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…

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…

The Lost Grove

I’ve written in great detail about Santa Lucia Firs recently so I won’t repeat myself and describe the awesomeness of this tree again. The highest concentration of Santa Lucias (by far) is in the Carmel River drainage where the rocky, rugged terrain provides an ideal fire-proof habitat for the trees to thrive. The second greatest concentration…

Ventana Cone & Lion Rock

I enjoyed last year’s Ventana (single) Cone Adventure so much that I came back to explore a new ascent route up Ventana Cone and a new descent route from Lion Rock. I climbed both peaks on the Ventana Triple Crown route last year, but in my opinion climbing Ventana Cone and Lion Rock from the…

Sugar Falls

Sugar Falls was a splendid discovery in the Santa Lucia Mountains of Big Sur. The falls is tucked into a steep canyon and not visible from any trails or nearby high points. There are many gems of the Ventana Wilderness and Big Sur that have little or no information which makes it that much more…

Church Creek & Pine Valley

I have always been intrigued by the Church Creek and its massive sandstone formations. This canyon is rich in history and significance dating back to the Essalen Native Americans. I finally got around to visiting this awesome corner of the Ventana Wilderness on a beautiful spring day with patches of thick lupine on the ridges, a diverse…

Ventana Triple Crown

Deep within the Ventana Wilderness along a high ridge that separates the Carmel River drainage from the Big Sur River drainage lies some of the most remote, wild and unforgiving coastal terrain in the United States. Along this ridge are the three “Ventana Cones” including Ventana Double Cone, Ventana (single) Cone and South Ventana Cone….