First Trip to Saline Valley (part 1 of 2)

First Trip to Saline Valley (part 1 of 2)

Ok kids, I learned about Saline Valley from seeing pics on Supertopo: http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/1937401/The-Saline-Valley

I really enjoyed my first trip to death valley with the kids about a year ago, and I was looking forward to seeing this place. It is such an odd juxtaposition of elements that almost conjures a circus-like atmosphere. But there is so much more- you can make it be anything you want. Here's how it was for my first trip, which was possible when an old friend from Berkeley (who has a truck with better clearance than my Prius and has been there many times) agreed to go.

A little rain in the forecast for Southern Sierra, but it just made for some nice clouds on the drive from LA up 395:

Whitney is up there somewhere:

I HIGHLY recommend the amazing hospitality of Strider out at Mt Williamson Motel in Independence, CA (I borrowed her picture):

I generally sleep in the dirt when I'm out and about, but this will be my go-to place whenever I'm looking for a bed on the east side south of Big Pine. Just the weekend before I met up here with Em Kn0t and a gang of Sierra Clubbers for a last hurrah at attempting to backcountry ski. I've been getting out enough lately I didn't have time to write up that report, and almost forgot about it! I'll circle back.

OK, a little less conversation a little more action:

Driving in from north via Hwy 168:

Creosotes showing beautiful hyperdispersion to protect their limited water supply:


Ghost:

Keep it clean:

First two full days we were busy exploring, but third day hung out here a lot. It was empty when we pulled in because the wind was fairly strong:

Getting camp set up and dinner going before dark:


Beveridge Canyon


My daughter stoked to find some water to play in:

And it just keeps getting better:




Snack break:


Oops, had to go rein in my son from a little youthful exuberance taking the more (and maybe too) interesting path:


Bushwacking:

Rising above it:

But not for long:

Did I mention this place is awesome?


Naw, no climbing here:


This was probably the technical crux of the day without harnesses:

No more pics of it because I was focused on making sure everyone survived:

Who'd a thunk this was in a desert?


Ladder falls:


I managed to strike a decent balance of exposure for the bright light above and the dark canyon below:


Nice horseshoe bending of the canyon all over the place:

We let this be our high point. It would take some 5.6-5.9 loose soloing for 100 feet to pass this on the right side. There is a fixed climbing rope, but we didn't bring harnesses or gear on this hike:

We just brought our stoke!




And kept it all the way back on the hike out:


















This gives a better sense of the exposure of the crux... and the holds are slippery with wet muddy feet. And the fixed rope helps but would still lead to a big pendulum without tension traversing skills. So I was on my kids like a hawk coming down this part:







I loved the reflected light in this little bend of rock:

Woo hoo!

Back down the cliff and talus that bypasses the first real waterfall:

Washing off some dust:






Delicate little beauties lurking all over if you look for them:

Well, I'll have to do a part 2 later on. That's all I got time for now! This is really the best of it, but still more cool stuff coming.

Did you know that Scorpions show up brightly in an ultraviolet ("black") light?

Author: NutAgain!

... 'cause I speak of the pompitous of love.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.