Thursday, September 17, 2020

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 9/17/20

Northwest:

--Late last week there were several false reports that claimed Antifa members were starting wildfires in Oregon. Armed men met journalists of color and threatened them as a result. From the Oregonian: "No, anti-fascists have not been arrested in connection with wildfires ravaging Oregon, and public officials are asking people to stop spreading the various false rumors claiming this to be the case." To read more, click here.

Wildfire smoke in the North Cascades on Saturday, August 12th.

--Last year I was in Squamish when I heard what I thought was rockfall. Instead, it was the Sea-to-Sky Gondola. The cable had been cut at the middle of the night, and it collapsed. Well, it's happened again. From CBC: "The cable of the Sea-to-Sky Gondola has been deliberately cut in the middle of the night for the second year in a row, leaving the tourist attraction in shambles and staff at the company completely bewildered. The company and the RCMP confirmed the 55 millimetre-thick line of the gondola was severed overnight, sending cars crashing into the mountain." To read more, click here.

--Here is a map that shows real-time updates of the forest fires in Oregon.

--The REI headquarters that was built in Bellevue, Washington, but the company never moved into, was recently sold to Facebook.  To read more, click here.

--So a bunch of dudes are skateboarding and biking down climbing routes in Squamish. To read more, click here. To see a video of the first skateboard descent of the Apron, click below:



--If you're a user of the Mountain Loop Highway (Vesper Peak, Pilchuck, Big Four) in the Cascades, please take this survey. It will help dictate where trail building resources are focused.

Sierra:

--There have been two rattlesnake incidents in the last couple weeks in Yosemite. One snake bit a barefoot fisherman on the Tuolumne River. And the other bit a hiker on a steep slope. Both victims were in the hospital for several days. To read more, click here.

--Climbing is reporting that, "unfortunately, due to COVID-19 restrictions on social gatherings and the wildfires currently burning in California, the 2020 Yosemite Facelift has been called off. However, in lieu of the Yosemite Facelift, the YCA is holding a Facelift: Act Local event from September 22-27, encouraging climbers to clean up their local crags and outdoor spaces." The Facelift is an annual Yosemite clean-up event. To read more, click here.

--And the most famous couple in American climbing just got married at Lake Tahoe. You probably already know who they are, but if you don't, check it out... Side note: This is the first post ever here from Brides Magazine.

Desert Southwest:

--KOLD News reported that, "following an investigation by Special Agents of the National Park Service and U.S. Park Rangers, a Flagstaff man pled guilty to misdemeanor violations for starting a wildland fire within Grand Canyon National Park. Thomas Grabarek, 71, pled guilty on Sept. 8, 2020 to misdemeanor violations for starting the Cottonwood Creek Fire which spread approximately 64 acres in the Inner Canyon along the Tonto Trail near Horseshoe Mesa." To read more, click here.

--Unofficial Networks is reporting that, "two trails at Taos Ski Valley’s Kachina Bowl will honor Matthew Zonghetti and Corey Borg-Massanari, both of whom died tragically in an avalanche in 2019. The trails will be known as Z-chute and She Gone. The Zonghetti and Borg-Massanari families selected the names." To read more, click here.

--This is a sad piece from the National Parks Conservation Association about a fire that destroyed thousands of joshua trees in the Mojave National Preserve.  The piece starts with the lines, "I lost the center of my world last week. I’m feeling a kind of vertigo of the soul." With the changing of the climate, it's unlikely those trees are coming back.

--It looks like we might start to have to make reservations to climb in Red Rock Canyon, near Las Vegas...

Colorado and Utah:

--Sophia Tang recently became the first woman to complete the 485-mile Colorado Trail from Denver to Durango, unsupported. In other words, she carried all her food for 21-days in one go. To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--The National Parks Traveler is reporting that, "a black bear found scavenging human remains was put down at Great Smoky Mountains National Park early Saturday, leaving investigators to determine whether the man was killed by the bear. Backpackers Friday afternoon on the Hazel Creek Trail spotted what appeared to be human remains and a bear scavenging in the area near campsite 82, where there was an unoccupied tent, a park release said Saturday." To read more, click here.

--Climbing is asking whether the crags are an appropriate place for protests and demonstrations.

--Canada's iconic gear store, MEC has been sold. From Cision: "MEC's Board of Directors (the "Board") announced its unanimous support for an agreement with Kingswood Capital Management, LP ("Kingswood"), whereby Kingswood will acquire substantially all of MEC's assets through the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act ("CCAA") and ensure a thriving future for the Canadian retailer." To read more, click here.

--Unofficial Networks is reporting that, "in a move mirroring Sugar Bowl’s decision to suspend season pass sales, Jackson Hole’s portal to purchase season passes was updated yesterday showing a halt to sales. Jackson Hole News & Guide reports the resort announced a bevy of new COVID-19 protocols including limiting capacity at the mountain by capping the number of tickets that can be purchased daily, sanitization of Aerial Tram cabins and the Bridger and Sweetwater Gondola cars multiple times daily, placing thermal imaging cameras “in certain areas” to detect fevers among skiers, and limiting capacity on the tram." To read more, click here.

--The outdoor industry is in the process of recovering...


--And finally, on the upcoming election, Patagonia hid a message on some of their clothing: Vote the Assholes Out. To read about it at Backpacker, click here.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Finger Injuries in Climbing

The hangboard.

It sits above the doorway in the office, taunting me. It sits above the doorway, daring me to train. It sits above the doorway, and stares me down. It sits above the doorway...

I can't help it. I'm a climber. It's in my genes. I have to hang on it. I have to do pull-ups on it. I have to climb.

But the reality is that hanging on a hangboard is not climbing. Hangboards are supposed to be for training. In truth hangboards are one of the best ways climbers have devised to obtain sports injuries.

I know only too well. One day I succumbed to the devious taunts of the board and began to train on it. I succumbed and pulled something in my ring finger.

A climber on the Boy Scout Wall in Red Rock Canyon
Photo by Jason Martin

After doing a little research I discovered that I probably injured one of the pulleys in my finger. A great website called climbinginjuries.comprovided me with everything that I needed to know in order to get better. They indicated that I had a pulley injury in my finger and they identified three levels of pulley injury.

  • Grade III: A grade three injury usually involves a complete rupture of the pulley creating bowstringing of the tendon. Symptoms of this severe soft tissue injury includes local pain in the pulley, swelling or even bruising, pain when squeezing, pain when extending the finger, and most disturbingly those who get this injury often hear a pop inside their finger.
  • Grade II: A grade two injury is identified by a partial rupture of the pulley tendon. This injury is characterized by local pain at the pulley, pain when squeezing and occasionally pain when extending a finger.
  • Grade I: A grade one injury is characterized by local pain at the pulley, pain when squeezing and a sprain of the finger ligaments (collateral ligaments).

Treatment:


These injuries can be quite serious. Some people may require months to recover from a Grade III pulley rupture. Climbinginjuries.com has a prescribed method for treatment:



Go buy some TheraPutty! All orthopedic doctors and physical therapists will recommend putty as a tool for successful recovery.(2) The fingers generally receive poor blood flow so getting blood to the injured area is important. Contrast baths have had mixed results in the literature, but it wouldn't hurt to try. To do a contrast bath, get a bowl of warm water, and cold water. Put injured finger in cold water for a few minutes, then place it immediately in the warm water for a few minutes. Repeat 3-5 times. Finish with the cold water. This could be done after squeezing the putty ball to "flush out" the injured joint. Massaging the effected area can be effective as well. Start out lightly and gradually increase the pressure.

Pulleys
  • Grade III: - Immediately- Stop climbing Apply ice or cold immediately, no more than 15 minutes at a time (1-2 days) Take ibuprofen for 1- 2 day Keep the hand elevated Week 1-2 Don't climb! Don't immobilize the finger. Unless there is a lot of pain, open and close your hand often VERY light massage at the site of the injury. Concentrate on other aspects of your life. Week 4-8 Warm the hands by use of a bath or an electric blanket, then squeeze the yellow (softest) putty. Don't push it, if there's pain…stop. Repeat a few times per day. Go to Grade II Treatment.
  • Grade II: (Week 1-2) No climbing Warm the hands by use of a bath or an electric blanket, then squeeze the red putty. Don't push it, if there's pain…stop. Repeat a few times per day. Lubricate and lightly massage at the site of the injury. (Week 3-6) Tape the injured finger, stretch your forearms (this relieves the stress on the finger tendons) and climb thebiggest holds you can find. Start easy, this will be the quickest way to recovery. If you climb too hard, too fast, then return to the start of Grade 2 and do not collect $200. Always stretch your forearms after warming up and prior to climbing. Start squeezing the medium to firm putty. Lubricate and massage the finger at the site of the injury a couple of times/day. Start lightly and gradually increase the intensity using very short strokes on the injured site. Go to Grade I Treatment
  • Grade I (Week 1) Tape the injured finger and continue to climb at a level well below your normal level. Gradually increase the stresses on the fingers. Stretch your forearms after warming up and prior to climbing. This relieves the stress on the finger tendons. Squeeze the medium to firm putty a few times per day. Lubricate and massage the finger at the site of the injury. Start light and gradually increase intensity. Very short strokes on the injured site. Expected outcome Take advice from a practitioner who specializes in climbing. However, if treated early and effectively, with an appropriately graded return to activity, recovery will usually take 3-8 weeks. However, if the injury is pushed beyond its stage of recovery, re-injury will occur and may result in a chronic injury that will require a much more protracted rehabilitation period.

The best way to recover from a finger injury is to avoid getting hurt in the first place. Here are a few rules to live by:

  • Always warm up on easy climbs. Don't jump straight onto the hardest thing you can get up. 
  • Stretch your fingers. 
  • Don't overtrain. If you are climbing hard then you should probably avoid climbing every day. Strong sport climbers will often climb every other day. 
  • Stretch your fingers again. 
  • Massage your forearms between burns. 
  • Stretch your fingers more.

Sooner or later my finger will heal up and when it does I'll train more consciously. The hangboard definitely requires a bit more care. The last thing I need is another finger injury to crimp my crimping style!

--Jason D. Martin

Monday, September 14, 2020

Snake Bites: First Aid and Prevention

As most of the programs we run in the Southwest are in the desert, we are often asked about venomous snakes. Are there snakes in Red Rock? Are there snakes in Joshua Tree? Are they dangerous?

The answer to all three questions is yes...and no. There are rattlesnakes in both Red Rock and Joshua Tree, but they are uncommon in both venues. Large populations of predatory birds help keep the snake populations low. It is unlikely that you will encounter a snake in either location. And even if you do, the likelihood of a problem with a snake is very low.

Many rattlesnakes blend in with their surroundings.

Statistically the mostly likely group of individuals to be bitten by a snake are between the ages of 15 and 25 years-old and are male. Most of these bites take place on the hands or forearms. I couldn't find any statistics about the involvement of alcohol in snake bites.

Based on my last sentence, what do you suppose such statistics suggest?

Yep, you guessed it. They're messing with them.

Millions of people live, work and play in the same places where snakes live, work and play. In the continental United States less than 8,000 people are bitten by snakes every year and as stated above, a large percentage of them are literally asking for it.

In the unlikely event that somebody in your party does receive a snakebite, don't panic and try to keep the victim calm. Many snakebites happen because the snake is defending itself. When a snake bites out of defense it is less likely to envenomate. So there is the possibility that there is no venom in the bite. So there may be nothing to panic about.

If there is venom in the bite, panicking will only raise one's heart-rate and allow the venom to move more quickly through the system. It is incredibly important to keep the victim calm. Remove any jewelry or rings from any extremity that has been bitten. If there is venom in the bite, there will be significant swelling -- so much that a ring could become stuck, cutting off blood flow and ultimately causing the loss of a finger.

In the old movies, John Wayne loved to cut open a snakebite to suck out the venom. John Wayne was apparently unaware of hepatitis, HIV, cytomegalovirus or any of a number of other blood-borne dangers. Doctors and nurses don't wear latex gloves for nothing. Sucking venom out of a wound flies in the face of a basic tenant of first aid, body substance isolation.

Obviously if someone is bitten by a snake, call for emergency assistance immediately. Responding quickly is crucial. While waiting for emergency assistance:
  • Wash the bite with soap and water.
  • Immobilize the bitten area and keep it lower than the heart.
  • Cover the area with a clean, cool compress or a moist dressing to minimize swelling and discomfort.
  • Monitor vital signs.
If a victim is unable to reach medical care within 30 minutes, the American Red Cross recommends:
  • Apply a bandage, wrapped two to four inches above the bite, to help slow the venom. This should not cut off the flow of blood from a vein or artery - the band should be loose enough to slip a finger under it.
  • It is possible to place a suction deviceover the bite to help draw venom out of the wound without making cuts. These devices are often included in commercial snake bite kits. However, the value of these devices is debatable.
Physicians often use antivenin -- an antidote to snake venom -- to treat serious snake bites. Antivenin is derived from antibodies created in a sheep's blood serum when the animal is injected with snake venom. Because antivenin is obtained from horses, snake bite victims sensitive to horse products must be carefully managed.

The best way to avoid a snakebite is to avoid a snake. If you see one, don't mess with it. Both you and the snake will be much happier in the long-run.

--Jason D. Martin

Friday, September 11, 2020

How to Sleep Warm while Camping

REI has a fairly good group of videos on entry level tips and techniques. In this video, they cover:
  • Sleeping Bag Selection
  • Air Pad and Closed Foam Pads
  • Sleeping Bag Liners
  • Clothing for Sleeping
  • Exercise in Your Sleeping Bag
  • Snacks and Beverages to keep You Warm
  • Hot Water Bottles

Staying warm in the backcountry is just as much of an art as anything else in the backcountry. It takes practice to do it well...

--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 9/10/20

Northwest:

--An individual died on Glacier Peak this week, after falling down a "glacier hole." Glacier hole is the term used in the news report. It's not clear if this was a crevasse or a moat. To read more, click here.

Mt. Baker and the Twin Sisters this morning, as seen through the wildfire smoke from the Chuckanut Mountains.

--Here's a piece on the slow process that Steven's Pass ski patrollers partook in to unionize after Vail Resorts bought the ski area.

--Trails near the Mt. Hood Meadows were shut down on Monday due to a wildfire.

--The Spokesman-Review is reporting that, "Mount Rainier National Park is now home to wolverines again after a more than 100-year hiatus. A reproducing female, named Joni, and her two babies, called kits, were discovered by scientists of the Cascades Carnivore Project in collaboration with the National Park Service, according to a recent announcement. To make the rare and historic discovery last week, scientists used camera stations designed to photograph the animals and identify them using their uniquely patterned chest markings." To read more, click here.

--The Downy Creek and Sulphur Creek trails are currently closed due wildfire. To read more, click here.

The fact that Mt. Rainier posted this on Twitter, makes me think that they're having problems there.

Sierra:

--KATU 2 is reporting that, "More than 200 people were airlifted to safety early Sunday after a fast-moving wildfire trapped them in a popular camping area in California’s Sierra National Forest, one several fires that broke out amid record-breaking, triple-digit temperatures that baked the state." To read more, click here.

--All National Forests in the Sierra are currently closed due to wildfire. This includes Stanislaus National Forest, Sierra National Forest, Sequoia National Forest, Inyo National Forest, Los Padres National Forest, Angeles National Forest, San Bernardino National Forest, and Cleveland National Forest. These areas may not reopen until October 1st. Additionally, there are campfire bans in most of California, both in established campgrounds and in the backcountry.


--Gripped is reporting that, "A wildfire in the Sierra National Forest trapped vacationers over the weekend and helicopter rescues were required. The fire sent billowing smoke into the Yosemite area and heaps of ash onto classic rock routes." To read more, and to see the entire Yosemite NPS instagram post, click here.

Desert Southwest:

--The campground in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area has reopened

Colorado and Utah:

--There is at least one fire that has broken into the boundaries of Rocky Mountain National Park. Much of the access to the Park has been shut down or limited due to the Cameron Fire. To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--Rhea Dodd, a well known climber and a survivor of a major tragedy on Mt. Rainier in 1979, died this week after a long struggle with cancer. To read more, click here.

--A 35-year-old woman was killed in an accident on Wyoming's Pingora on Saturday. Information about the accident is still scarce. But what we do know can be found, here.

--A climber suffered a head injury on Maine's Bald Mountain this week. To read more, click here.

--The Tribune is reporting that, "Firefighters rescued an injured rock climber from Bishop Peak in San Luis Obispo on Monday morning after she sustained major injuries in a 30-foot fall, according to the San Luis Obispo City Fire Department." To read more, click here.

--You probably heard this one already. From EcoWatch: "A couple hosting a gender-reveal party on Saturday set off a smoke bomb to reveal the baby's gender when the device lit the nearby dry grass and sent partygoers scrambling. That mishap has now led to the El Dorado wildfire in Southern California's San Bernardino County." To read more, click here.



Tuesday, September 8, 2020

The History of the Climbing Shoe

Albert OK is a YouTuber and climber. The bulk of Albert's channel is dedicated to competition climbing. And though that may not be your cup-a-tea, he's put together some really slick videos. The video featured here today is one of them. You will learn more in this 18-minute video about climbing shoe history, construction and purpose than perhaps anywhere else. 

It is well worth the watch:


--Jason D. Martin




Monday, September 7, 2020

How to Use and Autobelay

Many rock gyms have auto-belay devices. These devices allow you to do a roped climb without a climbing partner. They increase your ability to use your training time at the gym effectively because it's much easier to do laps or work a route, without putting someone else out.

In this short video, a rock gym employee discusses how to use an auto-belay device.


There are a couple of important things that he mentioned in the video:

First, remember to actually clip into the auto-belay carabiner. There's no one there to check you, so you have to check your harness and carabiner yourself. If you don't clip in properly -- or at all -- you may get hurt.

Most auto-belay accidents happen because the climber forgot to clip into the belay.

Second, if you accidentally let go of the carabiner, don't worry about it. Don't try to climb up and get it. Just tell a staff member. These things happen all the time.

Third, the first few times you use the auto-belay it will be very scary. It doesn't rally catch you until you've fully weighted it, and so it can feel like you're falling for a moment before it engages. There's value in getting used to this close to the ground.

Auto-belays are great. I personally really appreciate it when gyms have this option available...

--Jason D. Martin

Friday, September 4, 2020

Everest: Start to Summit in Three Minutes

This is a super inspiring little video of a guy who went to Mt. Everest in 2018. I'll spare you the suspense, he made it! But it's clearly the journey that is the most interesting...and his short video gives us a taste of that:


--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 8/31/20

Northwest:

--An injured climber was airlifted this week from Mt. Townsend in the Olympic Mountains of Washington State. To read more, click here.

--A climber was injured in a fall in Index late last week. Little information is available about the accident. There have been reports that this was a 20-year-old woman and that there were head and spinal injuries, but these have not been confirmed. A bit more can be found, here. A video of the helicopter hoist of the victim can be found, here.

--A climber near Cutthroat Peak in the Cascades recently found a duffle bag with a mysterious white substance in it in a densely wooded area. It is believed that the duffle was ejected from a plane being chased by the Border Patrol in November. The bag does appear to have been dropped from a plane, but the substance was not drugs. To read more, click here.

A new via ferrata route has been installed in Smith Rock State Park in Oregon.

--There is some serious controversy over a new via ferrata route at Smith Rock State Park. To read about it, click here.

--Mount Rainier National Park is studying transportation and visitor use in the Nisqually to Paradise corridor. To share your input on this, click here.

Sierra:

--Here are some updates on the SQF Complex Fire in the Sierra. 

--And here is some road construction info on the road (South Lake Road) and trailhead to Bishop Pass.

--Also, bears in Tahoe have figured out automatic doors:



Desert Southwest:


--The Deseret Sun is reporting that, "Joshua Tree National Park officials announced on Friday that a body was found a day earlier within the park near a sedan along Black Eagle Mine Road." To read more, click here.

Colorado and Utah:

--Salt Lake Magazine is reporting that, "in an attempt to enhance skier safety during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Vail Resorts, owners of Park City Mountain, will require all guests to utilize an online reservation system in order to ski at their resorts during the upcoming 2020/2021 winter season. The reservation requirement applies to all skiers and snowboarders, including Epic Pass holders, in an attempt to make sure resorts do not exceed daily capacity to operate resorts safely during the pandemic. The move is sure to ruffle some feathers among locals and pass holders who are used to showing up to ski the country’s largest resort whenever and however they please, but executives at Vail feel it’s the only way to keep the mountain open while coronavirus still impacts everyday life." To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--Gail Bates, the very first employee of the American Alpine Club, died recently at the age of 103. To read an obituary on this pioneer, click here.

--Travel and Leisure is reporting that, "An American tourist who violated Canada’s coronavirus travel restrictions at least twice to sneak a visit to Banff National Park in June is now facing a six-figure fine and up to six months in jail." To read more, click here.

--A new thru-hike is being proposed in Alaska. The Alaska Long Trail will cover 500-miles and will go from Seward to Fairbanks. To read about it, click here.

--Outside has published an article about changing mountain names back to their native names: "Giving Mountains Back Their Indigenous Names. Navajo climber Len Necefer is using social media to remind us of our wild places' indigenous histories." To read the article, click here.

The aftermath of a recent forest fire in Washington State.

--We've long understood what leads to the types of insane wildfires that we've seen in California. But there's little political will to change. Check out this article on the subject from Mother Jones.

--And finally, if you haven't had the opportunity to watch Patagonia's phenomenal feature film about climbing and how it impacts our lives, check out Stone Locals, for free.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Route Profile: Cross Country Hiking - Welcome Pass to Yellow Aster Butte

The High Divide is a popular and physically demanding trail in Washington's Mt. Baker Ranger District that goes from the Excelsior Trailhead to the Welcome Pass Trailhead. And Yellow Aster Butte is a crazy popular trail up to a high viewpoint, while also providing access to Tomyhoi Peak.

Several years ago, I began to wonder what it might look like to travel "cross country" between Welcome Pass and Yellow Aster. I finally made the high country trek, and found it to be an excellent outing for a fit party with some mountaineering and map-reading skill.

Mt. Shuksan from low on the route.

This is a tremendously scenic route that I did solo in the summer of 2020. I placed a bicycle at the Yellow Aster Trailhead and left my car at the Welcome Pass Trailhead. I completed the trek, including the bike ridge between the two trailheads in just under six hours (five hours of hiking + 40 minutes of bike riding). The caveat to that time is that I was by myself and didn't take any breaks. I'm not a superman, but I am a guide. So I would expect most parties to take six to eight hours to complete the trek and ride (though you could put cars on either end).

Here's the weird thing. It's only about eight miles from trailhead to the other...but it is a tremendous amount of work to go between them.

The Green Line is the Welcome Pass Trail. The Pink Line is the link-up. And
the blue line is the standard Yellow Aster Butte trail to the Yellow Aster camp.
(Click to Enlarge)

Approach:

From I-5, follow State Route 542 (Mt. Baker Highway) 46-miles (approximately 12 miles after the town of Glacier) and look for the WSDOT Shuksan Maintenance Facility. Turn left onto Twin Lakes Road (FR 3065) immediately following the DOT station. Drive 4.5 miles to the Tomyhoi Lake/Yellow Aster Butte Trailhead and parking area. And then either chain up a bike or leave a car.

Proceed back down to the DOT station and turn right (westbound) and drive approximately 1/2 mile. The very first right-hand turn will be the Welcome Pass Road (3060) and drive 1.5-miles to the parking area.

Section One: Welcome Pass

Hike steeply up the trail to Welcome Pass, completing sixty-six switchbacks in the process. This first 2.3 mile section is by far the hardest of the day. The bulk of your elevation gain for the day will be made here. The trailhead starts at 2480-feet, and Welcome Pass is at 5,200-feet.

Section Two: Welcome Pass to Yellow Aster Butte

This is what you came for and it won't disappoint. The easy beta is to follow intermittent trails, staying on the crest as much as possible, northeast to the Yellow Aster camp. Here are several beta photos:

Looking North Above Welcome Pass

Looking South Back to Welcome Pass

Looking North to the First Crux

The first crux on the northbound route is a section in the heather with mildly loose rock. There is some exposure and it's probably class 2. But you should take your time here, a fall would be catastophic.

Looking back south, after the first crux.

Continue to follow the ridge north, either on the crest or
just right of the crest. Be aware of potential cornices in the snow.

At the 5933 highpoint, as seen in the preceding photo, you will reach the second crux. Stay right. There are some small cliffs, but they can be negotiated by carefully picking your way down right of the crest. Take your time here.

It should be noted that depending on the snow coverage, there could be several cornices on the ridge. I didn't bring an ice axe on this trip, but I did bring a Black Diamond Whippet, which seemed appropriate given the snow coverage in late July.

Looking back south at the 5933 highpoint from the Yellow Aster Camp.

Like the first crux, the second crux is probably never more than class 2 and is near the summit. If you find yourself downclimbing something and using both hands, you probably screwed up. Look around for something less sketchy.

Looking north from the 5933 highpoint at the Yellow Aster Camp 
and trail out.

It is possible to click on any of the preceding photos to enlarge them.

Section 3: Yellow Aster Trail

Once in the Yellow Aster Camp zone, make a handful of switchbacks up to the Yellow Aster Trail. It is possible to continue up to Yellow Aster Butte from here, or simply walk 3.6 miles down to your bike or car.

Southbound

It would certainly be possible to do this southbound, and if you did you could avoid some additional elevation gain. 

There are two issues with southbound. First, if you wish to use a bike, northbound is better because it's all downhill to the highway, with a little steep uphill trek back to  your car. Second, the Welcome Pass trail is steep enough going downhill that it might actually feel a bit sketchy at times.

Hikers on the Yellow Aster Butte Trail

This is a very cool and somewhat obscure high route.  It's certainly possible to take more than a day on it and to camp, but it's short enough that going light and moving quickly might be the best way to enjoy it.

This route isn't really kid friendly, or beginner friendly. It's not sketchy at all for seasoned climbers, but for those who have never negotiated snow - potentially steep snow - cornices, or easy rock loose rock climbing with exposure, a different route should be selected...

--Jason D. Martin