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#3980 - 05/04/10 07:29 AM Up George Creek with an Axe... Man. 5-1-10
MooseTracks Offline


Registered: 11/02/09
Posts: 582
Loc: Bishop, CA, United States
There are no flowers in the George Creek drainage. Oh sure, plenty along the road leading in as we bounced and swerved between the knobby boulders buried deep in the sand. Enough to scent the air as we hunkered out of the breeze Friday night. The brilliant, waning gibbous moon only accentuated the darkened arc of trees at the bottom of the path, haunted and howling with the rush of the creek. Once through this gate...

Oh, what the hell. We had fun. I mean, if Jeff's own words, "Who DOESN'T like this sort of thing at 5 a.m.??"




We were headed for Mt. Carl Heller's east ridge, a small rack and rope in Jeff's pack in case snow and ice presented a problem. But before that, we would push through willows (which always point downhill, right?), creek crossings on disintegrating logs, steep snow traverses over rocky bottoms (um... do you think you might want your axe here, Laura??), wade through thickets of thorny desert plants barely holding onto their existence (which is why they had mass-produced themselves on the sandy slopes). Performing the limbo with an ice axe on your pack isn't very pretty.

We made it to the convergence of the creek by mid-morning, and stopped to tank up and eat. At last, firm snow the rest of the way to the toe of the ridge, and we followed the still filled-in drainage through rock bands and ice falls to where it opened beneath a small cirque. One more bump up and we crested the slabs to the north of the arete, both of us instantly knowing that it wasn't going to go that day. Flocked with new powder clinging to its north face, gusts of wind rolling spindrift down into the lake basin and triggering soft powder flows along the side of the knife-edge, pockets of possibly firmer snow tucked in along the Class 3 sections, it was spectacular to view, and whetted both of our appetites for a return trip.



Speaking of appetites, we cruised the slabs for a bench in the sun, looking south to the magnificent peak as we laughed away an hour over sammies and snacks. We briefly considered cruising up to Vacation Pass, adding a few more hours to our jaunt, but the thought of winding around in the quagmire of bushwhacking below us overrode any further exploring. We followed different routes down, finally donning crampons almost for the sake of doing so as the snow changed rapidly between aspects. We traversed high over the creek, reaching the our break spot in no time at all.

But what would a Moose trip be without postholing? Jeff made the comment that despite all the snow, we had been able to stay atop for most of the day. Now, as you all know, I love a challenge, and Jeff somehow, mysteriously, ALWAYS had the camera out for a picture JUST as I managed to sink into my ass. But at least it wasn't just me...





From there, the drainage was the Twilight Zone. We crossed; re-crossed; followed trails; thrashed through the brush; cursed the sheep for moving the trails; cursed the willows for not growing downhill; swore at the puncture wounds from poor defenseless bushes; grunted at swinging from trees over the water; balanced on tall logs above the creek; passed the same spot 12 times; "Laura, please tell me you've got at least ONE beer hidden in that pack of yours..."; sweet huckleberry that's a ROAD!!

It's a sickness when you can laugh about having to work so damn hard. It's a passion when, the Monday after, you and your partner are trying to figure out ways to go back. Thanks, Jeff, for a marvelous adventure!

Sunday, we tried climbing in the Alabama Hills for a few hours, but got pretty annoyed with the wind fairly quickly. So Jeff ran me through more drills on weight shifting and flow, foot placements, and even a mock lead before we went home. Lots of practicing to do...

My pics from Saturday are here .

From the luckiest girl in the world: Climb Hard, Be Safe.

-L cool
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#3984 - 05/04/10 08:49 AM Re: Up George Creek with an Axe... Man. 5-1-10 [Re: MooseTracks]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7673
Loc: Fresno, CA
Way to go Laura and Jeff. Those weren't just post holes. They were Moose Holes and Man Holes! smile

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#3986 - 05/04/10 10:21 AM Re: Up George Creek with an Axe... Man. 5-1-10 [Re: Steve C]
SoCalGirl Offline


Registered: 12/06/09
Posts: 225
Loc: Spring Valley, CA
Laura, Love... your idea of "post-holing" would result in the total and complete disappearance of some of us lesser folks!!! wink I'd need an avi beacon so people could find me!

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#3989 - 05/04/10 12:06 PM Re: Up George Creek with an Axe... Man. 5-1-10 [Re: MooseTracks]
AxeMan Offline


Registered: 01/12/10
Posts: 29
Loc: Puppetville West
What I truly love about your trip reports are that they make me feel like I was right there, slogging alongside you.
Their flowing words instilling all the physical feelings---getting out of a warm sleeping bag at 4am in 19-degree temps;
getting poked in the eye by those downward sloping willow branches;
picking the needle-like thorns out of legs, arms, hands;
slathering freezing sunscreen over an already chilled neck as the sun slowly mantles the Inyos---
so much so that I can almost imagine the kinds of photos I would take if I were there...

...of those icy traverses



...and those tiresome willows



...and those piercing thorns



...and those high-wire log crossings



...and those post-holes



...and those other post-holes



...and still those other post-holes



but most of all I would try to capture the spirit...



...the enjoyment



...the perseverance



...and the relief



of a magnificent day, spent with a kindred soul who understands why we do what we do...



Thank you, my friend, for living the dream that so many of us aspire to and accomplishing more than most of us will ever be able.
You are a strong and valued presence in our mountaineering community and have earned a level of authority and enthusiasm
that cannot be questioned, doubted nor challenged.

Continue to lead---and know that there are a great many of us who will follow gladly in your tracks...



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#3993 - 05/04/10 05:51 PM Re: Up George Creek with an Axe... Man. 5-1-10 [Re: AxeMan]
Rod Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 660
Loc: Santa Clarita, Ca. USA
Great pics and TR.If it was easy anyone could do it.Hell I could do it. That's "if" it was easy....


Edited by Rod (05/04/10 05:51 PM)

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#3996 - 05/04/10 07:12 PM Re: Up George Creek with an Axe... Man. 5-1-10 [Re: Rod]
wagga Offline


Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 2247
Loc: Humbug Reach (Pop. 3)
Epic!
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#4005 - 05/05/10 07:06 AM Re: Up George Creek with an Axe... Man. 5-1-10 [Re: Rod]
MooseTracks Offline


Registered: 11/02/09
Posts: 582
Loc: Bishop, CA, United States
Originally Posted By: Rod
Great pics and TR.If it was easy anyone could do it.Hell I could do it. That's "if" it was easy....


C'mon, Rod... anything's easy once you practice enough! smile
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#4274 - 05/13/10 06:00 PM Re: Up George Creek with an Axe... Man. 5-1-10 [Re: AxeMan]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
Laura, Jeff - I seriously run out of adjectives when I read your TRs. "Impressive, incredible, amazing, mesmerizing, etc." in repitition just feel weak and hollow in describing (1) your adventures, and (2) the way you passionately and courteously document them for the rest of us. You are truly special people. So I'll simply say THANK YOU, and I look forward to more. Many more.

Now I'll browse my thesaurus for future lexicon inspiration . . .


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