Holiday Road Trip 2010: Part 2

You might say.

When we last left our heroes, they were desperately outrunning a huge Pacific storm that threatened to wash away southern California — or at the very least make for lousy camping.

Cochise stronghold

As we cruised east on I-10 and drew near Phoenix, we moved out from under the edge of the big front. We spent five warm and sunny days climbing in Cochise Stronghold, a relatively little-visited area of dramatic granite formations southeast of Tucson. We even got to have coffee (and wi-fi) at a wee old ranch house / java shop  in Tombstone.
Heading over to the Sheepshead, Southwest Stronghold.
Christmas Day, our last day there, was a long day, with a big fun route, followed by a drive back to Tucson that night to stay in a hotel and partake of the Chinese-restaurants-being-open-on-Christmas tradition.
We were too tired to open presents or have mimosas; that had to wait until the next day. Now that’s tired. Great day.
Final pitch of a newer route, Ewephoria (5.7), after what the leader accurately called the "exciting but easy" part.
Looking west toward the Sierra Vista area from atop The Whale, West Stronghold. This year's monsoonal rains wreaked havoc on the road that runs up this valley. If you want to come into the West Stronghold with a rental car, it could be an adventure.
Christmas Day, East Stronghold. Behind Van, Wasteland Dome and Entrance Dome catch the sunrise. Destination: The Wasteland (5.8).
Mike on one of the early pitches of classic route The Wasteland, with Entrance Dome in the background.
Chickenheads (big plates of rock) and steep faces abounded as we got higher.

Death Valley

Noted without comment, Stovepipe Wells.

We got two days of good weather and climbing in at Red Rocks near Las Vegas, then bailed once again as another storm hit. This time we were headed back towards Reno, so we decided to stop in Death Valley and spend a day walking up one of its innumerable canyons. This one had a name — Hanaupah — and a road leading into it, part of which we were able to negotiate in the intrepid Van.

Van on the fan, mouth of Hanaupah Canyon, Death Valley. Panamint Range, with 10,000' Telescope Peak -- highest peak in Death Valley -- in the background. Snow plumes were coming off the upper slopes that day -- windy up high!
Nice slabs, Hanaupah Canyon.
See Van? Looking down the Hanaupah Canyon Road towards Badwater and the lowest point in Death Valley.

Todd makes hot drinks for all using the Penny Stove, a wee alcohol stove made from a Heineken beer can. (No, really.)

new year’s day, the Last Chance Range, and the penny stove

After Death Valley we headed towards Bishop to spend New Year’s with Chris and Todd. The weather continued sunny but chilly and we did a fun walk in the Last Chance Range, near Cucamongo Canyon near the northern end of Death Valley.

We were only about an hour from Bishop but it felt like we were really out in the middle of nowhere. New Year’s Day was topped off with homemade burritos from the Chevron Station in Big Pine.

Happy 2011!

Chris staying sort of warm, looking west toward the White Mountains.
Pinyon pine not long for this world, on a melting granite ridge.

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