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Newsletter of the Peak Climbing Section, Sierra Club, Loma Prieta Chapter
March, 1995                                                Vol. 28, No. 3


Date:  Tuesday, March 14
Time:  7:30 p.m.
Place: The Pacific Mountaineer
       200 Hamilton Ave.
       Palo Alto

Program: Royal Robbins: 40 Years of Adventure.  See article at right for 
more details.  A $5 donation will be requested at the door to support the 
Climber's Access Fund.  Note: All business items will be tabled until the 
April meeting.  Members are invited to join officers for dinner and 
discussion of pertinent business issues before the meeting at the Good 
Earth Restaurant on University in Palo Alto.  

(map of location in original)

Royal Robbins

THE NORTHWEST Face of Half Dome.  The Salathe Wall.  The North American 
Wall.  Tis-sa-ack.  In the Golden Age of Yosemite climbing, Royal Robbins 
stamped his name on the vertical landscape like no one else.  What Ansel 
Adams was to Yosemite photography, Robbins was to climbing.  

His collectionof firsts is too numerous to list.  A few highlights, 
though: the nation's first 5.9, the Open Book route at Tahquitz in 1953.  
The first Grade VI, Half Dome, in 1957.  The first solo ascent of El 
Capitan, the Muir Wall in 1969.  Robbins didn't invent chocks, stoppers or 
nuts, but his early adoption of them was crucial in ushering in the era of 
clean climbing in Yosemite.  

More than anything, Robbins' bold climbing style and respect for the 
environment was influential in establishing the ethics for more than one 
generation of American climbers.  

As a 14-year-old Boy Scout in Southern California, Robbins got his first 
taste of the mountains on a backpacking trip to the Rae Lakes area.  It 
was on this trip that he was introduced to rock climbing.  He found that 
it came to him naturally and instinctively, like nothing else had before.  
After a "foolish" accident broke his arm, Robbins learned safety 
techniques from a local Sierra Club chapter.  Soon he was tearing up 
Tahquitz, putting up the hardest rock climbing routes in the country while 
still in his teens.  

After a stint in the Army and a short career as a bank teller, Robbins 
resolved to spend his life in the mountains.  He worked as a ski 
instructor at Sugar Bowl from 1960 to 1964 and spent the rest of the year 
climbing and traveling.  

He made the second ascent of El Capitan, shaving 38 days off Warren 
Harding's time.  His 1961 El Cap route, the Salathe Wall, is today 
considered perhaps the finest rock climb in the world.  His ascent of the 
North American Wall in 1964 with Tom Frost, Chuck Pratt and Yvon 
Chouinard, was considered the hardest rock climb in the world.  

(More at our level, Robbins' 1967 five-pitch climb, the Nutcracker, is 
considered by many to be one of the world's finest moderate climb.) 

With his wife Liz, Robbins now runs the clothing firm that bears his name.  
It draws less publicity that the clothing firm run by his erstwhile rival 
and partner Chouinard (Patagonia), but Robbins' company is no less 
committed to making the world a better place.  Every employee devotes at 
least one hour a week to community service, usually by helping out in the 
classrooms of local schools.  Ten percent of his company's net profits are 
donated to environmental causes.  Employees are paid to walk, bicycle or 
carpool to work.  

Along the way, Robbins found the time and energy to explore many wild and 
scenic rivers, including the Bio Bio in Chile.  He has made numerous 
kayaking first-descents of whitewate rivers.  His biography, Royal 
Robbins: Spirit of the Age, was written by climbing partner Pat Ament and 
published in 1992, 

These days Robbins tours the country presenting his "40 Years of 
Adventure" program to raise money for environmental causes .  This show 
will benefit the Climbers' Access Fund..  

- John Flinn 


*** X-C Skiing Cabin Trip
March 11-12
Leaders:  Vreni and Greg Rau (510) 582-5578

On Saturday we'll ski in the vicinity of Grover Hot Springs, so bring your 
swimsuits!  On Sunday we'll attempt Markleeville Peak or Red Lake Peak.  
This trip is for intermediate skiers.  Co-listed with the Bay Chapter Ski 
Touring section.  

*** Telemark/X-C Weekend
Friday night, March 17 to Sunday, March 19
Leader: Bob Suzuki

This is the fourth annual skinny ski outing at the Apres Ski Lodge, Kings 
Beach, North Lake Tahoe.  You are also responsible for your own activities 
on Saturday and Sunday.  I plan on telemarking at Mt.  Rose.  Space is 
limited so sign-up now!!  Cost: $45 for two nights lodging, two 
breakfasts, two lunches and one supper plus $10 extra/person/weekend for 
semiprivate room, if available.  Also $10 for non-members of the Sierra 
Club.  Non-refundable unless someone replaces you.  One house chore 
required per weekend.  Send check made out to: Ron Lingelbach 1492 Pine 
Grove Way San Jose Ca , 95129 408/253-8036 (h) at 9-10 p.m.  e-mail: 

*** Earth Walk '95
May 7

Earth Walk '95 is a 10-kilometer fundraising walkathon in San Francisco's 
Golden Gate Park that will benefit not only the Sierra Club, but other Bay 
Area environmental organizations.  To protect and improve the environment, 
please call (415) 923-WALK for registration information.  

Ahead this spring and summer

Mark your calendar.  What follows are the results of the spring/summer 
trip planning meeting.  Thanks to Paul Magliocco for making it happen and 
springing for the pizza.  Remember that all trips are tentative until the 
leaders receive their permits.  This is for advance planning only.  Full 
descriptions, including leader names, will appear as the trips draw 

April 15-16: Southern Sierra rock climb
April 22-23: Craig Peak 
April 28-30  Mt. Williamson             

May 6-7: South Fork of Merced       
May 13-14: Big Sur car camp           
May 13-14: Dewey Point                
May 21: Deer Camp, W. Fall Meadow
May 19-21: Tehipite, Spanish, Three Sisters 
May 27-29: Cherry Creek Canyon
May 27-29 Mt. Shasta - Clear Creek Route

June 2-4 : Mt. Abbot, Mt. Dade
June 3-4: Olancha Peak
June 10-11: Mt. Conness 
June 15-19: Kaweahs
June 17-18: Silliman/Alta car camp
June 23-25: Matternhorn Peak
June 24-25: Dana Plateau   
July 1-4: Mt. Ansel Adams 
July 1-4: Cherry Creek Canyon
July  3-8: Volunteer Peak, Pettit Peak
July 1-9: Ionian Basin
July 8-9: El Capitan - Tamarack Flat
July 8-9: Split Mountain
July 15-16: Red and White 
July 21-23: Mt. Haeckel, Mt. Wallace
July 29-30: Mt. Bradley, Independence Pk
July 29-30: Round Top, Red Lake Peak 
July 29-31: Mt. Lyell, Mt. Maclure
August: 5-6: Temple Crag
August: 6-13: Evolution Basin & peaks
August: 10-14: Kings Kern Divide & Peaks
August 12-13: Mt. Irvine, Mt. Mallory
August 12-19: Gannett Peak (Wind Rivers)
August 19-21: Mt. Russell
August 26-27: Red Slate ice climb 

Sept. 2-4: Polomonium Peak
Sept. 2-4: Mt. Winchell
Sept. 9-10: Gayle Peakk - Chiquito Pass
Sept. 16-17: Vogelsang Peak, Fletcher 
Sept. 23-24: Mt. Langley
Sept. 30-1: Homers Nose
Sept. 30-1: Crown Point   

Additions to membership roster

Please add the following e-mail addresses to your PCS roster:

Roger Crawley: RogCrawley@aol.com
Carol Greenstreet and Randy May: Maystreet@aol.com
Warren and Dixie Storkman: Dstorkman@alo.com


Laura Sefchik says hi

Far-flung PCSer Laura Sefchik checks in from her home in Yosemite: "Now 
that dear old Sally (Glynn) is in the Grand Canyon, I'll act as our 
chapter's Yosemite connection.  I'll try to lead some day hikes and plan 
some potluck dinners.  
"I'll be starting my third season with Le Conte Memorial, leading nature 
hikes and presenting evening slide programs.  My 'Climb the Mountains' 
program includes many PCS trips.  I invite all PCS members to come to 
LeConte for a visit and to check the Yosemite guide and flyers for 
additional information (May 1-Sept.  30)." 
"Please add me to the membership roster: 
Laura Sefchik
7405 Henness Ridge Rd.
Yosemite West, CA 95389
(209) 372-4542.
"P.S. Thanks to Eugene Miya for the gift subscription to Scree and to 
Phyllis Olrich for the Christmas gift!" 

Stupid pet tricks

A stray dog climbed Aconcagua, the tallest mountain in the
world outside the Himalayas, and rescued two lost climbers before
disappearing, according to a Buenos Aires newspaper.
The daily Clarin quoted Austrian mountain guide Armin Liedl as saying he 
and four German climbers were beginning their ascent of the 23,000-foot 
peak in the Andes separating Argentina from Chile when a mongrel began to 
tag along.  The dog wandered off but later returned and Liedl found it one 
morning shivering in the snow outside his tent.  
"Then I decided to climb with him up to the peak and, if we made it, to 
call him Summit," the guide said.  
At 21,000 feet, he said, the dog helped save two lost Argentine climbers 
who were stricken by altitude sickness, barking to alert Liedl and his 
companions, who went to the aid of the pair.  
The dog vanished after accompanying Liedl to the summit of Aconcagua.  But 
the guide said, "In the next few days I'm going to going back to look for 
it and take it back to Austria." 

- Reuter

Spankin' the pow?

We've always enjoyed reading the "Buzzwords" feature in Newsweek's 
trendnuggets section, Periscope.  The idea is to reveal the patois of a 
particular occupation or subculture.  But we've always sus- pected that a 
high percentage of these terms were made up.  After reading a listing of 
terms supposedly used by telemarkers, we're almost sure of it.  
Have you ever heard anyone utter these?  
*Square heads: "Nordics who invented telemarkers." 

*Telly hellies: "Helicpoter pilots who drop telly skiers on back-country 

*Friendship tour: "Telemarking under a lift to show off to the ignorant 

*Death cookies: "Chunks of frozen show; bad for tellies." 

*Spankin' the Pow: Newsweek uses this as a caption under a picture of a 
telemarker.  Apparently it's supposed to mean carving a tele turn.  

What, no PowerBars?

Bob Stafford, the state's black bear specialist, told the San Francisco 
Examiner that he has discovered the strangest things in bear stomachs, 
like an unchewed cantaloupe in one, and an entire yellow jacket's nest in 
another.  In one pile of bear droppings he found a large kitchen sponge.  

Now you know

How did the highest mountain in the contiguous 48 states get its name?  In 
1864, Clarence King, a member of the California State Geological Survey 
climbed Mt.  Tyndall, what he thought was the highest peak in the area.  
From the summit he saw two peaks that were clearly taller.  King named the 
highest for his boss, survey chief Josiah D.  Whitney, an act described by 
writer John Skow as "either boundless admiration or a spectacular case of 

The last word

"An adventure, an old mountain- climbing compadre of mine used to say, is 
simply an everyday trip with incredibly poor planning and execution." 

- Rob Schulteis


Ascent's greatest hits keep you at the edge of your seat -- or bed

THE BEST OF ASCENT, edited by Steve Roper, Allen Steck; 380 pps; Sierra 
Club Books; 1993; $25 

Having been a good climber this past year, Santa was good to me.  (O.K., 
O.K., I wasn't really a good climber, but I was good.) At any rate, on 
Christmas morning I awoke to find my stocking stuffed with my favorite 
present-books.  Specifically, mountaineering and adventure books.  What 
motivated me to write this review-besides a desire to not allow J.  Flinn 
to have all the fun yacking up what his latest good read is -was my desire 
to share with our little climbing community the joy of reading a new book 
by those venerable word-smiths of the climbing world, Steve Roper and 
Allen Steck.  
Yes, the same two guys who have singlehandedly created the phenomenon of 
50 crowded climbs, and whose vague, confusing and just plain inaccurate 
route descriptions are responsible for more PCSers getting lost on 
numerous Sierra peaks than any other pair.  This time however, their 
course is true as they've edited a magnificent compilation entitled "The 
Best of Ascent: 25 years of the Mountaineering Experience." 
While this book will never top the "classics" category by itself, it does 
contain several notable classics in the mountaineering literature which 
first appeared in the periodical Ascent.  It also includes three 
interesting appendices, all of which make it an interesting reference 
text: Ascent's contents, year by year; Ascent's contributors, listed 
alphabetically; and a section that contains shorts biographies about the 
contributors to this compilation.  
Here then is a wonderful collection of stories, accounts, narratives, 
fantasies and histories written by some of the sports' most notable 
authors and climbers: Lito Tejada-Flores, Chris Jones, David Roberts, 
Galen Rowell, Steck, Chuck Pratt, Jonathan Waterman, Royal Robbins, Doug 
Robinson, and Kitty Calhoun.  
Beyond these luminaries, however, lies the joy of discovering a new writer 
whose prose resonates within you.  Someone who captures better than you 
ever could, the mood, or feeling you've had of being in a particular 
place, or in a similar situation.  So real (and funny!) was Eric Sanford's 
portrayal of legions of neophyte climbers attempting Denali in his 
"Roughing It on Denali" that I had to remind myself I was in the "Whimsy" 
section, not the autobiographical area-what whimsy means in this case is 
anyone's guess, probably a collection of tales resulting from his and 
others' experiences while on the peak.  
Best of all, this book was put together for readers just like me-tired and 
lazy.  You see, I do most of my reading propped up in bed just before 
going to sleep, and can usually dust off no more than 20 to 50 pages 
before my concentration wanders and I'm truly ready for dreamland.  
Fortunately, "The Best of Ascent" is chock full of stories 10 to 15 pages 
in length, just the right prelude to dreams of endless high altitude 
alpine ridges on crisp days, picturesque summits, and warm granite slabs 
above green high country meadows.  

- Tim Hult

A memoir of Yosemite's Golden Age

The Mountaineers; $24.95 

Find yourself a seat by the camp fire and fill your Sierra Cup with some 
Red Mountain burgundy.  Make yourself comfortable as Steve Roper spins 
tales of the Golden Age of Yosemite climbing.  
Parts of Roper's new book do indeed read like a gossipy fireside 
remembrance; other parts seem more like a scholarly analysis.  The overall 
effect is a solid and enjoyable history of Yosemite climbing.  
Golden Ages, of course, are somewhat subjective.  According to Roper, 
Yosemite's began in 1947 with John Salathe and Axe Nelson's first ascent 
of the Lost Arrow Chimney and ended in 1971 with Warren Harding and Dean 
Caldwell's 27-day circus on the Wall of the Early Morning Light.  
Most of the book focuses on the 1960s, when Camp 4 was home to the men who 
virtually invented big wall climbing: Harding, Royal Robbins, Chuck Pratt, 
Yvon Chouinard, TM Herbert-and Roper.  (And, yes, they were all men.  As 
Roper points out, women had little impact on the sport during these 
Armchair mountaineers may know the general outline, but Roper-a wonderful 
storyteller-enlivens it with great anecdotes.  Many of us, for example, 
have heard the story of Allen Steck and John Salathe's battle with thirst 
as they made the first ascent of the North Face of Sentinel Rock over a 
scorching July 4 weekend in 1950.  What most of us didn't know, until now, 
was that a parched Salathe used his very last swig of water to soak his 
Then there was the unlikely collection of climbers assembled for a 1957 
ABC Wide World of Sports segment about Yosemite climbing.  Bob Swift, John 
Harlin and Jules Eichorn were recruited for the cameras.  The latter, 
judged "clumsy looking" was instructed to stage a fall, which he did.  
Watching all this, but not invited to participate, was Gaston Rebuffat.  
Roper sets the record straight on some important points.  Many writers, 
including Roper and yours truly, have repeated the story of Salathe 
fashioning the first hard steel alloy pitons from the axle of a Model A.  
Alas, this is probably apocryphal.  Roper points out that axles were 
extremely difficult to work with, and bars of the steel alloy would have 
been cheap and easy for Salathe to obtain.  
At times the book strives a little too hard to be the official record.  
It's hard to imagine, for example, that anyone except the participants 
care that Gary Colliver and Chris Jones made the eighth ascent of the 
Salathe Wall in 1969.  Instead, I could have used a few more TM Herbert 
Overall, though, "Camp 4" is a wonderful read and a great addition to 
any mountaineer's bookshelf.  Roper does a masterful job of capturing a 
magical time in the history of our sport.  

- John Flinn

Dear Gaston: Can you explain to me why we American mountaineers have to 
use hard-to-pronounce French words to refer to features of American 
mountains?  Instead of Mt.  Sill's Swiss Arete, why not the Swiss Ridge?  
Why not the Dana Gulley instead of the Dana Couloir?  By the way, I don't 
glissade gullies, I butt-slide 'em.  (Signed) French Fried.  

My dear French Fried: Gaston, who does his glissading while standing up, 
has always wondered why you Americans insist on using the French name for 
the Grand Tetons.  

Dear Gaston: What's the deal with the alpine starts?  Why would any sane 
climber want to head out on a climb at 2 a.m.?  (Signed, Sleepy) 

My dear Sleepy: Because that's when the bars close, you notwit.  Say hi to 
Sneezy and the other dwarves for me.  Now go and trouble me no more.  
Gaston has spoken!  


FOR SALE: Only used twice Fischer Revolution Crown Striding Skis with 
Salomon bindings and poles.  Excellent condition.  Price for complete 
package is $125.  Debra Slane.  W: (408)285-1424 e-mail: 

TRADE: I want to swap my 85 cm Laprade ice axe for a shorter ice axe, 
preferably something close to 60 cm.  My Laprade is a fine tool, and in 
excellent condition.  The shaft is sheathed in hard rubber, an unusual 
feature that has helped keep my hands warm on many climbs.  It would be an 
ideal ice axe for a very tall climber.  Aaron Schuman (415) 390-1901 
e-mail: schuman@sgi.com 

FOR SALE: New!  The "NOrthern Sierra Peaks Guide," by Peter Yamagata 
covers 71 peaks with 103 routes from Adams Peak to Sonora Peak.  All 
proceeds to the Toiyabe Chapter of the Sierra Club.  To order, send check, 
payable to the Toiyabe Chapter, Sierra Club, for $10 with Sierra DClub 
number or $11 without, to Toiyabe Chapter, Sierra CLub, Attn: George 
Churchill, Treasurer, P.O.  Box 8096, Reno, NV 89507.  

FOR SALE: Two out-of-print books on Norman Clyde.  Both books are in good 
condition.  Actually these books are the only books ever written 
exclusively about Norman Clyde.  Both books are listed below.  Please note 
that in the most recent Chessler catalog the second book listed below is 
priced at $200.00.  Therefore I think my asking price is reasonable.  If 
you think it is not reasonable, pIease make an offer.  Normally I would 
never part with these literary treasures, except that for me they are both 

1.  Close Ups of the High Sierra; $30.00 
2.  Norman Clyde of the Sierra Nevada; $150.00 

Please call George Sinclair 415-941-2160.  

The Young and the Grizzled climb Mt. Dana in winter

THE MT.  LANGLEY trip scheduled for Feb.  18-21 was moved to Mt.  Dana, 
and the entire group was replaced but the leader remained the same.  
Borrowing a page from the Dave Ress Trip Report Style Guide, the group 
consisted of The Grizzled One, The Fair One, and The Young One.  A small 
band, but determined (and competent to boot).  
Undaunted by the long drive to Lee Vining in winter conditions, we braved 
the 60-degree cold for a 10 a.m.  Palo Alto start in The Grizzled One's 
trusty 150,000-mile car, and even with a leisurely lunch of dead chicken 
we got to our primitive camp by 5 p.m.  (OK, it was Murphy's Motel, but 
The Young One had to sleep on a roll-away!  Not even a real bed!) Plenty 
of time for re-packing and phone calls for avalanche details, etc.  
Pancakes and eggs fueled our post-dawn start up the dry pavement of 
Highway 120.  It was gated at 7,500 feet near the ranger station, 
apparently reserved for the exclusive use of the Tioga Pass Lodge weenies, 
who had pickups parked about 3 to 4 miles inside the gate.  
Nice grade, but our plastic boots and snowshoes weighed heavy on our backs 
as we skipped along in trail hiking shoes.  The rockfall was our major 
danger, and we finally got onto steady snow around the now-famous "Camp 
9".  Snowshoes were not required until Saddlebag Lake, because the Lodge 
weenies groom the road as a ski trail for their patrons.  (I shouldn't be 
so hard on them...  they would not sell us a meal, in spite of the 
"food/gas/lodging" sign CalTrans provided for them, but they let us fill 
our water bottles after they called off their dog!) 
The Grizzled One chose a camp beside Tioga Lake, at about 9,600 feet, just 
to the east of the Tioga Pass entry station.  About half of the outhouse 
was exposed, but there were no picnic tables in sight, leading me to 
speculate that there was only five feet of snow on the ground.  The 
southern exposures had a lot of exposed rock, and the wind had eroded the 
snow even on northern slopes.  This area appears to have been missed by 
the heavy snowfall in January, which might be useful info for those 
planning early summer trips.  
Preparing to melt snow for dinner, the MSR performed as expected (it 
wouldn't light) and the Optimus also performed as expected (it worked fine 
for the entire group).  The sun dropped behind the ridge around 4 p.m., 
prompting an early dinner.  The Fair One tossed it soon afterward, grim 
testimony to the lack of acclimatization one can expect in winter climbs.  
Further symptoms did not appear, and we all slid into our bags expecting a 
warm night after the 50-degree daytime high.  
The Young One, having been cast out of the Fair and Grizzled tent-sharing 
pool, peered out of a heavily frosted bivy bag as the pre-dawn light began 
to grow.  Five degrees.  Not quite what we expected!  Water bottles had 
become sleeping partners during the night, as we realized how cold it was 
getting, but we still had to melt water for breakfast.  
We left camp around 7 a.m., trudging up the road to Tioga Pass and cutting 
new tracks to avoid destroying the ski trail.  The Grizzled One kept us 
fairly close to the standard route up Dana (under the outcroppings to the 
northwest side), and the snowshoes were cutting in a reasonable three 
inches most of the time.  With the full sun came a full wind, 30 mph or 
so, that kicked up small ground blizzards but kept down the heat we had 
struggled with the day before.  
We switched from snowshoes to boots around 11,000 feet, now on drifts.  
The Fair One was keeping up, but the toll was heavy from the lost dinner 
the night before.  At 12,000 feet, The Young and The Grizzled left The 
Fair One to guard the snow-shoes and quickened the pace in an effort to 
sprint the remaining 1,000 feet and recover our intended schedule.  Some 
sprint - the snow grew softer in the bowl, and we had to dodge rocks in 
the steepest parts (where the wind had blown the snow off).  
The Grizzled One grew weary and talked of turning back.  The Young One 
found that following with an extended ice axe provided sufficient 
motivation, and both had summited by shortly after 1 p.m., an hour behind 
schedule.  Amazing views were admired, cornices were avoided, "ooh" and 
"aah" were said aplenty, and a hasty retreat was made.  The wind abated 
just after we summited, an apparent sign that we had been accepted in this 
isolation no one could conquer.  There was no rocky summit in sight, much 
less a summit register, due to the waves of wind-packed snow.  Maybe next 
Glissading could be done standing (when the drifts were hard enough), 
squatting with an ice axe brake (when it was steeper), or sitting (in the 
softer drifts), making the return fast and fun.  We broke camp quickly, 
and headed back down the road.  We cleared the rockfall just before dark, 
and spread out on the paved part like cows heading for the feedlot.  While 
packing the car, The Grizzled One discovered a missing plastic boot.  
The next morning The Young One retrieved the missing boot, for a small 
fee, having once again rested well at the primitive camp site (but this 
time on the floor, being denied even the small comfort of a temporary 
bed).  Even with a 6-mile round-trip before breakfast, we managed to 
rocket The Grizzled One's venerable old car back to Palo Alto by 2 p.m., 
surely setting some sort of record for unimpeded two-lane travel.  The 
Grizzled One swears he never left the ground, but discussions of welfare 
and the body politic kept his passengers unaware of actual speeds and 

- The Young One

Perfect conditions on a winter ascent of Mount Shasta

IF WE were hoping for full conditions for a winter ascent of Mt.  Shasta, 
we were to be sorely disappointed.  The weather on Presidents' day weekend 
was fantastic!  And the snow conditions were better than that; as good as 
any I've ever climbed on.  The cramponing was firm, just like standing on 
stiff Styrofoam.  
One of the fellows (Chris Jones) got sick (flu) and Dave Blockus went down 
with him, leaving Dan Tupper (Mr.  Shasta), Brian Boyle, Steve Shields and 
me.  We built a McKinleyesque snow shelter for the night at 10,000 feet 
and enjoyed "I can see forever" views from our perch on Green Butte 
Ridge.  With a full moon that night the views actually improved under the 
canopy of starlight with the shimmering outline of our ridge sweeping 
upward toward a glowing white summit set against a riot of stars.  
Our alarm didn't go off on time, and we got off to a "late" 6:30 a.m.  
start.  As the sun rose, silhouetting our ridge in a warm orange and 
yellow glow, all I could think of was this is my fantasy ridge!  Sweeping 
views of a wild alpine-scape on either side and a commanding view of the 
Siskiyu high country behind me.  
So much snow has fallen on Shasta's flanks that only the tallest gendarmes 
were showing above the ridge line, each one presenting an interesting 
mixed climbing problem.  With steep snow chutes falling away on either 
side, these ice-encrusted rock combs posed routefinding and alpine 
climbing challenges we here in California seldom experience.  
At one point I was forced to make several rock climbing moves with my feet 
while hooking my ice axe into an icicle for leverage.  One challenge after 
another left us not tired and beaten but exhilarated and thirsty for more.  
This was a climb worthy of the best!  
Dan and I moved out in front of the others at a steady pace, making route 
finding choices and the first steps in otherwise perfect snow flutes, 
sculpted and hardened to perfection by gale force winds.  Each obstacle 
required the full measure of alpinist choices: route finding, rock 
climbing, hazard avoidance, front pointing, all manner of axe positioning 
and physical endurance.  
Green Butte was throwing every trick at us it could muster, and we laughed 
at it using all of our experience.  I swear that at one of these gendarmes 
all I could think was how much it resembled "the Hillary step" on 
Everest.  Where Green Butte ended at the Red Banks, a new kind of snow 
pattern emerged.  Here the snow fields endured the constant blasting of 
hurricane force winds.  Often caring large amounts of moisture, these 
winds blasted into the rock formations, depositing long horizontal 
tentacles of ice onto the windward faces.  So strong and so moist are 
these winds that even the snow on the ground is covered with these 
textiles of ice.  As they grow longer, these ice tentacles break off, 
casting their shards of ice on the ground there to roll around in the 
wind.  Repeated millions of times, these shards roll against one another, 
shaping them into round and oval shaped frozen spheres covering the ground 
in great heaps of white and blue gem stones.  
Misery Hill once again earned its name as Dan and I trudged up its 
featureless hulk that has so often discouraged first-time climbers with 
its false summit promises.  Once on the summit plateau, we found ourselves 
in the company of nearly 15 other climbers converging from either the 
Avalanche Gulch or Cassaval Ridge routes.  
The surprising calm of the plateau contrasted sharply with the steady 
strong winds on the summit.  The new register served to record my sixth 
ascent and Dan's twentieth, as well as tell us no one had climbed the peak 
in the months of November, December, or January.  
In fact, only a few parties had proceeded us, but nearly 25 people that 
day would summit.  Truly an amazing number considering this was the middle 
of winter.  
The decent was uneventful except that the snow conditions were so ideal, 
so consolidated, Dan and I decided to skirt Avalanche Gulch's sides on the 
way down and regain our ridge much lower on the mountain.  Quickly packing 
my gear, I donned my Randenee skis, locked them down and managed snowplow 
survival turns all the way down the hill, meeting Dave and Chris at 5:30 
p.m.  at Bunny Flat.  Truly a climb to remember.  

- Tim Hult

Chunder on the equator: A messy ascent of Kilimanjaro

PEOPLE vomit with an accent.  Trust me on this one.  I've become something 
of an expert.  Camped outside the 15,200-foot-high Kibo Hut on 
Kilimanjaro, I spent an evening listening to an international troupe of 
mountain sickness sufferers stagger out to recycle their suppers into the 
First was a miserable-sounding woman who retched and groaned with a thick 
cockney inflection.  Clearly an Aussie.  The second victim sounded 
American, but her soft vowels gave her away as a Canadian.  
Uuuuugggg-hhhhhhhh, eh?  Next up was a guy sputtering and moaning with 
whatever the opposite of joie de vivre is.  Definitely French.  Batting 
cleanup was someone with the unmistakeably clipped intonation of an 
upper-crust Englishman.  
This went on until midnight, when a beeping watch announced it was time to 
crawl reluctantly out of my toasty sleeping bag, gulp down a cup of 
heavily sugared tea and head out into the frigid blackness.  Fahtaeli, a 
member of the Chagga tribe of Tanzania and our chief guide, lined us up 
and counted heads.  We had 19 summit aspirants and one non-starter - Kay, 
the Australian woman I'd heard earlier.  Clammy-faced and glassy-eyed, she 
was sensibly heading down immediately.  
An ascent of 19,300-foot Kilimanjaro, it turns out, entails three pleasant 
days of hiking through varied and interesting terrain - and one shivering, 
nightmarish slog up an interminable scree slope in the middle of the 
night.  Overall, the rapid climb to altitude is brutal.  In 72 hours you 
ascend nearly 15,000 feet.  It was no wonder most of our group suffered 
greatly from acute mountain sickness.  At least they were better off than 
the Brit we saw being carried off the mountain with what I assumed to be 
cerebral edema.  
Me, I was gulping down Diamox tablets like they were M&M's.  I felt fine.  
"Ready?" said Fahtaeli.  "O.K., let's go.  Pole-pole." That's Swahili for 
"slowly." Fahtaeli has been climbing Kilimanjaro for 20 years, and he 
estimates he's reached the summit some 3,000 times.  (Although I suspect 
an extra zero might have sneaked in there.) His father and grandfather 
were Kilimanjaro guides, and he is grooming his eldest son to be one, too.  
Fahtaeli has never set foot on another mountain.  
Guiding on Kilimanjaro, it turns out, consists of bunching your charges 
into as tight a line as possible and then herding them along at a 
ludicrously slow pace.  I've stood in lines at Disneyland that moved 
Fahtaeli went first with a lantern, and a cadre of assistant guides fanned 
out behind him, taking up positions like border collies behind a flock of 
sheep.  Our sniffling noses were almost literally rubbing up against the 
backpacks of the people in front of us.  When I tried to leave a little 
space in front of me I was physically shoved forward to close the gap.  
For five hours my world consisted of my headlamp beam illuminating the 
feet of the person ahead of me.  For diversion there were periodic 
splotches of frozen vomit along the trail.  Around 3 a.m., Sandra, an IBM 
saleswoman and mountain bike racer from Oakland, stepped out of line and 
made a fresh contribution, her third of the morning.  If I had felt as bad 
as her and some of the others I would have turned back long before.  
My headlamp beam dimmed rapidly and went out, a casualty of the cold.  I 
pulled my water bottle out of my parka.  Its neck was choked with ice.  We 
were moving so slowly it was impossible to get warm.  
"This is what hell must be like," said a voice in the darkness.  "No," 
replied another.  "This is what it's like when hell freezes over." 
We were just below the crater rim when a band of dark blue appeared on the 
horizon.  Over the next half hour it turned grey, then silver, then pink, 
then orange.  Finally the yellow ball peeked out over the sub-peak of 
Mawenzi and I imagined we were catching the very first rays of the new day 
to strike the African continent.  
I had no way of knowing whether this was actually true, but it was a 
pleasant thought at this point and I needed a new one.  Crunching up the 
loose scree trail at 18,000 feet, I found that a single thought would 
suffice to occupy my altitude-addled mind.  But after chewing on one for 
half an hour it would lose its flavor like a wad of worn-out Doublemint.  
So every so often I'd have to come up with a fresh thought to take its 
The spot where the trail hits the crater rim is called Gilman's Point.  
It's 18,600 feet high and looks and feels like the top.  There are all 
sorts of signs to make it look official, and most people are happy to stop 
there.  (One member of our group arrived at Gilman's, accepted a hearty 
"well done!" and spent the next 10 minutes vomiting into the crater.) For 
reaching Gilman's Point, they even give you a certificate when you get 
back down the mountain.  
But the inconvenient fact is that the actual summit, Uhuru Point, is 
nearly two miles around the crater rim and 700 feet higher.  After perhaps 
half an hour, Fahtaeli said in a barely audible voice: "Anyone for 
Uhuru?" He was nipping at a pint of cheap Tanzanian whiskey and clearly 
would have preferred to head down.  
Much to his disappointment, eight of us were eager to go on.  The others 
descended with an assistant guide.  For non-mountaineers, they had put in 
a pretty impressive performance to reach Gilman's.  
As it turned out, it was during the walk along the crater rim to Uhuru 
Point that Kilimanjaro's stark beauty emerged in full.  As fleecy clouds 
boiled up from the plains of Kenya below, we picked our way along a narrow 
ridge with views of awesome ice cliffs and near-equatorial glaciers.  
Diamox coursing through my veins, I felt surprisingly chipper-at least 
physically.  But the oxygen-thin air at 19,000 feet reduced my 
already-limited mental capacity to almost nothing.  I plodded along in a 
dull, dream-like state, pausing occasionally to point my camera at 
something but forgetting to focus.  
The summit of Africa is not much to look at.  It's just a rounded, rocky 
point along the rim with a collection of signs and plaques.  There is an 
impressive ice cliff nearby-or at least my summit photos show one.  I 
don't really remember it.  
I vaguely recall sitting down, chewing on a frozen Snicker's bar and 
staring straight ahead.  After a while someone mumbled, "Maybe we should 
go down." I looked at my watch: We'd been sitting there for nearly an 
hour, and nobody could account for the time.  
Before descending, we all autographed the summit register.  It didn't 
occur to me to look at the recent entries.  If I had, I would have found 
that Martha Stewart (yes, she of the immaculately set holiday table) had 
reached the top of Kilimanjaro a couple weeks before me.  So much for 
macho points.  

- John Flinn

Three peaks and aspens on the side in the season's last trip

A GOOD trip starts with good planning, and leaders Debbie Benham and 
Phyllis Olrich went all out in planning this early October trip to 
Virginia Peak (12,001 feet).  They studied maps, interviewed trip 
applicants, interrogated all known PCSers who've climbed in the area, and 
consulted their own vast alpine experience.  
Anticipation rose to a fever pitch during the week before the trip, with 
flurries of phone calls and e-mail notes burning up the South Bay 
telephone lines.  Debbie and Phyllis even sent out an official looking 
"data sheet" before the trip, containing detailed directions to the 
trailhead, vital statistics and personality quirks of each participant, 
and an admonition to be at the trailhead no later than 8:30 a.m.  Saturday 
, Oct.  1.  
The 10 lucky and gender-balanced participants felt very privileged indeed.  
Besides Debbie and Phyllis, they included Paul and Cecil Magliocco, Dan 
Tischler, Larry Hester, Patty Haight, Steve King, Nancy Fitzsimmons, and 
me (Jim Ramaker).  
So there we all were at the Green Lakes trailhead at the appointed time - 
packs packed, breakfast eaten, boots laced, sunscreen on - and no sign of 
Phyllis and Debbie.  We waited and waited.  They finally pulled in about 9 
a.m., hunched down in their seats in the hope that we wouldn't see them.  
After suitable apologies, they were forgiven, and we stood around and 
watched them get ready.  Phyllis was definitely the catalog girl on this 
trip, with a perfectly color-coordinated purple and teal ensemble of 
jersey, vest, parka, tights, and hat.  Nancy got honorable mention for her 
combination of flowered tights with a flower pattern fleece jacket.  
With the fashion competition decided, the ten of us headed up the trail 
about 9:30.  A major storm had swept over the mountains a few days before 
(and Paul, climbing in the southern Sierras with a friend, had been caught 
in it), but this morning was clear and beautiful.  
The yellow and orange aspen trees stood out against the bright blue sky, 
and the colorful east side rocks and cliffs glowed in the morning sun.  We 
stopped for lunch at the old miners cabin in Glines Canyon around noon, 
and we reached Virginia Pass about 1.  
Virginia Peak comes suddenly into view at this point, usually looking a 
bit steeper and bigger than you expect.  From the pass, we left the use 
trail, descended across the alpine valley of upper Virginia Canyon, and 
arrived at our camp at the beautiful lake at the foot of Virginia Peak at 
around 2.  Cecil, Paul, Nancy, and Dan soon dashed off to climb Grey Butte 
(11,200 feet), the granite pyramid south of Virginia, while the rest of us 
napped or read.  
Back in camp that evening, Debbie entertained us with a fascinating 
collection of vulgar jokes, including the one about the woman with four 
husbands, and the one about the French recipe for peaches.  
The frosty October evening sent some of us to bed around 7:30 p.m., and by 
8:30 p.m.  things were silent in camp except for the occasional thump 
thump of deer prowling around, and a few far-off screams of coyotes.  
After 10 solid hours of sleep, we awoke in the frosty dawn for our 
non-alpine start.  We left camp about 7:30 a.m.  , and by 8 a.m.  we were 
climbing up the narrow gully leading to the rockbound lake just north of 
Virginia.  Our plan was to do Virginia and then split into two groups, 
with five of us traversing over to do Twin Peaks (12,314 feet).  From the 
rockbound lake, we followed Debbie up the easy scree slope to the saddle 
between Virginia and Twin, and then climbed the fun class 2 northwest 
ridge of Virginia.  
The trail blazers topped out at 9:20 a.m.  and soon we were all on top.  
No stragglers on this trip, even though Debbie and Phyllis flogged us 
along at a pretty fair pace all weekend.  Despite being fairly steep on 
all sides, Virginia has a flat summit area about the size of a suburban 
living room, and we all relaxed, snacked, and took summit photos.  
This trip had an interesting camera procedure - whoever started taking a 
picture of the group immediately got a pile of about seven cameras at his 
or her feet, followed by much whirring and clicking.  
With the amateur photography completed, the professional fashion work 
began.  Debbie readied her camera, and Phyllis posed on the edge of the 
precipice, a vision in purple and teal, face thrust upward in a heroic 
pose, silk scarf floating on the alpine breeze.  Negotiations for a photo 
spread in "Vogue" magazine are ongoing, with the "Loma Prietan" and 
"Girljock" magazine as backups.  
With great reluctance, the Twin Peakers tore themselves away from this 
spectacle, bade farewell to the Virginia-only folks, and descended back to 
the saddle.  The five of us (Cecil, Paul, Nancy, Dan, and me) traversed 
along the ridge to Twin Peaks, starting with a class 1 stroll on scree, 
then a class 2 talus hump, then some class 3 climbing past some pinnacles 
near the summit.  
According to the summit register, we were only the second party (and most 
likely the last) to climb the peak this year.  That's a bit surprising as 
it's higher than Matterhorn, but on the other hand, it doesn't have a 
catchy name and it looks like a black hulk with no easy approach, so I 
guess that explains it.  
For the descent we took the 1500-foot scree gully that drops from the 
summit into upper Virginia Canyon.  About this gully the less said the 
better, except that it makes you very glad to finally step onto the soft 
grass and beautiful alpine meadows at the bottom.  
The other five folks were long gone of course, and we packed up and hiked 
out in their footsteps, savoring the alpine scenery, the fall colors, and 
what for most of us would be the last climbing trip of the year.  

-Jim Ramaker

A tale of pinheads, powderhounds and jacuzzi potatoes

DESPITE SNOW-clogged driving on Interstate 80, a group of eight Sierra 
Club members had a ball telemarking through wondrous snow in the Truckee 
area on Jan.  21-22.  Tim Hult, Brenda Bowman, John Langbein, Karen Davis, 
Pat Cecil, Andy Hudson and Andy Skumanich joined leader Butch Suits on 
this powdery pilgrimage.  
We stayed at Brenda and Tim's cabins in Tahoe City.  At least one car 
skirted the "metering" roadblock on Highway 80 by taking 49 north and 20 
east to rejoin 80 at Emigrant Gap.  
On Saturday we skied Silver Peak.  The trailhead is a plowed area about 2 
1/2 miles north of the Squaw Valley turnoff.  The snow-covered roads that 
ascend Pole Creek and the neighboring ridges offer great skiing for 
intermediates; for inveterate peak baggers and telegeeks, the ridgetops 
are the place to go.  

We were fortunate to start about 1/2 hour behind another strong party.  
They broke trail for us all the way to the summit.  As we left the 
snow-covered road for the steep shoulder of Silver Peak, the gray clouds 
cleared and, to the southeast, Lake Tahoe lay glittering in the sun.  
Near the top, spectacular vistas opened in all directions-notably the 
Squaw Valley peaks to the south and the lovely snowy cirque of upper Pole 
Creek to the northwest.  Some of the slopes we crossed were steep, but the 
avalanche hazard was low.  The previous weekend's rains had refrozen and 
added strength to the snowpack.  
After lunch near the summit, we skied over the top, enjoying a delightful 
powder run down the mountain's west flank to the next saddle on the ridge.  
We tried to ski directly over the next peak, but at the summit we found 
cliffs everywhere except the way we came up.  Skiing back down this 
northeast slope was pure bliss.  Our skis turned almost effortlessly in a 
foot of dry snow.  Waves of powder whispered from our edges.  
It was time to go down.  We completed a loop by tracking more virgin 
powder to the bottom of Pole Creek canyon, then following a low-angle road 
back to our trailhead.  
That evening three of us soaked in the hot tub at Tim's complex, wedging 
ourselves in with a bunch of raucous post-adolescents.  Later the 
conversation was much more intelligent when we retreated to Brenda's cabin 
for a group spaghetti feed.  We had a birthday cake but no birthday boy.  
Dave Giese had to work this weekend, so we sang Happy Birthday to him over 
the phone as we devoured his cake.  
Sunday we awoke to snow flurries.  Instead of battling a blizzard on the 
open slopes of Castle Peak, we decided to go powder prospecting at a more 
sheltered area.  From the Blackwood Canyon snowpark south of Tahoe City, 
we ascended the north slopes of Blackwood Ridge-a steep, wooded climb of 
about 1500 feet.  Breaking trail in the deep snow was tiring, but Pat 
Cecil got us off to an energetic start.  Later, our labors lessened when 
we found a trail made by skiers the previous day.  
At the top we traversed the short, bare ridgetop which forms the summit.  
Spindrift howled across the crest-what the Scots call "full conditions." 
Soon, however, we were out of the wind, swooping joyfully through the open 
forest on the mountain's northwest flank.  As the flurries returned, 
muffled hoots of glee could be heard from skiers surfing the powder wave.  
In 14 years of Sierra skiing I've never had better snow.  

- Butch Suits

A word to the wise: climb if you must, but beware of X-rays and food coloring

Just how risky is our sport?  It depends upon whom you ask.  The general 
public takes a somewhat more alarmist view than so-called risk assessment 
American Demographics magazine, in its December 1994 issue, published a 
chart ranking the 30 most dangerous activities, as rated by the general 
public and risk assessment experts.  The League of Women Voters were used 
to represent the general public.  The magazine didn't say who the 
"experts" were.  
Mountain climbing ranked 15th on the list of the LOW's top-30 fears, 
slightly more dangerous than spray cans (?) and one notch safer than 
bicycling.  Nuclear power, motor vehicles and pesticides were all deemed a 
bigger threat than climbing.  
The experts ranked climbing 29th out of 30, one spot more dangerous than 
power mowers and one safer than skiing.  X-rays, electric power, 
contraceptives, food preservatives, food coloring and prescription 
antibiotics were cited by the experts as more dangerous than climbing.  


League of Women Voters        "Experts"
----------------------        ---------
 1.  Nuclear power            1. Motor vehicles
 2.  Motor vehicles           2. Smoking
 3.  Handguns                 3. Alcoholic beverages
 4.  Smoking                  4. Handguns
 5.  Motorcycles              5. Surgery
15.  Mountain climbing       29. Mountain climbing


Private trips are not insured, sponsored or supervised by the Sierra Club 
or the PCS.  They are listed here as a courtesy to the organizers because 
they may be of interest to PCS climbers.  

March 18-19
Green Butte Ridge 14,162 feet, Class 3+
Organizer: Kai Wiedman (415) 347-5234

The symmetry of the Green Butte Ridge has attracted mountaineers for 
years.  It soars skyward to meet Sargents Ridge just below Thumb Rock.  
The Green Butte can be a quick and safe winter approach to the upper 
reaches of Sargents.  Come join us for this airy, challenging and scenic 
climb.  Participants should be in good condition, for our summit day will 
gain 4,700 feet.  

April 28-30
14,375 ft., Class 2 snow climb
Organizer:  Tony Cruz (408) 944-2003

Join us on a 10-mile snow hike and climb of the second highest peak in the 
Sierra.  We will hike along George Creek and set camp at a meadow at 
11,200 feet.  We will summit from the east, on the least technically 
difficult route on the mountain (normally Willamson is climbed after 
crossing Shepherd Pass, but we will avoid the pass).  Our route is 
described as "one of the classic bushwhacks of the Sierra," but it may be 
better with this year's snow pack.  Bring ice axe, crampons, snow shoes 
and winter camping gear.  This is one of the few periods during the year 
when the Forest Service allows people into this restricted big horn sheep 


Warren Storkman and Steve Eckert will be doing Three Sisters as a day 
hike, followed by Spanish Mtn and Tehipite Dome as an overnight backpack 
on May 19-21.  The Friday day hike is optional, but visits a 
seldom-climbed area.  All three peaksare on the SPS list, and all are 
Class 1 except a short portion of Tehipite that is Class 3.  Mark your 
calendars and watch the Scree for more information.  


The Fourth of July Weekend is usually crowded, but this year Warren 
Storkman and Steve Eckert will be taking you to the most remote place in 
the Sierra: Over Hell-For-Sure Pass, across the Ionian Basin, down the 
Enchanted Gorge, over the Black Divide, and exiting over Bishop Pass.  
This one-way crossing goes past many desirable peaks, but if you don't 
have an entire week, join us for a three-day climb of Mt Goddard and you 
can make it back to work on Tuesday!  We will probably hire mules to ferry 
food up to Martha Lake, so pack weight will be less of a problem.  

Attention trip leaders

When submitting a trip an nouncement for publication in Scree, please 
include all of the following information.  The information should be 
delivered (by telephone, US mail, or e-mail) to the trip scheduler.  The 
trip scheduler will collect all trip announcements, verify official PCS 
trips versus private trips, and forward the announcements to the Scree 
editor.  To eliminate confusion, please do not send trip announcements 
directly to the Scree editor, who's a bit thick.  
For those using email, simply fill in the information to the right of each 
item and e-mail it to the trip scheduler.  The equivalent can be done by 
hand if using US mail.  
For calendar 1995, deliver your trip announcements to: 
Trip scheduler:  Paul Magliocco
Phone: (408) 358-1168
Address: 15944 Longwood Drive
         Los Gatos, CA  95032
E-mail: pmag@ix.netcom.com

Thanks in advance!

Trip name (peak name)                

Trip date                            

Elevation of peak(s)                 

Trip class (class 2, snow, etc.)     


Leader(s)' phone number(s)           

Topo maps                            

Trip description (a few sentences)


Elected Officials

        Debbie Benham
        1722 Villa St. #2
        Mountain View, CA 94041
        (415) 964-0558 (h)

        Paul Magliocco
        15944 Longwood Dr.
        Los Gatos, CA 95032
        (408) 358- 1168 (h)
        e-mail: pmag@ix.netcom.com
        Phyllis Olrich
        750 Homer Ave.
        Palo Alto, CA 94301-2907
        (415) 322-0323 (h)
        (415) 7251.541 (w)
        e-mail: PhyjlisO@forsythe.stanford.edu

        John Flinn
        133 Promethean Way
        Mountain View, CA 94043
        (415) 968-2050 (h)
        (415) 777-8705 (w)
        e-mail: jnflinn@?aol.com

Scree is the monthly journal of the Peak Climbing Section of the Sierra 
Club.  Loma Prieta chapter.  Subscriptions are $10 per year.  Checks 
payable to the PCS, should be mailed to the treasurer, Phyllis Olrich.  To 
ensure an uninterrupted subscription, renewal checks must be received no 
later than the last Tuesday of the expiration month.  

For change of address, contact Paul Vlasveld 789 Daffodil Way, San Jose, 
CA 95117; (408) 247-6472 (h), (408) 257-7910 x3613(w) 

PCS meetings are held the second Tuesday of each month.  See Scree for 
location and program information.  

The following trip classifications are to assist you in choosing trips for which you
are qualified. No simple rating system can anticipate all possible conditions

        Class 1: Walking on a trail.
        Class 2: Walking cross-country, using hands for balance.
        Class 3: Requires use of hands for climbing. A rope may be used occasionally.
        Class 4: Requires rope belays.
        Class 5: Technical rock climbing.

Deadline for April issue: Tuesday, March 28

Peak Climbing Section
789 Daffodil Way
San Jose, CA 95217
First Class Mail

"Vy can't ve chust climb?" -- John Salathe