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Scree for July, 1999

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.
                  July, 1999	Vol. 33 No. 7
     Deadline for submissions to the next Scree is Sunday 7/25/99

This issue of Scree will be on the Official PCS Website at

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

Date:	Wednesday, July 14
Time:	7:00 PM

Program:	BBQ and Swap Meet

Bring your own main course to BBQ and your 
own liquid refreshment (alcohol IS allowed) and 
a side dish to share for the potluck. A $2.00 
donation will cover the picnic area and charcoal.

Bring your summer trip reports and mark your 
extra equipment for the swap meet with your 
name and a price. 

Location:	DeAnza Memorial Park, Cupertino
(PDF version has a drawn map here)

Directions:	Take 85 to Stevens Creek Blvd. 
Turn left. Turn left at Stellling Road. Turn left at 
the park entrance. Across from the baseball diamond.

Attention! Update Draft Wilderness Plan

Attention all peak climbers! If you are concerned about the future 
of peak climbing in the Sierra, read this article carefully!

Last November, I announced in the Scree that the U. S Forest 
Service wanted public input on the draft wilderness plan for 
Ansel Adams, John Muir, Dinkey Lakes, and Monarch 
Wilderness areas. Based on input from over two thousand 
letters, the Forest Service will revise the Draft Environmental 
Impact Statement instead of finalizing their initial plan. Also 
they have been seeking further input at public meetings. 

On Tuesday, June 15, Gretchen Luepke and I attended one of 
these meetings in Clovis (A three and a half-hour drive near 
Fresno) hosted by the Inyo and Sierra National Forests. The 
purpose of this meeting was to update interested parties on the 
progress of the above mentioned Revised Draft Environmental 
Impact Statement. An identical meeting occurred in Bishop two 
days later.

Three basic topics were discussed at the meeting: 

First there was  a project by Dr. Randy Gimblett entitled 
"Evaluation of the Spatial Distribution of Recreation in the 
John Muir and Ansel Adams Wilderness Areas." 

To help with the plan revision, the Inyo and Sierra National 
Forests have hired Dr. Randy Gimblett, of the School of 
Renewable Natural Resources of the University of Arizona in 
Tucson. Dr Gimblett will develop field methods for capturing 
baseline data on the distribution of recreation, through space and 
time in the John Muir and Ansel Adams Wildernesses. This data 
will provide information for the Forest Service to examine 
current use patterns and use levels. At the same time, the Forest 
Service will be assessing the need for commercial use in these 
wilderness areas.

At the meeting, Dr. Gimblett demonstrated the software that he 
will use in this project. With computer graphics, he can simulate 
in real time the movements of hikers, mountain bikers, and horse 
riders along a trail and predict how many encounters will occur 
based on the number of permits issued to each of these different 
users. Also he can simulate the effects of closing one or more 
trails. You can actually watch a map with little red, blue, and 
green dots moving along a trail in real time.

Data collection was the second topic discussed. This summer, 
the forest service will use a variety of methods to collect data on 
wilderness usage. These include wilderness trip reports, 
commercial use tally sheets, ranger diaries and reports, and quota 
and reservation records. 

Commercial services was the third topic discussed. To assess the 
need for such services, four questions were asked at the meeting. 
We were given work sheets to provide answers.

1) What activities require specialized skills, equipment, or 
knowledge to safely and responsibly visit these wildernesses?

2) What activities will be enhanced by outfitters? How & why?

3) What types of commercial activities, services and 
opportunities are appropriate in these wildernesses? Where, 
when and why?

4) What do you see as the future mix of these activities & why?

Most of the people at the meeting were commercial horse pack 
outfitters. I think we were the only backpackers present. I 
mentioned to the forest service that it is difficult for people living 
in the Bay Area or the Los Angeles Area to attend a weeknight 
meeting in Clovis or Bishop. They said that they might schedule 
meetings in the Bay Area in the future. I will keep the PCS 

Our input to this process is critical! Please write to the forest 
service at the address below and give your input.  Give your 
answers to the above four questions. Also when you climb this 
summer be sure to fill out a Wilderness Trip Report. 

Sierra National Forest 
1600 Toll House Road
Clovis, CA 93611
Attn: Mike LeFevre

For  more detailed  in formation  go to 

--  Bob Bynum, Scree Editor

Wilderness First Aid

To help trip leaders and would-be leaders get the required First 
Aid certificate, the Chapter sponsors a First Aid class each 
quarter, based on a nationally recognized first aid text, but with 
added material and emphasis on wilderness situations with no 
phone to dial 911. The next First Aid classes will be Saturday, 
August 21 and Sunday, August 22 at the Peninsula Conservation 
Center in Palo Alto (from Bayshore/Hwy. 101 at San Antonio, 
turn toward the Bay; turn left at 1st stoplight, then right at 
Corporation Way to park behind PCC). Class is 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 
p.m. (1 hour for your bag lunch) and is limited to 12 people. To 
sign up, send choice of day, and a check for $38 with a stamped, 
self-addressed business-sized envelope to: Health Education 
Services, 200 Waverly, Menlo Park, CA 94025. Cancellations get 
partial refund if a substitute attends (you get to keep the 
Wilderness First Aid book). For more information, call 650-321-

-- Marg Ottenberg

Dogs Allowed in Almaden Quicksilver

The Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation Department is 
opening all trails in Almaden Quicksilver Park to dogs on leash 
and most trails to bikes and horses. Volunteers are needed to 
survey activities to count users in 1.5 hour shifts, 2 times a day, 
twice a week until July 19. After that the survey will be once a 
week. Contact the department at 408-358-3742 x131 if you are 

-- Marg Ottenberg

Airport X-Rays

Editor's Note: I selected these comments from a thread on the 
PCS broadcast list because many of us travel on airplanes with 
camera gear and stoves. 

-- Bob Bynum, Scree Editor

A friend of mine practically runs the baggage system at Denver 
Int. Airport (supposedly the most modern in the US).  I asked him 
about x-raying luggage and here's what he said:

They do not x-ray ALL luggage.  Any thing you carry-on will be 
x-rayed by the normal X-ray machines at the security stations.  As 
far as checked baggage, about half gets sent through a CTX5000.  
There are 2 belts. One goes thru the CTX; one doesn't, because 
the CTX is too slow to send everything thru.

It is pretty much determined by what position you check in at, as 
the belts are just right behind the agent and he just puts it on 
whichever belt is directly behind him. The CTX machine will x-
ray them, (twice actually). The CTX machine does a fast pass 
that is harmless, however if it finds something of interest it will 
do a second high-energy pass on those objects.  This has the 
added bonus of trashing unprocessed film.  So make sure you 
carry film on.

-- Scott Burgess

While the x-ray at Denver may be done on less than 100% of the 
checked bags, please note that in Frankfurt all bags are x-rayed at 
the time you give the bag to the agent just like a carry on. Then 
they x-ray the carry on bag at the gate also. This was the drill in 
Santiago also but the machine was behind the counter, out of 
sight. I guess this is why they ask you to check in so early.

I also had a body search in Frankfurt but they ignored the camera 
and batteries in my carry on and did not even look into the bag. 
The extra batteries in my checked duffel caused a complete exam 
of its contents right there on the floor of the lobby. What a big 
deal to repack. Several volunteers helped me get it all back 
together, as it was a full duffel with all my climbing stuff. Yes I 
made the flight but with small margin.

-- Paul Wilson

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.

*** Kings Canyon Peakfest
Peaks:	State Peak 12,620
	Dougherty Peak, 12,244'
	Marion Peak, 12,719'
	Kennedy Mtn, 11,433'
Dates:	July 3 thru July 10
Contact:	Debbie Bulger, 831-457-1036, dfbulger@cruzio.com

This week-long backpack will take us on a loop. The peaks are 
mostly second class. After ascending from the trailhead in Kings 
Canyon, we will proceed north in a counter-clockwise loop, both 
on and off trail, climbing as we go. If the terrain cooperates, we will 
cross from Volcanic Lakes to E. Kennedy Lake on our way to 
Kennedy Mountain. 

Hardy, experienced backpackers welcome. Suitable for beginning 
climbers who are comfortable backpacking 10-15 miles/day with 
4000-5000' elevation gain the first day.

*** Tune My Finger
Peaks:	Tunemah Pk (11,894), Finger Pk (12,404)
Dates: 	July 23-26 Fri-Mon
Leader:	Steve Eckert, eckert@climber.org
Co-Leader:	Erik Siering

Pack in from Wishon Reservoir through Woodchuck Country to 
the Blue Canyon headwaters and bag these two fine (or at least 
remote) peaks. Good views of Black Divide and Enchanted Gorge 
should make up for the 20-mile pack in and lots of gain on the 
trail. Co-listed as an official trip with both the PCS (Loma Prieta 
Chapter) and the SPS (Angeles Chapter).

*** Middle Palisade
Peak: 	Middle Palisade, class 3
Dates: 	July 3-5 (Sat-Mon)
Map: 	Split Mt. 7.5 minute
Leader: Kelly Maas, (408) 279-2054 (h) or (408) 330-1717 (w) or maas@idt.com
Co-Leader: wanted

Middle Palisade is one of the Palisades, what more need be said?  
Three days allows plenty of time for this outing, which starts at 
Glacier Lodge on Big Pine Creek, high above the town of Big Pine.  
We will climb the easiest route, which is class 3.  It will also 
involve traversing some snow on the Middle Palisade Glacier.  
Please note that the group size is very limited, so be sure to sign 
up early.

*** Mt. Bolton Brown
Peak:	Mt. Bolton Brown, Class 2, 13,538'
Dates:	August 1-3 (3 days)
Leader:		Debbie Benham, h: 650/964-0558 benham4x@aol.com

After reading about Bolton's first ascents, and seeing Lucy 
Brown's footpath, my curiosity was peaked. This summit hides 
from viewing via Hwy 395 behind the magnificent eastern Sierra 
skyline.  We'll see! Could be just a pile of old' scree. Trailhead is 
Birch Lake, out of McMurphy Meadows, off Glacier Lodge Road.  
Permit for 6. $3 covers permit fee

*** Dragon Weekend
Peaks: 		Dragon Peak (12,955) Class 3 and Kearsarge Peak (12,598) Class 2
Dates:	August 7-8 (Sat.-Sun.)
Map:	Kearsarge Peak and Mt. Clarence King 7.5'
Leader: 		Bill Isherwood925-254-0739 (h) 925-423-5058 (w), isherwood2@llnl.gov

 We will meet Saturday morning at 9 AM at the trailhead for 
Golden Trout Lake on Onion Valley Road out of Independence. A 
2000-ft. climb will bring us to a camp near one of the two 
unnamed lakes just north of Golden Trout Lake. For the ambitious, 
Kearsarge Peak may be climbed Saturday. Sunday, we will climb 
Dragon Peak from the col immediately south of the peak. Hike out 
Sunday afternoon. Send a $10 deposit (call first) to secure your 
spot. Trip limited to 8.

*** Grand Canyon of The Tuolumne
Backpack:	Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, Class 1/2,
	Yosemite National Park
Dates:	August 20-22 (3 days)
Leaders:	Debbie Benham, (h) 650/964-0558, email: benham4x@aol.com
	Bill Kirkpatrick, (w) 408/279-3450, wmkirk@earthlink.net

Join us for a 'reverse' peak trip through a pristine wilderness 
canyon in beautiful Yosemite National Park! We will be out three 
days, walking approximately 23 miles total with roughly 4-5000' 
elevation loss and gain. We'll start at White Wolf Campground and 
finish at Lembert Dome in Tuolumne Meadows, a one-way jaunt 
up the canyon. $10 deposit required on sign-up and fully 
refundable at the trailhead. Permit for 8. Co-listed with 
Backpacking Section/Loma Prieta Chapter.

*** Merced Peak
Peak:		Merced Peak, Class 2, 11,726', Yosemite National Park
Dates:	August 27-29 (3 days)
Leader(s): 	Debbie Benham, h: 650/964-0558, benham4x@aol.com
	Anouchka Gaillard, h: 408/737-9770, anouchka@cup.hp.com

A long hike in to another classic of the Clark Range set in lovely 
Yosemite National Park! Approximately 16 miles (one way) to the 
summit with 4,000' gain/loss over three days. We'll climb the 
northeast ridge after leaving the Red Peak Pass Trail near Upper 
Ottoway Lake. Hearty and fit newcomers are welcome, and must 
be able to carry full pack a long way on trail! Deposit of $10 
required for signup which is refundable minus $3, charge for 
permit. 10 on permit.

*** Mt. Langley
 Peak:	 Mt. Langley (14,042), Class 1
 Dates:	August 28-29 (Sat.-Sun.)
 Maps:	Mt. Langley and Cirque Peak 7.5'
 Leader:	Bill Isherwood, 925-254-0739 (h)
	925-423-5058 (w), isherwood2@llnl.gov

This is the southernmost 14,000-foot peak in the High Sierra. 
Clarence King and Paul Pinson climbed it in 1871, believing that 
they were making the first ascent of Mt. Whitney. They found a 
cairn with an arrow on the summit.

 We will meet Saturday morning at the Cottonwood Lakes 
trailhead (driving instructions from Lone Pine are available) at 10 
AM. We will camp at Long Lake (11,135) on Saturday and climb 
the South Slope to the summit via the New Army Pass trail on 
Sunday. Drive home Sunday night. Join us for a leisurely climb 
with time to enjoy the scenery. There is a $10 sign-up fee, 
refundable at the trailhead, less the cost of the permit. Send check 
to Bill Isherwood, 37 La Encinal, and Orinda, CA 94563. Space is 
limited to 8.

*** Mt. Goddard
Peak:	Mt Goddard, Class 2, 13,568'
Dates:	September 3-6 (4 days)
Leader:		Debbie Benham, h: 650/964-0558, benham4x@aol.com
Co-Leader:	Nancy Fitzsimmons, h: 408/957-9683, pkclimber@aol.com

*** Yosemite: Petit, Piute, and Volunteer
Peaks:	Petit, Piute, and Volunteer Class 2
Dates:	Sep 4-6 (Sat-Mon) Labor Day weekend
Leader:	Steve Eckert 
Co-Leader: Erik Siering

*** Cherry Creek Canyon
Peak:	None - Cherry Creek Canyon
Date:	October 9-10
Leader:	Kai Wiedman (650) 347-5234

Spanish Needle in the Haystack, April 25, 1999

The year is 1969. A climber from Ridgecrest teams up with a 
group of his friends and they try to climb Spanish Needle. Near 
the summit, upon discovering the need for a rope and having 
none, he passes up on the summit attempt. Since that abortive 
attempt, he has always wanted to bag this peak.

It is the 25th of April, 1999 and thirty years have gone by. The 
same climber from Ridgecrest teams up with a different group of 
friends to try his luck on the Spanish Needle once again.

This climber is Don Peterson and this group of friends includes 
Dee Booth, Scott Tillman and Arun Mahajan.

They ride in Don's 4WD on the jeep road that starts a few yards 
PRIOR to coming to the fork on the Canebrake Road whose left 
arm leads on to the Long Valley. After 1.8 miles, the jeep road is 
blocked off and they start walking on it as it gets faint in spots 
and eventually ends and there is a faint trail that starts to their 
right at this point which climbs steeply and soon drops them onto 
the PCT. They take a left (north) on the PCT and within half a 
mile are at a broad open saddle.

Faithfully following the description from Jenkins's excellent book 
and the couple of trip reports and trusting their compass skills 
they drop down on the east of the saddle and traverse south 
across the slopes strewn with loose boulders. This section is 
rather tedious as they head towards the most prominent of the 
summits that they see to their right. They climb up the slopes to 
top out on the crest. They head towards the highest point by going 
up and then down over a series of humps. They find this to be 
easy class-3 and there is no snow.

Finally, they face the summit hump. On their left is the exposed 
slab mentioned in Jenkins. Scott traverses a snowfield and then 
climbs a few blocky ledges to the exposed slab. It is low angle 
but severely exposed and there is some snow on it and the snow 
melt has made it slick. He is concerned about the downclimbing 
on this slab. While he is on it, the others try out the narrow gully 
to the right of the slab. It seems to be class-4 at least but the rock 
is solid and there is lesser exposure so they all climb this gully 
instead. Everybody is comfortable in climbing this unroped, and 
then, from the top of this gully they traverse right and then up 
over a friction slab and then over and around some large boulders 
to the summit.

It has taken them 5 hours. They gaze over to the high Sierra to 
the north and the surprisingly snow covered Telescope Peak to 
their east.

The gully looks hard to down climb. Don has brought along a 
7mm rope and Scott, who is an experienced rock climber, shows 
everybody the dulfersitz (ouch) and they rappel down thusly. The 
subsequent traverse back to the saddle seems to be more tedious 
than before, perhaps everybody is a little worn out. But even this 
is over and after 2.5 hours of having left the summit, they are 
back at the saddle and about an hour and half later, they are at the 

To the others it is yet another peak attained, but to Don, it is the 
fulfillment of a tryst made thirty years ago with the Spanish 
Needle and now, when he sees it from Ridgecrest, he will have 
no regrets.

-- Arun Mahajan

As the Clouds Roll in Mount Silliman

May 1-2 1999, Web version of this report is at:	

We were supposed to climb Mt. Shasta that weekend, but got an 
unfavorable weather forecast, so we decided to climb Mt. 
Silliman instead.  We thought Shasta, Silliman, what's the 

Reading through the many trip reports for Silliman and talking to 
people about it, it becomes clear that Silliman is not as easy as 
one would expect.  Although, the statistics of 4,500 ft. and 10 
mile round trip imply a relatively easy mountain that could be 
climbed as a day hike, in winter or early spring things can be quit 
different.  The rout is covered with snow that makes progress 
difficult.  Worst, the weather pattern seem to be clear in the 
morning, but getting cloudy and stormy in the afternoon.  Many 
trips to Silliman end with a statement such as: "We made it about 
80% of the way to the summit, but alas we did not beat the 
clouds closing in on an otherwise perfect weather morning." 
(Rich Calliger)

Our plan was to make this into a 2-day trip, and attempt the 
summit early on Sunday before the clouds have a chance to play 
their dirty trick.  We started Saturday morning under bright blue 
sky on the Twins Lake trail.  The trail was free of snow until it 
bends north at the end of the long assent.  From there it was 
mostly firm snow 2-4 feet deep.  The trail was marked by an 
indentation in the snow, but we managed to loose it at one of the 
creek crossing.  We left the main trail at Silliman Creek and 
followed the drainage high on the right bank.  The use trail was 
not visible as was the main trail to Twin Lakes, and snowshoes 
were needed to avoid post holing.  We setup camp in a nice flat 
area on the north side of the creek just after it makes the sharp 
bend to the east.

The bright blue sky that greeted us when we started the hike 
quickly turned into a complete overcast.  By 10 AM the clouds 
hovered at around 8,500 ft and would have made summiting 
impossible.  This served as a warning for the following day, the 
summit day.

We finally got rolling at 6:30 on Sunday.  The clouds were 
already forming on the west.  We started climbing the steep 
slopes of the canyon heading to Silliman Lake, and so were the 
clouds.  It was a race against the clouds, so we allow ourselves 
only short breaks as we were climbing.  After staying on the 
right, we crossed the creek on broad snow bridges well below the 
lake and continued on the left were there was an open couloir 
about 25% which made the climbing reasonable.

Once we reached the top of the couloir we could see the summit 
and continued on the left side of the bowl towards the tree area, 
which covers the southwest slopes of Silliman.  We reached the 
summit a little after 9:00.  The clouds, having lost the race, were 
getting closer by the minutes.  We can see them as a wall rolling 
towards us.  There was not much time for celebration.  We took a 
few photos, signed the register, and headed down.  By 9:45 the 
clouds reached the summit, and a few minutes later the summit 
was out of view.

A series of long glissades got us back to camp in about an hour, 
and we took our time heading out.  I got back home by 9:00 PM, 
not a common thing on PCS trips.

Participants: Ahmad Zandi, Nancy Fitzsimmons, Scott Kreider, 
Stephan Meier, Stephane and Kirsten Mouradian, Ted Raczek, 
and scribe Ron Karpel.

-- Ron Karpel

Tower Peak on Skis, May 15-17, 1999

The bear went over the mountain. By doing this, he showed us an 
excellent ski slope. His tracks were a pleasure to find; not so the 
snowmobile tracks we discovered in the same area, crossing from 
Hoover Wilderness into Yosemite National Park. But why were 
tracking wildlife along Yosemite's remote northern border? 

It was mostly because of the way Tower Peak forms a striking 
profile from Highway 108. Many times while driving past Leavitt 
Meadows I had risked ending up in a ditch to get a good look at 
this mountain--distant, yet perfectly framed at the end of the 
Meadows, isolated and symmetrical -the only Crest peak visible 
from that viewpoint.

On a sunny Saturday Lin Murphy, John Langbein and I set off 
from Twin Lakes up Robinson Creek, skies on our backpacks for 
the first four miles. (At the trailhead, we had bumped into Jim 
Curl and some other Sierra Club climbers who were going up to 
climb the Doodad.) We passed Little Slide Canyon; its snowy 
slopes and jagged granite pinnacles said "come ski, come climb," 
but that was not the way to Tower Peak. We took the last turn in 
the valley up past Barney Lake instead. Before heading up I 
scoped out the high pass at the west end of Robinson valley. It 
had what looked like skiable snow: perhaps it would provide an 
interesting shortcut on our return trip (Oh, what fools these 
mortals be). 

We hit snow at about 8,000 feet but had to take our skis off again 
to get around the lake, which was beginning to thaw. At the head 
of the canyon, Crown Point, broad and majestic, dominated the 
view. The scenery was already grand; would Tower Peak be 
worth the extra miles? We passed a collection of backpacks 
beyond the lake. The owners were apparently out on a day trip. 
Despite the mid-day sun, the temperature was surprisingly chilly, 
and the snow was firm underneath, remaining frozen in shaded 

We skied up a narrow side canyon for a few miles. Abruptly it 
opened out into to the broad frozen expanse of Peeler Lake. Here 
at 9600 feet we traveled back in time to mid-winter: arctic blasts 
of wind encouraged us to keep moving after we fetched water 
from a pool at the outlet. We traversed the immaculately white 
Kerrick Meadow, then slogged up our final pass in late afternoon, 
fatigue gnawing at our limbs. A cold wind blew at the top.

It was not a pleasant place to camp, so we skied down into the 
lovely valley at the base of Hawksbeak Peak. A strange melted 
out track went straight up a nearby slope. Snowmobiles? In 
Yosemite National Park?

The evening was a cold but windless. John's sweet-and-sour 
chicken and rice fortified us for the night. To pass the time, Lin 
and I discussed Wagner's Ring operas, which we are attending 
later this year. John endured this highbrow chatter stoically. 

The next morning we slept in. It seemed to be a silent, 
consensual conspiracy among the three of us. My rationalization 
was that our bodies needed the extra hours after the long day of 
skiing--besides, we were within 4 miles of Tower.

When the sun hit the tent we finally stirred. Despite our late 
start, I nursed grandiose schemes of both climbing Tower and 
skiing all the way around it. We crossed a gentle pass south of 
Hawksbeak Peak into the Walker River drainage, skirting the 
north side of the Sierra Crest. Happily, the cold weather had 
given way to a mild spring day. As we descended, the soaring 
granite buttresses of Hawksbeak made us feel like Lilliputians. 
More curving tracks in the valley confirmed that snowmobile 
yahoos had been violating the wilderness. 

Ahead, Tower Peak swung into view. We were pleased to see that 
a series of snow bowls would allow us to ski to the base of the 
steep granite for which it is named. En route to these bowls we 
crossed bear tracks descending in lazy arcs from the Sierra crest. 
This mountaineer had built-in crampons but I don't think he 
(she?) needed them. He had been smart enough to descend the 
slope when the snow was soft, plunge-stepping on all fours.

At the steepest part of our ascent we had to sidestep carefully to 
get our skins to grip. At last we pulled up onto the northwest 
ridge, with views down into Mary Lake and north to the distant 
green-brown swath of Leavitt Meadows. The ridge was gentle 
enough to ski up, but the snow was rock hard.

Ahead we saw the cleft in Tower's armor: a steep, recessed 
snow gully pocked with outcrops. If that snow were also rock 
hard, we would be in trouble, for we did not have crampons (or 
sharp claws). At least one member of our party expressed 
pessimism. I wanted a closer look. "Horsewhipped up another 
peak by Butch," was the tongue-in-cheek response.

The rocky intervening ridge was a fun scramble. Inevitably, 
though we had to test the 40-degree snow in the gully. No 
problem--it was easy to kick steps in it, and the occasional 
outcrops also afforded good hand and footholds. Soon we were 
clambering up an airy tilted slab to the summit rocks. To the east, 
steep rock fell away to lower crags. To the south, long snow-
covered canyons stretched down toward the direction of Hetch 
Hetchy Reservoir; one contained the slender snow-covered 
expanse of Tilden Lake.

After backing down the gully, we reclaimed our skis. It was 3:00, 
a bit late to continue our ski around Tower. After all, we had only 
done about one-third of the circuit. The good news was we looked 
forward to a 2000-foot ski descent on nice corn snow. At the 
jumping off point below the ridge the snow was still crusty, but 
soon we were plowing S-turns down the big bowl below. At the 
bottom, John and I skinned up the smaller slope that the bear had 
descended from the crest. That too was a fine run. 

The next morning, I suggested we ski Hawksbeak Peak before 
heading home.

Its east-facing slopes, already softening in the morning sun, 
would ready to carve by the time we packed up camp. The snow 
cover at the top looked sparse, but as we approached I was 
delighted to see corridors of snow between the scrub pines 
leading nearly to the summit. A short scramble led to the top, and 
a nice cruising descent brought us back to camp in 15 minutes. 
Ah, wilderness. I convinced the others to try my "shortcut" back 
to Robinson valley. We descended easily to Buckeye Pass, then 
began a 2-mile traverse to the pass between Hunewill Peak and 
Cirque Mountain.  This was a scenic route, but tedious, with lots 
of shallow gullies to contour around--probably more like 3 miles. 
In retrospect, a descent-ascent would have been more efficient 
than contouring. Moreover, the slope right before the pass 
became very steep--treacherous for traversing on skis. "I don't 
want to slide into a tree," John remarked as he packed his skis. 
He was right: kicking steps in this terrain was faster and more 
secure. Examining the map, I was sobered by the bunched up 
contour lines awaiting us on our descent--even steeper, I now 
realized than what we were now climbing. I began to feel I had 
made a big mistake: John had been rehabbing a broken hip for 
over a year and had expressly told me he wanted to avoid 
dangerous slopes ("you fall, you die" slopes as he called them). 

But we had come too far to back off without checking it out. The 
only problem: we had to descend part-way down from the pass 
before we could check out the steep 400-foot section. It was 4:00. 

With the tension mounting we skied down to the hanging valley. 
At the outlet we could see the blue waters of Twin Lakes at the 
end of the valley below, only about 4 miles away. We skied up to 
the big drop. Cliffs lay below us, but snowy ramps led to the 
right. We could see easier ground about 300 feet down. Could we 
find a way through? If we had to turn around here, the route out 
was 11 miles--requiring either a death march or another night 
out, without food. 

Below a row of trees I saw a short, steep chute go through the 
cliffs. The runout looked reasonable. At 45 degrees, it was one of 
the steepest slopes I've ever skied--sideslipping that is. We also 
discovered an old set of steps kicked into the snow, which John 
used to descend. Was another bear showing us the way to go?

Relieved, we telemarked down the lower slopes, dodging islands 
of underbrush. Our luck held as a well-placed snowpatch allowed 
us to cross over the creek and access a long avalanche gully, a big 
ribbon of snow that deposited us to within a few hundred feet of 
Barney Lake's outlet. A few minutes of willow bashing brought us 
to the trail to Twin Lakes.

-- Butch Suits  

Icy Clearly Now The Rain Is Gone, May 29, 1999

A short film by Brian Wachter

The location:

Mt. Shasta's Bolam Ridge, Bolam Glacier, Hotlum-Bolam Ridge, 
and Hotlum Glacier

The cast:

George Van Gordon, Alex Keith, Bill Kirkpatrick, Arun Mahajan, 
Mike Rielly, David Shaw and Brian Wachter

The story:

It's Saturday morning, May 29. Shasta's bulk is shrouded in gray. 
Its namesake village begins to fill

with alpine aspirants, including our entire cast but for Alex and 
Arun. A light rain is falling.

George: "I don't like this weather. Let's do the West Face."

David: "Well, if we're only going to Horse Camp today, we 
certainly have plenty of time to wait it out."

The cast is milling about the premises of the local mountain 
retailer when Alex and Arun enter.

Alex: "If the weather doesn't get any better we won't be climbing 
any route, so we might as well go for the glacier."

The rest of the cast nods.

Cut to a flat, small pebble beach at the foot of the still-shrouded 
upper mass of Shasta. Low-lying hills, fields and pocket lakes are 
visible downhill.

Brian: "This place is awesome!"

The cast sets up tents, pausing every so often to look up 
quizzically at the cloud seemingly permanently planted upon 

Bill: "I struggled too much today getting up here. I'm gonna stay 
in camp tomorrow."

Cut to first light.

George: "Let's climb it!"

The cast slowly emerges from its tents, some at first testing the 
dawn by popping just a head out through a fly.

The full moon looms like a lantern over the glowing western cone 
of the now majestically naked volcano.

Slowly, the six remaining cast members straggle out of camp and 
up the snow ramp that feeds the neat row of morainal steppes 
beneath the mountain's Hotlum glacier. The distinguishing 
feature of the great north aspect of Shasta in this late spring 
incarnation is its lack of distinguishing features; its glaciers are 
smooth and snowy, its ridges low and round and its face 
uniformly higher in angle as it rises.

Thus, as our now-roped cast traverses beneath the Hotlum-Bolam 
ridge and above the lower bergschrund of the Bolam Glacier onto 
the glacier itself, the most promising line of ascent is elusive. 
Additionally, we can see by the way their boots remain on the 
surface of the snow with each step that the unsettled weather, 
while gone, has left a firm legacy.

Alex: "I'm not feeling very strong. I'm going down."

Now a single rope team of five, they keep traversing to the far 
side of the glacier and onto its western ridge. As it steepens, its 
icy surface forces their feet increasingly downward, which causes 
them to have to step sideways as they go up. Small rocks begin to 
pock the icy skin of the ridge.

Brian: "I don't like it up there...let's traverse over to the other 

The cast begins, more slowly now at 13,000 feet, to move back 
across the face, with George and Mike out in front, climbing 
steadily. They thread upward between the rocks of the Hotlum-
Bolam ridgeline, stopping to rest and regroup at the base of the 
mighty rock buttress guarding the summit ramparts at 13,600 

George disappears around its corner to reconnoiter the final few 
hundred feet of the route, reappearing minutes later:

George: "It doesn't look good. There's another party up there 
belaying a guy up right now. It's icy."

The cast discusses the climactic scene. A final, fearless push? Or 
a gracious retreat? Unprepared for the final technical challenge of 
what has become an ice climb, they gingerly descend the 
hardened surface of the North side, moving first onto Hotlum's 
face, then back to the west. Cheap motels and in-room pizza--
longed-for luxuries--await.

-- Brian Wachter

Mt Starr King (9092 ft) Sunday, June 13, 1999

On Sunday, 13th June 99, Scott Tillman and I, Arun Mahajan, 
went up Mt Starr King in Yosemite. This is a brief description of 
the conditions and the route we took.

It is straight forward hiking on trail from the Mono Meadows 
trailhead on the Glacier Point Road till the Illoutte Creek. The 
water in the creek is fast flowing and deep at places and it took 
us a long time to find a way across. A fallen tree about a quarter 
of a mile upstream served as a good bridge. We caught the trail 
after the stream crossing and left it after walking a mile, to go 
cross-country toward the three obvious domes that make up the 
Mt Starr King peak.

We crossed another trail and then a small stream and then headed 
up via brush and friction slabs to the notch between the right and 
the center domes. Once at the notch, we frictioned our way up to 
the top of the central dome. It is low angle and presented no 
problems. We then dropped into the notch between the true 
summit dome and the center dome and were confronting the 
southeast route mentioned in Secor and the other PCS trip 

We frictioned up an obvious groove in the rock and at the head of 
the groove, set up for climbing. Scott led, going left first, as if 
intending to go towards a chockstone that has a few slings around 
it, but then veered right on a crack (which has a rather old sling 
in it) to the point where the crack ended in a horn.

The point where the horn ended, proved to be a comfortable belay 
station and we could set up good anchors. The next pitch gave no 
problems either to Scott. It ends at a rock that has a few slings 
and a rappel ring. We got off the rope here and walked up to the 
summit. We were happy to note that we were the first party to 
sign in this year.

We had 2 ropes, a 50M and a 60M, but we found out to our 
concern that this was not sufficient, with a two-rope rappel, to 
reach the chockstone with the slings for the next rappel.

So we rappelled to the horn, which was our first belay point on 
the way up. The horn provided a good rappel point for the lower 
rappel back to the notch.

More friction down climbing and an exciting stream crossing got 
us to the Mono Meadows where we found a small bear with a 
light brown coat staring at us, with it's head cocked on one side. 
It was just across the bog from us. After a few minutes of staring, 
it proceeded with it's foraging.

But it was right on the trail, so we simply walked toward it.

This time it loped off into the woods, just as I was regretting 
having run out of film to take a quick picture.

No snow on the route at all. Tevas or something similar would 
help in the stream wading. Various people have different opinions 
of the rating of the route. Scott Tillman felt that it was 5.5 or 5.6.

-- Arun Mahajan

Unofficial 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.

*** Broad Peak Expedition!
Peak:	Broad Peak 26,400 ft
Dates:	June-July 1999
Contact:	Tom Masterson
	phone, fax (303) 499-6363
	address: 250 31st Street, Boulder, Colorado U.S.A. 80303

We are a Boulder based group seeking to add 3-4 more members 
to our June-July 1999 expedition to attempt the standard route on 
Broad Peak.

This is a non-commercial, non-guided, non-profit expedition! Price-
wise, it is a great deal: Land costs should be about $3800, plus 
airfare of 1200-1500. We want to put together a Colorado-based 
team, so that we can climb together this winter & spring, get to 
know each other and get used to climbing with each other. 
Experience climbing over 20,000 ft very helpful. For more 
information call Tom Masterson at 303 499-6363 or Mike Marsh at 
303 499 3395. 

*** Arrow Peak
Peak:	Arrow Peak, Northeast Ridge, Class 3
Dates:	July 3-5
Contacts:	Kai Wiedman (650)347-5234.
	Cecil Ann, cecilann@earthlink.net

John Moynier says Arrow Peak is a beautiful, symmetrical 
mountain when viewed from nearby Bench Lake.  Kelly Mass calls 
it the best 3rd class climb he has done in the Sierra.  The 
Northeast Ridge is an ever narrowing, hideously exposed, knife-
edge.  We will go light and fast as we leave the desert floor to 
climb to Taboose Pass with its breathtaking views.  From here, our 
adventure takes us to our camp at Bench Lake with its classic 
view of Arrow Peak.

*** Castle Mountain, Colorado
Peak:	Castle Mountain, 14,265
Dates:	July 3-5 (Sat-Mon)
Contact:	 Bill Isherwood,
	 925-254-0739 (h)925-423-5058 (w)isherwood2@llnl.gov

This is a class 2 climb up one of Colorado's beautiful 14'ers. The 
plan would be to fly to Denver Friday evening, drive to the base of 
the climb Saturday, make the climb on Sunday and stay overnight 
in the Aspen area, returning to the Denver airport on Monday for 
return home. Contact leader for coordination of travel plans.

*** Tower Peak
Peaks:        	 Tower Peak  (Class 3)
Dates:         	July 3 thru 5         Sat thru Mon (3 days)
Maps:         	Tower Peak & Pickel Meadow  7.5'
Contact:	Charles Schafer (408) 324-6003 (w) cgschafer@lucent.com    

This trip will expose us to some new and different views of the 
area just north of Yosemite.  Tower Peak is said to be the 
northernmost Sentinel of the High Sierra, in that the character of 
the range changes at about this point.  It is the tallest peak in the 
neighborhood, so the views from the summit should be great.  It is 
also rated as one of the Sierra classics, so it should be a very 
satisfying, although not too difficult, climb.  It is a long hike to get 
to it (about 15 miles), which is why the trip is scheduled for three 

This should be a great trip, but you'll need a bit of class 3 climbing 
experience to join us.  Ice axe may be required.

*** Taboose: Climb-O-Rama '99
Peaks:	Wynne, Pinchot, Pyramid, Striped, Goodale, 
	Cardinal, Ruskin, Pinchot, Marion, State, 
	Prater, and Observation
Dates:	July 3-11 (Sat-Sun, July 4th week)
Contacts:	Steve Eckert, eckert@climber.org
	Bob Suzuki, bobszk@BIGFOOT.COM

We're planning another Climb-O-Rama for peakbaggers who just 
can't live with only one peak per day. This year's trip features 
fewer campsites  (we hope to spend two nights in the same place 
several times) and more  seldom visited peaks (probably including 
some first ascents of the year) and  you get at least one peak 
every day, but the first one.

Editor's Note: This trip is full. However, a waiting list is being kept 
so send in your name anyway.

*** Middle Palisade
Peak:	 Middle Palisade      (14,040 feet)
Dates: 	July 16 - 18, (Friday - Sunday)
Contact:	 	Sam Wilkie,  650-941-1794 sam.wilkie@intel.com

We will hike in to the Middle Palisade glacier area on Friday. On 
Saturday, we will take the NorthEast face, a class 3 route, to the 

This is not a technical route, but does involve some snow travel 
and requires climbers to be in good physical condition.

*** Conness, Dana, & Gibbs
Peaks:  Conness, Dana, Gibbs
Date:  July 17, 18
Contact:  Tony Cruz 408.731.1915

These three peaks are in the vicinity of Tioga Pass. Conness is 
class 3, the others class 2.  We will day hike Conness on Sat and 
Dana Gibbs on Sunday.

*** Mt Sill
Peak:	Mt Sill 14,162' Class 3, 
	Map, USGS Mt Goddard 15
Dates:	July 17, 18, 19, 1999
Contact:	Bill Kirkpatrick, wmkirk@earthlink.net
	 (408) 279-3450.  H(408) 293-2447
Co-contact:	Ahmad Zandi, ahmad@zandi.com
	 (408) 616-5783   H (408) 255-4233

Secor says that Mt Sill "has the best view from any summit in the 
Sierra."  We will climb from the southwest ridge. Leaving from 
South Lake, we will backpack about 10 miles over Bishop Pass 
and Thunderbolt Pass to camp in the Palisade Basin. To gain the 
summit we will have to cross difficult terrain and climb about 4,000 
feet. Use of ice axes and crampons may be required. This trip will 
be a lot of grunt work, but worth the effort.  Permit for six.

*** Ragged & Conness
Peak:	Ragged Peak (10,912'), Mt. Conness (12,590')
Map:	Tuolumne Meadows 15' topo, Class:   2-3
Dates:	July 24-25 (Sat-Sun)
Contact:	Bob Suzuki, w: 510-657-7555  >8pm: 408-259-0772; bobszk@bigfoot.com
	Bonnie Ruesch  w: 408-795-1393     h: 408-997-8323, BonnitaR@aol.com

Enjoy a moderate backpack hike from Tuolumne Meadows 
to our basecamp at lower Young Lake; we'll bag Ragged 
Peak on the way in. Sunday morning's ascent will reward 
us with scenic  vistas from the summit of Mt Conness. 
Expect mosquitoes and bears. Ice axe maybe useful.

Note: Trip is full, but we will maintain a wait list.

*** Lucky Sevens: Mt. Ritter Annual Pilgrimage
Peaks:	Mt. Ritter (13,150'), Banner Peak (12,900')
Dates:	July 26-31, 1999
Contact:	Alan Ritter	jar@storz.com
	(314) 225-7600, x5362 (7:30 a.m. 5:30 p.m. CST
Reference:	http://www.climber.org/pcs/Feature/Ritter1998/

Not being one to give up easily, I will make a lucky seventh 
attempt at my namesake peak this summer.  Trailhead date is 
Monday, 26 July, at Agnew Meadows.  We will hike in via the 
Shadow Creek trail and camp near/above Ediza Lake (9,200').  
From there, the climb will follow the same route as last year (sans 
route-finding error!), via the Southeast Glacier and on to the 
summit of Ritter.  Summit day will involve about 3,500' of gain, 
almost all class 2, perhaps a little low class 3 snow, depending on 
conditions.  Ice axe and crampons will be required.  Time, 
weather, and energy permitting, we will attempt neighboring 
Banner Peak (12,900') one of the following days.  Plan to return to 
Mammoth on Friday, 30 July or Saturday, 31 July.

*** Palisade Crest
Peak:	Palisade Crest 13520', Class 4
Dates:	July 30- Aug 1
Contact:	Peter Maxwell (408) 737 9770

We'll start off hiking the South Fork of Big Pine Creek, heading to 
camp at Elinore Lake.  The route up the peak will be the 
Northwest Ridge, which leads off from Scimitar Pass.  This is a 
class 4 peak for experienced climbers only. The trip is private and 
participants should be known to the organizer, or be able to be 
vouched for by someone known to the organizer.

*** Bear Creek Spire
Peak:	Bear Creek Spire (13,713 ft.), Northeast Ridge, Class 4
Dates:   	 Sat. July 31 - Sun. Aug. 1
Maps:    	Mt. Morgan, Mt. Abbott, Mt. Hilgard
Contacts: 	Bob Suzuki, bobszk@bigfoot.com, W 408-259-0772, H 510-657-7555,
	Jim Ramaker, ramaker@vnet.ibm.com, W 408-463-4873, H 408-224-8553

People who climb this route rave about the exhilarating climbing, 
great rock, and spectacular setting. We have room for one or two 
more rope teams -- let us know if you're interested.

*** Colby Pass Cleanout
Peaks:	Glacier Ridge (12416) Kern Point (12789)
       	Picket Guard (12302) Whaleback (11726)
Dates:	July 30 - August 3 (Sat-Tue)
Contact:	 Steve Eckert, eckert@climber.org

I'll be joining RJ Secor for part of his CMC trip, entering on my 
own permit a week after he starts and exiting before he does. 
Expect some high mileage days, and a bit of class 4 near the 
summit of Glacier Ridge. Whaleback is class 3, the others are 
class 2 with trail approaches to all of them. Since we're joining 
another group mid-trip, schedules may change and everyone 
should be comfortable without a formal leader.

*** McDuffie, Black Giant, Charybdis, Fiske, etc.
Peaks:		McDuffie, Black Giant, Charybdis, Fiske, Huxley, etc. (Class 3)
Dates:	August 7 thru 15         Sat thru Sun (9 days)
Maps:        	 North Palisade, Mt. Thompson & Mt. Goddard 7.5'
Contact:		Charles Schafer (408) 324-6003 (w) cgschafer@lucent.com    
Co-Contact:	Bob Suzuki(510) 657-7555 (w)  bobszk@bigfoot .com

If you've ever climbed to the top of Bishop Pass, looked off into the 
interior of the Sierra, and thought that those magnificent peaks on 
the horizon looked awfully appealing; then this trip is for you. .  We 
will hike in over Echo Col on Saturday and set up camp near 
Helen Lake (at Muir Pass).

Secor says McDuffie, Black Giant & Charybdis are easily day 
hiked from there, so we want to give them a try.  There are also a 
number of other peaks in that area that are worth climbing, and 
between Bob and I we'll go after most of them.  Towards the end 
of the trip we will move south and climb Wheel, and perhaps 
others in that neighborhood.  Saturday and Sunday we will hike 
out over Bishop Pass.

This should be a lot of fun, but it is a pretty ambitious trip so we 
are looking for experienced class 3 climbers to join us.  Ice axes 
and possibly crampons will be required.

*** School's Out
Peaks:	Recess, Gabb, and Hilgard
Dates:	Aug 13-16 (Fri-Mon)
Contact:	Steve Eckert, eckert@climber.org

A somewhat mellow west-side trip starting near Lake Edison. The 
permit is full, but there is a short wait list if you want to get in line. 
You could also get another permit and join us!

*** Agassiz & Winchell
Peaks:   	 Agassiz (13,893'), Winchell (13,775') class 2,3
Maps:    	 Big Pine, Mt Goddard 15' topo
Dates:   	 August 28-29 (Sat-Sun)
Contact: 	 Bob Suzuki, w: 510-657-7555,
           	 >8pm: 408-259-0772, bobszk@bigfoot.com
         	 Nancy Fitzsimmons, w: 408-764-1761,
           	 h: 408-957-9683, Pkclimber@aol.com

Last fall our attempt to climb these 2 magnificent peaks in the 
Palisades never got beyond Sam Mack Meadow. Constant snow 
almost from the trailhead encouraged us to save these high peaks 
for another weekend. We'll try again this August.

A fast hike in to basecamp will be followed by an assault on 
Agassiz via the class 2 south ridge. Sunday won't be easier. We'll 
enjoy the classic east arete of Winchell, then backpack out to the 
cars for a late return to the BA, hopefully, with fond memories of 
two successful climbs.

*** Clarence King & Gardiner
Peaks:	Clarence King and Gardiner.
Dates:	Sept 3-6
Contact:	Rick Booth at 408-354-7291 or rick_booth@worldnet.att.net 
	Dee Booth, rdbooth@worldnet.att.net

Pack in from Onion Valley over Kearsarge Pass Estimated 
distance is 10 miles. 

Requirements: Both peaks require rope and modest rock climbing 
skills. You should know my wife or me or know someone who 
knows us.  This is a private trip.

*** Capitol Peak, Colorado
Peak:	Capitol Peak, Colorado (14,130'), Class 3-4
Dates:	Sept 4-6 (Sat-Mon)
Contact:	 Bill Isherwood, 925-254-0739 (h)925-423-5058 (w)isherwood2@llnl.gov

Exposed knife-edge ridge. Roped climbing experience required. 

*** Needsaw, Hamtooth
Peaks:	Needham (12467), Sawtooth (12343) class 2
Dates:	Sep 18-19 (Sat-Sun)
Contact:	Steve Eckert 

*** Nepal  October 1999
Peak:	Chulu West, 20,500Ft
Date:	October 1999
Contact:	Warren Storkman	Phone 650-493-8959

*** The Coming Millennium Celebration
Peak:	Kilimanjaro 19,340  Uhuru Peak.  
Date:	Jan 12, 2000
Contact:	Warren Storkman


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

Elected Officials

	George Van Gorden / pcs-chair@climber.org
	408-779-2320 home
	830 Alkire Ave, Morgan Hill, CA 95037

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	650 594-0211 home
	903 Avon Street, Belmont, CA 94002

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	408-354-7291 home
	237 San Mateo Avenue, Los Gatos, CA 95030

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	510-659-1413 home
	761 Towhee Court, Fremont CA 94539-7421

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	650-943-7532 home
	223 Horizon Avenue, Mountain View, CA 94043-4718

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	650-508-0500 home
	1814 Oak Knoll Drive, Belmont, CA 94002-1753

Subscriptions and Email List Info

Hard copy 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 
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you have a free EScree subscription. For online info, send Email to
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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 Adobe Acrobat/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 7/25/99. 
Meetings are the second Tuesday of each month.

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

First Class EMail - Dated Material as soon as it's published!