February 27, 2011

Devil Mountain

Devil Mountain or Hell has frozen over — one team’s success on Mt Diablo

Since my retirement from professional cycling I’ve kept busy with other pursuits including a return to my roots as a mountaineer. Yesterday, as part of a highly experienced mountaineering team I summitted Mt Diablo in full winter conditions. I was joined by expedition photographer Tim Gasperak and Hawaii’s top ranked mountaineer Marshall Minobe. We started early in Berkeley under adverse conditions that required the scraping of frost from the windshield of our Honda Civic expedition transporter. We quickly dispatched with the initial approach through Walnut Creek and circumnavigated the Diablo Massif in an attempt to catch a glimpse of the peak through the ominous summit cloud. We eventually agreed that the South Gate was the best approach and after paying our $10 summit permit fee continued upwards towards our destiny. Unstable weather conditions halted us two miles from the summit and forced to abandon the warm confines of the Civic. Donning full winter gear and taking a daring lightweight approach we headed towards the top with only cameras, lip balm and a small baggie of dried fruit. Any additional gear might have slowed us to the point of failure. We climbed through temperatures in the mid 20’s, swirling fog and the occasional snow flake and reached the lower summit parking lot in high spirits. Determined to reach the top we rested briefly before making our final summit bid. We were greeted at the summit with a clearing in the clouds and a panoramic view of the Bay Area. After posing by the summit tower for photos and eating half of our dried fruit rations we descended by a different route through the forest of frozen trees and into the sunshine of the lower mountain. Our light and fast climbing style left plenty of time later in the day for a victory lunch of pancakes and a trip to the store for wine and cheese.

Please enjoy the photos from expedition photographer and summitter Tim Gasperak.

« Previous post (Dec 10, 2010)