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Scree for February, 1997

This is the EScree - the Electronic version of the Scree newsletter from
the Peak Climbing Section of the Loma Prieta Chapter of the Sierra Club.
It should be viewed or printed with a fixed-pitch font such as Courier.
     This publication may not be posted on any public news group.
                   February, 1997   Vol. 31, No. 2
    Deadline for submissions to the next Scree is Sunday 2/23/97.

Next meeting (PCS meetings are the second tuesday of each month)

Date: Tuesday, February 11
Time: 8:00 PM
Location: Western Mountaineering Town & Country Village, San Jose
Program: California-Sierra Near Death Marches in the 70s!

We need people to provide refreshments at the March
(and later) meetings. Donations are taken at the
meeting to reimburse your expenses. Contact Warren
Storkman if you are willing to take on this crucial task!

Diamonds On The Shoes Of My Soul

From rec.climbing, with author's permission to print in Scree.
This is sort of the flip side of last year's "Why I Quit Climbing" article.

I've been trying to analyze the reasons I climb for a
while: lately, I've been analyzing my climbing too
much, I think. I've lost confidence in my climbing,
partly due to this, and partly due to the fact that life
isn't too climbing-friendly lately. Tonight, however, I
think I found out why I climb.

My friends and I are watching a tape of Sat. Night
Live music performances right now. I can hear Willie
Nelson crooning out a tune in the next room: a little
before, we watched Paul Simon sing "Diamonds On
The Soles Of Her Shoes" with Ladysmith Black
Mambazo. It's a great performance, but if you watch
Mr. Simon's face as he sings, you can see the enormous
peace and satisfaction the man gets from singing his
song. He smiles a lot and looks around, but when he
sings a difficult part, he slowly closes his eyes and puts
special effort in the piece, removing himself from the
rest of the stage for the duration of the part.

I was thinking to myself when I was watching this: this
is why I climb. Like for Mr. Simon, it's the fun all
around, but when you find the piece that strains your
abilities, there's the urgency in the matter. You must
concentrate and pull through, stop looking around at
other people and work. Afterwards, Mr. Simon would
smile. So would I.

It's not even the hard stuff that makes me appreciate
climbing: the sense of personal satisfaction I get is
worth more than any number, any grade. Sure,
cranking on some hard pitch is fun and rewarding, but
nothing tops the feeling of cruising some all-gear
multipitch in the middle of nowhere. For me, there's
always one point in a climb where the entire
experience hits me, like a shot of rum- it's like talking
with a girl, and at some point, suddenly realizing
you're in love. That love for me happened feet before
the final anchor on the Grack, and on the umpteenth
pitch of Royal Arches. It happened on Serenity, it
happened on Renaissance Direct in Phoenix. It
happened on Moby Dick in the Stronghold. I love
climbing. Every time I climb, I hope to be reminded of
this. I hope you all feel the same.

- Robert "Reboston" Ternes 

Church Sierra Club

Following is but one of the things I've seen that I referred to this
morning in our conversation regarding the club's proposed outright
ban of climbing bolts and the changing direction of the club. There is
no mention of outings as we have know them for 100+ years.

This is part of why I refer to the club becoming an
environmental church: People who's egos drive them to be in
control of others (what Richard Hughes calls the oligarchy and I
believe to be completely at odds with the fundamental freedom
of the wilderness), and those who need to believe in something
and enjoy being inculcated with dogma so they don't have to
think for themselves -- those who enjoy being told when to write
a letter or cut a check. (If you're a church member, Sierra Club
or other denomination, who may be offended by my belief stated
here, my apology in advance. But please respect my freedom to
believe what ever I want, as I do for yourself.)

I wonder how long it will be before the powers that be move to
formally change the club's written purpose of 1) Explore 2)
Enjoy 3) Protect Wild Places..., to Rabid Protection being #1? In
the end (I mean another 100+ years), all the environmental
programs won't mean diddly squat without our society coming to
grips with the fundamental realities of unchecked population
growth vs. the fact there is only so much planet Earth. Either we
use our brains to totally plan for a humane future, or the planet
will do it for us; in some rather ugly, painful ways.

- David E. Bybee <103275.155@Compuserve.Com>

TO: Sierra Club Leaders  12/10/96
FR: Adam Werbach, President
RE: Organizational Goals of the Board of Directors

At the last meeting of the Board of Directors, we identified
organizational goals for the Sierra Club. We found considerable
agreement in the following six goals. They do not supplant our
conservation mission, our number one goal by any standard.

These organizational goals reflect our efforts to ensure that the
Sierra Club will be able to carry out our mission effectively for
years to come. Please consider how these goals fit into your own
work with the Sierra Club. Only together can we create a Sierra
Club that our children can count on to protect their future.

This is the first step towards a larger planning process that the
Board of Directors will look to you to shape.

Organizational Goals:

1. Improve our financial health and build greater capacity to
raise non-deductible (c-4) funds for the Sierra Club.

2. Grow the pool of Club leaders who are trained, motivated and capable
of operating on a broad spectrum of issues, including volunteer leadership,
conservation activism, management, and development.

3. Enhance the media profile of the Sierra Club to undergird both the
Club's conservation work and organizational development.

4. Imbue members with the Club's culture and tradition to increase our
sense of common purpose and ability to work together harmoniously.

5. Increase our outreach to new constituencies to become more
inclusive and to increase our effectiveness in reaching our mission.

6. Implement an annual evaluation process of the governance of
the Sierra Club at the national level, with emphasis on
continuously improving decision-making and achieving results.

[May Mother Nature forgive their short sightedness. DB]

Two Hwy 395 Updates

The Floods of 97 have taken their toll. An 8 mile stretch of 395
was not damaged, it was utterly removed from the face of the
earth. The stretch in question was the scenic jaunt between the
Sonora Pass turnoff and the small town of Walker. When the
monsoon came, the West Walker River not only overflowed its
banks, but consumed the entire canyon from wall to wall.

Helicopter pictures reveal the immense devastation. The West
Walker River has changed it course throughout the canyon in a
meandering fashion, gorging out sides of both canyon walls.
There seems like no place to put a road, let alone repair one that
basically no longer exists.

Mono County officials are meeting to discuss their options:
whether to attempt a rebuild or relocate the 395 to a new
location. Either way, it will be a while before a new 395 exists.
The small towns of Walker and Topaz Lake will be especially
hard hit, since the interstate traffic they depend on no longer
goes through.

The current alternate route (northbound) is from the east end of
Bridgeport, go north on Hwy 182 which becomes Hwy 338 in
Nevada. Continue north to Wellington, then go west on Hwy 208
to rejoin the 395 north of Topaz Lake. This route is only 7 miles
longer than the old 395 route, but is slower since there are no
passing lanes.

- Bob Sumner 

As discussed earlier on this [email broadcast] list, the West
Walker River totally destroyed seven miles of US 395 in the
canyon between Sonora Junction and Walker. The Mountaingate
Lodge in Walker no longer exists; people were lucky to get out
alive. A number of people are homeless. According to Mono
County Supervisor Andrea Mead Lawrence (of Olympic skiing
fame), damage in Mono County amounted to $38 million. The
damage in the Lake Tahoe and Central Valley areas was even
more severe.

To get to Reno, take the Smith Valley cutoff. Turn east on CA
182 at the south end of Bridgeport and drive to Wellington, NV.
The road then returns to US 395 north of Topaz Lake. The West
Walker goes under the highway in Wellington, but the bridge
was not washed out.

Replacement of US 395 is urgent because the communities of
Walker, Coleville, and Topaz, as well as the Topaz Lake Casino
in Nevada, depend upon it for tourism.

But there are some questions. The highway has been totally
destroyed five times since the 1920's. The severity of the flood is
alleged to be partly due to overgrazing in the Pickel Meadows
area. If the road is rerouted (requiring a Federal-State right-of-
way transfer) replacement will not happen as quickly, but then
the road would be safe from flooding and the West Walker could
be declared a Wild and Scenic River, ideal for rafting: a new
industry for Mono County.

Please write Andrea Lawrence at P.O. Box 43, Mammoth Lakes,
CA, 93546 immediately with your comments so that she can
have some backup from highway users to bring to the Board of
Supervisors. CalTrans is already going full speed, so there's not
much time.

- Owen Maloy 

Alta & Silliman

November 29-30, 1996: Rich Calliger proposed a Thanksgiving
trip to Sequoia a few weeks ago. After extensive discussion of
participants, objectives, etc., Rich and all his initial crew did not
go but Rich Leiker and I (David Harris) had an enjoyable snowy
ascent of Alta and Silliman.

Leiker and I had one of the all-time worst Thanksgiving dinners
(dehydrated food and cup-of-soup) at the Lodgepole campground
and sheltered through a light snowstorm Thursday night to wake
up Friday morning at 4:30 to a campground blanketed with an
inch of fresh snow illuminated by a nearly-full moon through the
trees! We met Patrick Ibbetson, a student from Davis who had
heard about the trip over the PCS broadcast, at 6 am and began
the approach to Silliman at first light.

We left the Twin Lakes trail at the stream flowing down from
Silliman Lake and began cross-countrying up the drainage. Despite
appearances to the contrary, there were never any obstructions to the
route and we made good time up to the sharp bend in the creek
where it ascends steep slopes toward Silliman Lake. At this point,
the temperature was about 15 degrees and we could see winds
sweeping fresh power over the high ridges. Our water bottles in our
packs kept freezing shut. Patrick, lacking serious winter clothing,
decided to turn back. Rich and I pressed on up the hill.

The snow was everywhere from about 8000 feet up. Snow shoes
were never needed. Most of the snow was packed just hard
enough that we could edge with our boots while bracing with an
ice axe. Parts of the hill were more difficult where several inches of
powder covered a harder layer below. The conditions made the climb
strenuous but dropping temperatures, occasional blasts of icy
wind, and approaching clouds motivated us to move steadily.

We summited at noon after about 5 and a half hours of climbing.
The strong winds had miraculously ceased so we enjoyed lunch
with a magnificent view of the Great Western Divide and the
rest of the Sierra blanketed in white. We put on crampons for
the descent which was very easy on the hard-packed snow; in
hindsight we should have used them on the way up.

After another 6:30 bedtime and 4:30 wakeup, we packed up
camp Saturday morning and looked for Patrick in case he had
decided to drive up again from his home in Fresno for a climb
up Alta. When he didn't materialize, we drove around the ridge
to Wolverton and took the trail through Panther Gap. The trail
had been nicely beaten down much of the way by hikers so we
didn't have to break trail until past Mehrten meadows. The day
was much warmer, starting in the 20's and warming up to the
30's. I wished I could identify more of the tracks in the fresh snow,
but we were pretty certain we saw bear prints crossing the trail.

As Tharps Rock came into view the trail was largely hidden
beneath the snow and we decided to try climbing directly to a
saddle between two Tharps Rock and a lower rock instead of
hiking the long way around behind. The angle eventually
approached 35 degrees. Most of the slope was good hard snow
for side-stepping, but parts were covered with powder and parts
were water ice covering steep slabs; getting around the ice
proved quite exciting and I had to use the pick of my axe and the
front points of my crampons in places. Rich threw one of his
crampons but fortunately was near a lower angle spot where he
could put it back on; soon after he threw the other crampon and
had to inch up a hundred feet of treacherous slope hanging from
his axe and one crampon! Overall, the slope turned a class 1
walkup peak into an exciting climb.

We couldn't find the summit register on the ice-covered summit
block, but had another lunch with outstanding views and made
good time back to the car following the trail.

Alta and Silliman would have been boring walkups in the
summer, but were enjoyable in the winter. The combination of
easy trailhead access, moderate elevation, and superb snowy
views made them great winter destinations.

- David Harris

Boundary - Montgomery - Glass

We followed a well defined use trail from just south of the
saddle all of the way to the summit of Boundary, loosing it in
just a few places. One of our group decided he had enough
exercise for this trip and decided to hang out here while the rest
of us went for Montgomery. Three of our group had failed to get
Montgomery on a previous trip so they were well motivated.

The route out to Montgomery seemed to be much looser than it did
when I climbed it on a Maris Valkass trip in 1992. At Montgomery,
one of the group became ill and we quickly retreated over Boundary
and down to a lower elevation. She did not seem much better but she
was able to continue back to the vehicles. Several hours later it
became apparent that she had nothing more than a common cold --
must be terrible to have a cold at 13,000'!

We camped at Sawmill Meadow Campground at the base of
Glass Mountain Ridge. We expected to meet another DPS group
which were doing Patterson & Glass but they never showed.
Sunday we got a very late start (7:30 a.m.). The two women
decided to head for home but the rest of us and ran up and down
Glass in less than 2-1/2 hours. The Aspens were changing color
and they created a great site from the summit. They contrasted
with millions of reflections of light from the black obsidian glass
particles which covered the near slopes.

September 28-29, 1996: The group consisted of Devra Wasserman, Keith
Martin, Rich Gnagy, Jim Schoedler, David Leth, Gary Craig, and Rose
Stein. Thanks goes to John Cheslick for his impeccable assistance.

- Charlie Knapke & John Cheslick

Standard PCS Email

I created a set of PCS email addresses that would never change,
and would always be updated to point to the email addresses of
the current PCS officers and committee chairs. Steve has been
publishing these addresses in Scree for several months.

My computer was caught in a network domain turf skirmish,
and, unfortunately, the eternally unvarying addresses have
changed. Beginning now, please use these addresses:


If you have local mail aliases pointing to the old addresses,
remember to update them.

- Aaron Schuman 

Notes and Requests

*** PCS Leader List (12/96)

Here is the list of current PCS leaders. If your first aid card has
expired, please contact me with proof of renewal. If your name is not
listed here, you cannot lead official PCS trips. If you think you
qualify to be a leader, please contact me for information and forms.

 Name of Leader         Class of Lead   1st Aid Expire
 -------------------    -------------   --------------
 Benham, Debbie         2               Feb 1999
 Bulger, Debbie         3               Feb 1997 ?
 Bynum, Robert          2               Jun 1999
 Caldwell, Dave         3 + winter      Nov 1997
 Crawley, Roger         3               Jun 1996 ?
 Curl, Jim              3               ?
 Dyall, Palmer          3 + winter      Feb 1998
 Eckert, Steve          3 + winter      Mar 1997
 ? Firth, Sheldon                       2       Jun 1997
 Ford, Noreen           2               Mar 1997
 Gaillard, Anne         2               Oct 1997
 Gross, Bob             2               Mar 1998
 Harris, David          3               ?
 Hult, Tim              4 + Winter      Sep 1999
 Ingvolstad, John       3               May 1999
 ? Ingvolstad, Kate     2               Sep 1995
 Isherwood, Bill                4 + winter      Oct 1998
 Kramar, Chris          3               Apr 1996 exp
 Macintosh, Chris       3 + winter      Aug 1996 exp
 Magliocco, Cecil       3               Dec 1998
 Maas, Kelly            3 + winter      Aug 1997
 Maxwell, Peter         3               Dec 1998
 ?Ottenburg, Marj       2               Feb 1998 ?
 Ramaker, Jim           3               Apr 1996 exp
 Rau, Vreni             3               Jan 1999
 Schuman, Aaron         3               Feb 1997
 Sefchik, Laura         2               Feb 1998 ?
 Shields, Steve         4               Jun 1997
 Simpson, Richard       2 + winter      Mar 1996 ?
 Schafer, Charles       4               Aug 1997
 ? Stewart, Anita       1               Febr 1997
 Storkman, Warren       2               Mar 1997
 Suits, Butch           3 + winter      Nov 1997
 Suzuki, Bob            3               Mar 1998
 Van Gordon, George     3               Feb 1999
 Wallace, Bob           3               Feb 1998
 Wiedman, Kai           4 + winter      Mar 1998 ?
 ? Yager, Chris         4 + winter      Mar 1997

- Tim Hult 

*** Canadian China Connection

Editor's Note: At this time, the Scree does not collect any fees for
advertising, but limits content to ads which the Editor thinks
will be of interest to peak climbers. Perhaps someone would like
to volunteer as bill collector and fund raiser?

Happy New Year. We would like to place advertisement with
your publications. Please send us by postal service your
advertising rate and a few samples of your publications.


- Tony  H. Pau <105121.1316@compuserve.com>

*** Look, Ma, NO STEEL!

If you want a good lightweight crampon for occasional peak-
bagging or mountaineering try the Andes crampon. They are an
aluminum crampon and I've never been able to feel any flex in
them on snow or nevé. Climb Axe distributes them in the US.
(Climb Axe is a small climbing gear distributor in Bellingham
WA. Give them a call at 206-734-8433.) Cheers!

- Malcolm Daly 

*** Free Ski Mountaineering Schedule

The officers of the Loma Prieta Chapter's Ski Touring Section
have voted not to provide an online version of their schedule,
but the Angeles Chapter's Ski Mountaineering Section goes to
many of the same places and posts their activities on the Web at
, along with other useful
info and links. Both members and non-members are welcome.

*** Koflach Ultras For Sale

Size 12 plastic boots for sale, best offer will be accepted no
matter how crazy it is. I have a "mature" pair that were kept for
spares, and a "younger" pair that I grew out of. The older pair
would be great for someone who wanted to try plastic boots
without a big investment. These are rigid climbing boots with
hinges at the ankle. 415-508-0500 or eckert@netcom.com

- Steve Eckert

*** One Last Bear Story

Note: This is from rec.backcountry, but could have been included in
Butch's recent animal stories if it had been found sooner:

The grossest story I heard was from a friend and colleague: He
was hiking with his little brother in the Sierra (at around 10K
up) and his brother got altitude sick and puked all over the
thermarest. They put the thing outside the tent for the night. The
next morning, they were awakened by their neighbors banging
pots to chase a bear away. They went out to help. When they
returned, they discovered the thermarest had been licked clean.
Mmmm... mmm...

- Sarah Boomer 

*** Annapurna in April

Some companions and I are planning on trekking the Annapurna
Circuit in April; we are organizing a do-it yourself tour. I am
also considering trying to climb Pisang and / or Thorong Peak
and wanted to see if anyone out there had experience with
climbing these peaks. If you have, I would like to hear about
your experience. Please reply directly to me at 

- Roy Lambertson

*** List Finishers Unite!

I am not content to commute on weekends to the Sierra to bag a
few peaks, so starting June first (approximately), I intend to
relocate to the Sierra to complete a long time goal, the SPS list
of some 235 peaks. I am looking for (a) partner(s) interested in
all/part of this project. I have done 100 of the more difficult ones
already. Please realize, I am in terrible shape so the pace will be
slow initially. Call or fax 415-674-8508.

- Steve Brewer

Official (PCS) Trip

PCS trips must be submitted through the Scheduler (see
back cover for details). Trips not received from the
Scheduler will be listed as PRIVATE, without recourse.

*** Lassen Is Largest
Peak:   Mt Lassen (10,457')     class 2 - snow
Topo:   Lassen Peak 7.5'
Dates:  Feb 15-17       Sat-Mon
Leader: Palmer Dyal     415-941-5321
Co-Leader:      Chris Kramer

This will be an 8 mile snowshoe trip to climb the world's largest
dome volcano. Lassen last erupted in 1915; only Mt St Helens is
more recent. The elevation gain is moderate and we plan to camp
at tree line. There will be time to build snow caves on the first day
and view the colorful sunset if weather permits. On the second
day we will climb the peak and return via Bumpass Hell to see
the blue and green hot pools. If the going is easy we can return
on Sunday or if not on Monday. This will be a good trip for
beginning climbers.

Unofficial (Private) Trips

Private trips may be submitted directly to the Scree Editor,
but are not insured, sponsored, or supervised by the Sierra
Club. They are listed here because they may be of interest to
PCS members, not because they are endorsed by the PCS.

*** Silliman on Snowshoes
Peak:   Mt Silliman     snow
Dates:  Feb 14-16       Fri-Mon
Contact:        Rich Calliger   calliger@infolane.Com
Co-Contact:     Mike Ranaldi

Mike Ranaldi and I are finally going to make the Sequoia/Lodgepole
snowshoe trip the weekend of Feb 14-16 leaving as soon as possible
Friday afternoon. We will probably snowcamp near Silliman with the
option of car-camping at Lodgepole, doing a day snow-shoe up
Silliman then moving the car around and doing Alta. As you know
probably this is a very very pretty area in the winter... Anyone else
care to join us? Major storm cancels. Light snow/rain is a go.. There
is apparently plenty of snow above 8500'. but we will examine exact
conditions near the date.

*** Mt. Eddy in Winter
Peak:   Mt. Eddy (9000')        class ?
Dates:  Feb. 15-17      Sat-Mon
Contact:        Eugene Miya     415-961-6772

Mt. Eddy is the peak across Interstate 5 from Mt. Shasta. The summit is
just above treeline, and the owner of the Fifth Season notes that in a
good year, it is possible to ski into the town of Mt. Shasta from Eddy's
summit. The intent is to ski the bowls and surrounding cirques. Prior
winter experience required. Skiing should be considered advanced
and subject to weather and avalanche hazard. Max. party size will be
eight. Cross-listed with the STS. Call before Dec. 21 or after Jan. 5.

*** Redwoods & Cascades
Peak:   Mt. McAbee      class 1
Date:   March 8 Sat
Contact:        Debbie Benham   home: 415-964-0558 dmbenham@aol.com
Co-Contact:     Judith Dean     home: 415-854-9288 judith.dean@forsythe.stanford.edu

We'll get a chance to enjoy grand redwoods and thunderous falls
on this 12 mile hike at Big Basin State Park. We'll start 9am at
park headquarters, climb to the Mt McAbee overlook, then loop
round and up to Golden Falls. Carpool point in Palo Alto:
Montrose & Middlefield Rd. leaving promptly at 7:30am. Any
questions, please feel free to contact leaders.

*** Packing It In
Peak:   Excelsior (12446'), Dunderberg (12374') snow
Dates:  Mar 15-17       Sat-Mon
Leader: Steve Eckert    eckert@netcom or SASE
Co-Leader:      Tom Sexton

ex.cel.si.or \ik-'sel-se--*r\ n [fr. L, higher, compar. of excelsus
high, fr. pp. of excel]lere : fine curled wood shavings used esp.
for packing fragile items [Originally a trade name]

Snowshoes and ice axe required for this climb. Great views are
promised, and great glissading is hoped for. At least the snow will
keep it from being a scree slog! Bad weather delays by one week.
We'll try to finish in 2 days, with a third day just in case. Restricted to
Sierra Club members. Send email or SASE with experience to leader.
Official SPS trip with Angeles Chapter.

*** Mt. Ritter From The Back Side
Peaks:  Ritter (13150'), Banner (12943')        class 2, snow
Dates:  July 14-19      Mon-Sat
Trailhead:      Agnew Meadows
Contact:        Alan Ritter     314-225-7600 x5362 jar@storz.com

Leave Agnew Meadows Monday, 14 July, camp near Thousand
Island Lake, then hike over North Glacier Pass and on down to Ritter
Lakes on 7/15. Approach is on-trail (10 mi) to 1,000 I., off-trail (2 mi)
from there. Secor's western approach is Class 2.        If assault on Mt.
Ritter succeeds 7/16, we may give neighboring Banner Peak a try
7/17, before hiking back out 7/18-7/19. Ice axe and crampons
required. Snow camping possible at 1,000 I. very probable at Ritter
Lakes. Reference last summer's trip report:

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
+ "What cannot be attained        +
+ should at least be attempted."  +
+    -- Alexander von Humboldt    +
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Advance Trip Schedule

Contact the Editor and the Scheduler if you have a change to
this list, or if you wish to have your name listed. Leaders, get
your announcements, with trip details and contact information,
to the PCS trip Scheduler for the full trip announcement:
        Mar 22-23       Ventana Double Cone     ?
        Apr  5-6        Lamont Peak & Pilot Knob        Schuman
        Apr 12-13       Olancha         SPS
        Apr 18-20       Gilbert & Johnson (SPS) Eckert/Cohen
        May  3-4        Spanish Needle & Owens  SPS
        May  3-4        Mt. Dana        SPS
        May 24-26       Birch, Tinemaha         SPS
        Jun  7-8        Bolton Brown, Thumb     SPS
        Jun  7-8        Wynne, Pinchot, Perkins         SPS
        Jun 21-23       Izaak Walton & Silver (SPS)     Eckert/Hudson
        Jun 21-22       Corcoran, LeConte       SPS
        Jun 21-22       Black, Diamond  SPS
        Jun    28       Mt. Mills       SPS
        Aug  9-11       Disappointment, Middle Palisade         SPS

Mont Blanc My Way

The sun may also rise over Kilimanjaro, but between August 24
and August 31 [1996] most recently it rarely rose over Mont
Blanc. The summary of my encounter with gloom and doom
above Chamonix may allow others to smooth the square edges
on the wheel I invented during the organization and
implementation of my own solitary expedition to the Mont Blanc
Massif in the course of which I observed that both culture and
elevation must be considered when climbing in the French Alps.

In January of this year I decided to try to climb both the
Matterhorn and Mont Blanc in the last week of August. I
considered Alpine Skills International whose headquarters is in
Donner Pass, California but it would not give me references
from its past trips to Mont Blanc and its scheduled trip did not
include Matterhorn. I considered the program offered by the
American Alpine Institute but its limited itinerary and my past
experiences regarding Institute trips eliminated it. I then
considered Frank Kelsey's American Alpine Adventures. Frank
is based in Chamonix and advertises in Rock & Ice and
Climbing. For $2,500 in advance he was willing to guide me on
both Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn. I called guide groups in
Chamonix and was told that he was a guide "aspirant".
Whatever he is, I decided $2,500 in advance with no assurance
that weather would permit climbing was too steep for me. I then
turned to a French guide from Chamonix I met while climbing
water ice with Yamnuska in Alberta in February. He referred me
to a friend of his who is a guide in Chamonix. This is when my
cultural adventures began.

The friend, whom I will call Guillaume, was a very friendly
fellow and communication with him was facilitated by his fax
machine at his home. However, after repeatedly asking him for a
reference to a hotel in Chamonix and for a list of trip items,
itinerary and equipment, all I was told was don't worry and bring
sun glasses. Our relationship ended when I called the local
climbing organizations to check up on his credentials. When he
found out I called about him, he fired me as a client.

Not at all disappointed at being fired by a guide who couldn't
refer me to a hotel and who told me only that I need sunglasses
to climb Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn, I called the
Compagnie de Guides de Chamonix-Mont Blanc. The
Compagnie is the first and reputedly finest guide group in
Europe founded under special French law in 1821. One wall of
the Musee Alpin in Chamonix is dedicated to the Compagnie.
Comprised of about 180 guides, the Compagnie is as much of a
fraternity as a guide organization. Whenever one Compagnie
guide meets another Compagnie guide in the mountains, it is as
if two long lost best friends meet.

The Compagnie was a little more informative. It told me to bring
boots and a jacket. No long lists of itinerary and requirements
were provided, but also there were no commitments, significant
deposits, waivers, contracts or any of the usual incidents of
deforestation necessitated by American and Canadian guide
organizations. With a merry ho ho good fellow well met greeting
the Compagnie assured me I would have a guide for a week the
identity of whom I would learn during the big introduction the
night of my arrival on Saturday, August 24. The Compagnie
charges only for actual climbing at the rate of $246 per day or
$680 for a Mont Blanc summit climb.

With this somewhat more amorphous than customary guide
commitment, I proceeded to search the web for a hotel assuming
that weather would prevent climbing on several days and in any
event I would need a base. There were remarkable differences in
results between search engines but eventually I retrieved a list of
every hotel in Chamonix with its star rating and fax and phone
numbers. I faxed a request for a reservation and room rate to the
Le Montagnard which seemed an appropriate name for a
mountaineer's base hotel. We settled on a room value of 250FF
per day ($50) for 7 days and I authorized a charge to my Visa
card. The hotel never did charge my card, send a confirmation,
or even have me sign in when I arrived, but with the hotel
somewhat tentatively out of the way I analyzed the approach.
Because of frequent flyer mile award limitations, American
Airlines was my preferred carrier so the carrier choice was
simple. The bribe to my wife and daughter for allowing me to
cavort about the Alps was diversion in Paris while I was in the
Alps. Accordingly American flights 48 and 49 coming and going
between LAX and Paris Orley was an easy choice.

The route from Paris to Chamonix was more involved.
Returning to the Web I retrieved a lot of information on access
to Chamonix. Much more information in any event than my
friend Guillaume who apparently climbs wearing only sun
glasses was able to tell me. Hopefully his ability to find
mountain tops is better than his ability to find either Chamonix
or a hotel in Chamonix. After several hundred dollars worth of
phone calls, I settled on the high speed TGV from Paris' Gare
Lyon to Geneva, Switzerland's CFF station. I booked the TGV
through Rail Europe, and booked the rail connection from
Geneva to Chamonix in Paris where I discovered that Rail
Europe marks up the tickets 100% over what they cost in
France. The TGV took 3.5 hours to go 400 miles to Geneva and
the local French trains got me the next 49 miles to Chamonix in
another 2.5 hours with three train changes not counting the
change in Geneva which I discovered during the 20 minutes I
had for the transfer that the train from Geneva to Chamonix left
from a station on the side of town opposite from the side of town
in which my arrival station was located.

Arriving finally at Chamonix a taxi drove me to Le Montagnard
which turned out to be far enough out of town that only a
mountaineer could love it. Nevertheless, I had a quite pleasant
room with private bath and a balcony overlooking the longest
glacier in Europe and one of the most awesome views, whenever
the clouds allowed, I had ever experienced. There was no heat in
the room at all which made drying wet clothes difficult, but
except for drying, no heat was necessary. There were both hot
water and electric heat sources in the room but both had been
disabled for the summer as I discovered when my references to
"heat" were finally heard as something other than "eat".

Seven o'clock on Saturday, August 24 was the appointed time for
introduction to my guide at which time I punctually presented
myself and met Pascal Dufour, a pleasant Frenchman of obvious
physical propriety for a guide. He had perfected his English as a
skiing instructor at Aspen years ago. Again there were no papers
to sign, no inspection of equipment, only a hearty "see you at
7:00 tomorrow morning for a conditioning climb".

At 7:00 Sunday, the 25th, Pascal appeared and informed me as
to the obviously inclement conditions prevailing in the
mountains above Chamonix. He drove us through the Mont
Blanc tunnel which terminates in Chamonix to Courmayeur,
Italy, a distance of 5 miles. We took the tram from Courmayeur,
at 4,600 feet up to Pnte Helbrouner at 11,355 feet and walked
across the glacier at the top of the Mont Blanc Massif under a
clear sky 5 miles away from the Massif on the French side
which was completely obscured by clouds.

The conditioning climb on Aguille de Toule turned out to be an
exam for a climb of the Matterhorn as well as of Mont Blanc.
Half way up two crags connected by a ridge I commented that
the climb looked more like a Matterhorn climb than a Mont
Blanc climb. Pascal obliquely commented that Matterhorn
climbing was similar to what we were doing. This climb was not
anything with which any serious Sierra Club peak bagger would
have a problem. Rated at about 5.2 with mixed rock and ice it
was mild crampon and hand climbing except that the exposure
on one side was 9,000 feet down without a bounce on the way
and on the other side was about 3 trillion cubic meters of ice full
of crevasses about a thousand feet below. The difficulty wasn't
great but the spincter factor was about 8.5 on a 10 scale. Typical
of European guides, Pascal belayed me on a rope which
generally he held coiled in his hand keeping me on a three foot
tether. Going across crevasses or ledges three feet apart on a
rope never made much sense to me but that's what European
guides casually and traditionally do.

On Monday the 26th we took the tram to the top of Aguille du
Midi above Chamonix, Europe's highest tram stop at 12,601 feet
in the heart of the Mont Blanc Massif. From there we walked
through an ice tunnel onto a knife edged ridge of ice with the
usual and customary exposure into a complete whiteout in
driving snow. The spincter factor at this point made even my
goggles loose. Forty minutes later we were at the Refuge des
Cosmiques at 11,854 feet which is managed by the Compagnie.
This is a four star hut. Completed in 1989, it sports flush toilets,
thermostatically controlled heat, spacious quarters and typically
fantastic French food. A group of Americans and British from
London were using it as their climbing headquarters for
acclimatization and climbing and basically treating it as their
vacation hotel. On a clear day it has a southern view of the
Grand Jorasses, Mont Blanc du Tacul, and almost all of the rest
of entire Mont Blanc Massif.

On Tuesday morning the 27th at 2:00 we traversed the Col du
Midi and started up the east shoulder of Mont Blanc du Tacul.
This is a 2,000 foot 60 degree ice fall topping out at 13,900 feet
which feeds Glacier des Bossons which falls all the way to the
valley floor at 3,000 feet. Our destination was Mont Blanc on
the Grand Traverse which is an eight hour traverse of Mont
Blanc du Tacul and Mont Maudit to Mont Blanc. We got to the
top of the Tacul shoulder at 13,900 feet along with another
Compagnie guide with two clients who were on the same route.
The wind and cold were severe. I took off my glove shell on one
hand for less than a minute and my hand froze, even though I
had a knit glove on, requiring a painful recovery as it regained
feeling. At the top of the shoulder it was apparent that a storm
was moving in and the wind ruled out any attempt at
continuation. The guides aborted the attempt and turned back to

On Wednesday the 28th it stormed. I spent the day watching
such classics as "Alerte a Malibu" (Baywatch) and American
westerns I remember seeing 25 years ago dubbed in French and
drinking wine at Cafe L'Impossible. At that point the guide ruled
out any attempt on Matterhorn because the hut at the route
beginning was under a foot of snow and he wouldn't risk a climb
of Matterhorn in icy conditions. Having seen a Swiss TV video I
bought on a typical climb of Matterhorn and after looking down
9,000 feet into Italy off a series of typical Matterhorn moves on
Sunday, I agreed with the guide's assessment.

On Thursday the 29th in general humid gloom we took the les
Houches-Bellevue Telepherique up from Les Houches near
Chamonix to La Chalette from which we took the Mont Blanc
Railway to 7,780 feet. Originally the railway was intended to go
all the way to the top of Mont Blanc. This objective for the
railway was abandoned because of "objective difficulties". These
I was soon to discover included the last 2,500 feet of elevation to
the Refuge de Gouter which rises in less than 2,000 feet of
horizontal distance with the last 1,000 feet of altitude virtually
straight up supported by fixed steel cables and steel handholds.
The guide books indicate that helmets are mandatory, but few
were wearing them on this day because everything was frozen
solid. Nevertheless there was loose rock and ice and on two
occasions my helmet saved my head not from falling rocks or ice
but from hitting my head on overhangs as I went up.

The Refuge de Gouter at 12,564 feet is an infinite departure
from the Cosmique hut. Because the summit can be done in 6
hours round trip from Gouter this is where 150 bodies cram into
sleeping bunks built for 120 bodies. This was like being in a
pack of angry chimps speaking at least a dozen languages from
Japanese to French. I had a Japanese guy sleeping on one of my
arms and a German girl sleeping on my other arm - not next to -
on. The rooms were so filled that the windows were left wide
open because the bodies were generating enough heat to warm
the rooms above 80 degrees with the windows open even though
it was 20 degrees below zero with a wind in the open windows.
However, the wind was not much of a factor in the rooms
because there was a 30 foot ice wall against the window side of
the building which had been cut back 3 feet from the building.

At 2:00 Friday morning the 30th everybody started the stampede
to the breakfast line to get the completely inadequate breakfast
of tea and bread. Bring your own oatmeal or don't get much for
breakfast in mountain huts in France. There were two near fist
fights over sitting places.

By three we were slogging up the ice under a full moon in a
clear sky and a 10 mph wind. The humidity even in these cold
temperatures seems to prevent any evaporation. The water I
customarily need in the Cascades or the Sierras is far more than
I needed in the Alps. The cold in the Alps is a wet cold which
seems to cut through whatever you have on. I had on insulated
La Sportiva K3's with Dachstein Himalayan wool socks and
neoprene socks on Charlet Moser Super 12's with snow plates.
My feet were about just right but within an hour I had put on
everything I had and was wet, cold and with an intolerable back
ache probably attributable to the chill I got from the climb the
day before. I had on REI expedition underwear, North Face
Windbloc fleece anorak, light-weight Mont Bell Gortex jacket
with hood, a moonstone Gortex Bib, an L.L. Bean Primaloft
jacket and hood rated for -20F and an REI Windbloc hat - and I
was wet and cold with an enormous backache.

I tried to stop to take a couple of aspirins for my back at which point
Pascal started a dance to keep warm. He was dressed for a
continuous six hours of motion only. There is something
disconcerting about being tied on a short rope to a guy doing a
dervish dance at 14,000 feet. About two hours after we started, at
about 14,175 feet according to my Avocet, without the ability to stop
even long enough to take an aspirin, I aborted the climb and we
returned to the Gouter hut, much to Pascal's relief. On Rainier the
RMI guides may drag you to the top, but don't expect that from an
Alpine guide. Just whisper turn around and you'll be on the way
down. After a two hour rest during which my body heat returned, we
fell down the ridge to the train within three hours.

Back in Chamonix Friday afternoon I changed my TGV
reservation for Sunday to Saturday and on Saturday morning at
6:00 a.m. I pulled my gear into town to the station. The 49 mile
ride to Geneva took 4 hours with three train changes. There
were no taxis at the hole in the wall train station in Geneva so I
heaved a 10,000 ci duffel bag on foot across Geneva to the TGV
station following a British couple who said they knew where
they were going and it turned out they did know.

The taxi fare to Orly from the Champs Eleysse is only $30 but I
opted to use an unused subway ticket to the Denfert Rochereau
Metro stop and catch the Orly Bus express from there for $6
arriving at the same time as my wife and daughter whose airport
transfers were included in their hotel package. The taxi fare is
only $36 but the Metro and bus are more fun. All in all a very
interesting adventure. The French people were much more
friendly than my encounter with them in 1965 after which I
waited 31 years to encounter them again. Mont Blanc and the
Matterhorn are still on my wish list, and next time the spincter
factor will be a lot less and my clothes a lot more.

Two Germans disappeared on Thursday. I have great pictures of the
French search helicopter passing over me about a hundred feet away.
As of Friday night they were still missing and presumed dead. They,
like many others, did not use a professional guide. Anyone who
wanders into territory like this for the first time without a
professional guide has bigger ovaries than I do and a small brain.
The Alps should not be taken for granted. Mont Blanc should be
treated with the same respect with which McKinley should be
treated, particularly on the Grand Traverse route we attempted on
Tuesday morning which requires ascents of three peaks near or
above 15,000 feet with Mont Blanc at 15,700, three glaciers and
total round trip time of at least 14 hours from and to the Cosmique
hut. If you aren't going to stay at the Cosmique hut on the way back
add at least an hour more to get to the tram which is about 750 feet
higher and was a very tiring slog even at the end of our excursion to Mont
Blanc du Tacul on only one-third of the whole Grand Traverse route.

- Elmer Martin 

Signal Pk, Mt Ajo, Arizona

Between Christmas and New Year's while animals were
boarding an ark in Santa Cruz, Richard Stover and I had a high
and dry holiday on the desert. High is a relative word. These
peaks are both under 5000 feet (4877' and 4808' respectively).
They are class 2 but far from easy.

Both are DPS peaks. Signal is the high point of the KOFA
National Wildlife Refuge, and Ajo is the highest point in Organ
Pipe National Monument. Both are located in the beautiful
Sonoran desert replete with saguaro cactus and in Organ Pipe,
chainfruit cholla and the namesake organ pipe cactus.

Signal Peak is the site of Palm Canyon, the only remaining place
in Arizona where native palm trees, (Washingtonia arizonica)
grow naturally in an almost unreachable spot. Apparently all the
others in the state were set afire by arsonists years ago. There is
free primitive camping in the Palm Canyon dirt parking lot
where we spent three enjoyable nights (fire rings, no outhouse).
One night we spotted a gray fox hunting for supper.

We were there a while because it took us three tries to reach the
summit. Since we were unable to obtain an Arizona topo before
we left on the trip, our only guide was the greatly reduced
(almost unreadable) map from the DPS Guide along with the
DPS route descriptions. Short days dictated that we err on the
side of safety, so we bailed early in the afternoons to ensure
getting back to level ground by sunset.

Our first attempt was up the four palm canyon route. We ascended
the wrong drainage and were stopped by a wall. The consolation
prize was the startling of three bighorn sheep who certainly didn't
expect climbers to be off route. They escaped over a side ridge.

The next day we found the correct drainage. Two thousand vertical
feet of the densest, thorniest brush I never hope to climb again. It
took three hours. I vowed to descend to the west even if it meant
walking around the whole range. When we reached the ridge top we
enjoyed our Santa Cruz oranges before I was led astray.

I knew there was a reason I hate ducks. On the ridge I saw a line of
ducks traversing to the left. The DPS guide said to traverse. My
instinct was to go up where the visibility was blocked but the brush
must have tired my brain. Stupidly, I followed the ducks, climbing
down a dry waterfall (definitely not second class). Richard followed
and I then scouted up another canyon which ended in a fourth class
move to a blind keyhole. Definitely off route. By then it was time to
bail if we were to make it back before dark. We descended what I
later found out was the exposed third class Route C-but better than
the brush on the ascent.

Three days later we returned to finally make it to the summit.
We took the easy way which required a three-mile drive on a
4W drive road. Hey, that's what we bought our new truck for!
The view from the summit was worth the effort. Instead of
Sierra peaks, we gazed at miles and miles of desert mountains
like waves in a windy ocean. The rugged Kofa mountains which
stretched before us contain approximately 1000 bighorn sheep.
We were back at the truck by noon.

In the intervening three days we had traveled to Organ Pipe, climbed Mt.
Ajo, and camped by an amazing array of petroglyphs. Mt. Ajo is a joyful
climb on a good use trail through the Sonoran desert. The trail begins at
the back country register two miles from the road at the "Bull Pasture"-not
the place where PCSers compose trip reports, but the rather improbable
place where someone ran cattle in the olden days. Don't go downhill to the
spring as the DPS guide instructs. Rather, the trail heads eastward skirting
the valley just below the cliffs.

Before we found the trail, we headed cross-country as the
directions state and, to our delight, surprised a herd of javelina
(peccary) which had been munching on the spiny Engelmann
prickly pear. These strange animals resemble pigs, but the
ranger later told us they are more closely related to the deer.

The Mt. Ajo summit register box contained an old pipe register
(which we couldn't open) inscribed with the name Mt. Rosa.
Apparently an earlier name for the peak.

Our trip was a smashing success. Besides climbing two new
peaks, we spotted several birds which we had never seen before.
These included the gray-breasted jay, Lewis' woodpecker, and
the white-winged dove. Birds, petroglyphs, bighorn and
summits. All signs and signals of a great trip.

- Debbie Bulger

Lightning Detectors

We likely would've realized sooner what was going on if we'd
just climbed Long's Peak or been somewhere else on the Front
Range. But we'd spent the arid summer day on the west side of
Crater Lake, and had just enough time to watch the sunset from
the top of Crater Lake if we drove up, so we did. (sorry, not
really b-c, but the physics is the same!)

Not a cloud in the sky. Teenager, adults, and a 2 year old sitting
in the truckbed eating supper. Put fleece jacket on 2 year old
because it's getting chilly. Kid slides around on plastic bed liner
for fun.

Suddenly every time he takes a bite of his sandwich from his
dad, he gets a shock -itty bit of static electricity discharge. We
look around, no clouds in the sky, but it's very dry. Must be
caused by the fleece and plastic truck bed liner. "Quit sliding
around with your fleece on, you're building up a charge." Time
for science education and admonishments about *not* putting
metal items in electrical sockets at home. "See, this is what
happens. Electrical shock. Zap!"

"Look, if you both touch the metal bed of the truck before
feeding the sandwich, you're "grounded" to the same floating
ground." Funny, only dad seems to be differently charged. "Does
it make a difference if you stand up instead of sitting down?"

Two year old is not convinced and insists that someone other than his
dad feed him. No one else seems to have any problems with potential
differences. Two year old happily continues with supper. Suddenly
he starts to get zapped by the second adult. He is tired of science
experiments. "No more shock baby," he pleads.

Adults look around again. Clear sky *above* but Crater Lake
itself, which is to the side but below us has been entirely
covered by ominous looking clouds. Nothing is glowing blue yet,
but we're the tallest thing around. Now we know where the
static electricity is coming from. Rapid packing of supper and
people into truck and down to lower elevation, diaper change
can wait. The ice pellets (sleet) start falling around us, we see
lightening behind us. Still trying to figure out the different
charge build-up rates - surface area or body mass related?

Two year old has just learned there are at least three kinds of
"hot" food. Haven't yet introduced him to radioactivity.

Interesting lightning detectors, two year olds. Next time I think
I'll take a furry rodent-like creature instead. That must be what
Marmots are for.

- Jeannie Williams 

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
+ "Zazen On Ching-t'ing Mountain"         +
+                                         +
+ The birds have vanished down the sky.   +
+ Now the last cloud drains away.         +
+                                         +
+ We sit together, the mountain and I,    +
+ until only the mountain remains.        +
+                                         +
+     - Li Po                             +
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Shasta Roads

Some friends and I were unable to approach the south sides of both
Lassen National Park and Mt. Shasta last weekend due to mudslides
that had closed both roads. The Lassen slide appeared to be almost
cleared, so that road may be open soon. The Shasta mudslide was
more serious--more like a mudflow--and probably seriously
undermined the Everett Memorial Highway.The debris included
dozens of big trees stripped of branches, big boulders, crumpled
drainpipes, etc. There's no telling when this road will be fixed. Better
call ahead to both parks if you want to access these roads.

We did find good access to the snow in the Mt. Eddy range (west of
Mt. Shasta) from the Stewart Springs Road (exit just north of Weed
on I-5). The only drawback is the upper road is not plowed so you
take your chances of getting snowed in if you leave a car there
overnight. A totally unrelated note: There's a good Mexican
restaurant, Jose's, in Williams off of I-5. Once you exit the freeway,
follow the main drag west of I-5 a few blocks until you reach the first
(only?) traffic light Turn left here (this is the main downtown road)
and drive a few blocks to the edge of town. Jose's is on the left.

- Butch Suits

Mexican Topo Maps

Prior to our Thanksgiving weekend expedition to Baja, a group
of OPSers (Obscure Peaks Section) ventured to Tijuana, Mexico
to visit the government publications office there. This is the
place to go to purchase Mexican 1:50,000 and 1:250,000 scale
topographic maps. They cost N$ 20 (pesos) ($2.56/per) which is
much cheaper than buying them locally here at the Map Centre
in San Diego where the last reported price was $9.00 (per map).

Our venture started by taking the San Diego Trolley from Old Town
to the International Border, then walking for about half an hour into
downtown Tijuana. The office is officially called Instituto Nacional
de Estadistica, Geografia e Informatica (INEGI). Their address is:

Calle 2da. y Constitucion #8083 Antiguo Palacio
Municipal Zona Centro C.P. 22000

Tel. 85-15-70 Tel/Fax 85-67-86 Tijuana, B.C.
web site: http://www.inegi.gob.mx
main office email: 

Calle 2da. is also known as Benito Juarez Office hours are from
7 A.M. to 7 P.M. Monday through Friday. The building is on the
southwest corner of the intersection across the street from a
Calimax store and the small office is in the northeastern corner
of the two-story structure. We were assisted by senorita Maria
de los Angeles Cuautle T., a very patient lady.

Their collection of maps for Baja was fairly complete and maps
they didn't have could be ordered. It would be a good idea to
know some Spanish and to bring shipping materials in case they
have to forward ordered maps to your home address. I would
presume you could order maps for the mainland (anyone going
to Orizaba?) as well. We found their 1:50,000 scale maps to
have accurate topo information, but several of the roads were
outdated and some were not even shown. Nevertheless, this
added to our adventure. We spent several days climbing range
highpoints around Bahia de los Angeles, about 370+ air miles
south of San Diego. I will eventually write a complete trip report
on this expedition.

- Mark Adrian 


Scree is the monthly journal of the Peak Climbing Section of the Sierra Club, Loma Prieta Chapter.

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Rock Climbing Classifications

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, rope may be used.
        Class 4: Requires rope belays.
        Class 5: Technical rock climbing.

In Upcoming Issues:

 Trip Reports: Mexican Volcanoes
 Compendia: Restaurants
 (the Editor promised we'd clear the backlog, eh?)

Deadline for submissions to the next Scree is Sunday 2/23/97.
Meetings are the second Tuesday of each month.
This publication may not be posted on any public news group.

"Vy can't ve chust climb?" - John Salathe
(end of Scree - February 1997)