[NOTE: I just went back to the original references in this thread to the fellow named Piero Scruffi and delved deeper into his doings (http://scaruffi.com/
). I am astonished. He is a truly remarkable individual - makes me feel like a couch potato on my very best days! Maybe he did absolutely everything of which he wrote. I cannot doubt him, really, given his tough-as-nails image and wide-ranging high intellect and experience all over California, and worldwide. Luckily he is not burned out; he is still in business, just having posted a blog about Putin's take-over of the Crimea with historical overviews offered such as we never much get from our perhaps parochial media.]
I am just now seeing D Casey's queries about my use of Ventana Creek. The "throwaway" reference is to the lack of comment (casual comment thrown out similar to "Oh, I just hiked up the creek") on something that I think would have elicited serious comment if the hike really had been done. Otherwise, below are some descriptions of my experience on Ventana Creek.
MT MANUEL to VDC (1982): brush on the ridgetops was remarkably easy for a couple miles then got bad and I was detoured (next morning) down to Ventana Creek at about (36.285733,-121.747439). Going upstream I was delighted to discover an 85ft waterfall at about (36.289508,-121.724026), though topo sure doesn't show it. A deer trail provided easy passage up and around the fall. Later proceedings up a side chute I had spied by binoculars came to a dead end (36.289508,-121.724026) at a 15-ft vertical climb. Camped back by main streambed and the next day I hiked/climbed to VDC trail (3000ft up by 9AM). Had no idea if it was doable and lucked out to have only a last class 3-4 pitch at top to get up (100 ft climb with 60lb pack on 60+ deg. slope w/ just hard packed dirt and the odd small rocks protruding for holds, half of which I loosened in use - so could not go back down if could not continue). Came out on top, near as I can figure, at (36.298456,-121.715268). Thence to Pine Valley and out PRT in next 3 days.
VENTANA CREEK ACCESS from 1983 to 1994: On second trip, this time from Ventana Camp, I found the easy deer trail around the waterfall obliterated by 400ft mud slide (light brown scar on Google Earth at 36.289813,-121.724363). It was so steep and lacking in footholds or any resting spots that it stopped me all but one time over 8+ trips until last one in 1994. The alternate climb was up solid rock adjacent to the waterfall. It seemed too dangerous w/ no gear, no backup, heavy pack, though it was only about 15 feet of climbing exposed to sheer drop. The one ascent of the mudslide (easier going back down) got me back to my "lost world" above the fall. That was one of my best experiences in Ventana in 35 years. I did not climb rest of the way up VDC (didn't want to have to come back down), being delighted just to be in the area above the waterfall, a place so few people have visited.
EASY ROUTE VENTANA CREEK ACCESS to VDC SUMMIT: one trip was up the side stream from Ventana Creek (36.296467,-121.724130). It was easy going all the way eastward and then north to saddle next to top of VDC and then Class 1 saunter to the top and onto trail and out via PRT to Pfeiffer-BS station.
END OF (MY) VENTANA CREEK ACCESS: last trip in 1994 was blocked by winter flood removal of sloping log "bridge" (about here 36.281904,-121.727306) I had used for over 10 years to walk above a pool to bypass a small fall. [Why no mention of such by Scruffi? ("Scruffy" maybe is better name for that intrepid explorer!). He'd have had to climb IN the very steep and very cold cascade.] Another reason I stopped going was that I fell head first onto a boulder ("saw stars", bled for 30 min, heard/felt loud hammer blow to head) after turning back from lost log area. I wasn't permanently injured (no scar even) but it literally knocked some sense into my head about going off solo and not telling anyone I was even on Ventana Creek (or even in Big Sur) at all. That solitude was a big part of the "charm" but obviously has drawbacks.
ELLIOTT: I've never been back and REALLY wonder how you managed that "log-less" spot and if you climbed the huge slide area? I've always assumed I was never again going to be able to ascend Ventana Creek w/o doing some engineering and all the available log-trees were way too heavy to manipulate even if I could cut one down. The area around that blockage was cliffs at that point. I expect it can be negotiated for sure; but it would be a huge hassle and very difficult. Of course, I may have overlooked easier solution but after a couple of hours investigating, I left discouraged never to return (so far never).
SHANGRI-LA: The main reason I returned so many times to the 85ft waterfall is because the area above felt so much like a "lost world". It was/is a truly mysterious and special place and yet is only 5 (difficult) hours up from Ventana Camp. I only got back to it the one second time.