Wednesday, June 20, 2007

HOBO (Hoosier to Boreas) Traverse

My colleague, Peter Lubin, and I got this idea of traversing Hoosier Ridge from Hoosier Pass to Boreas Pass. It looked great on the map - not too long, lots of time above timberline, and easy slopes from peak to peak. It's harder than it looks, but certainly worth the effort.

Routefinding was pretty straightforward, and the whole trip can be broken into three basic parts. The first part is west-to-east from Hoosier Pass up the ridge. The ridge then turns north to Red Peak for the second leg. The third and final part is west to Boreas Pass. The first stretch of the third leg is probably the best - you cross bands of sandstone and nice wildflowers while gently losing elevation. The worst part of the climb is at the end. You have to drop down to treeline and then regain 700 feet over the last hill before Boreas Pass. If there had been an easy way around it, we certainly would have considered taking it. But no, the easy way is to go right over the top, no matter how steep it got.

Stats: 8.3 miles, 5:02 moving time, 3:43 stopped time, 13,386 feet maximum elevation, 4416 feet total elevation gain

View Photos: Gallery Album | Google Earth

Download Data: Track in Google Earth | GPX File

Mt. Sheridan (and home in time for the Cubs game)

Okay, time for a real climb! Mt. Sheridan, Sherman, and Gemini sit right out my front window, so it seemed natural to head up one of them. Having climbed Sherman before, I chose Sheridan. I knew the way up there and reports of conditions on Sherman were good. Sunday I left town about 5:40 am and hit the trail at 6:25, stopping only briefly to take pictures of the weirdest (and only) 3-legged elk I'd ever seen.

The first part of the climb follows the old mining road and I turned off the road near a small mine ruin south of the Hilltop Mine. There were a number of people already headed across a large snowfield towards Sherman's south ridge. I postholed across a 25-foot stretch of snow and then scrambled up some scree until I met a faint trail headed south across Sheridan's face. Ahead of me I could see the top of Horseshoe. At a small rock shelter I headed up the scree to the summit. Both ridges (south and north) had soft snow and the rock between wasn't very stable, but it didn't last long (maybe 500 vertical feet).

I reached the summit at 8:45 and stayed until about 9:30. There was not a single other person around, so I took the time to eat, take pictures, and put on my shell (tops and bottoms) for the glissade down. Glissading was not good. The snow was too soft and the angle meant you headed towards the rocks instead of down the middle of the snow. If I had climbed down to the Sheridan-Sherman summit I probably could have found a nice, straight shot, but parts of the saddle were still corniced and I wasn't wanting to get too adventurous up there by myself.

Getting down was a piece of cake and I was soon back on the road. I met a guy coming off of Sherman and he estimated there might have been 30 people and 20 dogs on its summit. Good for them! I enjoyed my solitude. I got back to the car at about 10:45 and was home in time to shower and catch the Cubs game at noon. That's about perfect for me on any Sunday.

View Photos: Gallery Album | Google Earth

Download Data: Track in Google Earth | GPX File

Monday, June 18, 2007

North Star Mountain

Last Thursday I headed out early for Hoosier Pass with the goal of climbing North Star Mountain. North Star Mountain is a 13er that sits between Mt. Lincoln to the south and Quandary Peak to the north. Routefinding should have been easy on North Star as there is a road that you can follow most of the way.

I hadn't even hiked an hour before coming to this:

Bummer. Sure, I could have just gone around the gate and gone on my way, but I didn't feel like being a rule-breaker at that particular moment. I'm assuming that the closure is related to the same land ownership issues currently plaguing Lincoln, Bross, and Democrat to the south.

This was my first real hike of the season and the first with my new digital camera. I've been doing a lot of work to geotag my pictures and get them in various places on the web. (Flickr, Panoramio, gallery@downclimb) It's a lot of work, especially when there are so many decisions to make (and remake) and so many cool features to take advantage of, like this mini-panoramio:

Monday, June 04, 2007

downclimb everywhere!

I'm really getting into the spirit of web 2.0. What does that mean? It means I'm embracing the use of the web as a social tool, using it more than ever to establish my character, personality, and presence on the web. It also means I'm as big of a geek as ever, although now I'm a more up-to-date geek. There are so many web 2.0 options out there that it's hard to decide which ones to use, and sometimes even harder to figure out exactly what you should do with the ones you have. For example, I steer clear of the major social networking sites; don't bother looking for me on MySpace, Facebook, or Virb. But what about Flickr? I already have a place for all my photography on the web. Should I duplicate that effort on Flickr just for the exposure? Or should I use Flickr for something else, like uploads from my cameraphone? I'd like an organized presence on the web, so let me explain how I see all these web 2.0 pieces fitting together. This should be my main "portal" on the web, linking to everything else related to me. Right now it's badly in need of a redesign and really doesn't serve much of a purpose other than a click-through page to my pictures and this blog.

johnson@downclimb: This is my blog, my online journal. Entries here should be thoughtful, organized, and meaningful. This is my op-ed column on the web, a place for me to exercise my writing abilities and create original content.

gallery@downclimb: This is my photo gallery, where I plan on keeping photo sets that describe my travels and adventures. This isn't the place for simple snapshots or casual photos.

tumbledown: This is my tumblog, hosted by I caught onto tumblogs after hearing an interview with David Karp, creator of tumblr, on net@nite. Tumblogs are meant to be blogs without the thoughtfulness. They should be more random, a place to toss thoughts, comments, links, pictures, and other goodies onto the web. If blogs are journals, tumblogs are scrapbooks. My tumblog catches a lot of my other content via RSS. My blog postings, Flickr postings, links, and data is all caught and posted on my tumblog.

Flickr: I may someday reproduce gallery@downclimb on Flickr, but that would certainly require that I get a pro account, and I'm not quite ready to pay the $25/year for that. I think I want Flickr to be more casual, a place for snapshots and quick uploads from a digital camera or cameraphone. I can still use my Flickr account to "promote" gallery@downclimb by posting "best of" pictures or highlights from gallery@downclimb albums. I started posting links to a few months ago and I love it. I still keep local bookmarks on my computer for sites I visit often, but perfectly fit the need for those interesting sites that I might revisit or that I might want somebody else to visit. I'd never heard of until I noticed that it was integrated into Amarok, my preferred music player (and perhaps the greatest music player on any platform). can track your music tastes and connect you to like-minded listeners and other music you'll probably like.

I have a few more places on the web, like a ClaimID page, AKA contact information, and various profile places on forums and Wikipedia (check the ClaimID link on this blog to see what pages are mine and which are not). The sites above, however, are my favorite haunts and I'm starting to like how they all fit together. If you want to follow me most closely, the best place to catch everything is probably my tumblog, since it will catch the feeds from the other sites. My tumblog isn't very searchable and has no archive, so for more casual observers you might just want to poke around the sites individually. It doesn't sound great, but I'm hoping my redesign of will help in that process.