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Scree for July, 1995


Last month we just got started with trip listings.  This month it's a
little better with almost the full Scree.  Next month I hope we will
have the formal article titles from the hardcopy version. Also, next
month I hope to have time to type in the info from the back page of the
hardcopy Scree (it seems to be in a format that the Scree editor cannot
easily send to me). If you have the time and the interest, you could
help by typing in the back page info and broadcasting it.

This paragraph was pulled from the "Yodels" section for special consideration:
  = While you were watching Melrose Place or surfing the Net, the PCS
  = Mountaineering Committee was putting in long hours updating the section's
  = bylaws on your behalf. At the July meeting you'll be asked to vote on the
  = revisions. Copies of the updated bylaws will be available for your perusal at
  = the meeting.
It should be noted that the Treasurer's minutes of the June meeting
indicate a vote to be taken in August. It should also be noted that
bylaws or rules changes must be published before they are voted on.

  -- SRE

July meeting - BBQ and SWAP MEET instead of slide show!

DATE: Tuesday: July 11, 1995

TIME: 6:30 Start charcoal
      7:00 Start BBQ
      8:00 Start of meeting

PLACE: Serra Park,  Sunnyvale
 $2.00 donation to cover picnic area and charcoal.

From I-280 turn North on DeAnsa Blvd in Cupertino then left on Homestead then
Status: RO

right on Hollenbeck. The park is on your left..

A 90 person picnic area is 20 yards from the parking lot between the 2 sets
tennis courts..Park or unload here...Extra parking is 1/2 block away on the 
North side of the park and 1 block away on the West side.

From I-85 turn East on Fremont then South on Hollenbeck. The park is on the
Status: RO

your right..


Bring your own main course to BBQ and bring a side dish for the potluck.
Electrical outlets at the table.  Bring your own liquid refreshment ( alcohol
allowed) Bring your summer trip reports and mark your extra equipment for the
swap meet with your name and a price.
Kids play area is 20 yards away

PCS trips

El Capitan
July 8-9
Class 2
Leader: Judith Yarborough
(415) 854-9288 (before 10 p.m.)
 Those of us who don't aspire to big wall climbing need to be tricky if we
want the same views. We will leave from Tamarack Campground on Saturday
morning and hike as far as possible up the back side (sounds a bit prurient)
of El Capitan.  Limit eight people (including leader). Campground for Friday
night reserved at Hogdon Meadows.

Red and White
July 15-16
12,850 feet, class 3
Leader: Chris MacIntosh
(415) 325-7841
After June 30, contact John Esterl
(510) 526-2216
Topos: Mt. Abbot, Convict L. 7.5'
 Norman Clyde described McGee Creek as a good approach to this peak, but
given his reputation for toughness, that could mean anything! The Northeast
Ridge is said to have less loose rock than other routes, helpful for a group
ascent. This is a lovely area to visit. Besides a good peak and great views,
we should also enjoy wildflowers and other Sierran delights. Snow/water
conditions in July: anybody's guess at the time of writing.  

University & Independence
July 29-30
13,632 feet, class 3
Leaders: John & Kate Ingvoldstad
(209) 296-8483, (408) 996-7129
Topos: Mt. Pinchot, Mount Whitney 
 On Saturday, following a short backpack from Onion Valley to Robinson Lake,
we'll climb University Peak. The Sunday climb of Independence is only a 1,200
foot gain, so you'll be on the road headed home early. Both peaks are class 3
with Independence on the "easy'' side.

Haeckel, Wallace, Fiske, Huxley
Aug 5-12
13,000+ feet, class 3
Leaders: John Ingvoldstad, Kate Ingvoldstad
(408) 996-7129, (209) 296-8483
Topos: Mt. Goddard 15', Mt. Darwin 7.5'
 From Lake Sabrina itis only one day in to Evolution Basin via the col
between Mts. Haeckel and Wallace. Once situated, many Class 2 & 3 climbs
beckon, including Heackel, Wallace, Fiske and Huxley, all over 13,000.
 Deserving separate mention is Mt. Darwin, the highest peak in the area at
13,830, and arguably one of the best Class 3 climbs in the Sierra, featuring
multiple chutes and route-finding, and very solid, clean rock. Don't miss
this week of thrills!

private trips

Split Mountain
July 8-9
14,058 feet, class 3
Organizer: Charles Schafer
Co-organizer: Bob Suzuki
(408) 259-0772 h (eves)
Topos: Split Mtn, Fish Springs 7.5's
 Saturday will be a route-finding adventure as we try to find our way to the
trailhead, then the trail to Red Lake where we'll make camp.  Sunday will be
peak day, then we'll head on out. Since Split is at the southern end of the
Palisades and right on the Sierra crest, we should get some rather
spectacular views from the summit.

Mt. Haeckel
July 21-23
13,435 feet, class 3
Organizer(s): Phyllis Olrich
750 Homer Ave.
Palo Alto, CA  94301-2907
(415) 322-0323 (home)
Debbie Benham
(415) 964-0558
Topos: Mt. Goddard (15'), Mt. Darwin, Mt. Thompson (7.5')
 From Lake Sabrina we'll hike up the Middle Fork of Bishop Creek
to set up basecamp at Hungry Packer Lake on Friday.  Saturday, we'll
take the east ridge approach to the summit (bring a harness, just in
case).  If time permits, we'll also do Mt. Wallace (13,377 feet). All
participants must sign a waiver. To reserve a spot, send $3 (to
cover permit fee) and contact information (name, address, phone,
fax, email) to Phyllis at the above address.

Mt. Lyell
July 29-31
13,114 feet, Class 2-3
with crampons and ice axe
Organizer(s): Debbie Benham
(415) 964-0558 home (until 10 p.m.)
Judith Yarborough
(415) 854-9288 home (before 10pm)
Topo: Merced Peak
 This peak is the high point of Yosemite National Park. We'll go up
theregular route, cramponing our way up the Lyell Glacier, then proceed to
the saddle between Lyell and Maclure. "From there to the top" (Roper). Snow
gear required. All participants will be asked to sign a liability waiver.
Eight on permit.

Temple Crag
August 5-6
12,999 feet, class 3
Organizer(s): Debbie Benham
(415) 964-0558 H; dmbenham@aol.com
Charles Schafer
(408) 354-1545 H; charles.schafer@octel.com
Topo: Big Pine 15'
 We'll be climbing the southeastern chute which is 300' below the south side
of Contact Pass. The chute leads to a large talus slope then a 50-foot
section of Class 3 just beneath the summit. As we do not have a backcountry
reservation*, we'll try for either a N. Fork or S. Fork, Big Pine Creek,
entry. Accepting four people for a total of six participants. All will be
asked to sign a liability waiver. [*-waiting in line with 
fingers crossed; Plan B possible]

Deerhorn, Ericsson, Junction, East Vidette
Aug 10-14
13,888 feet, class 3 peaks
Hard class 2 cross country with packs
Organizers: Aaron Schuman
(415) 390-1901 work; schuman@sgi.com
Steve Eckert
(415) 508-0500; eckert@netcom.com
Topos: Mt. Whitney, Mt. Pinchot
 We enter Bubbs Creek on 8/10 and camp around East Lake. On 8/11 we move the
packs to the lakes between Ericsson Crags and Mt Stanford, and climb Deerhorn
if we have lots of time. On 8/12 we move the packs to the saddle, bag
Ericsson, and drop around Caltech Peak to camp between Diamond Mesa and
Caltech Peak. On 8/13 we move packs to Forester Pass and bag Junction Peak,
then camp on the Bubbs Creek trail as close to East Vidette as possible. The
last day we bag East Vidette and pack out. Ambitious, eh? Everybody better be
in good shape! We will start early to beat the heat and allow packing and
climbing on the same day. This is a five-day trip, but plan on taking an
extra day's food in case the going is tough or the weather is bad.
 To sign up, call or send email to Aaron for instructions.*

Mt. Ritter/Banner Peak
August 18-20
13,157 feet, class 3
Organizer: Charles Schafer
(408) 324-6003 W; (408) 354-1545 H
Co-Organizer: Kelly Maas
(408) 279-2054 H; (408) 944-2078 W
Topo: Devil's Postpile 15'
 According to Secor, Mt. Ritter is perhaps the most prominent peak in  the
High Sierra, and is located in one of the High Sierra's most scenic  areas,
so this trip promises to be nothing short of spectacular. We'll  hike in on
Friday to either Ediza or Nydiver Lake, then try for both  peaks on Saturday.
An ice axe will probably be required.

Mt Abbot trip report

 The PCS advance trip schedule showed Mt. Abbot and Mt. Dade on June 3-4, but
the trip was dropped from the final schedule due to co-leader reluctance and
the incredible snowpack this year. At the last minute, several people called
and wanted to do the trip anyway, so off we went.  In the meantime, the CMC
schedule had come out indicating a Mills/Abbot trip the same weekend, so we
hoped to have some company. Our merry band met near Rock Creek Lake since the
remaining 1.5 miles of pavement was covered with 3 feet of snow. 
 A little pavement walking, a little hard morning snow walking, and the two
with skis (Charles Schafer and Chris Yager) decided to lighten their packs
and weigh down their feet. The two snowshoers (Steve Eckert and Bob Suzuki)
stomped on down the trail, confident that the skiers would overtake them
soon. Well, not so soon. It became apparent that there was a pace difference,
and a route choice difference, that split along the ski/snowshoe boundary. 
 Bob and Steve set off for Treasure Lakes, dreams of an afternoon blitz up
Dade dancing in front of them like a mirage. Chris and Charles headed up past
Ruby Lake and planned to meet us at the 12,500-foot saddle between Dade and
Treasure Peak, where we would camp poised for a Sunday assault on Abbot. This
year, there is no such thing as a trail. None of the lakes were melted, and
the streams poked through heavy blocks of snow making the simple task of
filling a water bottle quite exciting. 
 The Dade-bound duo dropped their packs at the base of the Hourglass (a
40-degree snow chute south of Dade) about 3 p.m. Snowshoes had not been
required until about 11,000 feet, but the snow was softening rapidly. We
actually kicked steps up the Hourglass in snowshoes because it was too soft
to climb in just boots! (If you flip your foot out behind you,the tail will
swing up and you can punch the tip in instead of letting the shoe hit flat.)
Still on snowshoes, we summited about 5:30 p.m. Late summitting is becomming
a habit for me, it seems. 
 Anyone going to Dade should take a new register box, because the one there
is missing a lid and badly crushed. Most entries have washed out because they
were in ink and some fool stood the topless can upright in the snow. Back to
the packs around 6:30 p.m., we faced a 1,000-foot climb up snow that still
required snowshoes. 
 Even protected by Diamox, Steve did not feel up to the task after the long
day, so he started melting snow while Bob headed up to the saddle (sans pack)
to let the others know we'd join them in the morning. He never made it. Ran
out of light and returned with the report that while he could see the saddle,
there was no one there. 
 Meanwhile, unbeknownst to us, Chris had broken a ski binding and Charles
was suffering from early-season altitude effects as well.  They got to the
north side of the saddle (at the base of Mt Abbot) around 8:30pm and decided
to stop there, in the only visible campsite around. Charles skied over
toward the saddle to find out what kept Steve and Bob from getting to the
meeting spot, but found himself in avalanche debris with failing light
and turned back.
 Bob and Steve got to the saddle with day packs around 7:30 a.m., and between
gusts of wind managed to communicate with the others who were still half a
mile away at their camp. They were not climbing, so we headed up Abbot with
high hopes and good hard morning snow.  Crossing the standard snow chute was
no big problem, but some spots were past knee deep. Climbing out on the
third-class rock seemed particularly dangerous, because there were few route
choices not covered by snow, and a fall almost certainly would send you on a
rock-spiked glissade.
 Then we turned the corner and stared into the jaws of defeat: The traverse
over to the summit ridge measures 48 degrees, and was fluffy soft corn snow
with gaps near buried rocks. Packing a step involved repeatedly kicking or
pushing snow into a deep footstep until there was enough of a base to hold
your weight. The solid step was then five feet below the snow at arms length
in front. 
 We spent 45 minutes doing a 200-foot traverse, using all kinds of unusual
snow moving methods (knees, shins, ice axes held horizontally with both
hands, etc.). Once on the ridge, there was a knife-edge cornice that was
packed hard by the wind. It seemed friendly compared to the soft corn. 
 Some mixed third class and icy snow lead to the summit of Abbot, where we
excavated in vain for 10 minutes but never found a register. Too much snow.
Damn. We were there. Really! 
 The return to the saddle was much less nerve-wracking, but we had to repack
our steps due to softening in the sun. Bob accused Steve of working for
CalTrans and making a sidewalk, but the steps that did crack out under
testing caused little wet avalanches. Caution was advised, because recovery
from a mistake would be difficult. 
 Baking in the afternoon sun, we darted from shadow to shadow trying to avoid
further sunburn. Steve was doing the zinc oxide clown face routine after
giving up on SPF 40, while Bob was counting on superior genetics to protect
 Snowshoes were required for the entire hike out: We got back to the car
around 6 p.m., and due to closed passes we gotback to the Bay Area around 3
a.m. after a scenic drive past Lake Tahoe. A long trip, and one of the most
challenging mixed condition climbs I've done in many years, but two people
got two peaks in two days. 
 We never did see the CMC group, so I assume that the ranger's warnings of
high avalanche danger kept them away. We saw only melted debris, but the soft
snow was certainly at risk of cutting loose.
-- Steve Eckert

Jack's Peak trip report

   No Luau at Lake Aloha    
 Jack's Peak, June 11, 1995   
 We crossed seven different kinds of snow, beginning when we entered the
Desolation Wilderness at the Echo Lakes snow park, and continuing almost
until we left the wilderness at Fallen Leaf Lake.   Everything in informal
Desolation is known by first names (Dick's Peak, Suzie's Lake), so in keeping
with this tradition, I'll just identify us as Ted, Noreen, Bob, Milush, John,
trip leader Kelly, and yours truly, Aaron. 
 Early along, we saw how harsh the winter was in Desolation, as I discovered
a frozen porcupine. We collected a few quills for show and tell, but we
decided to leave the porcupine jerky for you to enjoy when you're next in the
area. We surmounted 2635-meter Keith's Dome on our way to our campsite beside
the frozen Lake Aloha. This lake is famous for its hundreds of lovely
islands, but the snow lay so deep atop the ice that we couldn't see any
islands at all.  
 Where snow had melted near a boulder on the shore, we could see that the
depth was about 5 meters. In spite of the beauty of the lake and the nearby
peaks enshrouded in smooth whiteness, we huddled in our tents seeking refuge
from the fierce wind. Sunday morning we kicked steps up the long ramp to the
south ridge of Jack's Peak, then walked the talus, swept clean of snow by the
gales, to the 3004-meter summit.  
 The first 400 meters of our descent were a thrilling, ear-popping, sitting
glissade. With temperatures were above 10 degrees Celsius, there was
tremendous melting taking place, the creeks were very high, and the
waterfalls were stunning. In our downclimb, we needed to cross a swollen
drainage with only a partial log jam for a bridge. 
 A couple crossed, but it looked like it would be difficult for the others.
Kelly earned the leader of the month award by wading in the freezing runoff
to help the others over the river. The final kilometer of our journey should
have been a gentle stroll on an unpaved road, but the massive melt-off had
flooded the area, and we completed that leg of the trip calf deep in water.  
 Because the conditions in Desolation were so wintery, even at such a low
elevation, in mid June, we can expect to find significant snow in any Sierra
destination, particularly in the high country, all season. Take heed: plan to
pack snow travel equipment such as waterproof boots and gaiters for every
trip you go on in 1995.
-- Aaron Schuman

Big Sur trip report

  Short Steps at Big Sur
 Big Sur was quite windy, but not cold during this June 10-11 week-end. As no
peak was announced to be bagged, only a couple of people signed up. I must
admit that Pfeiffer Big Sur is a huge campground that attracts mostly people
who want to play music and chat until 2 a.m. around the fire.
 Nevertheless, on the first day, we climbed up to Skinner Ridge Viewpoint
(and some of us to Devils Peak) from Bottchers Gap. We enjoyed astounding
views of the Ventana Wilderness mountains and the sea afar.
 The trail was difficult to use at times, because of the new spring growth
and lots of poison oak. The walk-in campground at Bottchers Gap does not have
water, so it was almost completely deserted, yet open.
 The second day, we took a shorter hike on the flat. In the Andrew Molera
State Park, we followed the Bluffs trail to the Spring Trail, along the sea
and onto the beach.The youngest person of the party, Tania Louise (2), did
her debuts as an enthusiastic hiker (well, for 200 yards). The rest of the
time, she was a 32-lb pack. No tick bites. Phew.
 Participants: David Caldwell, Anouchka Gaillard, Peter Maxwell, Tania
Maxwell and Debi Perry. 
--Anouchka Gaillard

North Palisade trip report

Memorial Day Weekend Trip
North Palisade - May 26-29, 1995 
 The trip description in the Scree and on the e-mail broadcast generated
responses from several people. On the trail we were four. I'd had very little
luck convincing the other climbers (now they believe me) to leave early and
pack in to Lon Chaney's cabin on Thursday evening. But I wasn't going to lose
any sleep over it so I left Fremont Thursday morning and got to the Big Pine
trailhead hiker parking lot after six that evening.  
 Reserved permits aren't required until June 29 this year so I filled out a
self-issue permit with the campground host, dropped the pack at the end of
the road, parked the car in the hiker parking lot and started walking back up
to the pack. The trail which starts up from the end of the road is getting
washed out and overgrown near the streams.  
 With this added bushwhacking it may be easier for the North Fork to just
start up the trail from the hiker parking lot. Got to the cabin about eight
and had a nice long restful night's sleep there on the porch while the rest
of the group was driving the lonely highways 'til the wee hours of the
morning and not reaching the cabin until nine on Friday. 
 Friday was a beautiful crystal clear sunny typical Sierra day. Past the
cabin snow soon covered the trail. We trudged for a few hours trying to get
our packs as high as possible for camp. Two of us stopped  Around 11,800 feet
at 2:30 p.m. and camped in the little tarn above Sam Mack Meadow.  
 The other two stopped an hour later at the meadow. The post-holing was
particularly noticeable on the slope leading from the stream up to the
meadow. We spent the next five hours melting snow, cooking, and gassing up
for the next day.  
 There was no running water after crossing the stream at 10,500 feet, and
even there we were digging down a few feet in the snow to find it.
 Saturday was a grey overcast day with darker clouds that kept dropping
lower. The two of us that had camped higher crossed the bergschrund and took
turns kicking steps in the deep snow up to the U-Notch.  
 The 'schrund wasn't a big problem, with enough snow to walk across.  We
reached the notch about 10 a.m. and kept watching and waiting for the weather
to give us a sign. The peaks were socked-in, with clouds blowing from the
south through the notch.  
 To the north we could see several squalls below us. To the south we couldn't
see anything most of the time. After about an hour and a half we got snowed
off just as we were getting ready to go on belay. We'd thought we might at
least go up the chimney while waiting for the weather.  
 The two pitches in the chimney had looked passably clear of snow, etc., with
some ice in the first pitch. It continued snowing on and off as we went back
to camp, where we found the other two waiting.  
 Later in the afternoon the sky cleared, mostly, with some clouds around the
peaks and some snow squalls passing through. At times we wished we had stayed
at the U-Notch and given it a try, but we had left some good snow steps for
the next day.  
 Around camp we decided to forego T-bolt and take another run at North Pal on
 Sunday was mostly clear, with a few clouds around the peaks. We got back up
to the U-Notch about 8 a.m., where some students from UCSD soon joined us.
The wind was chilly and the sun felt great when the clouds let it through.  
 We climbed slowly up the two pitches clearing snow and ice from some of the
holds, making more work than usual. We carried our ice axes and crampons
along--wearing the crampons for the first pitch. In the past I've left both
at the U-Notch.  
 By 1 p.m. four of us had climbed to the top of the 4th class chimney.  One
of the UCSD hopefuls had joined up with us and we went for the top.  With the
fresh snow everywhere we belayed much of the way to the summit, which is
usually a scramble.  
 After a traverse we dropped down 80 feet on the south side of the ridge and
then back up to the summit boulders. We got baked through this section, with
clouds now widely scattered and the wind quiet on the south side.  
 The register was buried in a couple of feet of snow and eluded us despite a
fair amount of poking around with an ice axe, but we have pictures for those
who require proof.  
 We were back to the top of the chimney by 5:30 p.m., where we used two
120-foot, 8.5-mm ropes tied together for two rappels. We were back to the
U-Notch by 7:45 p.m..
 Monday was clear and beautiful. We packed out to the cars by 11 p.m. and
drove. Trip participants were Craig Clarence, Steve Shields, Tony Cruz, Jeff
from UCSD, and myself.
-- Joe Stephens

Sphinx trip report

Serious Sphincters Scale SphinxMemorial Day Weekend, 1995
 The thought occurred to me as I packed for yet another Memorial Day weekend
in Kings Canyon: "Maybe we'll climb The Sphinx this year!'' I'd had this
thought before. This time, I wasn't nearly as enthusiastic. After all, I'd
had knee surgery only six months before; the serious auto-graft kind of knee
surgery. And there were tons of snow up there to boot. Probably not the year
to try this climb, but I threw the rope in anyway, and added a few pieces of
pro and five draws. 
 "That ought to be enough to vanquish any silly 5.2 pitches,'' I thought. I
neglected to throw in an ice-ax, however. I just wasn't taking this very
 On Saturday, everyone but a small group of Stork people did the traditional,
usually boring hike up to Paradise Valley. It wasn't boring this year. The
South Fork of the Kings was a raging torrent, making Mist Falls a wall of
water. Water was everywhere, making small waterfalls on the sides of canyons
that I had never seen before. 
 Little did I know that this was to be the driest part of the day! We didn't
make it very far beyond the "lower'' Paradise Valley before reaching a bog,
and that was enough to turn the group around. After lunch almost everybody
headed down for Happy Hour. I managed to convince a few people to have a
short adventure, and there was still beer left when we finally got back.
 I was feeling my oats that evening. The hike down the hill, supplemented by
a little ibuprofen, had left no residual soreness in my revamped knee joint,
and had actually felt fairly pleasant. Discussion of various destinations for
the following day flowed about me, and soon I heard that the Bubbler was
hoping to climb some mountain called Palmer, a snowy walk-up whose main
attraction was an elevation in excess of 11,000 feet. When the Stoic heard
this, he assured the Bubbler that I had been planning to climb the Sphinx.
Oops, I thought, this is getting serious. 
 Soon, it sounded like there was a group of four of us headed for the Sphinx
tomorrow. Thus I fell victim to my own passing fancy. Our beneficent
organizers, the Two C's, announced that they were going to lead a hike up
toward Avalanche Pass tomorrow morning. The die was cast; we were all going
up that creek; maybe my little group would come to its senses and start
paddling back down before it was too late. But I knew I was in trouble.
 The next morning we got a late start -- the four of us were even later than
the main group of hiker-types. But we soon caught up, and it was pleasant to
have company on the lengthy switch backs up Bubb's and then Sphinx Creek. At
about 7,400 feet, we took an early lunch break, and showing a complete
absence of common sense, or even decency for that matter, started up the
snowy canyon wall towards the Sphinx. 
 I had originally suggested that we cross over the creek a bit lower and work
our way up on the rock slabs and dirt in between the snow patches. So up we
went. I was immediately impressed by how the snow was nicely consolidated.
The climbing was actually pleasant! (The Bubbler had graciously loaned me an
ice ax.) 
 So, while B and S crossed over onto the dirt, I continued up the snow. Our
fourth compatriot, Mark (I don't yet know him well enough to assign a stage
name) stuck with me briefly, then decided to cross over to join the other
two. I was convinced that the Sphinx was basically right at the top of my
snow field, so I thought I'd just climb straight on up in the snow. 
 Well, I was wrong. About 400 feet feet from the top of my now rather steep
hill, I got a view of the Sphinx off to my right and slightly below me. Damn!
Unfortunately, at that point the snow was rather soft, and careful
route-finding was necessary to avoid a painful amount of post-holing. 
 I had no choice but to continue to the ridge top. I finished up as fast as I
could, that is, slightly in excess of a banana slug's pace. I then quickly
descended 500 feet to the base of the Sphinx's southern peak, and jogged
(sort of) to the top to meet my friends who were now well rested and a little
impatient after their 40-minute wait. I was more than a bit embarrassed!
 The Stoic had scouted the start of the down climb to the notch between the
two summits. He indicated that a rap would be necessary. I agreed, and
quickly spotted a lovely rock horn that was God's gift to rappellers. 
 We dropped down the half rope length into the notch and considered our
options. I don't quite know how it happened but somehow we decided that we
needed to go down the east side of the notch. Why didn't we look west?
 So we rigged another rap. I went first and decided that we could easily
climb down to what appeared to be the start of the climb by kicking steps
into an unlikely looking fang of snow that protruded up the gully we needed
to descend. I kicked happily on down, only slightly perturbed by the lengthy
drop off below the base of our snow fang. I reassured myself that I could
probably throw myself into the moat between the snow and rock if things
looked dire. Probably. Mountain climbing is no fun if there's no exposure,
 Everyone made it down to our stance safely, and I plugged in a bombproof
anchor. The Stoic flaked out the rope, and up I went. The climbing was fun,
probably not harder than 5.4 initially. I soon came to the ledge that I
thought had been mentioned in the route description. I followed it to its
end, an end that offered a nice view, lovely exposure, a stirring breeze, but
was, nonetheless, a dead end. I backtracked, informed the crew of my
findings, and proceeded up a likely looking corner. Pleasant and stimulating
5.6 stemming and crack climbing ensued, leading to spacious blocks on the
summit ridge. The Sphinx was ours!        
 Well, not quite. I brought up the Stoic, but we now had the amusing problem
of getting the rope back down to the other two, a problem compounded by two
intervening tree-like plants and swirling winds.  But, with several mis-tries
and much shouted information regarding wind speed and direction,the rope was
twice slung down the 130-foot pitch, and first the B and then Mark came on
up. The Bubbler talked almost non-stop during the entire pitch, discussing
his lack of sufficient experience at technical rock, recounting previous
experiences at rock climbing, and so forth, and so on, and so forth, and so
 Everyone found the 5.6 crux to be a somewhat thought provoking effort when
executed in mountain boots, but no one slipped. The view from the summit was
pleasant but certainly not outstanding. This summit, the "nose'' of the
Sphinx, is actually the lower of the two. It looks better from below than it
does from on top. A typical rock-climber's destination, I guess.        
 After the requisite summit photos and register signing ceremonies, our
little group descended. By now, of course, we had discerned with keen
hindsight the easy way up and proceeded to follow this route back down to the
notch. To save time, I hoped, I set a very short rappel down a 20-foot drop
off that would have been the only technical part of the ascent if we had been
a bit more observant earlier. A few interesting fourth class moves then
brought us back to the notch.        
 I eyed the low-angle but lichenous slabs that led up from the notch with
deep suspicion. I asked the Stoic, who was carrying the rope, if he thought
he could just "climb on up.'' "Sure," he replied casually. "Well,'' thought
I, "I'm just being silly, then; just climb on up yourself.''  So I started on
up. Naturally, halfway up, I discovered that: a) mountain boots don't smear
very well, b) lichen smears all too well, and c) there was a small bulge in
my way. I didn't like it, but what can you do? I smeared my stiff boot soles,
tried not to smear the lichen, and pulled on over the bulge. 
 A few moves later I was back at that incredible rock horn. The rope was
tossed up from below, of course, for the Stoic had repented on his earlier
judgement about the ease of the lichenous slabs. I quickly brought the others
up. We all were back on the south summit by 7 p.m.         The descent down
the snowfield was just a joy. Conditions were perfect for just madly dashing
down the hill. The Bubbler was ecstatic. He pulled out a plastic bag, sat
down, and went whooping down the hill; his altimeter registered a maximum
descent rate of 6,000 ft/hour. 
 Even for me, the descent was great fun. The soft snow cushioned every foot
fall, even at a running pace. My more conservative style, however, didn't
exceed a mere 4,600 ft/hour, but needless to say, we all got down to the
trail in one helluva hurry.        
 Now, all that remained was the semi-infinite sequence of switchbacks back
down to the King's Canyon, and, once again, the two flat miles out to Road's
End. We hurried. There was beer at the end of the tunnel and we knew it. 
 The rocky switch backs on the Avalanche Pass trail fell behind us as Mark
took a spill; we were all getting tired. But the going was easier now on the
gentler forest dirt of the Bubb's Creek switch backs. The light was failing
as we crossed the many bridges over Bubb's Creek, including a recent
impromptu affair over the last flow. Flashlights were unlimbered and we
 Somehow, I ended up hiking the last two miles together with the Bubbler; the
other two a few hundred yards behind. He talked continuously, and this time I
was grateful for the distraction. My feet were screaming for relief. My right
knee and groin were sore. My body just wasn't conditioned to this kind of
workout yet. I would pay for this tomorrow, but right now I just wanted to
 But the usually horrible trail through the King's Canyon was remarkably kind
tonight; the ground was firm and air was sweet and not dusty. Through the
fading glow of the day, I saw the rift of Copper Creek grow steadily larger
as we approached. Gently carried by the flow of the Bubbler's words, we came
to Road's End. Just another peak climb, just another day in the wild.
--David Ress

Split trip report

 Recently I led a 3-day trip to Split Mountain, which was listed in Scree
(but was postponed due to the long winter in the Sierras). One person
accompanied me on the trip. We summited just after the noon hour on Saturday,
June 10.
 Driving in from Big Pine, we followed the Forest Service map and directions
in a book called "California Fourteeners.'' We did not have the vehicle
clearance to safely cross a culvert, so we had to park and bushwhack for a
mile to get to the trail heed.  
 Tinemaha Creek is high, but we were able to easily cross it. We did not see
another soul from the time we left Big Pine until the time we returned.
However, there were tracks to the summit, which I estimate may have been left
on Memorial Day weekend.
 The trail is very steep and some route finding was required.  Flowers were
in exceptional full bloom everywhere including the trail itself, until we
reached about 10,000 feet, where the snow cover was complete.
 The snow was well consolidated all the way to the top. We camped in a
wind-sheltered area next to Red Lake, at about 10,500 feet. The climb from
Red Lake was completely on snow. There was a few-hundred foot class 3 section
just before the summit slope that was the most exposed and dangerous part of
the climb, although I would not consider it dangerous in dry conditions.  
 On the return, we carefully kicked steps and slowly descended this section.
There were fantastic cornices near the route, between Split and Prater. The
summit slope was a very pleasant march. 
 The view from the top was the finest I have ever seen in the mountains (I
have climbed Whitney, Sill and Mt. Blanc in France). The back country was
completely white except for protrusions of steep rock. Clear views of North
Pal, Sill, Middle Pal, the Whites, the Inyos, Panamints....and a particularly
impressive view of the Owens Valley were all part of a splendid panorama.  
 The view of the other side of Split was also wonderful. I have heard that
Split is the easiest 14-er in California, next to Whitney. I would disagree;
I think Langley is even easier than the Whitney trail, so Split should be no
less than third easiest.
 We found the climb was strenuous and I found it very much like my ascent of
Shasta on April 1, 1994. Ideal weather made this ascent very enjoyable from
start to finish.
-- Tony Cruz


Anyone who's ever tangled with The Hand, in Pinnacles National Monument,
knows that it's is one of the spookiest and most intimidating 5.6 climbs in
the country. Steep, fearsomely exposed and sparesly protected, it has
defeated many climbers, including your humble editor.
 The time-honored ritual, upon returning safely to terra firma, is to shrug,
give your belayer a knowing look and say, "Well, even Royal Robbins backed
off this one.'' Climbers have been reassuring each other with that statement
since at least the early 1970s.
 It would probably have been better to leave well enough alone, but when we
were lucky enough to have dinner with Robbins before last month's PCS meeting
we couldn't resist asking him about it.
 "I thought about (backing off), but I didn't,'' he said, instantly wiping
out an excuse that has salved the egos of a generation of climbers.
 Considering that Robbins has climbed thousands of routes around the world,
it was amazing how well he remembered this one. And his recollections also
alter some of the informal history of the route.
 Legend has it that when John Salathe made the first ascent in 1947, he was
unable to get in any solid protection. As one account had it, he pounded some
of his hard steel pitons into the Pinnacles' notoriously unwelcome cracks
merely "to reassure his nervous belayer.''
 But Robbins said that, midway up the climb, when he began to get nervous
about the runout, he moved slightly away from the most obvious line of
ascent. (Unfortunately, after a few glasses of Chianti, we forgot whether he
said it was to the right or left.) Under a large knob Robbins found a very
old and very solid Salathe piton. This piece of pro is apparently not
mentioned in the guidebooks.
 Robbins said that, as far as he knows, the valuable Salathe piton is still

Some good news for Yosemite backcountry users: You can now reserve wilderness
permits by phone. As of June 1, Yosemite has been taking phone-in
reservations at (209) 372-0740. Up to to 50 percent of each trailhead's quota
is being given out in advance, either by phone, by mail or by walk-up.
Permits can be reserved up to 24 weeks in advance.
 Have your credit card ready: Yosemite charges $3 per person for each
reservation, and takes all major credit cards over the phone.

Bill Kirkpatrick checks in with proof that there are still decent people left
in this world: "Driving to Mt. Shasta on the Memorial Day weekend, I realized
I had lost my wallet. On the way back to San Jose after the climb, I visited
the gas station where the wallet was last seen.  No luck. Tuesday after
Memorial Day I got a phone call from Mr. Mitul Patel, who found my wallet
outside the Alpine Lodge Motel. He mailed the wallet back to me, complete
with all the cash that had been in it. I want to publicize this and to
encourage people to use Mr. Patel's motel at 908 S. Mt. Shasta Blvd. Mt.
Shasta, CA 96067 (916) 926-3134.''

Now you know
Q: What is the first recorded ascent of a major Sierra Nevada peak?
A: In 1863, three members of the California Geological Survey, Josiah
Whitney. William Brewer and Charles Hoffmann climbed what is now known as Mt.
Hoffmann near Tuolumne Meadows. All three, it should be noted, did all right
in the peak-naming department. (Roper's Climbers Guide to the High Sierra
notes that Mt. Tom, near Bishop, may have been ascended three years earlier.
And although there are no known existing records, Native Americans certainly
climbed many Sierra peaks before the arrival of Whitney & Co.) 

The last words
 "Let us stop here a little while longer! It is good to rest on the summit,
and to dream amongst the clouds for a few short moments in one's life.'' 
-- Guido Rey 
 "Good climbing and good company often go together: each is essential
to the enjoyment of the other.'' 
-- Tom Frost
   "Great sport begins at a point where it has ceased to be healthy.''
-- Bertolt Brecht 
 "My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She's
ninety-five now, and we don't know where the hell she is.''
-- Ellen Degeneris 

Smith and Crag trip report

Smith Mountain (9,515) and Crag Peak (9,455)
Debbie Bulger
 The Southern Sierra is such a beautiful area, and the Hooker Meadow
trailhead is very special. Over Memorial Day weekend Richard and I decided to
complete the trip we had planned to do in April but postponed because of the
heavy snow year. We reached the trailhead about 12:30 p.m. on Saturday May 28
and began hiking at 1 p.m.. 
 The gentle grade passed through open woodland following a branch of Jackass
Creek. In less than two hours we reached the green expanse of Hooker Meadow
(8,400 feet), aka Hooker marsh this year. We decided to set up our tent there
amid patches of melting snow instead of continuing on to Albanita Meadows as
we originally had planned. We barely had time to set up camp when we had to
take refuge from the daily thunder storm.
 At 4 p.m. all was clear, and since we had about four and one half more hours
of daylight, we decided to go for Smith, the easier of the two peaks.
Although there was plenty of snow above 9,000 feet, we didn't need the ice
axes we had brought. At the summit we spent some time figuring out the route.
We had left our guidebook back at camp, so were not sure which granite
monolith was the summit block-so we ended up climbing both. The summit blocks
are fun third class climbing. 
 It was almost dark by the time we got off the peak, and so we returned to
our campsite by compass, stopping for conversation and banana bread at two
campfires along the way. 
 The next day we took off cross country for Crag and managed to reach the
summit block in time for the afternoon thunder storm. We spent about an hour
under a huge boulder while the gropple fell around us. Luckily most of the
storm was to the south, so it wasn't particularly dangerous. The ascent of
Crag was tedious because of the abundant manzanita. We followed the route
described by Jenkins in Exploring the Southern Sierra: East Side. However, it
would have been much easier and more direct if we had come up the
manzanita-free talus directly under the peak.
 The summit was exciting-a knife edge ending in a few feet of exposed third
class rock. Richard learned to belay just for the occasion. I know some of
you super climbers would have done it without a rope, but I want that
insurance. I straddled the knife edge and bun walked across, set a piece of
pro for safety then climbed up. I had to unrope for the very last part since
we had brought only a 7 mm, 30-foot length of rope, adequate enough.
 We came down the talus directly to the south of the peak. However, we made
an error by following too far south the old Albanita trail skirting Finger
Rock. We should have retraced our cross country approach route from the
Crag-Finger saddle. As a result, it was dark when we once again arrived at
Hooker Meadow on a moonless night.
 I have resolved to sew reflector tape on the top of my tents. You guessed
it, we spent more than an hour looking for our tent among the trees and
fallen logs. To top it off we discovered we had first arrived at Hooker
almost exactly where our tent was-great navigation, lousy tent finding.
 All in all a great trip with good sound granite and two fun climbs.
-- Debbie Bulger

Matterhorn trip report
(this was broadcast earlier, but apparently did not make the hardcopy Scree)

 Fracture lines in the snow clinging to the sides of Horse Creek Canyon were
visible from the trail below. We put on long gaiters at 8,500 feet and
stepped one to two inches down into crunchy snow. Perfect conditions. 
 We camped at 10,500 feet at the origins of Horse Creek on June 23. Snow was
all around, with patches of earth near trees and large boulders. As we passed
the gully for the approach to the east couloir,  Brian Staby, co-organizer,
and with a group consensus, nixed the idea. Exposure on the route, fracture
lines in the snow along the sides, and abilities of the entire group came
into play to make the decision to contemplate another route.
 Avalanche stories worried, then scared, us (well, me actually --organizer,
Debbie Benham). All encouraged me to "wait and see what's up there.''
 Approximately 6 a.m. the next morning, Brian led the way up to Horse Creek
Pass, where we then followed the Southeast Slope up to the summit. Snow until
about 11,700 feet, then no snow at all on the ridge line and top o' peak.
Beautiful weather, beautiful day!  Participants: Christopher Fulton, Patti
Haight and Kate Ingvoldstadt.  And from all of us, THANK YOU Brian for your
very competent leadership!
-- Debbie Benham