Vintage Snow and Ice Climbing Tools

Seen here are the ice axe and crampons I purchased in Chamonix, France, in the summer of 1962. Chamonix is the alpine climbing center of Europe, located in a deep valley at the foot of Mt. Blanc and the vertiginous Aiguilles (Needles) of Chamonix. The latter peaks rise 9000′ directly over Chamonix, while Mt. Blanc rises 12000′.  I arrived there in 1962, intent on climbing as many of the famous peaks that cluster around Mt. Blanc (and Mt. Blanc itself), as I could manage. These tools were with me on some of the most exciting climbs of my life! See this and other posts on these climbs:

Travels Abroad, 1962-3, Chapter 6 – Traverse of Mt. Blanc and other climbs

Short-shafted ice axe, for mixed climbs

Charlet-Moser, Super Conta

Charlet-Moser, model Super Conta

Made in Chamonix, France

Made in Chamonix, France

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The head of the axe – adze, carabiner hole and pick

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The spike of the axe, well-worn

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The axe is short-shafted so as not to get in the way while rock climbing. The axe is slipped down between the pack and the shoulder blades.

Over on the other (south) side of Mont Blanc is the Italian town of Courmayeur, also a climbing center. These Grivel crampons were manufactured there.

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“Grivel Courmayeur”

Grivel crampons, made in Courmayer, Italy

Grivel crampons, made in Courmayer, Italy

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Top side view

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Upside down view

 

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The Golden Ghost of the Rio Grande

Along with brown and rainbow trout, smallmouth bass and great northern pike, carp also are found in the Rio Grande. Lately, with the water very low and fairly clear, I’ve been seeing carp swimming slowly around in a few eddies. It helps to be high on the bank or roadside, and wearing polarized glasses.

Every so often, one accidentally hooks a carp on a Woolly Bugger or similar fly, and it’s always a surprise because they are much bigger than most of the other fish in the river, and can easily break a 4X or lighter tippet.. Yesterday evening, having spotted a number of large carp in an eddy, I decided to give them a try. After fishing dries for trout on the wade down to the position I had decided upon, I put on a long 3X leader and a fly I had tied years ago, for a trip to the San Luis Lakes, in southern Colorado. These shallow lakes are known for their populations of carp. The fly was called Carp Candy.

Carp Candy

Carp Candy

The fly is the essence of simplicity, being constructed of leech yarn, sili legs and a bead for weight, on a #8 long shank hook. My feeling is that the fly choice is much less important than the presentation. Anything buggy-looking should do

I stayed back from the eddy, and cast into the adjacent riffle, feeding some line out. The line straightened, and was then slowly carried into the eddy. When the line arrived over the spot where I had seen the carp, I began a slow retrieve, with the idea of keeping the fly on the bottom. Within 10 casts, I got a strong tug. My strategy had worked! The large and powerful fish went way into my backing, but I could pressure him because of my heavy leader.

Not a greatb photo of the carp, but the best I could manage with one hand on the rod and the other holding my camera.

Not a great photo of the carp, but the best I could manage with the rod in one hand and camera in the other.

Why is the carp called the Golden Ghost? It’s a take-off of the name for the bonefish – the Silver Ghost. Sight-fishing for carp in shallow water resembles the same for bonefish – at least in the minds of those who specialize in it. Perhaps it’s an attempt to gain some respect for the carp, which is not, to my mind, a particularly attractive fish. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the carp: “The common carp or European carp, (Cyprinus carpio) is a widespread freshwater fish of eutrophic waters in lakes and large rivers in Europe and Asia. The wild populations are considered vulnerable to extinction, but the species has also been domesticated and introduced into environments worldwide, and is often considered a destructive invasive species, being included in the List of the world’s 100 worst invasive species.” The carp roots in the bottom, and muddies the water of otherwise clear-running streams, degrading the river ecosystem overall. Ah, the lowly carp!

I could not catch a second carp, and returned to fishing for trout. I caught this brown trout just a few yards away.

Brown trout, caught on a white mayfly imitation

Brown trout, caught on a white mayfly imitation

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Dog Days Over!

The Dog Days of August are over! Like a lovely who says yes, a trout rises to my fly. Ah, sweet bliss! Now, that the new cooling brings the bugs out, eagerly awaited by the trout and myself. No more coy behavior, no more lockjaw. Now, they become voracious – the little ones leaping out of the water to snatch  the hovering mayflies out of the air. The trout is a jewel, like a hummingbird or orchid. I slip it back into the water, regretting somewhat that I inconvenienced it. But I’ll do it again.

Brown trout, caught on a #18 cream Comparadun. As the light faded, I landed this fish and lost two others.

Brown trout, caught on a #18 cream Comparadun. As the light faded, I landed this fish and lost two others. Rio Grande, Orilla Verde section, 8/26/16

 

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Mendocino Farm, CA – 1976

Whose farm? I don’t recall.

Axe#4'76TD

Bedroom#26'76TD

ChevyTruck#7'76TD

Daffodils#10'76TD

DoorWindow#25'76TD

FenceHouse#16'76TD

FenceLichen#13'76TD

Ladder#15'76TD

OliveOilPlanters#9'76TD

Wagon#5'76TD

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Sierra Ski Tours – mid 60s

While going to school in Berkeley in the mid-60s, I would occasionally get the opportunity to do a ski tour into the Sierras. Seen here are tours to the Pear Lake Hut, in Sequoia NP,  a tour over Kearsarge Pass to Charlotte Lake, also in Sequoia NP, a tour into Whitney Portal and a tour to Matterhorn Peak from Mono Lakes. I also did a trip to the Peter Grubb Hut, which had great spring skiing on open slopes uphill from the hut, but I have no photos to prove it!

The trip to the Pear Lake Hut was in the company of a Sierra Club group from the Bay Area, and started from the Generals’ Highway. I used ski-mountaineering gear, which is now referred to as randonee or alpine touring. The photos below were taken with a 2¼ sq. camera (Rollie TLR or Hasselblad) .

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We climbed Alta Peak from the hut, which provided fabulous views in all directions, including the Tableland to the northeast.

My other tour into Sequoia NP  started on May 1, 1965. It began from the east, and went over Kearsarge Pass. On this trip, myself and a climbing friend accompanied a snow surveyor, who was to take measurements at Charlotte Lake, and we stayed at the NPS hut located at the lake.

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Mt. Whitney and Alabama Hills, postcard

Alabama Hills

Mt. Whitney and Alabama Hills, postcard

On the way up to Kearsarge Pass

On the way up to Kearsarge Pass

Charlotte Lake, Sequoia NP

Charlotte Lake, Sequoia NP

Whitney Portal:

Me, skiing on the slopes of Whitney Portal

Me, skiing on the slopes of Whitney Portal

Mt. Whitney east side

Mt. Whitney, from Whitney Portal

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Mts. Ritter and Banner (left) in the winter, from US 395

Matterhorn Peak. Also a 2¼ sq. negative.

Matterhorn Peak

Matterhorn Peak

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Orilla Verde, Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, August 2016

The fish are few and far between during the “dog days” of August. Lately I’ve been catching only small bass. But I especially like the views I get of the gorge, when I’m out in mid-stream.

Downstream view of the cliffs and , beyond, the Picuris Mountains

Downstream view of the cliffs that edge Pilar Mesa, and, beyond, the Picuris Mountains

Upstream view of the mesa, that's defined by the Rio Grande on the left, and Taos Creek on the right

Upstream view of the mesa that’s defined by the Rio Grande on the left, and Taos Creek on the right

 

 

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Zion National Park, Great West Canyon – Fall, 1977

The Great West Canyon hike begins at the Lava Point lookout, in the Kolob section of Zion NP. Kathy and I arrived there in the Fall of 1977, having heard great things about the hike from our colleagues at the Southwest Outward Bound School.

A steer

Along the way, a steer

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The campground at Lava Point, and our beat-up VW Squareback. The aspens have turned.

Maple leaves

Maple leaves

We hiked down off Lava Point into Wildcat Canyon, and travelled SSE, passing the head of the Left Fork of North Creek. North Creek, with its Left and Right Forks, is the same as Great West Canyon. The famed “Subway” section of canyon is located in the Left Fork. We continued cross-country on the same heading until we intersected the drainage of the Right Fork, and found a nice camping spot on a little flat, at the very head of the canyon.

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View from Lava Point into Wildcat C anyon

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Heading SSE and approaching the junction with the Left Fork drainage

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Heading downhill towards the Right Fork drainage

Pothole, located close to our campsite

Kathy, at the pothole near our camp

Campsite. Kathy is still in "bed".

Campsite. Kathy is still in “bed”.

The next day we descended into the Right Fork,

Kathy, stemming between the canyon walls

Kathy, stemming between the canyon walls

and soon came to the Black Pool. This shadowed pool would have required a very cold swim if we couldn’t bypass it – but we did. We traversed on ledges to the bottom end of the pool, and then rappelled  (see below) back to the bed of the canyon.

Rappelling into the bed of the canyon

Rappelling into the bed of the canyon

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The lower end of the Black Pool, reflecting a ponderosa pine tree and sunlit cliffs above

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Kathy, at a pinch

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The rare sunny spot

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And back into the shade of a slot portion

The bed of the canyon and creek

Boulder and creek, with reflections of sun-lit walls above

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Seeps

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Our camp, right by the creek. We spent two nights at the Grand Alcove, the scenic high point of the hike.

Sun gleam on creek

Grand Alcove, sun gleam on creek

Grand Alcove, creek and Box Elder tree

Grand Alcove, creek and Box Elder tree casting a shadow

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Soapweed yucca

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Grand Alcove, and Kathy

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The seep line in the Grand Alcove

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Kathy, and the seep, in the Grand Alcove

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Kathy, in the Grand Alcove

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Me, the Grand Alcove (Kathy Miller photo)

 

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Kathy

Kathy, in the Grand Alcove

Kathy, in the Grand Alcove

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Grand Alcove

Rappelling out of the Grand Alcove. I overlooked telling Kathy to pad her shoulder for the rap[p[el, which resulted in burns she remembers to this day!

Rappelling out of the Grand Alcove. I overlooked telling Kathy to pad her shoulder for the rappel, which resulted in burns she remembers to this day!

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The lower end of the Grand Alcove, Kathy

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Grand Alcove seeps and hanging gardens, much of which is columbine

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Pool, at the lower end of the Grand Alcove

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Pool, at the lower end of the Grand Alcove

17.ZionGWCFall#14'77AD

This falls also required a rappel to bypass

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Nearing the end of the hike

After passing the junction with the Left Fork, we climbed a hill to the Lava Point road, and started hitch-hiking. A couple of locals stopped and proceeded to give us a raft of shit, based on their presumption that we were “Sahara Clubbers”. Of course we were. And, as such, were not very popular in that part of Utah in those days. Probably no different today.

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