Sunday, November 13, 2005

Camping and Climbing at Courtright Reservoir

Mike, P-Wood and I wandered out into the wilderness this weekend. It was originally going to be an ICO trip, with some extra fun. Slowly the number of participants dwindled and the extra fun that would void ICO insurance policies grew, until it was just the three of us, and turned into a great personal trip.

Courtright Reservoir is in the Sierras just south of Yosemite. Thankfully, they haven't yet gotten enough snow to close down the roads that run into the national forest there. Of course since that was iffy it turns out we were the only people there. This made it incredibly quiet. Like quiet in a deep all encompasing silence. I really can't do justice to the sense, but even the wildlife was silent.

But the area is an amazing collection of granite peaks all within a couple of miles of each other, and all next to an amazing lake. It was seriously possible to walk a mile or two from the parking lot to climbing that appeared to be every bit as good as yosemite, but with no one working out their relationships above you on the mountain. (I really hope those 2 broke up after being so disruptive).

The first night we spent scrambilng up some class 4 rocks and got to bust out my new toy (a 60m super-dry rope) to help P-Wood. And we spent the night camping at the top of the rock. The fog had been rolling in and was really thick, so sitting on the top it was like the world ended 20 feet in any direction. And it was cold. Like super butt-fucking cold. Like waking up with 1 liter nalgenes frozen nearly solid. But I learned that my +10° bag really is pretty comfortable in those temperatures. And when we woke up we had an amazing few of the lake and surrounding peaks.

And the next day we wandered around on a day hike, where I did some really stupidly ricky moves that got a look from Mike I had never seen before. I interpretted it (correctly mind you) as "He's not a participant, he's an adult. If he wants to do something that stupid it's between him and the river below". Anyway, I survived it fine, and Mike even let me run the traverse later. Though in fairness he had be recite a verbal will with P-Wood witnessing.

Anyway, despite some schadenfreude with me learning to throw a rope over a cliff, the rest of the walk went pretty uneventfully, and we set up some tents so that we could stave off the cold and get a good nights sleep.

Which was very useful, since at 6:00a.m. I started up my camp stove and made some coffee to get Mike out of bed, and by 9:00a.m. we where out on a mountain, and I was getting my first outdoor lead climb in. It was a little (read very) scary to be going up setting my own protection in. And the climb was easy enough to be gentle, but was still rough enough to give me some serious fear in a couple of parts. Well enough for me to be very tense and really do a number on one of my knuckles.

But the lead went well, and I got to do my first rappel down a mountain which was pretty sweet as well.

After that we got back, cooked breakfast, packed up, and headed home. I am going to sleep well tonight.

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