From volcanoes through deserts and mountains to the Pacific

We have traveled a long way since our last blog entry about Oregon and have done so much in that time. After hiking up Mount Bachelor, we drove further south along the Cascades Lakes Scenic Byway – through vast forests and along many beautiful dark blue lakes. Thanks to our Bremach, we were able to get away from the tourists and could enjoy the scenery on rarely used gravel roads.

We looked at Crater Lake, where a very high volcano exploded about 7000 years ago and made a deep crater. Over the years, it has filled with rain water and turned into one of the deepest and clearest lakes on earth. Its resulting shade of blue is amazingly intense and fascinating. The eruption was observed by Indians and has been passed on in rituals and stories till present day. Only the smoke blown over the lake from surrounding wildfires obstructed our view a little bit. However, we were lucky that we did not have to do any detours because of the fires.

Picture gallery of Crater Lake (click to see more pictures):

Since we had seen so many high and beautifully shaped mountains, I (Max) really needed to know what the view was like from up on top, so I climbed Mount Shasta. This is the highest southernmost volcano of the Cascades and is located in California. Mount Shasta dominates the surrounding landscape by 3000m and stands completely free, making it a popular destination for mountaineers. Since the more tempting approach through Avalanche Gulch was not advisable in August due to the danger of falling rock, I climbed the mountain on the east side and over the upper Wintun Glacier. The weather forecast and various warnings about planning enough time for the long ascent (apparently only 50% of the aspirants reach the summit) made me get and early start at 2 a.m. I thus was lucky enough to be on the summit when the sun rose and marveled at the astounding view and enjoyed the fascinating atmosphere. It smells like sulfur in the crater at the summit, and there are hot springs. The descent through ash fields was great, and I “undid” 2000 meters of altitude in no time at all. Here are some details for yyy: start at Clear Creek, sleep at the so-called Basecamp 600m higher up, from there it’s another 1700m up in altitude. There is almost always a possibility to escape the ash fields, only in a few places you have to climb up the fine and soft ash. The upper Wintun Glacier is free of crevasses, but it is hard and icy (crampons necessary), which really facilitate the last 400m. You should plan 8-10 hours for the ascent and 5-7 hours for the descent. You can do it all in 8 hours, though, if you are good at finding the way, and you can be even faster if you do not take long breaks. Tanja spent the day with the children at Mount Shasta village at a great playground, and they even got invited to a birthday party, where they were pampered with delicious birthday cake. When we were all back together again, Mount Shasta already was hidden in the clouds.

Picture gallery of Max climbing Mt. Shasta:

 

We drove to Lassen Volcanic National Park with a short stop at a Lava Cave. Unfortunately, we were at Lassen on one of the rare weekends on which all the campgrounds were full, so we spent the night on a little hill just outside the park under an amazing night sky. Lassen Peak was closed due to construction work on the path, so we were not able to climb the southernmost of the Cascade Volcanoes as planned. We opted for a nice drive along lonely gravel roads to Reno to pick up Tanja’s sister Natalie and also our spare tire at the post office. Natalie spent a whole week with us allowing Tanja and me to get in some good climbing. Our first destination was Lovers Leap near Lake Tahoe, a very steep granite wall with great lines. We chose the dream climb (Corrugation Corner, V, 4 rope lengths) of the wall and climbed up along the phenomenally exposed edge. Apart from the edge, everything could be secured easily, which made the edge even more exciting. When we were up on the top, we could hardly believe that there were such exposed climbs in the fifth grade. For dessert, there were some nice boulder blocks right at the campground – we were ready for more.

Picture gallery of Northern California:

 

With a detour past the ghost town of Bodie and Mono Lake, we headed on to Tuolomne Meadows, the high Yosemite. Our strategy to spend the night on Tioga Pass to get one of the highly desired campsites worked out well, and we were able to spend two nights at Tuolomne Meadows Campground. The same day, we went climbing again and were reminded of slab climbing on the Grimsel Pass (Switzerland). The big goal of the next day, Fairview Dome, was unfortunately occupied by the world’s slowest climbing team. They had already been climbing for two hours when we arrived and were still far from completing the second length. Our plan B was Daff Dome, where, surprisingly, we were all by ourselves and could use our crack techniques. Westcrack (VI-, 5 rope lengths) offers everything the heart desires from finger to off-width cracks. After another nice shorter climb, we had to pack everything up again since Natalie’s time with us was coming to an end. We drove through Yosemite Valley and marveled at the huge granite walls and started dreaming – we will come back here one day with lots of time for climbing! Just outside the National Park, we saw a big forest fire with fire fighter airplanes. It is fascinating and scary at the same time to see nature’s brutal ways of taking care of itself. After a long drive to San Francisco, we dropped Natalie off at the airport and checked into a hotel for the first time on our trip.

2 Thoughts on “From volcanoes through deserts and mountains to the Pacific

  1. Beim Bilder anschauen bekomm ich richtig gribbeln in den Fingern!

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