint in the High Sierra. The route features a crossing of the Palisade Glacier, largest body of ice remaining in the Sierra Nevada, surrounded by the towering walls of Mount Sill, North Palisade and Thunderbolt Peak. 
  5. Mount Lyell & Mount Maclure – July 9th: Improved my time by 65 minutes to 8:50 roundtrip for the climb of these two peaks that are the roof of Yosemite!  
  6. The Whaleback & Big Wet Meadows – July 23rd:  A 50 mile adventure run up Cloud Canyon and Big Wet Meadows to climb Whaleback, one of the most remote spots in the High Sierra. Incredible! 
  7. Primus, Austera & Eldorado – July 30th: Colin Abercrombie and I toured the Eldroado Ice Cap climbing Primus Peak, Austera Peak and Eldorado along the way. We started at 2 am and finished at 5:40 pm for a 15:40 day. It has been since 2005 that we explored the ice cap towards Austera so it was nice to return to this scenically stellar region and explore a new area beyond Austera to the North Klawatti Glacier and Primus Peak.
  8. West McMillan Spire – August 1st: Awesome climb of this impressive summit in the Southern Pickets in a new FKT of 8:14 roundtrip.  
  9. Northern Yosemite 50 Mile Loop – August 6th: An “instant classic” adventure run of a 50+ mile loop in the remote Northern Yosemite region beginning at Twin Lakes, and including five passes, the Benson Lake riviera and a summit of Volunteer Peak. I’ll definitely be returning to do this one again! 
  10. Milestone & Midway – September 3rd: An adventure run to climb Milestone Mountain (13,641 ft) and Midway Mountain (13,666 ft) along the Great Western Divide, two of the most remote points in the High Sierra. Milestone Creek and Basin are exceptionally scenic with lovely alpine lakes and tarns, polished granite, and the towering peaks of the Great Western Divide.  
  11. TRT-Flume Trail 27 Mile Loop – September 10th: Great 27+ mile loop in the northeast part of Lake Tahoe with nice trails and awesome views. 
  12. Eagle Scout Peak & Kaweah Gap – September 25th: An adventure run to Eagle Scout Peak via Kaweah Gap in 9:38 roundtrip from Crescent Meadows. Eagle Scout Peak is located just south of Kaweah Gap along the Great Western Divide in a remote region of Sequoia National Park. The climb of the 12,000 ft peak entails over 45 miles roundtrip and 8,000+ ft of elevation gain. While it’s a long way just to Kaweah Gap along the High Sierra Trail (21 miles from Crescent Meadow), the scenery is phenomenal and well worth the effort. The sapphire blue of Hamilton Lakes and the towering granite walls of Angel Wings and the Valhallas are truly magnificent.  
  13. Mount Dana – October 16th: A quick climb up this summit near Tioga Pass for early morning light on freshly snow covered peaks of the Yosemite high country. 
  14. Vogelsang Peak – October 16th: The afternoon part after Mount Dana was a climb of Vogelsang, with great trails and nice views. 
  15. Mount Conness via Young Lakes – October 23rd: Another spectacular fall day in the Sierras with an extremely scenic and pleasant climb of Mount Conness via Young Lakes. The route we took is one of the longer approaches to the mountain, but the views of Tuolumne Meadows and gorgeous Young Lakes along the way more than compensated. I did not have any expectations for Young Lakes but they turned out to be one of the highlights of the day and we spent considerable time at the main lower lake both on the trek in and on the way out. New snow on the surrounding cliffs of the Young Lakes cirque added to the beauty and this is a place I will definitely be returning to explore.
  16. Mount McDuffie & Ladder Lake – October 30th: My favorite adventure run of the year, Ladder Lake along the way to Mount McDuffie is one of the most rugged and wild corners of the High Sierra that I have seen. While the ascent of Mount McDuffie might not be the most aesthetic, the summit provides a magnificent vantage of most of the Palisades, the Ionian Basin, and Le Conte Canyon

Adventure Run Ideas 2011 – Cascades

The North Cascades are the most rugged and wild mountains in the contiguous United States. They are heavily glaciated and often difficult to access. I have been climbing in the North Cascades for many years and the breathtaking scenery never gets old. Here are some adventure run ideas I have for the Cascades this summer:


  • Westside Northern Pickets Traverse: From Hannegan Pass to Diablo Lake, this year’s route through the Pickets is even more remote and rugged than last year’s Luna Cirque Traverse and passes underneath the towering walls of the Southern Picket “fence.” The terrain is arduous and challenging so the Westside is only traversed a couple times a year, if at all. Intense summit names like Challenger, Fury, Terror, Crooked Thumb, and Phantom manifest the difficulty of reaching this fabled region and there is virtually no evidence of human impact.
  • Redoubt and Spickard: I visited this spectacular area near the Canadian border way back in 2004 in a climb of Mount Redoubt via Depot Creek. I’d like to return and climb Mount Spickard at some point since the summit has one of the best views in the entire North Cascades.
  • Isolation Traverse: A high traverse through the seldom visited region between Snowfield Peak and Eldorado Peak with views of the rugged McAllister Glacier cirque.
  • Wonderland Trail: This amazing 94 mile loop around Mount Rainier has been on my radar for a few years and it is definitely something I hope to do someday.

2011 Adventure Run Ideas – High Sierra

The spectacular High Sierra features almost limitless opportunities for exploration. Over the past few years I have had the opportunity to visit many places in the “range of light” but the gorgeous views and memorable experiences keep me coming back for more! Here are some adventure run ideas for the High Sierra for this summer:
  • The Whaleback and Big Wet Meadow: One of the most remote spots in the entire range, it takes 18 miles just to reach Big Wet Meadow in order to get a glimpse of The Whaleback, but I hear the views of the sheer granite cliffs and meadows are  magical. A trip here would be a good opportunity to climb peaks on the Great Western Divide, including Milestone, Midway, and Centennial.
  • Dusy Basin and North Palisade: A trip over Bishop Pass to Dusy Basin provides an awe-inspiring view of the West side of the Palisades group of extremely rugged peaks. Last year I climbed Mount Agassiz and Columbine Peak. Next time it would be nice to climb North Palisade, the highest point in the Palisades at 14,248 ft.
  • Palisades Circumnavigation: A complete tour of the Palisades Group including passage through five  high passes: Scimitar Pass, Potluck Pass, Thunderbolt Pass, and Jigsaw Pass.
  • Benson Lake Loop: A big loop (over 45  miles) out of Twin Lakes down to a large alpine lake with a full fledged beach and then up the spectacular Matterhorn canyon with great views of Sawtooth Ridge. This aesthetic loop has a nice chunk along the PCT. I visited the beginning and end of this loop last year on my run of the Crown Point Lollipop last year.
  • Hamilton Lakes and Kaweah Gap: Last year we visited this spectacular section of the High Sierra Trail and climbed Mount Stewart. This area has tremendous views and the magnificent amphitheater of rock walls of the Valhallas surrounding the Hamilton Lakes has been likened to a little Yosemite Valley. It was also great to visit Precipice Lake, location of Ansel Adams’ famous photo “Frozen Lake and Cliffs.” The only difference is that the entrance to this place is 16 miles from the nearest trailhead. The views were so amazing that I plan to return this year and climb a different peak, perhaps Eagle Scout Peak or Lion Rock. As a run, the High Sierra Trail from Crescent Meadow to Bearpaw camp is very enjoyable and runnable stretch of trail.
  • Arrow Peak via Bench Lake: The view of Arrow Peak from Bench Lake is one of the classic views in the Sierra. It’s quite a slog to get back there via Taboose Pass, but it looks like it will be worth it!
  • Lyell and Maclure: I climbed these peaks in 2008, but look forward to returning for a faster time. The first several miles along Lyell Canyon are mostly flat and smooth running.
  • Great Western Divide Traverse: One of the most remote and rugged areas in the High Sierra. These peaks form a spectacular skyline from the Sierra Crest. There are many options and routes up various peaks.
  • Russell-Whitney-Muir: Fun scrambling up Russell and the north face of Whitney on this very aesthetic loop of the Whitney region.
  • Mount Langley: Another great trail run up the southermost fourteener in the Sierras and one of the highest trailheads at over 10,000 feet.
  • John Muir Trail: 222 miles from Whitney Portal to Yosemite Valley, the JMT is one of the most famous trails in the world. At the very least, I’d like to cover significant portions of this trail that I have not already seen to prepare for a future speed attempt.