Tag: mountaineering

Basic Technical Ice Climbing with SWS Mountain Guides

Basic Technical Ice Climbing SWS Mountain Guides review

You know when people buy Christmas presents for their significant others that they totally want for themselves? Yeah, guilty. I’m that person. When it comes to gift giving, I believe that experiences are so much better than physical items. Things break, get lost. Memories are forever.

This year for Christmas, I scoured the internet for a good deal on an adventure. I like to start my Christmas shopping early, so just happened to be browsing around and googling ice climbing courses in California when I came across SWS Mountain Guides. Checked their Yelp reviews. Googled some more. Then hit the jackpot. They were having a fall sale on their trips! 20% off everything! I whipped out my credit card and signed up for a class over MLK weekend.

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Mt. Shasta via Clear Creek

Hike: Mt. Shasta
Where: Shasta-Trinity National Forest
Trailhead: Clear Creek
Level: Strenuous
Duration: 9 hours
Length: 12~ miles out and back total to summit
Gear: Icebreaker Tech T Lite shirt, Triple Aught Design Artemis Hoodie, REI Sahara Pants, Black Diamond Ultra Distance trekking poles, CamelBak Aventura Pack, and Ahnu Sugarpine Boots
Cost of Parking: Free, but summit permit is $20 per person

Mt. Shasta, Mt. Shasta, Mt. Shasta, you got the best of me this time, but I’ll be back. Just you wait and see. Friday afternoon after work, the boyfriend and I drove up to the Clear Creek trailhead to camp out and hike up Shasta the next morning with a Meetup group. We ended up getting in later than expected after driving around in the middle of the forest squinting at all the little forest road signs. We attempted to sleep in the car to save time instead of setting up tent, but it became insanely hot. Cars and people trickled in noisily and slowly after 11pm.

We started our adventure at 6am. Coming from sea level and hiking with lack of sleep made our progress extremely slow. The first few miles of the hike are fairly moderate with a gradual incline to Clear Creek Meadow. Clear Creek Meadow seemed to be the destination of choice for overnight attempts at the summit; we ran into tons of quiet and empty tents next to a clear, babbling spring. After Clear Creek Meadow, the fun really begins.

Mt. Shasta via Clear Creek August 2014 Review Mt. Shasta via Clear Creek August 2014 Review Mt. Shasta via Clear Creek August 2014 Review

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Lassen Volcanic NP: Mt. Lassen

Hike: Mt. Lassen
Where: Lassen Volcanic National Park
Trailhead: Mt. Lassen
Level: Moderate
Duration: 2 hours and 54 minutes
Length: 5 miles up and down
Gear: REI Sahara Convertible Pants, Triple Aught Design Artemis Hoodie, Outdoor Research Ignitor Tee, Patagonia Women’s Nano Puff Jacket, Outdoor Research Women’s Helium HD Jacket, Ahnu Sugarpine Waterproof Boot, Boreas Topaz 25 Daypack, and Black Diamond Ultra Distance Trekking Poles
Cost of Parking: Free

Took a few days off work to extend my 4th of July weekend and headed up to Lassen Volcanic National Park for the first time, ever. I’m super jealous of all the families I saw camping around me; I wish my parents were more into that when I was younger! We spent a few days exploring as much of the park as we could. Prepare yourself for an onslaught of my Lassen adventures! But first, my favorite adventure… hiking Mt. Lassen on the 4th of July!

We woke up bright and early at 4am to the sound of bears growling in the distance by Drakesbad and shoveled food down our throats as fast as possible. The goal was to get to the trailhead as fast as possible to catch the sunrise as we headed up. The trail is still under renovations, but it was open for the long weekend. We weren’t sure how many people would be attempting to summit and aimed to beat the crowds and heat.

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Desolation Wilderness: Pyramid Peak May 2014

Hike: Pyramid Peak via Rocky Canyon
Where: Desolation Wilderness
Trailhead: Highway 50 between Twin Bridges and Strawberry
Level: Strenuous
Duration: 7 hours
Length: 6 miles
Gear: Icebreaker Women’s Everyday LS Crewe, Outdoor Research Women’s Helium Hybrid Jacket, REI Sahara Roll-Up Pants – Women’s, MSR Lightning Ascent Women’s Snowshoes 25″, Black Diamond Raven Pro Ice Axe, Arc’teryx Bird Head Toque Beanie, Outdoor Research Longhouse Gloves, Camelbak Aventura Pack, Sierra Designs Tov Down Jacket (not needed), Black Diamond Ultra Distance Trekking Poles – Pair, and Ahnu Sugarpine Waterproof Boot
Cost of Parking: Free off of Highway 50

The boyfriend and I set off this past weekend to conquer Pyramid Peak again, this time in more wintry conditions. Not really sure what to expect, we equipped ourselves with snowshoes and an ice axe. In a worst case scenario, we’d need them. In a best case scenario, we could practice some mountaineering skills and get a good workout in with the additional weight.

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REI Intro to Mountaineering Course

Mountaineering is one of those things that I’ve been trying to get into for a while now. I mean, who can resist gr1m, frostbitten, kvlt ice and spikey things and tall peaks?

For the boyfriend’s Christmas present, I got him an intro to mountaineering class for the two of us through REI’s Outdoor School.

REI Intro to Mountaineering Review REI Intro to Mountaineering Review REI Intro to Mountaineering Review REI Intro to Mountaineering Review REI Intro to Mountaineering Review REI Intro to Mountaineering Review

We woke up well before the sun was up and drove to the REI in Roseville. The other option was to meet at the Donner Pass Sno Park next to Boreal. We arrived at the trailhead at around 10AM due to a freak bus fire accident on the side of 80.

Our instructors, Dakota and Ryan, handed out ice axes, crampons, helmets and gaiters. Students were free to bring their own gear if they had it. Then, we set off across the road towards Castle Peak. It had snowed a bunch the week before, and without snowshoes, we were mostly postholing in the snow.

Did a lot of practice of walking in balance up and down hills. Spent some time practicing kick stepping and the French technique. We spent an absurd amount of time practicing self-arresting in various ways. Did some self belaying up and down the side of a powdery hill. Practiced some “real” mixed climbing up a rock formation.

And then glissaded all the way back down (mostly) to the trailhead, which was awesome. I want to glissade my life away.

If you’re looking for a glimpse into mountaineering, I highly recommend this class, though your mileage may vary. Dakota and Ryan were super, nice, friendly, patient and informative. I feel like I have a decent grasp of basic mountaineering techniques that I can practice on small, less technical peaks.

See ya this summer, Rainier!

This class is available through REI’s Outdoor School website. The cost is $125 for members and $145 for non-members.

Have you taken a class through REI before? What did you think?

Pictured above are the Outdoor Research Women’s Valhalla Pants, Outdoor Research Women’s Riot Gloves, The North Face Women’s Kira Triclimate Jacket, Black Diamond Half Dome Helmet, Icebreaker BodyFit 260 Compass Leggings – Girls’, Icebreaker BodyFit Oasis Crew Long Sleeve, Black Diamond FrontPoint Gaiters, Camelbak Aventura pack, and Triple Aught Design Artemis Hoodie.