Saturday, March 31, 2012

California Climbing: Day 1 - Cold as Otter Pops

California Climbing: Day 1 - Cold as Otter Pops
Author of this post: Scott Larson

From March 31st to April 5th 2012, Mike and Scott traveled to California to check off some of the climbs Leon has on his "100 of the toughest climbs" list. I was very excited to get out of the cold and rain and go the the "mythical" warmth of the central valley and the Sierra mountains. 

Our drive down was very wet. I think it rained most of the way until we were in Sacramento. While we were driving from Sacramento to Oakhurst the weather was very nice. It started to warm up and as we were getting into the mountains we were excited about our first climb. 

We checked into the hotel, put on our chamois and drove out to the first climb by Bass Lake. It was supposed to be lots of climbing in not very much distance. I made the mistake of not switching out my cassette, and much to my chagrin I had an 11-23. Whoops! What was I thinking? Luckily it was nice out and after the first couple of switch backs it leveled out a bit and I warmed up. As we continued up this mountain the weather turned from sunny and warmish to overcast and then finally to cloudy, foggy and rain, and the temperature doped. After another mile or two the road started to have quite a bit of snow on it where it was shaded. There were clear spots where the cars had made a rut through the snow, so we didn't have to ride on the snow. After another mile it got really nasty and started to rain/snow/hail on us. I was with Leon and Mike was swimming his way through the fog somewhere behind us. I told Leon that I'd done plenty of descents in the wet and freezing cold, the shorter they are the happier I am. I turned around and found Mike who was thinking the same thing I was. 

We rode down as cold as two green otter pops and thought we had reached the promised land when we turned the heater on in his car. Leon, being not as crazy as we thought he was returned to the car no more than two minutes after we did, he was a blue otter pop though. Mike piloted the van back to the hotel where there were warm showers and dry clothes waiting for us. After we were warmish we walked across the street to a barque restaurant where Mike and I had ribs and Leon decided that it was a good place to try their fish and chips? He said they were good.