Ski Mountaineering Guide
Bela G. Vadasz
IFMGA Certified Guide
September 10, 2009
|Friends of ASI
Like clockwork autumn began nipping the air over Labor Day weekend. There were strong winds aloft and lenticular clouds giving fair warning that a change of season is about to begin. Sure enough, morning temps have been in the upper thirties ever since. It's a great time for a morning run or spinning the pedals of the bike, just don't forget your gloves.
For skiers, the cold mornings mean winter is just around the corner. How far away that corner is remains to be seen. The meteorologists are saying this is an El Niņo year. If true, that should mean an early start to winter, a late ending, and deep snow throughout.
In the meantime, even though the mornings are nippy here in Truckee, the afternoons are nice and warm - in the 70s and 80s - perfect conditions for climbing, especially at Lover's Leap.
California Climbing History
One of the great aspects of climbing is the well-documented history of first ascents and ground breaking developments in techniques and associated technologies. Practices that we take for granted were never even thought of, thus making many of the world's peaks seem impossible. It took men of vision, who refused to be constrained by the reigning view of how things should or shouldn't be done, to show us what could be done if we were willing to consider alternative approaches.
One of our guides, Tom Carter, recently tripped across a website that gives a brief glimpse of how the revolutionary concept of using a rope for belay was introduced to California less than 100 years ago. It was 1931 and Dr. Robert L.M. Underhill met with key members of the Sierra Club, including Glen Dawson and the ubiquitous Norman Clyde, to introduce them to the use of a rope in class 4 and 5 climbing.
We thought you might find it worth perusing to see how far we have come since then, and to also marvel at the bravado these men had to scale the peaks they did with the crude equipment of that era. Within a month of Underhill's introduction to the rope, Norman Clyde, Francis Farquhar, Glen Dawson, and Jules Eichorn, had put up new routes on the Minarets, Palisades, and Mt. Whitney's East Face.
Would we be so bold in their place? Knowing that better equipment exists might make us cautious at the least, but at the time, it was state of the art back then. Although the quality of the gear has improved, the basic concepts, like the mountains themselves, remain the same. Indeed, isn't that why the allure of high peaks remains as strong as ever?
Lover's Leap is considered one of the best climbing areas in the country by one America's most prolific climbers, Royal Robbins. Sustained, multi-pitch routes on clean granite with amazing dikes, shelves and ledges make climbing here relatively easy, but with plenty of nervy exposure to keep your adrenaline high.
There are many routes in the 5.6 to 5.9 range so you needn't be a rock-star to enjoy these climbs. Since the season runs from April through October we leave the scheduling up to you. Pick a date, grab a friend, and we'll meet you there for one or two days of excellent climbing at whatever level you're comfortable with, or comfortable pushing.
Choose your own date
We look forward to skiing with you and helping you achieve your goals. If you can't find the answer to a question on our website, don't hesitate to give us a call.
Bela & Mimi Vadasz
Alpine Skills International