rock climbing

Trip Report: Laurel Mountain

This is a classic sierra scramble up a stunning peak.  It’s different than many of the backcountry climbs for a few different reasons.  For one, it’s not really backcountry- you are less than an hour from your car and the route starts barely off the trail.   The route itself is mostly slab climbing/walking up a large face for thousands of feet, and the much of the rock is limestone and shale.   This feels different than the granite ridge climbing often experienced in the high sierra.

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This is a little quick report on a backcountry scramble up Hurd Peak.

Trail Head:

The trail starts out of South Lake in Bishop CA.


If you have ever been at south lake before Hurd Peak is likely the first mountain your eyes will be drawn to.  It poses a striking presence at the back end of South Lake and dominates a lot of the skyline from this vantage point.  The hike begins out of south lake proper.  You will eventually take a trail spur towards treasure lake.  Hurd peak is in view for much of this approach and when you decide to turn off cross country towards the peak is really individual preference.

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SE Face Emerson, 5.4 Grade II

This is a classic ridge scramble out of the Bishop Lakes area.  Emerson has a bit of everything one would look for on an alpine scramble.  It’s got 5th class climbing, easy 2nd class terrain that you can move quickly in and then very exposed 3rd and 4th class on an incredible ridge line finish.  Making it an excellent intermediate level route.

The Details:

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It’s noon and I’m standing at 12,999 feet…which means my head is above 13,000 ft. I’ve just rock climbed to the top of a huge granite spire called Temple Crag in the Palisade Basin of the Sierra Nevada.   I’m feeling really good.   My partner and I had awakened at 3:30 am to start today’s adventure. We blasted the 6+ mile approach in 2 hours, 15 minutes.

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