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Sierra Nevada

“Ultra Heavyweight”

More gear. More beer. The most stoke.


We rolled into the parking lot for Saddlebag Lake sometime around midnight—we had left the Bay Area at a decent hour, but our grocery stop took substantially longer than anticipated. Usually that part of trip planning is easy: oatmeal, freeze dried meals (if you want to flaunt your wealth), salami, cheese, ramen, DONE. But this trip was going to be different. By the time we rolled out of a central valley Walmart, we had 15 liters of bagged wine, 60 beers, corn on the cob, wontons, 15 avocados and a whole load of culinary cuisine that you’d never consider for backpacking. However, this was no ordinary backpacking trip.

This was ultra heavyweight.

Our crew was an eclectic mix: old college friends, climbing partners, friends of friends—even some randos we met near our camp who joined us at night for drinks and card games (or drinking card games, as it were). Some carried skis and boards, some brought full climbing racks, and some of us just carried the preposterous amount of food and drink we stocked up for our Labor Day Weekend fiesta. All tolled, it was a slow, mellow march out into Twenty Lakes Basin, but we knew once we established basecamp, the party was on.

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Ultra Heavyweight 101:

Step 1: Haul as much food, drink and excess comfort into the backcountry as you can.

Step 2: Enjoy.

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The Haul Bag Cooler

1) Empty haul bag.

2) Add glacial snow & ice.

3) Add beer.

After putting our drinks and perishable food (read: wontons) on ice, it was time to kick back and relax… or go get after the ‘gnar.’ That was the beauty of this trip: Everyone was encouraged to pursue their own stoke. If that was climbing, go send. If it was skiing, put on your boots. If it was drinking beer in a pool floaty, more power to you.

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Endless Winter

Roger, Ben and Cheryl haven’t let summer (or heinously sun-cupped crust) ruin their streak of 23 straight months on snow.

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Climb or Camp?

Sometimes you don’t have to choose.

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“We’ll all float on alright…”

Especially with a rod and beer in hand.

Each day held a new adventure, as mellow or rowdy as you wanted to make it. And each night we all returned to our camp, cracked a few (too many) beers, slapped a few (too many) bags of wine, ate carne asada and avocado toast and wontons and steamed squash, played card games, told jokes, cuddled under the stars…

…And woke up slightly hungover. But ready to do it all over again.

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Long nights…

…and longer mornings.

But each morning gave way to a new day of shenanigans, and the altitude, cold water and fresh pancakes encouraged even the sleepiest of our crew to rise to the occasion.

Rallied by food and the casual morning “shotgun,” the majority of our crew felt we ought to get a better perspective of the valley we were in. Hiking up to the border of Hoover Wilderness and Yosemite National Park we were treated to stunning views of the basin as golden evening sunlight cascaded across the endless sea of lakes and ridge lines. We marveled at the wilderness, reveling in the fact that while mobs of tourists crowded Yosemite Valley just out of sight, we had this pristine wilderness almost to ourselves, even on one of the busiest weekends of the year.

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Ultra Heavyweight

….yes, it’s a thing.