Pucker Your Butt Cheeks on Dragon Peak!

By way of confession, I’d like to say that Wes and I “slayed the Dragon” of Dragon Peak. That would be the macho mountaineering thing to say, but that’s not exactly what happened. We did get to the summit. And we did return. But “slayed” would be a little misleading. One could argue that the Dragon simply wanted to be a good sport, so she played dead and let us walk away.

Read More »
Independence Peak is the Perfect Intro to Sierra Scrambling

I’ve always been a little afraid of Kearsarge Peak because it looked almost unclimbable with its steep, loose scree-laden slopes. Not because of technical challenges but because it simply looked miserable. I had envisioned slogging up a sand slope where every two steps forward came with a step backward in deep sand and scree. Fortunately, this was not the case

Read More »
Slow Patient Endurance on Cardinal Mountain

Cardinal Mountain seemed like a good choice for a couple of reasons. I could do the hike in a day if I started early. The route is 20 miles and 8,000 feet of elevation gain, which was close to the limit of what I thought I was ready to do in a day. Completing this hike would help me build the kind of Zone 2 aerobic endurance that would enable more aggressive adventures this season.

Read More »
I’m Back on Kearsarge Peak, Like I Never Missed a Beat

Kearsarge Peak wasn’t the most exciting summit, but being here was like coming home after spending a year abroad. Three weeks ago, I was flat on my back, thinking I had injured my back permanently. Now I’m here and hiking up steep elevations with ease. It felt like a miracle. I asked a lot of people to pray for me, so I’m pretty sure it was.

Read More »
Mount Carillon Stands in the Company of Giants

When I scrambled onto the plateau, Whitney and Russell came into view. Wow! The euphoria of this incredible sight swept over me. Photos simply don’t show the scale of how big and terrifying these mountains are up close. I dropped my pack to eat some gels and have some hot tea. I just sat and stared at this amazing spectacle for 15 minutes.

Read More »
Five Guys on Middle Palisade

We made our way above the glacier and saw the beginning of the Red Rocks Shoot. This was our route to the summit. A couple of climbers went ahead of us up the shoot. We gave them a 15-minute head start so we would not be in the firing line of rockfall. I overheard one of them say to his partner, “That looks scary as hell!” The other climber nodded with a concerned look on his face. The same thought crossed my mind, but I decided not to overthink it.

Read More »
Mount Silliman: Don’t Get Killed from a Non-Fatal Injury

Mount Silliman is on the Sierra Peak Section list. It’s a moderately difficult hike that begins at the Lodge Pole Campground in Sequoia National Park. From my hotel in Three Rivers, I got up at 4:00 am and got to the trailhead just after 5:00 am. It had already started out to be a warm summer, but a late storm the day before blanketed the area with 6 inches of snow. It was just beautiful.

Read More »
Crag Peak (+Smith Mountain): Scooting My Way to a Fun Day

When I came to the end of the crag system, I found what I had seen on some trip reports. There is a razor-sharp ridge that is about 40 feet long with exposure on each side but easily crossed by scooting on your butt. It’s like riding a horse. I had a rope with me in case I needed to rappel off, but I didn’t end up needing it.

Read More »
Half Dome: Leading a Day Hike with Summit Adventure

Tom Smith from Summit Adventure asked me if I wanted to help him lead a Half Dome day hike with a handful of guys at the beginning of 2020. It’s on the Sierra Peak Section list, so I said, “Yes. Of course.” at the time, but one of the guys got COVID, so we postponed it to May 1. I drove in the night before and Tom picked me up at 5:00 am at the Summit Adventure Lodge.

Read More »
Sawtooth Peak (South): A Fun and Easy PCT Side Trip

Sawtooth Peak (South), not to be confused with Sawtooth Peak (North) in Mineral King, is an easy hike off the Pacific Crest Trail in the Chimney Peak Wilderness in the southernmost part of the Sierras. It was on the Sierra Peak Section list and it was too early in the season to get out to the High Sierras, so I did this one as a day trip. I knew this wasn’t going to be “epic,” but it was a lot of fun just to get out.

Read More »