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About Trips

Guidelines for Participants

Joining a Trip
Leader contact and approval is required before each trip to ensure that essential arrangements have been made and that trip members have qualifying experience and necessary equipment.  Each participant has the responsibility of being honest and realistic about their fitness and experience level when inquiring about trips.  We expect a basic level of competence operating in the backcountry and ability to be self-sufficient.
We have adopted the rating system below, in addition to the Yosemite Decimal System (a climbing rating system), to provide guidance about the level of fitness and skill required for each trip.  We do our best to rate trips appropriately, but weather and climbing conditions may result in a trip being easier or more difficult than anticipated.

Trip Ratings

 The new PCS rating system is a
series of three designations from the following groups:

Miles (to summit the peak)
1 = Less than 5 miles of total distance
2 = 5 to 10 miles
3 = 10 to 15 miles
4 = 15 to 20 miles
5 = 20 to 25 miles

A = Less than 1000 feet of total elevation gain
B = 1000 to 2000 feet
C = 2000 to 3000 feet
D = 3000 to 4000 feet
E = 4000 to 5000 feet

T = Trail
1 = Limited/easy X-C
2 = Moderate X-C
3 = Strenuous/difficult X-C

A trip rated as 2D3 means that the trip will be five to ten miles long to
reach the peak with nearly 4,000 feet of climbing at times over
strenuous/difficult cross country terrain.

Peak climbs typically have three phases: backpacking to camp (often on a
trail), the peak climb (usually only a few miles but X-C with lots of
climbing), and the return to the trailhead.  Rather than make this too
complex for leaders, we will start by using this system for an over-all
rating of the trip.  If a trip, however, has one day that is particularly
strenuous, the leader should identify that day as having special demands and
give a separate rating for that day as well as the over-all trip.  Longer
trips climbing multiple peaks probably require a rating for each day, but
leaders may wish initially to rate just the hardest day of the trip.

Class ratings will continue to be used to describe the technical difficulty
of a climb.
Class 1: Walking on a trail.
Class 2: Walking cross-country, using hands for balance.
Class 3: Requires use of hands for climbing, rope may be used.
Class 4: Requires rope belays.
Class 5: Technical rock climbing.

We realize that sometimes life gets in the way, but please make every attempt to contact the leader with a minimum 7-day advance notice.  Last minute cancellations can be very disruptive, as other participants often have to shuffle group gear, car pooling, etc. at the last second.  Many trips fill up with a waitlist and waitlisted members can rarely respond with less than 7-day notice.  This can leave the leader with losses for the trip permit. If a person must cancel, they should reimburse the leader for permit fees.
Getting to the Trailhead
While ride pools are encouraged, the leaders cannot arrange the rides. A roster is supplied for each trip and it is up to participants to coordinate with each other for rides.  Passengers should share ride expenses with their drivers. All Sierra Club trips begin and end at the trailhead.

Types of Trips
Unless otherwise indicated, all PCS trips are “Individual Commissary”.  This means the leader organizes the trip, gets wilderness permits where required, and provides logistical direction. Participants bring their own stoves, food, fuel, pots cooking utensils, water purification, and meals for the entire trip.
About our leaders
PCS leaders are volunteers.  We have Wilderness First Aid certification and have taken the Sierra Club Outdoor Leader Training 101 and 201 courses.  We are not guides and are not paid for our efforts.  We lead because we are passionate about climbing and sharing that passion with others.  Additionally, we lead through the Sierra Club in the hopes that we fulfill John Muir’s mission of getting people into the outdoors so that they will have a vested interested in protecting it.  Leaders are open to critical feedback to continuously improve trips, but please don’t forget to thank them!

Official PCS Trips

Official PCS Trips may be either unrestricted or restricted. Unrestricted trips are led by approved PCS leaders and are open to non-members. Restricted trips involve the use of technical mountaineering equipment. To go on a restricted trip you must be a current Sierra Club member.

Unrestricted PCS Trips

Unrestricted trips do not require the use of technical mountaineering equipment such as rope, crampons or ice axe. They are led by approved PCS leaders and are open to members and non-members alike. An unrestricted trip may be of any difficulty up to class 3 and can involve easy snow fields. It could be an overnight beginner outing or a week of strenuous and exposed climbing. It is at the discretion of the trip leader to determine whether an individual is fit for a specific trip.

Restricted PCS Trips

Restricted trips involve the use of technical equipment such as rope, crampons or ice axe. These trips are led by approved PCS leaders and the trips are individually approved by the Sierra Club Mountaineering Oversight Committee. To go on a restricted trip you must be a current Sierra Club member. It is at the discretion of the trip leader to determine whether an individual is fit for a specific trip.

Official Trip Calendar

Private Trips

Private trips are non-Sierra Club activities which are not sponsored or administered by the PCS or the Sierra Club. The Sierra Club has no information about the planning of these activities and makes no representations or warranties about the quality, safety, supervision or management of such activities. The organizers of these trips might not be approved PCS Leaders or even members of the PCS or Sierra Club. These trips are listed here because they may be of interest to PCS members.

Private trip announcements should be submitted to the Scree Editor: