I had the chance to spend a spare hour running along the California coast on a work trip. I always enjoy the chance to feel small next to the sea.
With the snow from last week having melted, this weeks goal was to find a peak and more of the golden aspens. Running with a camera is really fun new challenge.
The photo mission goal of a trail run was to find snow, golden aspens and views of all the peaks in the Wasatch. We found what we were looking for:
The last roll for the trip was Kodak Portra 400, shot at 200. I've shot a good bit of Potra before, and this film is provides something that digital does not. There is something special about the warmer tones and the way focus falls off that is just that little bit nicer.
The next roll of film was Fuji Pro 400, and I shot this at 200. The Pentax 67 and the shutter that sounds larger than life is a fun beast to learn.
I had a week in Washington State with Polly to see friends and have a week away from work, and I took the Pentax 67 and SMC 90mm f/2.8 with 3 rolls of film and only a loose idea of what I wanted. The first roll was Tri-X 400 and I'm really happy with how it came out and I'll definitely be shooting more of this.
Hiked/Ran Mount Raymond and brought the camera to see what we could get:
The Evolution Traverse, Grade VI 5.9.
Its hard to summarize a route, an experience like this, but to start, this was the biggest route I've ever tried.
We figured that we should bevy at Haeckel Lake given that Peter Croft has written that this traverse in a day, onsight is harder than the Nose in a day, onsight. We left everything non-essential at our camp on the Darwin Benches and started the route with a bivy kit, harnesses, a 30m rappel line, some bail slings, food for two days, and 4L of water each. Also, I don't see any reason to bring actual climbing shoes, just approach shoes as there would be too much time lost switching between.
Right out of camp we gained the first peak in two hours, and from then until we dropped down to the lake, we stayed at or above 13,000' for the next 12 hours or so. We climbed, walked, hopped, down-climbed and rappelled our way across the sky over over 5 or so peaks. The climbing never got over 5.8 for us, and all the rappels had slings which sped things up. There were so many ridges, spines, walls and steps to navigate that it all kinda blurs together now. I think I used every climbing move and trick I know. The quality of the rock and exposure was truly amazing.
The technical crux of the route is the next 2/3rds of a mile after rappelling off the summit ridge of Mt Darwin (13,831 ft) We were about halfway across this at 7:30pm. This left us with about an hour and a half of daylight and we were passing bivy sights tucked into the ridge. Rather than stopping somewhere easy, we decided to punch it for the lake. Hopefully, this would keep us from spending the night up high with no water source. Very thankfully we made it just as full darkness dropped and racing the daylight down to the lake was joyous despite the dehydration and exhaustion.
We got to bivy on soft sand and mercifully there were no mosquitoes at Haeckel Lake at 12,345'. The next morning we had a cold breakfast (no stove), and set off back up to the ridge and up to the first peak of the day, Mount Haeckel at 13,418. After Mt Wallace, an unnamed 13-er, and Mt Fisk I was completely mentally done with soloing, the ass-over-space exposure, and route finding. I left the traverse at 80% complete, while Sam went on over Mt Warlow and Huxley to complete the thing. I met him along the John Muir Trail to hike back to camp. The next day we hiked the 10 miles back to the car.
I don't regret the bail. I pushed harder and further out of my comfort zone than I have on anything previous. The introspection and evaluation that has come from the honest, "I'm having zero fun any more bail" has left me with the edge of my map: this was as much unknown and as uncomfortable for as long as I could deal with. I wasn't enough to complete the traverse, but the traverse was enough to find a new internal limit. I believe its important to bight off more than I think I can chew, from time to time, and see what happens & how I react. I think I learn more from looking at that reaction, after the fact.
The Evolution Traverse will cause its own small evolution in me, and the next time I take off up a big route I'll have this as a new reference.
More stable avy conditions and good snow!
A three day climbing weekend to meet up with wonderful friends that I almost always only see in the desert.