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TR Ansel Adams Explorations June 2-5 2014

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TR Ansel Adams Explorations June 2-5 2014

Postby alpinemike » Tue Jun 10, 2014 2:57 pm

This trip was primarily focused on photography. I hauled a 4x5 inch wooden field camera into the wilderness with the intent on shooting photographic dry plates. I make the dry plates myself and coat them with my own emulsion. The idea of shooting dry plates in the wilderness has fascinated me since I learned about them. Exploring a photographic medium that essentially has been dead for almost a 100 years is exciting to say the least, but then to take images of places that may have never seen a dry plate was just impossible to pass up. I joked around saying that the Ansel Adams wilderness hasn't seen this medium since the day of Adams himself! So let's begin...

Day 1 Agnew Meadows to Ediza Lake 7.4 Miles
I started out around 10:30 from the trailhead. It felt so good to be out in the wilderness again exploring foreign territory. This was my first backpacking trip of the season and the first one in about 5 months. The trail was mellow for most of the way to the climb up to Shadow Lake. I definitely anticipated a nice climb that for me was going to tough since it's the first day and I had over 20 pounds of just camera gear on my back! I was also carrying my ice ax and gaiters and microspikes so all the extra weight really added up when it came to climbing up the dry exposed slope up Shadow Creek. All in good fun though... as the scenery was magnificent. The mosquitoes are bad around Agnew Meadow but on the trail they were fairly tame and even at Shadow Lake their presence was lacking. The view at Shadow Lake was unbelievably beautiful. I can definitely see at as being one of the single best day hikes in the entire range. I continued up the trail to meet the JMT which I had been on in this area 2 years prior. Then I headed out to Ediza Lake. Volcanic Ridge loomed overhead and the crown of snow the mountains around me wore greatly enhanced the starkness of the dark metamorphic rock. Eventually I made it to Ediza and I was astounded by its beauty. The walls and buttresses literally rose from the edge of the lake several thousand feet. Last summer I found the 2 most beautiful lakes in the Sierra that I had come across. Hamilton was in first place with Evolution in 2nd. But after coming across Ediza I would have to say that Ediza seals the deal for 2nd place. It's setting is so alpine with an air of greatness all around. So I ended up on the side of the lake that doesn't have camping allowed and thus I had to cross the outlet.. this proved to be impossible so I had to backtrack down a ways and take a crude use trail on the other side of the creek. This was technically not difficult but the terrain was challenging for my heavy load. As I ended up on the right side I saw my next obstacle was a large boulder field with no trail through it. Here it was very slow going with my heavy pack but I eventually made it to a place where I set up my camp. I soon took out my 4x5 camera and took a few shots of the evening light. It was just gorgeous. It was quite windy most of the evening there which kept the mosquitoes down but they came out in good vengeance when there wasn't wind. I set my alarm for 2 in the morning because I wanted to do some Milky Way shots. Those were amazing. I don't ever remember seeing a more beautiful sky.
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Agnew Meadow was very pretty this time of year.

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Beautiful Shadow Lake

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This is why Ediza ranks in the top 3 in my book!

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Sunsetting behind Mt. Ritter

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The night sky at Ediza was unreal!


Day 2 Ediza Lake to 1000 Island Lake 12.9 Miles
Today was going to be a fairly long day. I had plans to make it up to Cecile Lake with my 4x5 camera and then head back down to my camp and make my way over to 1000 Island Lake. I started out for Iceberg pretty early and the snow was still hard enough but not too icy. It took for about an hour's climb to get up there. When I saw the slope to get to Cecile I decided against it because it was still too icy and I would be waiting a long time for it to thaw out enough to travel on it safely. Iceberg though was as beautiful and stark as I could imagine. I took some photographs with the camera and decided to head back down. Got back to camp, packed up and made my way out to 1000 Island Lake. It was a straightforward trek with excellent weather. The mosquitoes even cooperated enough to not be existent. The views of Garnet Lake were phenomenal. I got to 1000 Island by late afternoon and was definitely a bit tired. Had a great dinner with magnificent views. The wind even died down. That night I also took more night shots of the Milky Way and they were spectacular with Banner Peak framed against the calm waters of 1000 Island Lake midst a sky that was ablaze with stars as far as the eye could see.
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Magnificent Iceberg Lake

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The camera I dragged up there. That's a 4x5 Wooden Tachihara Field Camera. The shot from it turned out amazing!


Day 3 The Climb on Banner Peak
Today was a special day. I had not climbed a high sierra peak in almost a year. My last one was Black Giant in July. This time though it would be much more technical with more fun involved. The first step was to get to North Glacier Pass. That was a fairly straightforward endeavor. The snow was hard enough to where you didn't sink in but soft enough to where cutting steps wasn't necessary. I finally reached the top and saw an amazing frozen Lake Catherine. I then saw my next objective. Getting up to Ritter-Banner Saddle. I get tell the chute on the saddle was completely snow covered from top to bottom. I personally am more comfortable on rock rather than snow. I still enjoy snow travel but something about rock seems more reassuring. So I decided to climb up a rocky ridge that jutted out on the western flank of Banner. I climbed this fairly easily. It was mostly class 3 and on occasion I'd throw in a class 4 move because it felt fun. I eventually saw though that my progress on rock was going to get blocked quickly as I soon came to cliffs. At this point I had one choice..get onto the snow chute and head for the saddle. That is exactly what I did, yet the way in which I did it at first was a bit mistaken. I jumped off of the rock onto the snow chute and decided I needed to head down a bit to get off the steeper slope and continue the trek up. Yet, my glissade to get down did not pan out as well as hoped for. I started sliding a bit fast on what seemed like a 50 degree slope and narrowly missed a rock by a few inches. The rock would not have hurt me much but it wouldn't have been fun to say the least. I eventually arrested no more than 100 feet from where I started but in the process I cut up my hands by the icy snow. I was not quick enough to think to put my gloves on beforehand. Now that's a mistake I won't be doing again! I arrested awkwardly though and was hanging on to my ice ax from top to bottom. I situated myself in a way so that I wouldn't keep sliding and was able to get my ice ax out and set it in the proper position. I bandaged up my hand and realized I still manged to get off the steeper section albeit a bit uncannily! I started up the slope to the saddle and kept feeling out the snow to make sure it wasn't iced up. On one particular section it was very slow going since I was practically cutting steps with my shoes making sure my footing was solid. I certainly did not want to slip here and have to self arrest. The thought of having to self arrest on that slope before reaching the bottom of frozen Lake Catherine was not a favorite of mine! Eventually though even at the steepest upper section of the saddle the snow was just right and I had no problems getting up. I made it to the top and was amazed by the way. I stood in awe over the edge of the saddle on the Eastern side as it was much steeper. I was definitely glad I was not climbing on that side of it and especially alone. So now I had the slog up a bunch of talus to get to the top of Banner. The route was not difficult for the most part ranging mostly Class 2 but there were some sections where a snow field covered a part and one had to climb around it and sometimes I just decided to do Class 3 instead of looking for the Class 2 route. After a lot of slogging I eventually made it to the top of the summit ridge. But alas I was fooled by a false summit! It was such a good false summit that I couldn't keep along the ridge... I had to downclimb almost a 100 feet just to get around the notch in the ridge. Eventually though I stood atop the top and was greeted by the most amazing of views. The range unfolded for me with dozens of peaks capped in a magnificent layer of snow that gleamed in the noon sun. I thanked the mountain for letting me have safe passage up to the top of it. Now, it was of course a matter of returning safely as well. Getting to the saddle was made in short order. Now the fun part began. I find that getting down is more dangerous than going up and thus I was very careful and took great care to make sure I wasn't slipping. I eventually made it over to where I had climbed onto the snow but now I realized I had a real dilemma. I tend to downclimb rock that I would usually not dare to climb since I'm not a true rock climber and I don't have gear for it anyways. But now I was stuck on the snow slope but wanted to get back onto the rock since I figured it was safer travel. I inched my way closer and could not see a feasible way of getting back easily. I was faced with 2 options: Attempt to climb something I don't really feel comfortable with or continue down the snow slope which I also did not really feel like doing. But one other option lay... continue around the side of the slope and try and hope a path comes into view. That's exactly what happened. I rounded a corner and there stood for me a Stairway to Freedom of the snow slope! The slope had turned very steep at this section. Steep enough to where I definitely wanted to get off of it. The system of ledges were not necessarily easy but were a good way out. I may have pulled an easy Class 5 move with low exposure to get all the way up on top of the rocky ridge. I made my way off the ridge and drank from a snow-melt stream that turned into cascades as it tumbled down to Lake Catherine. The water was just pure heavenly with a very nice mineral aftertaste. I made my way to North Glacier Pass and at this point I had been climbing close to 8 hours so I was tired to say the least. I tried glissading down the slope but the snow was too soft now and bunched up as I slid on it so I was dragging a bunch of snow with me. I trudged across the long snow field to the bottom. It turned into miserable mush with so much postholing and suncups that fell through whenever I stepped on them. Not much I could have done since it was late in the afternoon. I trudged my way back to camp with wet feet and a very low appetite. I was so tired after the miserable postholing and suncups I even thought about forgoing dinner. I didn't have enough water so I had to filter it and I didn't want to go back to the water to do so. Fortunately though there were a couple guys camped next to me this night and they offered to fill my dirty bag with water since I have a gravity filter and I could just filter it back at my camp. I eventually had dinner and was satisfied. I thanked the mountain for safe passage both down and up. I definitely tend to think of mountain climbing as a lot of trust involved in the mountain and whether or not it wants you there. Because honestly when things go wrong on a mountain they can go very wrong and spiral out of control to the point where you're at its mercy. I was fortunate that nothing like that happened and thus very grateful. Another excellent day in the wilderness came to a close.
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Morning light on of the most majestic views in the Sierra

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The top of North Glacier Pass



Day 4 1000 Island Lake to Agnew Meadows 8.1 Miles
Today was a straightforward day. It was a tame trail that I manged to complete in about 5 hours. I did take one 30 minute pause to shoot my 4x5 camera with the classic Shadow Lake scene framed against the Minarets. I was amused no one crossed the trail at that time since it would have been quite a scene to see this camera perched on the side of the trail. The scenery was stunning of the Minarets and Ritter Range and I loved the wide expansive open view. I made it to the trailhead and was finally able to take off my shoes. I believe my shoes broke down and wore out on this trip and thus my feet were throbbing and in a good deal of pain. it was nice to give them a break. I got some pizza in Mammoth Lakes and then made my way back to Tahoe saying goodbye to the Ansel Adams Wilderness.

This was a fantastic trip that I loved every minute of. The solitude was just what I needed after finishing my Junior year in Berkeley as an Atmospheric Science major. It's really nice to get out there and only worry about getting through to the next day instead of classes, grades, my jobs, and all the other everyday things. I was even able to develop my plates that night when i got back into Tahoe. They turned out beautifully so I'm very excited to get some prints out of them.

Happy Trails everyone! And here's to a fantastic start of the season!
Never put off a backpacking trip for tomorrow, if you can do it today...
Alpine Mike-

http://mikhailkorotkinphotography.com/



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Re: TR Ansel Adams Explorations June 2-5 2014

Postby alpinemike » Tue Jun 10, 2014 3:00 pm

Since I couldn't fit more attachments here's some more:

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This is a view towards the Ritter-Banner Saddle. I climbed the rock to the left as far as I could and then dropped into the snow.

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This is the saddle itself. Snow conditions were definitely cross-able without crampons.

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One of the fine views from the top of Banner. 1000 Island Lake really lives up to its name!


PS: None of these photographs have been edited. I will work on editing them at which point they will be found on my website.
Never put off a backpacking trip for tomorrow, if you can do it today...
Alpine Mike-

http://mikhailkorotkinphotography.com/
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Re: TR Ansel Adams Explorations June 2-5 2014

Postby austex » Tue Jun 10, 2014 3:26 pm

Very nice and I see fulfilling. Thanks for sharing!
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Re: TR Ansel Adams Explorations June 2-5 2014

Postby maverick » Tue Jun 10, 2014 3:46 pm

Here it is, as promised. ;) Very nice pictures Mike, sounds like it was a great trip.
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keep you busy for years. PM sent.
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Re: TR Ansel Adams Explorations June 2-5 2014

Postby texan » Tue Jun 10, 2014 4:45 pm

Thanks for sharing the pics, there were awesome :D

Texan
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Re: TR Ansel Adams Explorations June 2-5 2014

Postby The Other Tom » Tue Jun 10, 2014 6:04 pm

Beautiful pics. I love star pics and would be interested in seeing the ones you took over 1000 island lake.
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TR Ansel Adams Explorations June 2-5 2014

Postby J ney » Tue Jun 10, 2014 7:22 pm

Beautiful pics, Mike!! Thanks for sharing!!

I'm contemplating bringing my own Tachi up Mt Ritter this weekend and your pics have pretty much sealed the deal (no plate negs for me though... Much respect!!)
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Re: TR Ansel Adams Explorations June 2-5 2014

Postby KathyW » Fri Jun 13, 2014 2:29 pm

Thanks for the great report and photos. It's going to get icy early this year.
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Re: TR Ansel Adams Explorations June 2-5 2014

Postby alpinemike » Sun Jun 15, 2014 6:45 pm

Thanks everyone for enjoying the report and pics. It was amazing to say the least. Tomorrow I set out for another trip. This one much longer.. 14 days in Kaweah Basin, Upper Kern Basin, Cloud Canyon, and the Mineral King area. I'll be reporting on all the passes as soon as I return.

I'll be posting more photos to my website so you can see all my other star pics there.

And J ney that's awesome you have a Tachihara. Glad to hear someone else still uses film and no less than large format! Keeping it alive and well is my dream. I hope you took it up and would love to see some of the shots when you get back.
Never put off a backpacking trip for tomorrow, if you can do it today...
Alpine Mike-

http://mikhailkorotkinphotography.com/
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Re: TR Ansel Adams Explorations June 2-5 2014

Postby Tom_H » Sun Jun 15, 2014 9:32 pm

Great detail in the TR. Amazing the difference in snow in some places vs. others. The pics were beautiful. I am a big space buff and that night sky picture showing the edge of the Milky Way took my breath away. Were you using telephoto or was it that obvious to the naked eye?
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Re: TR Ansel Adams Explorations June 2-5 2014

Postby alpinemike » Sun Jun 15, 2014 11:37 pm

It was completely visible to the naked eye and the lens was a wide angle. The only difference was that the naked eye didn't and does not pick up the great variety of colors that the camera sees. Also it wasn't as bright. But it was very obvious and distinct to the naked eye no doubt.
Never put off a backpacking trip for tomorrow, if you can do it today...
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http://mikhailkorotkinphotography.com/
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Re: TR Ansel Adams Explorations June 2-5 2014

Postby Shawn » Mon Jun 16, 2014 12:01 am

Beautiful photos Mike. Thanks for posting the trip report and congrats on Banner. :thumbsup:
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