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  1. #1
    Join Date
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    TR: California bound

    Part 1: How to avoid injuries by sitting on your helmet.
    (NSR, scroll for ski stuff)



    The first camp spot of our trip was a delightful corner of floor by the escalator between a Chinese restaurant and the delta sky club lounge at Atlanta airport. It was an unplanned bivy and we were poorly equipped, having foolishly not brought enough extra clothing, let alone sleeping bags in our carry ons. Our sleep was fitful at best, interrupted once by the realization that a water bottle in one of our bags/pillows was leaking and we were now wet, and more frequently by disgruntled delta sky club members trying to get into the closed lounge and the delivery of noodles and lettuce to the Chinese restaurant. Periodically, a robot proclaimed over the airport sound system that an emergency had been reported in the building, advising us to please stand by. Presumably this is an automated announcement triggered when disgruntled passengers throw laptops and other carry on items at delta employees.

    This is a connecting tunnel between two terminals. It has carpet, mood lighting and jungle sounds are played over the speakers. We did not sleep here because it was full at bed time.


    Lying on the cold faux marble floor at 3 am I found myself reflecting on the conversations I had had during the previous hours of standing in line with my fellow travelers.

    The lines themselves were a thing of wonder. In each terminal, rows of stranded delta passengers stretched beyond the visible horizon. Waves of collective shuffling rippled down the line every half hour or so, two steps of many on the long road leading to the attentions of approximately three and a half delta ticket agents per thousand passengers.

    Elderly people in wheelchairs exuded misery. Parents comforted tired children while listening to the hold line jingle of the delta phone hotline, comparing stats about how long they had been in said hold line (“We've been on hold for two and a half hours now” - “Wow, that's amazing! You all are early adopters of the double phone and waiting in line strategy, it's been just an hour for us!”).

    The person next to us in line was a tall, white haired man, probably in his 70s. Tanned and active looking, and with a slight Wohlstandsbauch (the English language fails to provide an adequate word for this concept), he was either coming from or going to his retirement home in Florida, I don't recall, though at that particular moment he was of course doing neither, caught up in the perfect storm swirling around the world's busiest airport, as were we all.

    B terminal line to help desk, near the half way point. All the other terminals had the same kind of lines during the duration of our stay.


    After accidental eye contact on my part and without further introduction he began musing about a 36 hour flight on a propeller plane that took him and his platoon (?) to Vietnam in '67. My socio-cultural upbringing in Europe has left me unprepared for conversing with strangers in general and Vietnam vets comparing Atlanta airport to wartime bush flights in particular. I was still struggling to come up with an appropriate response, when the young woman on my other side casually mentioned that she, too, had done Vietnam last year and boy, getting there sure was a bother. This provoked only a brief pause and a single, slightly raised eyebrow on the man's part. Before I had time to descend into further spirals of conversational culture shock induced anxiety, he launched into a detailed explanation of how he had taken to sitting on his helmet during all those flights in Vietnam. The Vietcong, after all, wouldn't be shooting at them from above and if you sit on your helmet they can't shoot off your balls from below.

    “...uh. Wow, haha,” I responded eloquently.

    “So. Germany. Merkel, right? You guys are doing pretty well. You seem to have your economy together!” he changed the topic.

    “Uh. Well. Uh, I guess maybe?” I mumbled.

    “Things with the economy are sure getting interesting around here what with the new government and all,” he proceeded.

    I fled to the restrooms.

    We eventually got rebooked onto a flight 48 hours from now and put on the standby list for everything between now and then and curled up on our corner of faux marble.

    We awoke to a dawn of neon light that looked much like the noon, dusk and midnight of neon light. Not particularly refreshed but with a renewed feeling of hope, we got back into the first of many lines we would enjoy that day.

    I will skip a detailed account of the rest of our stay in Atlanta. It involved several failed attempts to fly to SFO (flights cancelled due to missing crew and missing plane, respectively), an attempt to fly to San Jose (flight cancelled, missing pilot), and, finally a successful flight to San Fransisco (missing boarding agent located just before time out of pilot and crew) that took off about 30 hours after we arrived. We checked into our Holiday Inn in Berkeley around 7am local time and slept for a bit. Revived by Cheeseboard pizza and the American interpretation of coffee cup sizing (the word espresso implies the amount of coffee you will get, as does the word cappuccino. Neither should be available in small, medium, or large) we picked up C from Oakland airport and proceeded to sleep some more.

    Collection (incomplete) of boarding passes I received in Atlanta.


    After a lovely morning spent with distinguished friends and makers of amazing waffles and other baked goods K & R, we hit the road in our rental Jeep Renegade, dream car of any off road enthusiast who drives exclusively on city streets. By evening we reached South Lake Tahoe, just in time for a quick meeting with T and Y, globetrotting Patagonian friends about to embark on a surf road trip to Central America. We were all relieved to have made it into the United States of America, for a variety of reasons, and enjoyed vegan burritos and a flat IPA in South Lake.
    Last edited by klar; 04-28-2017 at 08:26 AM.
    Ich bitte dich nur, weck mich nicht.

  2. #2
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    Part 2: Do you even lift bro


    Thanks to the wonders of the internet and a prepaid AT&T sim card, AKbruin, friend of our friend Franz Klammer, arrived in the morning and proceeded to take us on a Tahoe sightseeing trip up Mount Tallac. Leading the way up an already well established skin track, he mentioned that “people in Tahoe like to cut really steep skin tracks”, just before the skin track got near vertical. He suggested we should “work our arms”. We caught up to another party of three who appeared not to know how to properly work their arms. The guys confidently overtook them. C and I rather enjoyed the other party's colourful language and creative threats of physical violence directed at items of new-looking gear worth a few thousand dollars. We hung back for a while, observing. One of the cursing men explained to C that the skin track needs to be steep because it is a very steep mountain. We eventually veered off and made a flat European skin track with proper switchbacks. American men probably just have really strong arms.

    Lower part of skin track up Mount Tallac


    We skied a line off the top called the cross, in heavy pow. The snow below the chute had seen less sun and was amazingly consistent and super fun all the way to the bottom.

    AKbruin


    C


    freak


    We really enjoy the large variety of energy bars available in the US and took a break to taste test a selection. We take this pretty seriously. AKB seemed to find that amusing. He is an American man with strong arms from all the skinning he does. He dislikes kick turns but made an effort to make a flat skin track for us. He is nice like that. We got distracted by the trees and by the time we had determined that we definitely weren't sure what kind of trees they were, he had already done all the trail breaking.

    AKB heads off


    freak with pretty lake


    Other people also did a thing


    AKB



    The snow was, once again, consistently perfect. We ended the day with beer and chips in the sun in the back of AKB's pickup truck. AKB has beer and chips in his truck for everyone. AKB is nice like that. He also made a fun POV video of the day.


    The next day we skinned up Echo peak. We had seen cool looking lines between Echo and the smaller peak next to it from Tallac but bailed on those since the snow was a lot more wind affected than the day before. We did something less committing off the ridge and wrapped back up and around, before skiing back down to the flat area where we started. We had only minor problems locating the car. We saw a chipmunk (very exciting) and some interesting birds (mildly exciting) and cool trees (level of excitement about trees varies within the group).







    C about to drop into a short line off the ridge, freak's tracks


    freak posing with cornice


    C posing with lake


    Later we met our airb'n'b host. He explained to us that he eats a diet of mostly fat and no carbs because his body is like a motor that can run either on diesel or gasoline but not both (fat is diesel, in case you were unsure). He hopes to travel to Europe some day to get stem cell injections on a european insurance plan. In the US, they don't tell anyone about stem cell therapy because they don't want anyone to know. Kennedy, by the way, was the last real president because they had Bush to control Reagan, who would have otherwise been real. They decided who would become president beforehand with all the other presidents, except maybe now Trump, but he is not entirely sure about Trump. He mentioned that he likes talking to Europeans about politics because they seem to understand him so much better than his compatriots.

    He was very friendly and helpful and the place place was nice. Very happy with overall experience.

    Last edited by klar; 04-28-2017 at 06:49 AM.
    Ich bitte dich nur, weck mich nicht.

  3. #3
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    Jan 2006
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    Vanity Fair
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    Part 3: After sunshine there comes rain




    We drove from Tahoe to Mammoth Lakes on a bad weather day, stopping at Mono Lake for some general touristing and in Bridgeport to take pictures of wonderfully American things, like the window display of a shop for fishing supplies and guns and the hamburgers we had for lunch.





    In keeping with a tradition established by AKB and Franz Klammer, we stayed at the Motel 6 in Mammoth. C and I discussed that it would be a good setting for the kind of horror movie where the killer has OCD and wraps everything in plastic before cutting his victims into neat pieces, eventually leaving the room cleaner than it was before. Upon recommendation of AKB, we had large croissants stuffed with many eggs from Schat's bakery for breakfast. I had a Chai Latte the size of a large espresso with that, which was a mistake.

    Hearty breakfast for an active day.



    It was very windy up high and we decided to do something easy to get our bearings. We made our way up Punta Baldini and skied some not so good snow. We liked the terrain and tree skiing potential a lot. We also saw a distant coyote (very exciting!!). 2/3 of the group later enjoyed hot springs a little south of town.





    We had some more bad weather and visited the laundromat, where we made friends with a few locals who work for the mountain. They gave us soap (soap machine out of order) and talked to us for the duration of our washing cycle in a very friendly way. The entirely benign conversation once again left us feeling confused and vaguely concerned. At home you can give strangers soap if the machine is broken, but then the correct thing to do is stare at the floor in silence. We drove around for a bit, looked at rocks with and without petroglyphs and ate kale salad and kale on pizza. Both were a lot better than we thought they would be.

    In the evening AKbruin joined us at the motel. He brought us a book that explains the trees of California. AKB is obviously the best.

    Reading material accumulated during the trip.


    AKB wanted to go camping over the Easter weekend and we were happy to let him pick a spot and flattered that he seemed not to mind our company. We drove up the Rock Creek road as far as it was plowed (not very far) and skinned the rest of the way (very far) back into the canyon and up to Cox Col. In the last evening light we set up camp at Lake Italy.

    To our surprise and great relief, it was not windy at all. The forecast said something about lows around 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Fahrenheit are a puzzling, imaginary unit of temperature that Americans use to confuse non-Americans. 15 Fahrenheit in a sleeping bag seems about as cold as a wet stone floor in Atlanta airport without a sleeping bag although generally more comfortable.

    C very excited to find buried a payphone in Rock Creek


    Tree enthusiast AKB admiring tree


    Cox Col comes into view.


    Cox Col refuses to get closer.


    OMG


    Cox Col now a bit closer.


    View back out the valley


    Almost almost at the top.


    Almost at the top


    C and I even closer to the top, AKB's picture.


    AKB skiing down towards lake Italy


    Apparently AKB couldn't sleep so he got out of bed and took pictures.


    AKB had some pretty ambitious ideas about skiing very cool looking lines. There were some large crowns on the aspects that those lines were on and after a very bad avalanche season at home we were too spooked to try anything steep and north facing. We were also generally pretty pooped because of the altitude, a bit of a cold, lingering injuries and a few other excuses so we probably held AKB back somewhat. He was totally cool about it, because he is nice like that. Sorry, AKB. You really are the best. Please come visit us.

    We did some skiing in the general vicinity and enjoyed views of truly spectacular mountains.



    Near Italy pass. We skied the peak in the bg later.


    AKB cruising


    Top of bg peak in picture above


    AKB


    I liked the look of this one (gemini?)


    Everybody got some.


    AKB


    freak


    C


    Camp


    AKB dropping into the home run to the tents.


    Find the tents.




    AKB's pic of happy me.
    Last edited by klar; 04-28-2017 at 06:55 AM.
    Ich bitte dich nur, weck mich nicht.

  4. #4
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    Jan 2006
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    The second night was a little warmer and again amazingly calm. AKB got up early to ski some breakable crust, while we did more energy bar sampling and packed up the camp. We saw a tiny mouse (very, very exciting!! Why is it half the size of our mice? How does it survive in the snow? What does it eat? Should we leave an energy bar?). A storm was supposed to move in around midday and it was pretty obvious that it would in fact do just that, so we made our way back to Cox Col without too many delays for energy bar sampling or mouse discussions. It was beginning to get unpleasant just as we dropped down again into the Rock Creek valley.



    AKB skiing character building snow on Mt. Gadd's eastern slopes.


    AKB building some more character while approaching Cox Col.


    Weather & little people


    C and AKB on the last short scramble to the Col.


    All down hill from here.


    3, 2, 1...


    ..dropping. (AKB)


    Good bye Cox Col.


    Somebody seems to be trying to plow the road. Not sure if this was stuck or parked.


    The aftermath


    Cheers. (AKB totally did not set up his gopro to take this completely natural picture)


    Back in Mammoth, we checked into the Travel Lodge to change things up from the Motel 6. The Travel Lodge is insignificantly cheaper, has breakfast, larger rooms, a sprinkler problem in the hall and interesting, Indian themed décor. It would be good for a more messy horror movie, perhaps involving unspeakable incidents in the moldy underground parking facility. The wet spot of carpet in the hall under the sprinkler turning out to be blood could be a recurring theme.

    The storm we just about avoided coming out of Rock Creek did its thing for the next couple of days. We used one day to drive to Death Valley and check that out with two acquaintances from home who happened to also be in Mammoth. They do more freestyle oriented skiing and highly recommend a particular pile of construction site trash at Bear Mountain for non-urban obstacle skiing. It sounded like this was better than actual Bear Mountain and the Mammoth park but this kind of thing is about as puzzling to me as temperatures in Fahrenheit and oddly nice and talkative strangers, so who knows.



    Desert flowers

    Bad Water


    Danger zone



    We had hoped to ski the following day but it rained hard and high, so we went back to the hot springs. We knew conditions would be tricky the next day and figured we would try something easy to get to, eventually deciding on McGee. We turned around short of the ridge because the snow seemed too weird. It had rained to the top and not refrozen overnight because of a thin layer of new snow on top of the mush. The lower part without the new snow was perfect corn, of the kind we were imagining while planning our trip.







    Having barely scratched the surface but seen the potential, we were sad to leave and hope to return someday. We spent a day doing tourist stuff in the Bay Area and saw two kinds of old friends in Berkeley and Oakland, and then flew home without any more unplanned bivies.







    (Yes, full on tourist mode.)
    Last edited by klar; 04-28-2017 at 11:45 AM.
    Ich bitte dich nur, weck mich nicht.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    Bottom feeding
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    Not TL; did R. Swell.
    Well maybe I'm the faggot America
    I'm not a part of a redneck agenda

  6. #6
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    inpdx
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    Well done!
    Thx for the high quality TR!

  7. #7
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    Feb 2013
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    Thanks!

  8. #8
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    Dec 2005
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    Damn good/nice tr. Did enjoy.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
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    Tahoe
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    907
    Winning!

  10. #10
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    Oct 2010
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    874
    That was sweet, some amazing photos in there!

  11. #11
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    May 2006
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    Missoula
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    Bueno, thanks for putting that together and sharing.

  12. #12
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    Nov 2009
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    CA
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    Quote Originally Posted by klar View Post
    At home you can give strangers soap if the machine is broken, but then the correct thing to do is stare at the floor in silence.
    Quote Originally Posted by klar View Post
    Fahrenheit are a puzzling, imaginary unit of temperature that Americans use to confuse non-Americans.
    Quote Originally Posted by klar View Post
    He mentioned that he likes talking to Europeans about politics because they seem to understand him so much better than his compatriots.
    This TR is full of win, but these comments are just so damn funny. Thanks for the excellent writing (and pics)!

  13. #13
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    May 2015
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    santa monica, ca
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    really nice! great trip report.

  14. #14
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    Sep 2004
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    Where the center is on the right
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    Klar Trs consistently the best. Thanks for taking the time.
    "If you're gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough."

  15. #15
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    Apr 2012
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    Awesome TR Klar! I LOLed a couple of times in there.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
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    The Wilds of Maine
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    Yes!! So good. Thanks for coming to the Republic of Mar A Lago, Klar!
    "We're in the eye of a shiticane here Julian, and Ricky's a low shit system!" - Jim Lahey, RIP

    Former Managing Editor @ TGR, forever mag.

  17. #17
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    Great TR!

  18. #18
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    Oct 2003
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    tahoe
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    Huh......a tr forum??? If not for akb's link in the eastside thread I never would have caught this gem. This is too good to be buried in the basement.
    Multiple laugh out loud moments in there. I loved it. You are a talented and engaging writer klar. Thanks for sharing

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    NorCal
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    Excellent! I always enjoy your TRs Klar, so it is cool to see you posting something up in our neck of the woods. The Eastern Sierra is an amazing place. I love getting deep back in there.

    Gimpy - yeah, this is where all of the TRs have largely gone. Some good stuff in here still.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
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    Verdi NV
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    8,497
    Thanks for sharing.

    Nice job experiencing the East slope of the Sierra. You went to some places very few people have ever been.
    Own your fail. ~Jer~

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
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    Lakeside California
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    500
    Looks like a great trip. Glad you came this season and not last. Also glad you hooked up with some strong guides.
    Was really stoked when I saw you were coming across the pond to check out our range.
    Sorry I wasn't able to spend a day or two showing you some goods but seems you scored plenty !
    Liked your angle on a quirky but beautiful part of 'Merica

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    Thanks everyone. Really, really liked the Eastern Sierra. It reminded me of some parts of the central andes, but with better access and hot springs!

    Quote Originally Posted by TEXASS View Post
    Sorry I wasn't able to spend a day or two showing you some goods but seems you scored plenty !
    I'd like to go back at some point with more time and will get back you on that offer. So much to explore...
    Ich bitte dich nur, weck mich nicht.

  23. #23
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    Apr 2006
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    Excellent! Thanks for taking the time to share. Stellar as always.

  24. #24
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    Excellent! Chuckled several times.

  25. #25
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    Mar 2005
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    SE USA
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    With a single tear of metropolitan atlanta pride, rolling down one cheek, i note that you did not say that your bivy in Atlanta would be a fine setting for a horror movie, nor did you mention overbearing political guides here.

    Is it not fair to say your finest stay in our United States was in my city-of-residence?
    "Can't you see..."

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