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Blossoms, Belays, and Badwater: 7/11-12/09

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Blossoms, Belays, and Badwater: 7/11-12/09

Postby MooseTracks » Wed Jul 15, 2009 8:28 am

As I was striding down from Piute Pass at the end of the holiday weekend, I kept thinking how I needed a weekend where I wasn't killing myself scrambling for peaks or sliding down glaciers. Since Jack and Betsy Northam were in town, I made plans to cruise out of Horseshoe Meadows with Bets. In deciding where to play (either Muir Lake and the Woollyback or Cottonwood Pass and Chicken Springs Lake), I tossed Jack up in the air. When he landed on his keyster, Bets and I knew we were headed to Cottonwood Pass.

After helping at the Hostel Saturday morning, and a good breakfast from the Alabama Hills Cafe, Bets and I motored up to HM, finally hitting the trail around 1100. Now: don't let Betsy fool you, this woman can MOTOR! We chattered on about, well, everything you could talk about when out on a beautiful afternoon. Skirting the meadow, we were greeted with the brilliance of the high country flowers, finally starting to make a good showing after the cold and gloomy June.

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We crested out the Pass, then continued to the overlook of Big Whitney Meadow . We paused to stare contentedly beyond to the West, puffer clouds stretched in the high winds aloft over the Kaweahs. Bets and I scrambled down out of the wind to the shore of CSL, and I broke out a huge sandwich for our lunch , along with fresh Churros from Schatts. We cut part of the trail on the way back to the Pass, wandering through ghostly forests of pines, exposed roots of fallen giants swirling like flames from the sand.

Bets and I drove back to The Store afterwards, meeting up with Jack, DougSr and Earlene, Robyn (ranboze), and Rick Graham as we swatted away gnats and mossies. On the way home, Rick and I attended the talk on Norman Clyde, listening to Glen Dawson answer a few questions afterwards (Q: "How was it on the first Starlight ascent?" A: "Airy.") While listening and seeing history in front of us, I was just as happy about seeing it with one of my own heroes. Thanks, Rick, for everything.

On Sunday I switched gears, meeting my friend Rob Yang at the Mobil Mart in Lee Vining for some climbing adventures in Tuolumne Meadows. Rob recounted his own Saturday adventures along the Matthes Crest with Matthew Holliman, including how he just couldn't quite make it on lead for the Northern Summit. He had a fun day in store for me, however, and we headed into Yosemite and Dozier Dome.

Holdless Horror (5.6-7) is a lovely wide crack that is four pitches high, and Rob and I made quick work of it. The wind was brisk as it fluffed along the face, but the "giant knobs" that Rob kept finding offered solid hand and foot placements along the route. I could hear a party behind us, a small voice calling "climbing!" from below. While lunching on the summit (I again broke out another huge sandwich (channeling Steve Larson here!), and the source of the small voice clambered up the slabs... with his mom and dad...

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Yeah, gang... he's 6.

Rob and I had time for one more climb that afternoon, hitting Northwest Books (5.6) on Lembert Dome. This was a quick 2-pitch, with some fun exposure and step-arounds after a smooth face and undercling scramble on the first pitch. From the ledges, Rob and I paused to take in the view of the Meadows.

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Rob and I giggle incessantly when climbing together. I'm not really sure how that happens, but since the bottom line for me is having fun, I'm really OK with putting the cammie cam in the crackie crack and looking for the holdy holds. Yeah, um... After a great day in the rocks, I headed for home, stopping at the Whoa Nellie Deli for pork carnitas tacos , a mango margarita, and live music. *sigh*

Last night I hit the Portal for a short workout, and simultaneously got to watch the elite athletes finishing the Badwater Race. Talk about inspiration: as I slowly drove down the Road, stopping to clap and cheer loudly at each athlete powering up the final hill, I got goosebumps thinking about the sheer power of the human spirit and will. While a few were looking haggard, every one of them extended a wave back to me, most of them smiling broadly at my cheers for them. Congratulations to all of them, and as a side note to all others, please be careful driving up the Portal road this week and watch for runners!

Cottonwood Pass pics are here.

Tuolumne Pics are here.

From the luckiest girl in the world: Climb Hard, Be Safe.

-L :cool:
"Why do I climb? Quite simply because the mountains and I had to meet." - Colette Richard

http://www.flickr.com/photos/moosepics621



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MooseTracks
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Re: Blossoms, Belays, and Badwater: 7/11-12/09

Postby East Side Hiker » Fri Dec 03, 2010 9:07 am

Hey the next time you guys go up there can you give me hoot, so I can tag along? I want to hear all that great conversation while "motoring" up Cottonwood Pass. I love Cottonwood Pass.

And those pics of blossoms... Very outstanding. The Cottonwood drainage has some of the best plant diversity in the Sierra because its so far south and so high.
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