Mt. Whitney (14,508’/4422m) in morning alpenglow.
Greetings from Bishop, CA! We hope this finds everybody well and enjoying the fall season. After a busy summer and fall we have been hard at work planning for 2014. We have also launched a new web site for your viewing pleasure. We invite you to have a look and come with us on a trip!
As of this writing SMI guides April Mayhew and Kurt Wedberg are off to Argentina for an Aconcagua expedition. Back home in the Sierra the weather is getting cold and we’ve seen some of our first significant snowfall. We’re gearing up for winter time activities including ice climbing, backcountry skiing, and avalanche courses.
Basin Mountain and surrounding skyline on Sunday November 24, 2013 after our recent snowstorm.
Here is a brief listing of some of our upcoming offerings for 2014. We hope to see you on a trip with us in 2014!
Aconcagua: Trip #1: November 29 – December 17, 2013, Trip #2: December 27 – January 17. We still have a couple openings on both of our upcoming expeditions to the highest mountain in South America.
Mt. Kenya: February 1-10, 2014. A technical rock climb up the second highest mountain in Africa. The climbing ranges from low 5th class up to 5.7. It’s in a beautiful, remote, and wild setting overlooking the beautiful East Africa jungles.
Kilimanjaro and Safari: February 11-25, 2014. A 7-day climb of the highest mountain in Africa combined with a game viewing safari where we see some of the most spectacular wildlife on our planet!
Mt. Whitney: Winter/spring 4-day climbs and summer 3-day climbs of the highest mountain in the contiguous United States.
Ice Climbing Courses: Ice is forming now in Lee Vining Canyon and June Lake. Come up and discover the exhilaration of climbing ice in these premier destinations.
Avalanche Classes: Learn essential skills to evaluate snow conditions in backcountry travel. We also include rescue training using transceivers and probes.
The winter ice climbing season normally begins sometime in November as the temperatures consistently enough to allow ice to form in Lee Vining Canyon and June Lake. This year ice began forming in November and by December we had enough to begin climbing on it. As the season progressed the already good ice continued to improve. Conditions remained great in February and with cold temperatures continuing to prevail the season stretched right into the middle of March. bNow our focus is shifting to the springtime. We are busy guiding climbs on the Mt. Whitney’s Mountaineer’s Route, going backcountry skiing, and are getting out on the rock more often. Stay tuned for updates on some of these adventures.
Believe it or not California actually has ice climbing for most of the year though. As spring turns to summer the snowpack melts except in areas that don’t receive much sun. There are many gullies in the Sierra that contain permanent snow that turns to ice through many melt/freeze cycles. By later in July many of these gullies begin forming alpine ice that make for very enjoyable climbing. Some of the more popular climbs include North Peak, Mt. Dana, the V-Notch Couloir in the Palisades, the Mendel Couloir on Mt. Mendel, Checkered Demon, among others. We are taking sign ups now for these and other popular summer and fall climbs.
Here are a few pictures highlighting some of our last days of climbing for the winter season.
Rachel Hurlburt learning about the world of ice climbing for the first time!
Kurt Wedberg high on Lee Vining’s Bard Harrington Wall on March 9, 2010
SMI guide Sara Berghoff leading a pitch at June Lake
Leading a pitch of ice on Lee Vining’s Main Wall
SMI guide Trevor Anthes leading a pitch of thin ice on Lee Vining’s Bard Harrington Wall
Kurt Wedberg topping out on Lee Vining’s Main Wall as light snow begins to fall
The ice climbing season is in full swing in the Eastern Sierra. During the fall months as the temperature drops ice begins to form in the high walls in Lee Vining Canyon. Our first trip out there was in early December. Since that time the ice has slowly been getting more and more “fat” as water continues to drip down the walls and freeze at night. Freshly back from a successful expedition to Aconcagua we were anxious to check out the ice conditions. After teaching a Level 1 Avalanche Course on January 22-24 we then got our chance! Below are a few photos from a visit on January 31. The entire photo gallery is here: http://kurtwedbergphotography.com/hack/feed.mg?Type=gallery&Data=11112564_nBCKL&format=rss200
Chouinard Falls at Lee Vining Canyon on January 31, 2010.
On Saturday we visited Lee Vining Canyon for the first time this season. With the recent cold temperatures the ice is forming and climbing is now possible for beginning through advanced levels. Currently as we write this it is storming in the Sierra with the first of a series of systems expected to hit the area this week. No doubt a lot more ice will be formed up soon! Here are a couple highlights from the day. The rest of the pictures are here: http://kurtwedbergphotography.com/Sierra-Trips/2009-Sierra-Trips/Lee-Vining-Cyn-Dec-5-2009/10550857_jXnfU/1/732779755_cQWdu
Lori and Heidi geared up and ready for a great day.
Heidi swinging tools on Chouinard Falls
Lori poses for the camera at the beginning of a climb.
Heidi lowering off after a successful climb.