We wanted to do some more creek exploring, and Leor had a “tip” about a cool, rarely visited waterfall hidden amongst loose red rocks up Ventana creek. Starting point was Pfeiffer Big Sur – the Ranger Station – for an easy start on the Pine Ridge Trail. This gave us quick access to Ventana Creek.
The route up Ventana creek is a very enjoyable one! The grade is pretty gentle, and there were a number of open sections where we could actually run a little. Eventually, you reach Ventana Falls. Prior to our arrival, this falls was not named on any map we’ve seen (including Jack Glendening’s super Big Sur Trailmap). Leor proposed naming it “Ventana Falls,” following the convention of naming features based on their proximity to other features. The falls are in a magical setting – a small red-rock cirque with lush vegetation. They really put on a great show! The setting is probably the best part of the falls.
This is VDC, as seen about 45 miutes into our run. We will be going up the drainage to the left, and to Kandlbinder summit, which is obscured by the slope on the left, and then another 11 miles down the other side to Botchers Gap.
At “The Window” there is a little station with a heavy duty stainless steel box, a pair of solar LED walkway lights, and a rusted out, but still functioning grill stove. It’s a tight little flat spot. Apparently, the tradition is to blow bubbles out the window, which Leor is shown doing here. It seems about 3-4 parties per year gain the Window, which is probably more easily accessed via VDC (which you can see in the background)
Some more water pictures. The water is so beautiful and clear. Leor always drinks directly from the stream. I wanted to save the 13ounces out of my pack and left the filter at home. I followed Leor’s lead, and this was my first time drinking untreated water straight from the stream. It’s pretty liberating just grabbing water instead of messing around with all that pumping paraphernalia.
Leor climbing another mini falls.
This is the view upon arrival to Ventana Falls. The most remakable thing about these falls is the setting, which I tried to capture here. You’re walled in by a cirque of vertical walls composed of red rock. Because of the great setting, this may be one of my favorite falls in the Ventana yet!
This is a picture of Leor in front of the formerly unnamed “Ventana Falls.” These falls are not named or mapped (yet), but the name, given by Leor, is apt due to fact that it is in upper Ventana Creek, and its proximity to “The Window” (Ventana in Spanish)
Leaving the falls and continuing upward is somewhat challenging. The red rock above the falls (on the left side) can be ascended – but it is quite loose. We carefully navigated above the falls, and after some minor bushwhacking, the route up the creek became easier. As you get higher, the water finally disappears under the rocks, and you are ascending talus blocks. We took a narrow corridor of talus to reach “The Window.” The talus made for much easier going than bushwhacking to the left. Once you get to the Window, however, you face a difficult bushwhack to gain the summit of Kandlbinder. Leor had studied the satellite image, and determined that it would be best for us to drop down the North slopes of the peak before re-ascending on talus. This worked fairly well, as the brush wasn’t absolutely terrible. Because of Kandlbinder’s proximity to the rugged slopes of Ventana Double Cone, the views are amazing!
This is Kandlbinder coming from the Window. The natural tendency would be to follow the spine (left) to the summit. Leor had done a lot of satellite research prior to the journey, and determined that a descent down to the canyon on the right, followed by a direct approach to the summit would be easier. It was more work for the muscles, but less pain for the shins from bush wacking.
It took us 7 hours and 30 minutes to get here. The left most peak is Pico Blanco, The next peak to the right is Bixby Mountain. If you follow the slope down from Bixby Mountain to the right, you can see a slight clearing at the saddle… that is Botcher’s Gap: our objective to get there before night. We texted Janet from this point, and she was 3 miles from finishing her 20 mile run. Afterwards, she would drive an hour around to pick us up at Botcher’s Gap
This is the essence of the first part of our descent from Kandlbinder peak. One of the best ways to get down seems to be to “ski” down the talus. As you do this, a contingent of small rocks accompanies your slide down the steep slope. It can be painful with many rocks falling into your ankles,
There are a lot of downed redwood trees along Ventana Creek. We were both remarking on the different characters of the various rivers. It seems like the rivers on the Western side have many log dams – probably due to the instability (shallow roots) of the redwoods. On the Eastern side, there is far less lumber impeding the way.
There are countless “mini falls” along the way up Ventana Creek. Navigation of lower Ventana Creek is (relatively) fast going, which means ~2MPH.
Most of Ventana Creek was shallow enough that we weren’t more than knee deep. Occasionally we encountered deeper pools like this one.
This is Leor climbing above Ventana Falls. This rock is really loose, and you needed to have the utmost care in hold selection. Leor navigated without issue. I had an issue, seen in a later picture.
This was our first up close view of “The WIndow.” The Window is what the Ventana Wilderness is named after. It is that notch in the rock, right above the trees.
Leor is really happy to be on top of Kandlbinder peak. The summit register is a binder, with a picture of a candle on the front. The peak is unoficially named after Dr. Alfred Kandlbinder, a Sierra Club Member.