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Scree for November, 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.
                   November, 1997   Vol. 31, No. 11
    Deadline for submissions to the next Scree is Sunday 11/23/97.

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

Date:		Tuesday, November 11
Time:		8pm
Program:	Ruwencori Range

Bill Hauser's Uganda slides from the Ruwencori  
Mountain Range of 16,000 + ft. See the climb of 
Mt. Stanley, one of the mountains in the Moon 
group, with glaciers on the equator.

Location: The North Face, 217 Alma Street in Palo Alto
          just north of the CalTrain station
((PDF version of EScree has a drawn map here)) 

Vote for PCS Officers!

After stressful meetings and tension-filled conversations, 
notwithstanding bribes and threats, the PCS Nominating 
Committee offers the following slate of candidates:

	Chair:			Roger Crawley
	ViceChair/Scheduler:	Arun Mahajan / Alex Keith
	Treasurer:		Nancy Fitzsimmons

You need to be present at the meeting to vote. Nominations will 
also be taken from the floor. We'll announce the new officers 
following the vote and they'll start immediately!

- PCS Nominating Committee
(Debbie Benham, Debbie Bulger, Bob Suzuki)

New Scree Editor Appointed

Bob Bynum will be replacing me as Editor of this illustrious 
publication. It's been a lot of fun - I've especially enjoyed 
helping with the conversion of Scree to a fully online publication 
with double or triple the circulation we used to have - but it's 
time for me to make way for new ideas and fresh energy.

Please send all future contributions to Bob (via email or 
hardcopy) at the address shown on the back of this issue. 
Remember that anything sent to the PCS email list is a 
candidate for publication, but sending items directly to the 
Editor avoids the chance he'll overlook your broadcast. Be nice 
to Bob, at least for a while, because this job takes some getting 
used to!

- Steve Eckert

Sunset Clause Approved 26:0

The vote at the last PCS meeting was 26:0 in favor of the 
following bylaw amendment: "Article IX, Section 2. 
Amendments or standing rules which modify or clarify these 
bylaws shall be signed by the Section Chair, attached to a 
printed and signed copy of the bylaws, and kept on file at the 
Loma Prieta Chapter offices. Each amendment or standing rule 
must be accompanied by a record of when the final vote was 
taken. Those amendments or standing rules not so documented 
are revoked as of December 1997."

This has been sent to Loma Prieta officials for review/approval 
by the chapter. The PCS is unanimous in its desire to improve 
bookkeeping, so I assume the chapter will endorse the bylaw 
change promptly. This is not an attempt to suspend valid 
Operating Rules! If you have a record of existing rules or 
amendments, please contact the PCS Chair by early December 
so he can review them and include them with the official 
documents (assuming they can be verified from back issues of 

- Steve Eckert

Of Gabb And Gales

The plan had been to leave Thursday evening to avoid the worst 
of the traffic. Unfortunately, the BART strike more than 
compensated for any advantage, so leaving the Bay Area was as 
bad as ever. Such was the start of the trip to Mt Gabb on 
September 12-14. We had a permit for eight, but in the end were 
only three: Chris Kerr, Meri Mitsuyoshi and Peter Maxwell 
(organizer, leader, car driver and general roustabout). At least 
car pooling was easy - we all went in one car. This was a good 
way to put some early miles on our new Subaru Legacy Outback, and 
to check if everything Paul Hogan says about this car is true or not.

Having successfully negotiated 100 yards of Inyo National Forest 
rough road, I felt that "Hoges" hadn't been pulling my leg, and 
we slept in confidence on Dead Man Summit on Thursday night. 
The plan was to leave Rock Creek trailhead at 9 am, and we 
made it almost on schedule at 9:10. It was cool - a light frost 
could be seen on the ground in the shady parts. We were headed 
for Cox Col, to cross the Sierra crest to get to Lake Italy. The col 
was about 3000' higher than the trailhead, most of the climb 
being cross country. The elevation gain to the point where we 
left the Morgan Pass trail was only 500'.

It was wonderful to be walking and stopping for breaks with not 
a single mosquito around to bother us. The scenery was browner 
than in July, but that was a small price to pay for peace.

We had a leisurely lunch at Dade Lake. I was surprised to see 
the southwestern shores of the lake still covered with snow 
several feet thick. There were even crevasses in it as large 
chunks were poised to break off into the lake. This large 
snowfield extended up the slopes a way as well, so we had to 
negotiate this first. The large sun cups made the going difficult 
and it was with some relief that we were finally able to get onto rock.

>From the lake we had 2500' to get to Cox Col, but it was not 
clear exactly where to head to. Secor talks about "the first notch 
south of the lowest notch" being the preferred route. The trouble 
was that this would have put us hard up against Bear Creek 
Spire, and the snow slopes leading up to this notch were 
extremely steep. We had neither crampons nor ice axes so 
headed a little further north, towards a very obvious "U" shaped 
notch. This proved to be an excellent choice, with only class 2 
rock to contend with. The number of footprints seen there 
showed that many others had come that way also.

As is always the case for me, the final few moments of ascent 
were really exciting, wondering what vistas would be exposed 
the other side. As expected, there was a glorious panorama, 
including a great view of Mt Gabb. Lake Italy, our destination 
for that day, looked a long way down and a long way away, 
although in truth it was only 1800' and a few miles.

We had wonderful, easy, sandy slopes to walk down from the 
col, at least at first. Secor's description was rather vague, about 
having to turn right (to the northwest) before turning left (to the 
southwest) to descend to the lake. The temptation is to go 
southwest too soon, to avoid going "too far out of the way", and 
we ended up going down some steep, slippery sections that 
would have been better avoided. It's better to stay in a northwest 
direction longer, heading into the upper portions of the bowl 
around Gabb, Abbott and Dade, then descending the much 
easier slopes from there.

Looking back towards the col one is truly able to appreciate 
Secor's statement about it being the only reasonable crossing of 
the Sierra crest in that area. The gentle sandy slopes leading up 
to the col were all the more remarkable considering the almost 
vertical walls leading up to Dade, Abbott and Mills.

Everywhere here was barrenness. There were no trees, or even 
bushes, and the only green parts were surrounding the lake and 
the creek feeding it. Not only were there no bears, we didn't see 
any ground critters either, with the result that we put the food 
into packs or in tents overnight. This was like backpacking in 
Australia, not the Sierras, and was a pleasant change.

The ascent day saw a leisurely awakening at 7 am and departing 
camp at 8:15. No need for alpine starts when you're camped 
right at the base of the peak. As promised in my trip 
announcement, we tackled the south face, rather than traverse 
further to the west to pick up the southwest ridge. This gave us 
easy class 3 climbing, although there was much loose rock and 
scree, making the climbing less enjoyable than would otherwise 
have been the case. We were on the summit by 12:30 and 
relaxed there for an hour before heading back to camp. I like 
these mellow trips! Our descent route was more to the west, 
avoiding the larger talus we had encountered on the way up, and 
was a breeze.

The wind which had been gusting at the summit picked up 
intensity during the afternoon, and by the time we were back at 
camp at 3 pm it was blowing strongly and consistently. It was a 
cold wind, too, and the only relief was to seek shelter behind 
some large boulders that were conveniently sited there. Too bad 
the wind was blowing from the west, as it meant we couldn't be 
in the sun and out of the wind at the same time. Chris decided 
sun was more important, and sat reading a book all rugged up in 
her down jacket.

I ended up relocating my bivy sack to behind one of these 
boulders to get some shelter. Meri wasn't so fortunate - she put 
the fly on her tent to avoid the gale roaring through the "no-see-
um" netting (also "no-stop-um" for the wind) but then had to 
suffer with it flapping all night long.

After blowing all night long, the wind had eased a little by early 
morning, so breakfast at 6 am was tolerable. It rapidly picked up 
again as the sun rose, though, and increased to gale force later. 
Standing in the base of the bowl, we could hear it roaring across 
the peaks 3000' up, and I wondered what the col would be like.

When we got there at 10 am, it was almost impossible to stand 
up, and gusts came along that easily blew us off our feet. Just 
down to the east a little we enjoyed being in the lee and had a 
peaceful snack, but as we descended we became exposed once 
again. My Australian Akubra hat, which works great in calm 
conditions, and makes me feel trendy and rugged, became a sail. 
Despite the chin strap it kept getting blown off, almost choking 
me in the process, and I had to resort to downclimbing with one 
hand holding the hat onto my head. This, in turn, produced 
aching muscles where I'd never had them before.

The wretched wind was so strong that the gusts were picking up 
water from the surface of Dade Lake and throwing it into the air 
in great clouds of mist. Quite an impressive display.

We arrived back at the car at 2:30, and I was amused to see 
another brand new Outback parked next to mine. What's more, it 
was bought in Palo Alto and had only 500 miles on the clock. 
Somehow I don't think the choice of parking was accidental.

- Peter Maxwell

Official (PCS) Trips

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.

*** Newcomer Navigation Class
Dates:	Nov. 13 (class 7:30-9pm)	Thu
	Nov. 15 (field trip)	Sat
Leader:	Noreen Ford	415-568-0329
Co-Leader:	Debbie Benham	650-964-0558

Interested in going cross-country in the wilderness? Lost your 
way and would like to return to camp? Which way is north? Find 
the answers to these and other questions at our introductory, 
right-brained, low-tech navigation class. Learn how to use the 
stars, maps (AAA, Forest Service, topographic), and a compass 
to find your way, not only to the trailhead and to the top of a peak, 
but back again in one piece before dark! We'll have an in-town 
evening session on Thu. Nov. 13, 7:30 - 9 p.m. at Linda Smith's 
house in Palo Alto. Following that we'll have a hands-on field trip 
to Henry Coe State Park, Sat. Nov. 15. If interested, please call.

*** Pack It In With Excelsior
Peaks:	Excelsior Mtn (12,446')	class 1 / snow
Dates:	Dec 6-7 	Sat-Sun
	snow delays to Dec 13-14 	Sat-Sun
Maps:	Matterhorn Peak 15 min
	Dunderberg Peak 7.5 min
Leader:	Steve Eckert	650-508-0500
Co-Leader:	Aaron Schuman	H: 650-968-9184
	schuman@sgi.com	W: 650-933-1901

Join us for a two day snowshoe backpack from Conway Summit 
to Excelsior Mountain.  Details at:

All About Plumbing

Vandever and Sawtooth(N) ; October 18-19, 1997

The forest may have been ablaze, but it was the fire within 
us that drove us to the heights. We camped Friday night at 
Atwell's Mill, alongside the Mineral King road. All night we 
inhaled wood smoke and listened to burning conifers fall 

There had been six inches of snow the weekend before, so 
the superintendent believed there was enough moisture to 
contain a controlled burn. But the intervening week was a 
warm one, and when we gathered at the trailhead we opted 
to leave our snowshoes at the cars; the trail was dry. The 
hike to Vandever Peak was uneventful. The summit held a 
splendid view of Homer's Nose (which many of us had 
climbed in April '96) the valley of the Little Kern, and the 
southern end of the Great Western Divide.

Although Saturday's hike was a long one - 15 miles and 4100 
vertical feet - the excellent conditions allowed us to return 
to the trailhead with plenty of time to spare. Steve Eckert, 
Patrick Ibbetson, Dave McCracken, Charles Schafer, 
Suzanne Remien, and I climbed Saturday. 

Saturday night, the fire below Atwell's Mill was even hotter. 
One tremendous, ancient Big Tree crashed down, shaking 
the ground like an earthquake. I wondered if a ranger would 
come by and order us to evacuate. 

In the morning, with a crew change, we set out for Sawtooth 
Peak(N). Steve had backpacked on into the Little Kern, Pat 
went back home, and we were joined by Arun Mahajan and 
Mike DeLorenzo. We had originally intended to attempt 
Needham Mountain, but our Saturday team didn't finish with 
enough time left over to seriously consider a much bigger 
trip on Sunday. Maybe we'll come back and climb Needham 
as a two day backpack. Our climb was straightforward but 
long (12 miles and 4500 vertical feet).

The summit views were a little less spectacular. To the 
west, we enjoyed watching helicopters bearing huge tanks 
dumping water on the fire. Some plumbing job! Mineral 
King Valley had filled with smoke, and we could see the 
brown haze even above 12000 feet. The vast southern 
rampart of the Great Western Divide confined the air 
pollution to the west, so we could still see the Whitney 
range to the east and the Kaweahs to the north. Arun found a 
business card stapled to the summit register. In giddy, 
hypoxic delight, he declared that our agreeable late season 
trip must be named after the advertised company. I never 
really understood why it was so apropos, but here is the trip 
title: All About Plumbing

- Aaron Schuman

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.

*** Sauntering up San Joaquin
Peak:	San Joaquin Mtn (11,600') 	class 1 / snow
Dates:	Nov 22-23	Sat-Sun
Map:	Devil's Postpile
Contact:	Steve Eckert	650-508-0500
Co-Contact:	Arun Mahajan	H: 408-244-7912
	arun@sentientnet.com	W: 408-473-8029

Depending on snowpack, this will be a ridge walk or a snowshoe 
trip or a crampon climb. We'll enter from Mammoth or June Lake, 
and may attempt a day hike instead of overnight if the conditions 
are ideal. Be flexible, be in shape, and be the first on your block 
to do an easy peak in the winter!

*** Aconcagua Private Expedition
Peak:	Aconcagua (22,841')	class 2 / snow
Dates:	26 Dec 97 - 20 Jan 98
Contact:	R.J. Calliger	510-651-1876

Anyone interested? Please take a look at Secor's "Climbing 
Aconcagua" if you are, then contact me for further details via 
email. The main challenges to this climb are the altitude 
(22,841'), and the weather (-10F to -20F plus wind). It is the start 
of the summer there in December and with the altitude, expect 
conditions like climbing a 14'er here in late winter or early spring, 
but colder. Airfare is $850.

Mount Humphreys

July 20, 1997 - David Harris was the leader and Bob Suzuki was 
the fearless leader of a trip to the Humphreys Basin on the 
weekend of July 19. Bob was the only one in the group who had 
previously climbed the peak. The other participants were Debbie 
Bulger, Hiep Nguyen, John Bees, Richard Vassar, Rick Leiker 
and myself. Early Saturday morning (about 7 a.m.) seven of us 
(all but Hiep) started up the trail from North Lake to Piute Pass. 
David had told us to meet that evening at the middle lake west 
of the mountain. Until then we were on our own. Most of the 
participants planned to day hike either Pilot Knob or Four 
Gables, two nearby peaks.

North Lake is about 9,300 feet above sea level; Piute Pass is at 
11,423 feet. The trail is gentle, easy to follow and runs for about 
five miles to the pass. It goes through a grove of aspens and is 
surrounded by wildflowers. There are a few easy stream 
crossings and several beautiful lakes along the way. I walked by 
a pack train and the leader told me that there were "no 
mosquitoes" in the last two days, but prior to that they were 
pretty bad. I thought the mosquitoes were bad enough, even then.

Just after noon I hiked across a well trodden snow field to the 
pass, where Debbie, Bob and Richard were eating a snack and 
enjoying the view. From there we hiked north away from the 
trail over easy terrain past Marmot Lake to a flat spot on east of 
the middle lake (about 11,800 feet), which served as our camp. 
By then it was after 2 p.m. David and John had arrived before 
noon and were already on their way to Pilot Knob. Rich went 
with them and planned to also do Four Gables.

Some set up light tents while the rest laid out rolls and bivy 
sacks. Bob took off his shirt and lay tanning for about half an 
hour, after which he and Debbie set off for Four Gables. Richard 
and I decided to remain at camp. I read a book and napped, 
baking in the hot sun.

About 6 p.m. David and John returned from Pilot Knob and 
Hiep showed up wearing sandals. He had just done Mt. Emerson 
from Piute Pass. Hiep was to climb Humphreys the next day 
sans rope and with his sandals! He asked me if I was the same 
Tony that he had met on Orizaba in 1996 and then I remembered 
him. This was the second time that I had been recognized by 
someone in the middle of the Sierra that I had only seen once, on 
Orizaba. Hiep announced that he had "retired" from climbing but 
that he wanted to join me on my trip to Aconcogua this winter.

Bob returned from Four Gables around 7:30 p.m. and Debbie 
showed up after dark at about 9:30 p.m. She had hiked with her 
sunglasses, which made the going tough. Finally at about 10:00, 
Rich showed up. He had gotten both peaks but lost time finding 
the true summit of Four Gables.

The next morning we got a late start as planned, about 7:00 a.m. 
We hiked west over a gentle rise to the shore of the next lake. 
From there we moved north up a broad slope of loose scree for 
several hundred feet. A class three move put us up on a ledge 
system which we traversed north. At this point we were above 
the darker colored rock that forms a band we could see from 
camp. We moved up another scree slope to a notch. Until here, 
the terrain had been mostly class 2 but now the real climbing began.

We put on our harnesses and climbed up a hundred feet or so on 
a class 3 "trough" as Secor calls it. At this point we roped up 
and climbed a class 4 section to the right of the trough around an 
exposed class 4 corner for about 30 feet. Shortly after that we 
scrambled onto a ridge and then climbed an exposed arete with 
excellent hand and foot holds for about 60 feet, belayed by 
David. From there it was a class 3 scramble to the top. We made 
good time. I was second-to-last on the summit (David was last 
because he belayed us) and made it by 11:30 a.m. There was no 
wind and we had unlimited visibility. We had good views of 
Darwin, Mendel, Sill, North Palisade and numerous other peaks.

After a long break we descended, doing a full rope length 
rappels with two ropes tied together. Some in the group down 
climbed the lower portion of the trough while others used a 
second rappel. David and Bob did an excellent job moving the 
large group safely and quickly. The belays and rappels were 
protected by two solid, independent anchors.

We descended by retracing our footsteps, more or less. I down 
climbed a short steep section of snow with ice ax and crampons 
in order to avoid the first hard class 3 move we had made that 
morning. I returned to camp at 4 p.m. Only Richard, Bob and 
Debbie were still there; the others had already left.

I stayed for half an hour to eat and pack. I went around the 
western edge of Marmot Lake to avoid the higher terrain we had 
crossed on the way in. It sprinkled lightly on me for a few 
minutes and periodically I heard thunder to the south and west. I 
was at the pass at 6 p.m. and back to the trailhead at 9 p.m. The 
others had made it down between 5:30 and 8 p.m.

Thanks to our leaders, David and Bob for the excellent job they 
did in getting us all up safely to the peak. I rank Humphreys as 
one of the 10 best peaks I've ever summitted and think its a 
shame that it's not just a bit taller (it's fourteen feet shy of being 
a fourteener).

- Tony Cruz

Welcome Back Cotter

"Hey, what am I doing with my butt hanging out when we're 
supposed to be in a jam crack? And where is that old knotted 
rope that's supposed to provide a fixed anchor?" Thoughts like 
this were going through Schafer's mind as he worked his way up 
Clarence King's technical top end without following any of the 
guide book routes (see details below). Far from being a bold 
lead up an uncharted mountain, he just didn't think the 
documented routes were as easy! Me? I just followed the rope.

(You'll notice I skipped the part about hiking over Kearsarge 
Pass, Glenn Pass, and Rae Col on the way to our base camp in 
Sixty Lakes Basin. It's long, it's only moderately interesting, and 
there were no bugs until camp.)

Once you get to the summit block there's no doubt about where 
the REAL crux of the climb is. An awkward move (balanced on 
a pointy rock that provided much gutter humor) onto the boulder 
just below the summit reveals where the knotted rope is, and 
then you've got to trust a one-hand mediocre hold to vault 
yourself onto the summit block proper. Not a fun one to get 
down! Others have reported that you can't protect the top, but in 
fact a rope thrown over the summit can be used to belay off one 
of the huge boulders below and a 20' sling can be used to set a 
belay station right on the summit. We did both, climbing on 
belay and leaving no fixed anchors.

Returning to camp we found the RIGHT way down from the 
saddle south of C'King... Secor says to use a ledge in cliffs on 
the east side of the saddle or sand and talus to the south. That's 
right, but hard to understand because the saddle is on a 
north/south ridge! The subsidiary ridge defining the south edge 
of the bowl east of the saddle is definitely the easier route - 
traverse from the saddle out onto the ridge until you see a 
prominent 60' tower where you can either descend a scree chute 
to the south or continue east on ledges to a small lake.

The next day we headed for Gardiner, which (from the upper 
reaches of Gardiner Basin) remains second class until you pop 
up onto the horseshoe ridge between the summits - a most 
unusual summit ridge, with 4 summits and a 700' chasm in 
between! There is straightforward but vertical class 3 down to a 
small saddle, and then easy ramps luring you toward the final 
summit ridge. The last 2' of elevation gain took 3 belays due to 
our half length rope and the long traverse. There is extreme 
exposure on both sides, and an intimidating view of the cliff 
forming the other half of the horseshoe, which has boulders 
piled on little projections but is overall nearly vertical.

(Pictures of Gardiner's summit ridge, the downclimb to the 
notch, and the walls of the horseshoe will be on the PCS website 
with this trip report.)

I suppose the urge to brag is related to the difficulty of the peak, 
which explains why we saw a number of entries from people 
who disdained the use of a rope for Gardiner. Quite a few solo 
entries also. The holds are pretty good, but you won't get a 
second chance. Take the rope. It's a great climb, but it's not 
trivial. We used only slings for protection, aside from one small 
chock that threatened to work loose anyway.

Somehow we burned up the entire day, returning to the base of 
Gardiner at around 4:30pm with dark clouds gathering and the 
wind picking up. Those not working on the SPS list returned to 
camp, while I sprinted for Cotter after tanking up on water. I 
took no rest breaks, but still did not quite beat the weather. Just 
as I got to Cotter's south ridge, snow threatened to slicken the 
large granite flakes I was on and the wind convinced me to 
retreat to the east side instead of walking the ridge itself. The 
storm obscured some, but not all, of the valleys below.

A note to the ultralight packers among us: I had a heavy sweater 
and thicker gloves in reserve, extra food, plenty of water, and a 
mylar 3 ounce bivy bag. Without those things, the only sane 
choice would have been to turn back with the others. The extra 
two pounds of gear would have saved my bacon if the weather 
had really gotten nasty, and did not slow me down enough to 
matter! No one can predict the weather from day to day or hour 
to hour. You preach at me about a lighter pack, I'll preach back 
about survival.

Most of Cotter (from the base of Gardiner) is second class, but if 
you stay on the ridge you'll get into some pretty committed third 
class. The summit itself is very steep, with good holds. I fished 
the register out from below the summit boulder with a trekking 
pole (Beck and Holloway are the names I remember as being the 
last to sign in, but there's no telling if they're the ones who 
dropped it.)

As it turned out, the snow quit shortly after I reached the peak 
and the wind was lashing at the opposite side of the mountain as 
I descended sand and slabs directly down the east face. I reached 
camp about 20 minutes after the others, where Bees greeted me 
with "Welcome Back Cotter" and some reasonable skepticism as 
to whether I had actually made the summit.

Monday we split up, with Bees warping to the trailhead about 3 
hours ahead of us so he could get home to his wife's dinner party 
that night. Once again, the Onion Valley rangers were true to 
form: No one checks permits on the way IN, but I've been carded 
three times on the way OUT there. It seems we don't care if 
people get in, but we want to fine them on the way out, eh? They 
also hung up signs indicating you MUST have a bear canister, 
but that does not match the official regulations (which just say 
you have to protect your food).

Oh yes, the hike out is also long and it's only moderately 

- Steve Eckert

Snow Castle In The Sky

Early winter ascent of Mt. Conness (12,590ft) Saturday, October 
11. Trip members Robert Greenwalt, Ian Porteous and Craig Taylor.

The trip started under the ominous threat of a winter storm 
warning. According to National Weather Service: "WINTER 
RIDGES." It was one of those rare occasions when the Weather 
Service nailed it. We arrived at Junction Campground (thx R.J.) 
at 1am Friday morning much too early or late depending on your 
point of view but it turned out to be critical to the trip's success.

At dawn it began to snow heavily dropping a foot plus of very 
light powder causing the closure of Tioga Pass Road. With the 
closure we were committed, there was no going home. We 
headed off into a very snowy backcountry despite the 
incredulous looks from the folks at the Tioga Pass Resort. The 
rest of the day was spent slogging through fresh snow to our 
base camp (~11,600 ft) on the East ridge. We setup just under 
the ridge on the north side with spectacular views across the 
Conness Lakes basin to North Peak and Conness. Saturday 
morning we headed for the summit via the east ridge, wanting 
the snow on the glacier to stabilize a bit and assuming that there 
would be less snow on the ridge (after sinking several times into 
5ft of snow I can say that this was a questionable assumption).

The east ridge is a long series of peaklets and knife blade ridges 
with some tricky moves when covered with a foot to foot and a 
half of new snow. After 5 hours of climbing in 24 degree 
weather with 20 to 30 mph gusts of wind the beauty of seeing 
the final summit ridge is hard to recapture. Across a large white 
plateau of snow the summit seemed to float on the far edge, a 
snow castle connected to the earth by only a thin causeway of 
rock and ice. Climbing the final summit ridge took another hour, 
summitting at 2:30pm. Rather than retract our steps we 
descended onto the glacier and traversed a high line across 
surprising stable snow pack. We arrived back in base camp at 
5pm. Sunday we packed up, glissaded directly, in one steep 
straight shot, to lower Conness Lake and hiked out from there. 
On our return to the Bay Area it was a positively balmy 50 
degrees. Winter was after all just an illusion and so too was the 
snow castle in the sky. 

- Craig Taylor

Notes and Requests

*** Proposed Winter Trips

The trips listed below were proposed at the Peak Climbing 
Section winter trip planning meeting on Tuesday, October 
14. This list is intended to prevent trip scheduling conflicts 
and to help you plan your winter climbing schedule, not to 
enable people to sign up way in advance.

FOR THESE TRIPS. The time to sign up is after the trip is 
formally announced in the Scree, with a full description and a 
designation as a private or official PCS trip. 

If you are planning a trip, or if your plans for a trip on this list 
change, please contact the Trip Scheduler to keep this list up to date.

- Jim Ramaker 

	Dec 13	Tomales Point (Pt. Reyes)	Van Gorden
	Dec 20-21	Tinker's Knob, Granite Chief	Eckert, Hult
	Jan  2-4	Mt. Morgan, Mt. Stanford (N)	Eckert, Taylor
	Jan 10-11	English Peak, Adams Peak	Eckert, Ramaker
	Jan 17-19	Pyramid Peak	Dyal
	Jan 24-25	Ventana Double Cones (Big Sur)	Kirkpatrick
	Feb  1	Junipero Serra Peak (Big Sur)	Mahajan
	Feb  7-8	Round Top	Van Gorden
	Mar  7-8	Destination TBA	Ress

*** McKinley Redux

If you've dreamed of spending three weeks freezing your tush off 
while eating freeze-dried food and hauling 130 lbs up 6000 ft, 
then Mt. McKinley is the place for you! I'm looking for a 
qualified partner(s) for another attempt at North America's 
highest peak. After two trips on the mountain, I'm practically a 
"guide," so planning and other questions are greatly simplified.

Qualified partners MUST possess high altitude experience 
above 20,000 ft, multiday expedition experience, have the right 
cold weather gear or be willing to purchase it, have adequate 
vacation time, XC ski (or be willing to learn) and not snore. 
First time want-to-be's will not be considered. Send email or call 
me at 408-970-0760 home, 408-543-3135 work.

- Tim Hult 

*** Correcting the USGS

Subject: Re: statement on inaccurate map on NPR interview
Peg: In response to your concern, and for general information, 
the USGS does have a process for correcting map inaccuracies. 
Both production Centers (Rollo, MO. & Denver CO.) maintain a 
folio correction file for the maps in their region. These 
corrections are then validated and if found to be appropriate, 
applied during the maintenance and re-publication process. To 
submit a folio correction one merely needs to contact us at the 
address located at the bottom of the map....we appreciate your 

- Mark Eaton 

*** Sunrise, Sunset, Sunrise, Sunset, Sunrise, Sunset.

I was about to bother Eckert with another request for 
astronomical data, when I realized that of course I could find this 
myself... that's what the Net Search button is for. If you're 
curious, you can compute anything involving the sun or moon for 
yourself, for any location, by going to
I'm sort of ashamed at how long it took me to think to look there, 
since I used to work at usno.navy.mil back before it was called 
that, but not in the Nautical Almanac office. Anyway, full moon 
times for 1998 as best I can translate:

	Universal Time     Mission Peak Time
	jan 12  17:24       jan 12   9:24
	feb 11  10:23       feb 11   2:23
	mar 13   4:34       mar 12  20:34
	apr 11  22:23       apr 11  15:23
	may 11  14:29       may 11   7:29
	jun 10   4:18       jun  9  21:18
	jul  9  16:01       jul  9   9:01
	aug  8   2:10       aug  7  19:10
	sep  6  11:21       sep  6   4:21
	oct  5  20:12       oct  5  13:12
	nov  4   5:18       nov  3  21:18
	dec  3  15:19       dec  3   7:19

As you might expect, the probability of error in my transcription 
and time zone translation is much greater than the probability of 
error in the USNO data.

- David G Hough 

*** Items for Sale

'97 North Face Lunar Light Tent: 2 person, 3 season, under 5 
lbs, full warranty, fully seam sealed, like new, used one night -- 
$150 (retail $245). Boreal Flyers approach shoes: size 9 U.S. 
mens, smooth soled sticky Fusion rubber, like new, used once to 
walk around the block -- $35. Garmont Sticky Weekend 
approach shoes: size 10.5 U.S. mens, very good condition, used 
for about a week in the Tetons -- $30 or $25 and a pint of good 
ale. Wanted:  Size 10.5 Five Tennies.

- Jim Curl  415-585-1380

*** Crampon Quest

I'm looking for a decent used pair of strap-on flexible crampons 
for occasional use with my leather Raichle Mountain Guide 
boots. Please email me if you have a pair to sell fairly cheap or 
know of some. Thanks!

- Aaron Grossman 

*** Andes and Himalayan Expeditions

I am looking for climbers interested in a summer 1998 trip to the 
Peruvian Andes. My intention is to focus on some of the more 
technical routes in the Cordillera Blanca, but I'm open for 
discussion on other objectives.

I am also interested in joining a Himalayan expedition in 1998. 
If you are planning a Himalayan expedition and are in need of 
another team member, please call 415-309-0570 or drop me a 
line at P.O. Box 8757, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546.

- Craig Clarence 

The Win Chell Factor

There was none. No wind-chill factor that day, none at all. On a 
warm and windless Saturday that rivaled most summer 
weekends, the six of us from the PCS began our attempt of Mt 
Winchell in the Palisades. (13775 ft, 4th and 5th Oct 97)

The group consisted of Debbie Benham and Nancy Fitzsimmons 
(leader and co-leader, respectively) and Kelly Maas, Peter 
Davids, Ron Karpel and designated scribe, Arun Mahajan. 
Climbing separately on the same weekend were four other PCS 
members, Dee and Rick Booth, Dot Riley and Jim Curl. It was 
as if the PCS had laid siege on Mt Winchell.

Starting at 9.30 from the Glacier Lodge parking lot, we were at 
Sam Mack Meadow at about 2.30 pm. We were ringed by the 
towering crest of the Palisades. One couldn't but feel decadently 
slothful lazing under the warm sun on the rocks in the middle of 
a brook that gurgled nearby. We strongly cautioned Debbie 
against leading such hard trips, I mean, really! That evening we 
paid a call on Jim's party camped near by. They were cooking 
over a Webber barbecue that they had lugged up to camp. We 
even saw 2 pints of Cherry Garcia that they had brought up, packed 
in dry ice and all. A bottle of wine nearby really gave one the feeling 
of having landed in the middle of an Omar Khayyam quatrain.

At 6.30 am on Sunday morning we got rolling. We worked our way 
to the top of the ridge in front (s.west) via the rocks near the third 
snow patch on the left. We walked past the Sam Mack Lake and 
over boulder fields towards a moraine slope that had many loose 
boulders and from there onwards, the many-featured impressive bulk 
of Mt Winchell spurred us on. Some caution is needed on the 
moraine slopes. Our co-leader, Nancy, got a rather bad injury when 
some large rocks slid down and fell on the fingers of her hand.

Some more tedious climbing brought us to the base of the two 
chutes mentioned in Secor's description of the east arete route. 
We followed the right chute towards the arete's crest. As we 
were going up, we saw Jim Curl doing some free climbing on 
the arete itself. Kelly, from our party also joined him and while 
mere mortals like us worked our way up to the knife edge from the 
right gully, these two topped out the arete onto the knife edge 
with great ease. I found that it was safer to reach the knife edge 
by staying closer to the arete (right of the right gully, instead of 
the left). The knife edge is not very long and we stayed a little 
below it on the left and there are enough holds and the rock has 
good friction. Again, from the knife edge, one can continue up the 
gully towards the summit, but we traversed across and went up the 
ridge instead. Kelly had nimbly gone ahead almost to the summit by 
following this ridge and he graciously came down towards us as 
we stood at the start of the ridge, to show us the precise steps he 
took to get on the top. Within minutes after this we all were 
basking in the pride that one gets after bagging a summit that 
needs so much hard work. There are a few exposed spots on that 
gully and care and concentration is needed. Some careful down 
climbing on the exposed parts of the gully and again the tedious 
descend on the moraine to Sam Make Lake and the easy descend 
via the now-soft snowy slopes got us back to camp at 2.30 pm.

Normally one cannot arrange for the weather. But in this trip, 
our leader Debbie had done just that, and so to thank her, we 
stopped at a restaurant in Bishop and held up our glasses in 
toast to her, for having led another great PCS trip from the front, 
and for having nullified the Win-chell factor.

- Arun Mahajan

Climbing the Cornice

August 1997 - Canted at 45 degrees and undercut, the cornice 
was only an inch or two thick at the lip where we held on to 
keep our feet from slipping, sending us rudely down a steep two 
hundred foot slope.

"This is pretty wild, Bob. Do you think it'll break?"

I kept my death lock on the lip and twisted around to smile at 
Bob -- only to find him casually walking behind me, practically 
with his hands in his pockets. How does he do that?

It was a beautiful summer day in the Tuolomne backcountry. 
The cornice we were on had not been recently crafted by wind, 
nor did it consist of snow or ice. Glaciers had long ago sculpted 
the rock that comprises the Matthes Crest.

Hidden from many viewpoints by the Cockscomb and the Echo 
Ridge, the Matthes Crest is a phenomenal piece of granite art. 
An improbable fin a mile long, it is easy to see why it is 
purported to be Peter Croft's playground. Indeed, the summit 
register is peppered with entries such as this: "Traversing first 
south to north, now north to south -- Peter Croft".

When Bob Suzuki and I asked friends about the route, we were 
warned of its length. Backpack in the night before, suggested 
some. Plan to bivy on top, counseled others. Disliking the idea 
of carrying sleeping bags and extra food, we ignored the 
naysayers and instead decided on a day climb.

"Maybe hiking in the night before isn't such a bad idea", 
suggested Bob at 4:00am as we began our walk.

A chilly morning wind had us huddling at the southern terminus 
for an hour, trying to wring warmth from the feeble dawn 
sunlight. I would have happily headed back out had Bob 
suggested it. Instead, at 7:30am he directed us into the shade. 
With teeth chattering, I led the first easy pitch.

A second pitch brought us to the crest and some badly needed 
sunshine. After one more unnecessary pitch we untied and put 
away the rope. For the next hour and a half we delighted in the 
class 3-4 scrambling, often along an incredible, exposed knife 
edge. Interspersed was easy walking.

Sand and pebbles bounced off my helmet as Bob skittered in his 
sticky soled approach shoes up the west side of the summit 
tower. It didn't look like we'd found the most traveled path. After 
about 80 feet, the rope drag was too much and a shorter and 
easier pitch led us to the summit. As I pulled onto the top, I sung 
out the National Geographic theme in Kai Wiedman tradition. It 
was only 10:30am. "Should we bivy here, Bob?"

For some reason, the description in Secor ends at the summit, 
suggesting two long rappels to the ground. But the northern half 
of the crest is not to be missed -- an airy gap requiring a wide 
stem to bridge, hand traverses and straddling on knife edges and 
challenging down climbing -- it required as much ropework and 
took us as long as the southern section had. And although easy, 
the "cornice" was an especially unforgettable (and 
unprotectable) 150 feet or so.

After the six hour traverse, we were back at the cars early. Bob 
and I agreed that a day trip was the best approach. What would 
we do different? Sleep in and start later.

- Jim Curl


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

Elected Officials

	Warren Storkman / pcs_chair@kaweah.mti.sgi.com
	650-493-8959 home, 650-493-8975 fax
	4180 Mackay Drive, Palo Alto, CA 94306

Vice Chair and Trip Scheduler:
	Jim Ramaker / pcs_scheduler@kaweah.mti.sgi.com
	408-224-8553 home, 408-463-4873 work,
	188 Sunwood Meadows Place, San Jose CA 95119-1350

Treasurer and Membership Roster (address changes):
	George Van Gorden / pcs_treasurer@kaweah.mti.sgi.com
	408-779-2320 home
	830 Alkire Avenue, Morgan Hill, CA 95037

Appointed Positions

Scree Editor:
	Bob Bynum / pcs_editor@kaweah.mti.sgi.com
	510-659-1413 home/work 
	761 Towhee Court, Fremont CA 94539-7421

PCS World Wide Web Publisher:
	Aaron Schuman / pcs_webmaster@kaweah.mti.sgi.com
	650-933-1901, http://reality.sgi.com/csp/pcs/index.html
	223 Horizon Avenue, Mountain View, CA 94043-4718

Subscriptions and Email List Info

Hardcopy subscriptions are $10. Subscription applications and 
checks payable to "PCS" should be mailed to the Treasurer so 
they arrive before the last Tuesday of the expiration month. If 
you are on the PCS email list (discussion version or lower-
volume news version), you have a free EScree subscription. For 
broadcast info, send Email to  with 
the one-line message
	INFO lomap-peak-climbing
or contact a human at . EScree subscribers
should send a subscription form to the Treasurer to become voting
PCS members at no charge. All subscribers are requested to send a 
donation of $2/year to cover operating expenses other than 
printing the Scree. The Scree is on the PCS web site (as both plain 
text and PDF) at .

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.

Deadline for submissions to the next Scree is Sunday 11/23/97.
Meetings are the second Tuesday of each month.

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