A little Skalolazka by V. Visotsky to get us in the mood...
Summertime... in the Sierra Nevadas
Day 1. Repacked all 467 lbs of gear in less than 8 minutes
Showered, deodirized and filled with unwashed strawberries, our heroes embark on the journey
Despite the looks of it, this is the lightest back pack on the trail. 5-10 pounds at most.
I rest my case
Breakfast of champions, dinner time
Day 2, First glimpse of what's to come
Not so much summer if the ice has not left the lake
Before the stumble down into the bushes. Last bit of strength.
Thar she is, Temple Crag, Eater of Men
You know, sitting here by the lake, I think maybe we say f**k the mountain and go back to Vegas and get us a Korean massage.
What do you say, guys? Seriously. This was supposed to be a vacation
But then these exquisite outfits would be all for naught
Looking for a good place for camp
Looking for a good place for WC
That lake below is our bide and kitchen sink (first the sink, then the bide, but not always)
Can we go up that buttress? Because it looks friendly.
Glacier Glasses, cost $0.25
Dropping off climbing gear at the foot of the climb
Oleg, is it really too late to just pack up and leave this snowy mess and spend our time somewhere warmer, with more beer and women?
Adult Self-Slide. AKA A.S.S.
Day 3, acclimatization, heading up that pass on the right, 11.5K feet or so
We've been here before!
And now, class, we will practice what I call the you carry my bag traverse
Lawrence of Arabia had nothing on this one.
Is that Venus or the UFO we saw last time we were here? I swear it's the UFO. It's looking at us.
I'm telling you it was the UFO
Useless, as usual
Lunch overlooking Mt Sil and the circus over the Palisades Glacier, which is, curiously, the biggest glacier in the Sierra Nevada
These are handsome fellows. I wonder if I could put my arms around one of them if I'm freezing at around 12,000 feet. Not the best candidates. The one on the left - too bony and in general a bit of an asshole. The one of the right - looks sort of bearish. Not sure if I'm into that. Big camera though...
Two. I got two left. That's it. Right behind me.
Just knocking the iced snow off the crampons. It's a technical move called the Travolta Bang.
Day 4, Climb aborted due to deceptive morning rain. Checking out Contact Pass to find where we will rappel if we ever make it to the top
View from the Pass
Karniz. Sergey not really giving a flying fook about it. Alex extremely worried and taking out the first aid kit in case of avalanche.
Night sky promises to be clear, but we don't talk about the weather. NEVER talk about the weather. Or traffic. Never
Day 5, Clear skies, a bit of moonlight, sun's coming out, perfect day to climb 13 pitches or so
Putting some distance between us and the ground, for safety reasons
Is that the sun setting?
Day 6. Nothing I know in the English language can fully describe how intimately I got to know these three men and their pelvic areas in the 7 preceding hours. Four of us slept on an area the size of a twin mattress folded in half and placed over a sloping pile of engine parts. Winds howled right past Gore Tex fabric. We were not helped by the fact that Oleg there is taking out our ration of breakfast dried fruit, which was the largest ration of anything, nor by the Ovaltine-tasting hot chocolate, the lack of water, the inability to melt any ice, or one emergency blanket and one emergency stuff sack between the four of us. In short, we were well prepared for a bivouac at 12,000 feet at 8 Fahrenheit, and, as you can tell by Ruslan's joyed expression, were extremely well rested and prepared to finish the rest of the push to the summit.
But the sun did eventually come out, although coyly, like a passive-aggressive lover after a tedious quarrel
And so we ventured on
View of Epic Inn
Nice ass! Face, I mean! Nice Face! Name of route. Nice face. Period.
The Walk in the Park Traverse (notice the perfect anchor)
You talking to me?
My Summer Vacation
Tackling the four-foot gap, 60-ft drop, but at this point it might as well be like getting out of a very tall SUV
After a nice rest, our heroes get ready to tackle the last remaining few pitches, all the while thinking of 1) Inflatable Mattresses (Ruslan) 2) Balvenie 12 year (Alex) 3) Hopefully a colder night, ideally with a bit of snow and sleet, for a frozen wake-up and some ice-climbing, with no gloves becasue they're for pussies (Serge) 4) Nothing at all, good right here (Oleg)
Summit of Venusian Blind, 5.7, 13 pitches + 200 or so feet of 4th class scramble. We are now around 13,000 feet above sea level, and about 3,000 feet above our little bide of a lake.
Our heroes took a run up to the summit wearing nothing but flip flops and came down to enjoy a gourmet meal of dried apricots, cashews, and all other kinds of delicacies of the Middle East
Day 7. She let us get down, and we are grateful
Despite my intimate encounters with two men around 36 hours ago, I am determined to maintain a hard face about it.
The ice has melted off the second lake
New trees have sprouted, died, and petrified
Everything came back to life
Gonna get to a hot spring, byotch
Day 8, Red Rocks Canyon, Nevada. Sandstone and granite, and 108 Fahrenheit in the sun
5.12 or 5.13, hard to tell. Top rope? That's not a top rope. That's for someone else nearby.