Tag Archives: fire

Driving toward Crater Lake

Driving toward Crater Lake

A Crater Lake adventure!

Sarah had planned a glorious adventure: We would drive down to Smith Rock to climb for a day, then spend a day at Diamond Lake exploring, and then hit the jewel of the trip – a sunrise exploration of the Crater Lake rim.  From the rim, we’d stay nearby, explore Crater Lake, relax, take a boat ride, and have a great time.  We’d packed the car, made trip itineraries, and Ollie was safely at camp for the week.  All we needed to do was drive…


Tuesday, 29-August-2017

After our evening adventure, we slept in.  It was glorious.

We drank Dunkin’ Donuts, we ate breakfast, and even made sandwiches.  It was awesome.  And best part – we woke up to a glorious sunrise over Smith, thanks to the campsite we’d snagged, and the fact that we’d been too tired to actually set up a tent.  We’d slept under the stars, and could roll over and see the sunbeams shining onto the rock.

Or… in theory we could.  I didn’t have contacts in.  So I couldn’t see anything.

Also, there were forest fires that made everything hazy and thick with smoke.


That last part was the big theme of the day, unfortunately.  Thick, cloying smoke that messed with breathing and vision and plans.


We had debated staying at Smith an extra day, but since we’d burnt most of our energy on the epic the previous day, and since the smoke was already wafting in from the nearby fires, we decided to travel South, pressing on toward our destination of the evening: Diamond Lake.

As we drove though, the smoke didn’t get better.  It actually kept getting worse… we stopped in Bend to catch our breath (literally, in Sarah’s case), and pick up some nasal sprays to try and make the air breathable.  They didn’t work so well, unfortunately… but having lunch in an air conditioned (and thus filtered) cafe was definitely a pleasant reprieve.


The final decision came when we stopped for gas in a town called Crescent.  While filling up, we heard some subtly pertinent news – specifically, that the highway ahead of us was on fire.  And closed.  But mostly the fact that it was on fire.  That’s subtly pertinent when on a roadtrip.

We turned around and went home.  Cooked steak in the kitchen, drank some beers, and got annoyed at the Northwest for being on fire.

My love of Yosemite National Park: Exploring, and the first climb on sacred rock

My love of Yosemite National Park: Exploring, and the first climb on sacred rock

I’ve never been to Yosemite, but it’s been etched into my adult mind in the same way that the Titanic and Dinosaurs were etched into my young mind. It’s a myth, a legend. The greatest place for traditional rock climbing in the world, and arguably the birthplace of modern climbing itself.

Feats of strength and endurace took place here; first ascents of climbs that no one thought could be climbed by human hands..

Brilliance of engineering even happened; the creation of Cams, and many other unique pieces of protection.

Yosemite is greater than life, in my mind. But I’ve never been there. Until this trip.

Thursday, 11-June-2015

Today, I climb Yosemite.

I won’t climb the famous peaks. I won’t be ascending El Capitan, dragging two days worth of equipment below me. I won’t be sending a line up the Sentinel, or any other legendary face.

Instead, I’ve got my crash pad on my back, my shoes and chalk, and the goal of getting to know the rock of Yosemite. Learning the bouldering problems, and seeing how the rock forms holds, and how people move up the routes.

First thing I learn? Yosemite ratings are TOUGH. I can climb routes rated V5 at the gym back in Boston. And that gym is generally considered fair, as far as ratings go. Maybe a grade or two harder than outdoors. In Yosemite, I’m climbing V0, and flailing against V1 climbs.

But that’s ahead of myself – first I drove in, took pictures, and stopped in Curry Village. When tourists go to destinations, they get souvenirs. I am no different… but the souvenirs that I get are always climbing guide books. They’re useful, and I can keep them on my shelf to show off where I’ve climbed… and to tease myself about where I can go back to.

So I bought a book, debated getting some new trad gear (I didn’t, I stayed good) and looked for some early lunch… didn’t find any, of course, since it was only 10:00 and the grill doesn’t open until 11:00.

So that’s how I found myself at the Legendary (yes, capitalized) Camp 4. The home of American rock climbing. Seriously. There’s even a plaque saying so!

I climbed, and explored. I met a climber from Chile, who was looking for a partner to climb El Capitan with. Speed climb. With a random partner. Yep, he’s nuts.

We bouldered – watched someone flail at Midnight Lightnig (a V8 climb, arguably the most famous Bouldering route in the United States). We met up with some Brazilians, one of whom climbed at the same level as me – so her an I snuck off to fight with a V0 that took WAY too much effort for a V0.

Then I headed out on my own, looking for more adventure. I found some other climbs, did a bit of bushwacking, and forgot my bug repellent in the car (meaning that I hiked back out to get it, since I’d be dead and drained of blood if I hadn’t).

I loved every second of it.

Routes that I worked:

Honestly, I don’t really remember any specifics. The routes here are hard. The folks that I was hanging out with were pretty fun though, and they definitely made the difficulty more tolerable. I focused on the main “Midnight Lightening” boulder in the beginning, then followed the Chilean climber to a perfect splitter crack that I couldn’t do much more than start on.

I was able to bust out that pretty good V0 balancy route nearby though, after a fair amount of work.

From there, I hit up some smaller boulders on the walk out – much easier routes than the splitter that I had been working before.

Ohh! I do remember one! The Presidential Traverse, a V0 rated at four stars. It was really fun – just a long traverse from one end of a boulder to another, walking on big ledges and using huge flakes. Honestly, it was really easy… annoyingly easy, after the rest of the day.