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Scree for October, 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.
                October, 1999	Vol. 33 No. 10
     Deadline for submissions to the next Scree is Sunday 10/24/99 

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:	Tuesday, October 12
Time:	8:00 PM
Program:	Climbing in the McKinley area in 1952 

Come and hear this historic perspective on climbing. 
Dr. Winslow Briggs will talk on his experiences on 
climbing in the McKinley area in 1952. Dr. Briggs is 
an internationally renowned plant biologist at Stanford 

Location:	Western Mountaineering, Santa Clara
(PDF version has a drawn map here)

Directions:	2344 El Camino Real, Santa 
Clara (between San Thomas and Los Padres), 
parking in the rear.

From 101: Exit at San Thomas Expressway, Go 
South to El Camino Real. Turn left and the Western 
Mountaineering will be immediately to your right.

Advance Trip Planning Meeting

Date:	Tuesday, October 26, 1999
Time:	8:00 PM
Place:		Home of Arun Mahajan, arun@tollbridgetech.com

Winter is Coming Winter is Coming, and it is time to start 
thinking about winter trips.  Arun, again, offered to open his 
house for this meeting.

Bring your calendars, maps, guide books and trip ideas.  
Advance planing of summer trips is also welcome.

Disclaimer: The purpose of the meeting is to help leaders 
schedule trips so there are no conflicts or duplications.  Trips 
proposed in this meeting are not automatically sponsored by 
the Sierra Club.  A separate submission of the trip to the 
section's scheduler will be required before a trip is sponsored.

Directions From 101:

1. Take the Oregon Expressway exit in Palo Alto.

2. Go west, through a few lights. After Bryant is the Alma exit. 
It is a sharp right. If you miss it, you will know because you go 
under an overpass.

3. After taking the exit, follow the exit road till it meets Alma.

4. Go north (right turn) on Alma for a few blocks passing roads 
like California, Santa Rita, Rinconada, Seale. These roads are 
on the right. The CalTrain tracks are on the left of Alma.

5. After Seale is Tennyson. My townhouse is in a 4-plex, 1745 
Alma, the second unit from the road. It is north of Tennyson 
but south of the next road, Lowell. Off street parking on 
Tennyson or Lowell, there is none in the complex for guests, I 
am afraid.

From 280:

1. Take the Page Mill Road exit in Palo Alto.

2. Drive east on Page Mill, go through El Camino

3. Alma (north) is a sharp right turn within half a mile of the El 
Camino junction.

4. Follow the directions mentioned in 4 above.

-- Ron Karpel

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, 
November 20 and Sunday, November 21 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 

-- Marg Ottenberg

Congratulations Bill Isherwood!

Congratulations to Bill Isherwood on completing the ascent of all 
the 14'ers in the lower 48. On September 5, 1999, Bill climbed 
his 68th and final peak, Capitol Peak in Colorado's Elk Range. 
The weather was sunny and warm for the season, with a touch of 
fresh snow on the north faces from earlier in the week.  Bill 
joined John Esterl, an active PCS'er before he moved to 
Albuquerque, who has a mere 31 14'ers to his credit, and yours 
truly, Chris MacIntosh for class-4 rated Capitol, one of the most 
challenging Colorado 14'ers. It offers great views, some 
interesting scrambles (yes, I was glad of Bill's rope for the one-
hundred-foot horizontal "Knife Edge") and looks really 
impressive from camp near Capitol Lake.  Although John and I 
used hard hats in the upper portion of the climb they were 
untested, fortunately.  Footnote: Dana Isherwood completed the 
same set of peaks more than a decade ago. Long may Bill and 
Dana climb!

-- Chris Macintosh

Are You Interested In Topo Maps?

The chances are that if you send away sometime to the USGS for 
some hard-to-find topo maps, you will receive (along with your 
ordered maps) information encouraging you to join what is called 
the EARTH SCIENCE CORPS program. It is an opportunity for 
you to become a fully certified USGS field rep, assigned to a topo 
map quadrangle in an area of your choice. The USGS is painfully 
understaffed and needs interested and willing volunteers to field 
check and provide updates on roads, trails, springs, reservoirs, 
park and wilderness boundaries, benchmark conditions, etc. All 
that is required is that you provide your quadrangle updates to the 
USGS in Reston, Virginia on an annual basis. They provide the 
topos, you make your notations on them and send them back. 
They file your notations, and include them in future topo map 
updated printings. I initially chose the "Gilroy Hot Springs" quad, 
since I have done a certain amount of hiking in the southern 
portion of Henry Coe State Park. There were significant 
boundary, trail, and small reservoir changes. Currently I have 
taken on the Junipero Serra  quad, since I find myself in the 
Arroyo Seco fairly often.

One is provided with an official badge, which entitles you to do 
official business; like approaching private landowners and having 
a better chance of gaining access to their property for field 

It is fun and it is a way to give more direction and purpose to the 
recreational hikes you might be taking in your quadrangle area.

For those of a more scientific or technical bent, there are 
opportunities in cartography, hydrology, surveying, etc.

If you want to learn more, write to:

Earth Science Corps
MS 51
U.S. Geological Survey
Reston, Virginia 22092

-- Paul Danielson, VWA member/volunteer

The Tumpline

A tumpline is a simple strap that runs from the top of the head 
and around the bottom of a pack.  This is probably the oldest 
technique of human load carriage.  Native Americans, French 
Voyageurs, and North American mountain men have been known 
to carry heavy, bulky loads long distances with this method.  And 
today, many people in developing countries still use tumplines to 
carry loads that may be 70% of their body weight.

 I have used a tumpline to carry knapsacks for the past four years 
and I have enjoyed the reactions I get from other hikers.  I once 
encountered some US Marines from the Mountain Warfare 
Training Center near Bridgeport.  Our brief greeting was 
punctuated by the word, "sir," while they stared at that strap on 
top of my head.  More often, young people laugh at me and ask if 
I am a Sherpa.  But occasionally someone asks me why I am 
using such a weird device.  I reply: "Because it is easier."

 In 1994 I took part in a mountaineering expedition to Cho Oyu, a 
26,748-foot mountain approximately 15 miles northwest of Mt. 
Everest. We hired six Nepalese climbing Sherpas to assist us 
with load carrying.

These Sherpas were skilled, professional climbers, outfitted with 
the most up-to-date mountaineering clothing and equipment.  But 
despite having state of the art packs, with shaped, load-bearing 
waist-belts and shoulder straps, they carried them using 
tumplines.  I recalled that the noted American climber and 
equipment designer Yvon Chouinard had described the virtues of 
the tumpline in the 1980 Chouinard Equipment catalog.  While 
he had originally started using the tumpline as therapy for chronic 
back pain, once his back pain had disappeared he noted that it 
was easier to carry a pack with this seemingly primitive method.  
So I picked up one of the Sherpa's packs.  The massive load 
crushed my shoulders but it felt a little better once the waist belt 
was tightened.  The Sherpa suggested that I unfasten the waist 
belt and then he adjusted the tumpline so that most of the load 
was carried by it with only a small amount of weight on the 
shoulder straps.  But with the tumpline the weight seemed to 
disappear.  My torso was completely unrestricted and I was able 
to breathe easier without the "corset" of the waist belt and 
shoulder straps.

I experimented further with the tumpline after I returned home.  I 
carried a load of water once a week during my daily afternoon 
hike (2 miles one way with 1,270 feet of gain) along a good dirt 
road in the mountains behind my home.  To be fair, I should state 
that it took me a long time to get used to the strain on my neck.  I 
used it on 14 of my afternoon hikes and on five weekend trips 
before embarking on a hundred mile, two-week hike in the High 
Sierra.  On my afternoon hikes with a 53-pound load I averaged 
49 minutes 14 seconds with the tumpline and 52:30 with the 
load-bearing waist belt.  With 66 pounds I averaged 52:25 with 
the tumpline and 58:18 with the waist belt.  And on the two-week 
hike I alternated between using the tumpline and the waist belt 
each day.  I found that I could hike faster, breathe easier, and felt 
less tired at the end of the day with the tumpline than I did with 
the waist belt.

My hiking and climbing friends were skeptical that this ancient 
method was better than their modern corsets so I contacted John 
Kirk, the Load-Bearing Team Leader at the US Army's Natick 
Research, Development, and Engineering Center at Natick, 
Massachusetts.  He replied: "When soldiers who typically carry 
60-100 lbs in a rucksack have been instructed to carry loads on 
their heads . . .they have a difficult time with it."  But he referred 
me to the cover story of the February 1986 issue of Nature.  The 
authors of this article measured the oxygen consumption of 
African tribal women, the Luo (who balance the load on top of 
their heads) and the Kikuyu (who use the tumpline).  The women 
walked on a motorized treadmill with and without loads.  Loads 
of up to 20% of body weight had no perceptible effect on oxygen 
consumption and, presumably, on energy cost.  In other words, 
they carried the equivalent of 20% of their body weight free.  
Increasing the loads from 20% to 70% of body weight increased 
the energetic cost (based on oxygen consumption) of the African 
tribal women from 0% to 50%.  They compared their findings 
with similar studies of US army recruits.  Army recruits carrying 
backpacks (with just shoulder straps and no waist belt) with 20% 
of body weight loads increased oxygen consumption by 13% and 
70% loads by nearly 100%.  (I believe that it would have been 
more relevant to measure the oxygen consumption of 
experienced, fit hikers using packs with load-bearing waist 

As far as I know, tumplines are not commercially available.  I 
make my own by using 18 inches of 2-inch wide seat belt 
webbing for the head strap.  I then sew seven feet of 1-inch flat 
webbing to one side of the head strap.  On the other side of the 
head strap I attach a ladder lock buckle and run the one-inch 
strap through it.  The rest of the one-inch strap goes down the 
sides and underneath my pack.  Most external frames have the 
packs attached to the upper two-thirds of the frame and I have 
found that it makes no difference if the strap goes immediately 
beneath the pack and above the sleeping bag or if it runs beneath 
the sleeping bag.  The head strap goes on top of the forward part 
of my head, just above (not on) my forehead.  I usually place a 
washcloth inside of my hat (not so much for padding but for 
absorbing perspiration from my bald head) and place the 
tumpline on top of my hat.  I don't attach the pack's waist belt 
and only have a small part of the load carried by the shoulder 
straps (to keep the pack from swaying) while most of the pack 
weight is carried by the tumpline.  But I do resort to using the 
waist belt and the shoulder straps when hiking downhill, 
especially along a steep, narrow trail.  I don't need to breathe so 
much going downhill, I am usually hiking faster and I typically 
need to turn my head frequently to see where to place my feet.

While I encourage hikers to try the tumpline I also want to urge 
everyone to take it easy when you first use a tumpline.  Novice 
backpackers (using a waist belt) should not carry more than 20% 
of their body weight in a pack and even with this weight 
restriction those on their first overnight hike probably felt new 
muscles the next day.  The beginner's tumpline load should be 
light, perhaps no more than 15% of body weight, and even then 
your neck may be stiff the following day.

Start by carrying a small daypack with a tumpline.  Take it easy 
and gradually increase the pack weight.  Your neck and back 
muscles will slowly get stronger and I believe that you'll find it 
easier to carry a pack.  But best of all, the pleasure you get from 
hiking will increase.

-- R. J. Secor

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.

*** Mt. Dubois
Peak:	Mount Dubois, 13,559', Class 2
Dates:	October 2-4, 1999 (Saturday - Monday)
Map:	Boundary Peak 7.5'
Leaders:	Bill Kirkpatrick H (408) 293-2447 Wmkirk@earthlink.net
		Ahmad Zandi H (408) 255-4233 Zandi@zandi.com

If you've wondered about the White Mountains, join us on this 
climb of the second-highest peak in the range. We will hike from 
the Fish Lake Valley on the Nevada side, near the Chiatovich 

*** Kern Peak
Peak:	Kern Peak (11510) LIST FINISH!
Dates:	Oct 2-3 Sat-Sun
Leader:	Steve Eckert 
Co-Leader: Erik Siering

Help the leader celebrate finishing the SPS Peaks List in good 
style. The 9-mile pack in, over almost-flat terrain with uncrowded 
camping, should give rise to a nice party Saturday. A quick 7-mile 
romp to the peak on Sunday and we're back in camp for the stroll 
back to the cars. Reserve a spot early and pack the good stuff (for 
the mother of all happy hours)! Co-listed with the Angeles Chapter SPS.

We been Owen it to owselves

Peaks:		Sirretta Peak, class 1, 9977; Owens Peak, class 2, 8453
Dates:	Oct 23-24      Sat-Sun
Maps:	Kernville, Inyokern
Leaders:	Aaron Schuman & Arun Mahajan
	H 650-968-9184 W 650-943-7532 aaron_schuman@yahoo.com
Details:	http://sj.znet.com/~cynthiam/owens.html

Way off in the driest corner of the Sierra Nevada there's 
asubrange of mountains that's covered with junipers and 
jackrabbits, and it sports some right purty desert vistas: we're 
aimin to go there.  Join us for the Saturday afternoonhike to 
Sirretta, the Sunday hike to Owens Peak, or for both days.

Inyo & Keynot, May 31, 1999

If you're looking for an enjoyable climb in the spring, you might 
try the Inyo Mountains. Keynot and Inyo are the second and third 
highest peaks in the Inyo Range at 11,101' and 10,975' 

On Memorial Day, Richard and I decided to climb these two DPS 
peaks which offer spectacular views of the snow-capped Sierra.

If you don't have a 4WD vehicle, you will have to hike an extra 
two miles round trip.

At the trailhead where we camped the night before the climb, we 
met DPSer Linda McDermott who was leading a private trip. She 
suggested we climb Inyo and Keynot on separate days since it 
considerably shortens the second day and makes for an earlier 
drive home. Good advice.

Of course, the DPS group was climbing both peaks as a day hike. 
With lighter packs they could travel faster, but it's a strenuous 
hike with 6500' of elevation gain and10.5 miles.

A challenge of the trip is the fact that unless there is snow, you 
must carry all your water. We packed in six liters each the few 
miles and almost 2000' gain to Bedsprings Camp (no water, 
actual rusty bed springs.)

We left about 7 a.m., arrived at Bedsprings Camp around noon, 
set up our camp and left most of our water. (We had heard the 
DPS group pass our truck at 5 a.m.)  Around 2 p.m. we headed 
for the 10,080' saddle between Inyo and Keynot.

Near the summit of Mt. Inyo there is a natural rock shelter under 
a huge boulder with some old tools and other artifacts lying 
about. A bronze plaque on a nearby pine explains that this shelter 
was used by Marion Howard, the beekeeper of McElvoy Canyon.

I had read about him in the DPS newsletter and was really glad to 
find the shelter.

The next day's climb of Keynot was really a treat. This peak has 
one of the finest bristlecone pine forests I have ever seen.

One tree is about 12 feet in diameter. And as we descended the  
ridge to the saddle, the view of the Sierra across Owens Valley is 

For those of you who like fast scree slopes, the descent from 
Bedsprings into Union Wash is reputed to be one of the fastest 

The icing on the cake, so to speak, was the profusion of flowers 
at the trailhead: Palmer's Penstemon, Prickly Poppy (my favorite), 
Birdcage Evening Primrose (very showy), Golden Princes Plume, 
Engelmann's Hedgehog, Beavertail cactus, desert aster, and 
Jimson weed along the road.

-- Debbie Bulger

Mt. Tallac (9,735'), Sunday August 29,1999

Last Sunday While on a family trip to South Lake Tahoe I became 
extremely cynical at the little city by the Lake and decided to 
head for the woods.  Since Tallac is on the List and I'd never done 
it...  The hike is short 4.6 miles to the top and 3200'.

The country is crowded but beautiful nonetheless.  I started at 
about 7:30 AM.  At that time there were a handful of cars at the 
trailhead.  I used the standard TH at the end of the Shelby CG / 
Mt. Tallac turnoff to Hwy 89 (west side Lake Tahoe).  This is

a mere 10 minutes north on 89 from the "Y" (Hwy50/Hwy89 
junction).  The morning of the 29th was clear and bright and the 
hiking went very quickly.  Not too many people on the trail that 
early in the AM.  Most, I guess, still recovering from Casino Life.  
Floating Island Lake came and went and then Cathedral Lake.  A 
scout group was camped here and needless to say it was 
extremely noisy.  I quickly left the area and started to climb the 
only moderately strenuous section of the climb.  There is a ~500' 
section that goes to Tallacs West Ridge.  From here about another 
miles hike, on trail, will take you to the top.  I met a guy with a 
large German Shepard on the way down.

Obviously this was the dog route!  The view from the top was 
fantastic.  All of Lake Tahoe was visible to the East and 
Desolation Wilderness to the West. Lake Gilmore looked 
particularly beautiful this early in the morning.  I did the usual 
360 panorama shots, had some brunch and started back.  I was 
back down by 12:30pm.  I completely enjoyable hike and summit 
and a much needed relief from the metropolis of South Lake 

-- Mike Rinaldi

PPV over LDW, September 4-6, 1999

Pettit Peak (10788'), Volunteer Peak (10481'), Piute Mtn 
(10541')PCS trip, 3-6 Sep 1999, Leader: Steve Eckert. 
Participants: Linda Roman, Ron Norton, Roger Pantos, Anthony Stegman.

NOTE: The web version of this report will have photos including 
a route  traced on Piute.

It seems the PCS seldom climbs these low elevation peaks, but 
the SPS website is littered with stories about how people came 
back at or after dark every night while trying to squeeze all three 
peaks (and sometimes adding Tower) into a 3-day weekend. I 
decided to relax a bit and add a fourth day. The extra time, a fun 
group, and a one-way route that covered new territory every day, 
all combined to turn what could have been a grunt into a great 
Labor Day weekend trip.

The gain from Saddlebag is the same as the gain from Twin, but 
there is a  lot of downhill on the way in from Saddlebag. Another 
advantage of starting  at Saddlebag is that you can get permits 
right at the lake (starting at 630am), and there is NO QUOTA 
even if you're crossing into Yosemite.

We took the $6 boat ride to save 2 miles of boring walk around 
the lake, and stepped into high alpine terrain dotted with little 
lakes. We went past 

Steelhead Lake, but should have went further west near Cascade 
Lake to avoid a few bumps. The low point of the ridge south of 
Shepherd Crest has a good use trail and a metal "Yosemite" sign, 
letting you know you're on the right route to McCabe Lake. Avoid 
the outlet of McCabe, going north around the east end of the 
10400' contour, and follow either side of the stream in great 
tundra and duff until you pick up the trail just above 9400' on the 
south side.

We picked up the Pacific Crest Trail down in Virginia Canyon, 
and followed  it into Matterhorn Canyon where we stopped for 
dinner before packing another hour into the hanging valley that 
holds Wilson Creek. This is big-tree country, and the only good 
camping along Wilson Creek is where the trail first approaches 
the stream (8900'). We were well over a thousand feet below our 
cars, and we had climbed over 3000' to get there! A warm and 
restful night lead to an early start the next morning. 3 hours of 
hiking got us to Smedberg lake, a shallow green spot surrounded 
by slabs. The swampy edges would be mosquito hell in the 
summer, but we were there after a few hard frosts and had no 

Tony rested while the other four hoisted day packs and headed for 
Pettit. We weren't sure we'd have time to do Volunteer that day, 
and wanted to get the furthest peak first. Well, everything can 
change, and we soon found ourselves scrambling up a little 3rd 
class (Roger's first), cutting below the lower part of the east face 
to the south ridge via the bench at about 9800'. 

The terrain between the peaks was "tortured" to say the least, and 
we wanted a high vantage to pick the best route. Volunteer is very 
scenic but not a very hard climb (see picture of Smedberg Lake 
from the summit), and was Roger's first peak from the SPS list.

The traverse to Pettit is not trivial, and we followed the advice of 
staying at 10000' as long as we could... but the traverse gets nasty 
as you approach the east end of Rodgers Lake, so we swung up to 
the 10400' saddle and followed the ridge south to Pettit. The 
register is on the middle bump, and the descent to Rodgers Lake 
can be done mostly brush-free. The high country east and north of 
Pettit is dotted with tiny lakes, and surely deserves a visit 
sometime in the future. (Andy Spellman had written "I could eat 
scrapple with hoagie oil" in the register - fill me in if you know 
what that means!)

Back in camp around 5pm, we headed to the outlet of Smedberg 
to camp. Tony had been visited by a ranger who thought our 
scattered gear represented a camp, and who was about to cite it 
for being too close to the lake. There was time for a dip in the 
lake, a large flat rock we could all cook on, the smoke from 
controlled burns was behind us, and we had time to pat ourselves 
on the back for a 3500' day with two peaks AND some 

Sunday morning, we ditched the trail and headed cross-country 
down the Smedberg drainage. The PCT goes up/down over 300' 
to avoid the slabs we enjoyed, and we picked up the trail as it 
switchbacked down through the 8800' contour line. Mostly 
downhill walking lead us to the Benson Lake turnoff, near where 
Linda took a surprise bath while crossing a shallow stream: Some 
of us waded the 4" sandy stream, but Linda had fabric boots and 
chose a nearby log instead. It turned out to have floating debris 
around it, which looked attached but actually hid a deep pool. 
Between two logs, up to her armpits in the pool, it took a bit of a 
tug to hoist her out. This was more surprising than dangerous, 
because the flow was very slow, but in fast-water conditions such 
a mistake could be costly.

We climbed the PCT until it leaves the drainage for Seavey Pass, 
around 8600', dumped our packs and headed to Piute's northeast 
ridge. If I do this peak again, I'll probably leave the trail at 8400', 
and diagonal south into the bowl east-southeast of the peak. 
There is a lake and some good trees there, neither of which show 
on the map. Going to the east ridge from this bowl, instead of 
hitting the ridge further north, would avoid most of the up-and-
down climbing we did along the ridge crest. It would NOT avoid 
the tedious climb from the trial to the ridge, which is thin sage-
type brush over talus.

All of us had chest/throat irritation from the aromatic plants we 
were walking on by the time we reached the ridge at 9700'. The 
view from here stopped us cold: We expected another class 2 
slog, but were looking at sheer cliffs with no obvious path 
through them! Secor's book indicates there is a right (sandy) and 
left (vegetation) chute, but doesn't mention that both routes start 
at the upper right (north) corner of the permanent snowfield 
shown just below 10000' on the 7.5' topo. The left "chute" isn't a 
chute at all, it's a very steep ramp that turns sharply to the right 
and becomes a narrow exposed ledge behind a few trees. It's a 
great route for ascending, but we came down the screen chute 
because the vegetation seemed too hard and slick for an easy/safe 
descent. See the web photo for a picture of this face overlaid with 
the two routes: You can run the crest of the NE ridge all the way 
to the snowfield, or you can traverse the south side. Either way 
there are a few third class moves unless you make time-
consuming detours.

The big surprise came just after we hit Piute's north ridge at the 
saddle just below 10400'. Following this ridge is NOT second 
class, and you can't traverse around the hard parts because it's a 
cliff on both sides. The third class stretch is very short, and soon 
you're strolling across sand to the summit blocks. It seems the 
forest service was burning Deep Canyon or Piute Creek, with 
plumes of smoke rising from at least 5 sources. The only register 
entries this year were dozens of people from various trail crews, 
who felt the need to use an entire register page per person. It took 
longer to climb Piute than we intended, but it was the best 
climbing of the trip in terms of route finding and impressive 
granite faces. At 4000' total climbing (backpacking and peak 
climbing) it was our tallest day (but with the shortest mileage).

Back at the packs, where Tony had been waiting patiently, we 
stomped up the PCT toward Seavey Pass. Camp was at Lake 
9000, again in the trees and again with time to take a dip and 
have dinner before it got dark. There is a picture of this lake on 
the web, which was almost as beautiful as the hidden 8800' lake 
we passed coming down from Piute (a bit north of where we went 

The next morning I spent some time dispersing stacks of 
firewood and breaking up fire rings, then we popped over Seavey 
and headed "downhill" to the cars. Well, almost. It turns out that 
Peeler Lake is the high point of the hike out (1400' of gain)! It 
has two outlets and no inlets, but looking at the map I had been 
convinced that one stream flowed in and the other flowed out. 
Sigh. The terrain on the hike out was sometimes dramatic, but 
mostly flat and open in stark contrast to our entry route.

Around Barney Lake we started seeing "shore birds" - larger 
groups of clean looking people who weren't in great shape, 
meaning they couldn't be far from their cars. Did I mention it was 
hot? Mid-afternoon at 8000' in the full sun made Barney Lake's 
trees-and-breeze seem like heaven, and we took a long lunch 
there before gritting our teeth for the last four miles down to 
Twin Lake.

Walking into a mobile home park with restaurants and boat docks 
and barking dogs after several days in the backcountry is a shock 
to your sensibilities. 

We decided to have a late lunch, since Tony had finally gotten his 
appetite back. In a surprise turn of events, I didn't keep my lunch 
(or much of anything else) down, for reasons still unknown. Since 
we had to get back to the cars left at Saddlebag Lake, we were all 
crammed into Ron's Toyota pickup: my partners were kind (or 
wise) enough to give me the front seat, and Ron was good at 
stopping on command, so we made our way to Lee Vining in 5-
mile increments without serious internal accidents.

-- Steve Eckert

Don't Need Ham Anymore, September 19-19, 1999, 

Needham Mtn (12,520'), private trip
Leader: Steve Eckert
Participants: Rebecca Eckert, Bill Isherwood, Tanya Knaus, and Alex Sapozhnikov

Driving to the trailhead I knew we might be in trouble. The 
Mineral King road is always winding and narrow, but this time it 
had pine needles and evidence of temporary streams crossing it, 
indicating there had been a MAJOR rain/wind storm that 
afternoon. Not to be deterred, Rebecca and I pulled into the soggy 
campground under clearing skies and struggled to light a 
campfire on wet ashes. This was her first backpacking trip, and 
we were going to start it right (with s'mores and lawn chairs) 
even if it meant using our permit reservation to kindle the flames! 
A bushel of wood and a bag of marshmallows later, we turned in. 
No rain until just before dawn on Saturday, when lightning and a 
shower woke us up.

Everyone was at the appointed meeting place early, the ranger 
was friendly, and we were ready to walk when Larry Sokolsky 
and Denise Ellestad decided to back out. They had been chased 
down the same trail once before by a close lightning storm, and 
the early morning clouds had them running scared.(I hadn't seen 
any big storm forecast, the ranger said the worst was supposed to 
come through Saturday evening, and our departing members 
acknowledged that they might be making a mistake. They did!)

Choosing a one-mile-per-hour pace, we sauntered up the short 
trail to Monarch Lake (the signs say Sawtooth Pass) in about four 
hours. Once it threatened to rain, but rain jackets were mostly 
used as windbreakers. Neither Tanya nor Rebecca had climbed a 
Sierra peak before, so it was fun to enjoy the trail through their 
eyes as if I hadn't been up it half a dozen times before - see 
RebeccaOnMonarchTrail.jpg. We saw deer, grouse, squirrels, and 
marmots at close range (30' or less). Something about this area 
makes animals behave as if you're in a petting zoo. They don't run 
away! I never got Alex to pronounce his last name, but we talked 
about everything else along the way.

OK, so we're at camp and our food is in the bear boxes. Now 
what? It's early afternoon, I'd like to scout the passes above Upper 
Monarch Lake to see if we can bypass the sandy Sawtooth trail, 
but the clouds are heavy so we set up camp instead. Minutes after 
the tents are up the first shower hits and we dive inside for a nap. 
Sun, rain, sun, hail, all afternoon. We lunch on a rock 
overlooking the lake, but choose to sleep the afternoon away 
instead of getting wet and risking a lightning strike. The clouds 
broke just enough for a stunning sunset 
(MonarchLakeSunset.jpg)and we drifted to bed just after dark, 
ending the evening with a cake that Tanya BAKED IN CAMP. 
Those camp stove ovens actually work!

Sunday morning most of us left camp at first light (a cohesive and 
eager group that was a joy to climb with) while Rebecca slept in 
and read a book. (On her first backpack, it's enough to be camped 
at 10,400' and having a great time in a completely new 
environment, which you can visit vicariously by viewing 
MineralPeakFromMonarchLake.jpg) There are several use trails 
to Upper Monarch, from where we turned south to the lower 
saddle via an easy talus chute that Bill called a "shear zone". 
There was minor confusion over which lake was in view, but 
noting a lack of islands and checking with a compass verified that 
it was Crystal Lake. Next time I'm in the area I'll take the trail to 
Crystal instead of Monarch. It's a beautiful valley, not littered 
with trash like the Monarch area.

From the saddle between Upper Monarch and Crystal, we headed 
east on the ridge, then sidehilled a bit south to the saddle 
between Crystal and Amphitheater Lake. This saddle is high 
class 2 on the west side and VERY easy class 3 on the east side. 
(See CrystalAmphitheaterPassEast.jpg for a picture that makes it 
look a bit worse than it really was - remember that Tanya, in the 
picture, had never done class 3 before!) We zigzagged a bit, then 
dropped nearly to the lakeshore. I think it would be better to stay 
high and get on the ridge, to avoid some steep friction slabs, but 
either way you can almost do this without your hands. Going 
around Amphitheater's outlet is the best way to see the sights of 
the SE drainage, and the slab/tundra walking to the base of 
Needham is some of the finest the Sierra has to offer. This 
approach avoids the nasty sandy boulder slog from Sawtooth, and 
is highly recommended as more aesthetic (and far less up-and-
down gain than the south Sawtooth ridge route recommended by 

Bill turned his sights on Sawtooth, wanting to shorten the day, 
while we picked our way through a short boulder field, and found 
a use trail that traverses the sand to the first saddle west of 
Needham. From there it's a grunt to the peak, but not terribly 
hard going. The summit block is not really class 2, and neither 
Tanya nor Alex wanted to step up the last 4'onto a narrow block 
(only room for 2). Everyone touched the top, and I was pleased 
that inexperienced climbers kept their cool and took their time 
with the few class 3 moves required to get to the summit register. 
Have a look at NeedhamSummitBlock.jpg for a fun climbing 
technique that reminded me of Mark Adrian on Center Peak last 

We savored the top for an hour, and while going down discovered 
that Alex had "hit the wall" with altitude problems. Slowly, with 
great determination, we made our way around the other side of 
Amphitheater to check out the saddle between Upper Monarch 
and Amphitheater. I got within 10' of the saddle, finding 
moderate class 3 ledges that lead almost to the south end of the 
low spot, but 5' of under clings with brush in them would have 
been required to top out. Bummer. Dropping down 150' we 
traversed back to our original saddle, staying high to go above the 
slabs that cliff into the lake. This direction is moderate class 3, 
but harder than going around the outlet side of the lake. See 
SawtoothAmphitheaterFromNeedham.pdf for a panorama with 
our routes traced over it.

Retracing our steps to camp, we arrived about 3:30pm without a 
single drop of rain. The pictures show patchy cloud cover, but the 
storm had roared through camp Saturday night (wind but no 
lightning) and left us alone. Poor Larry and Denise were on our 
minds as we packed out and the sun sank while cotton candy 
clouds settled over all the area peaks. Fall weather is never 
predictable, but if you're willing to risk the occasional shower you 
are rewarded with dramatic cloud accents. The drive out included 
sunset in steep canyons, and we finished the trip with a good 
dinner at the Noisy Water Caf‚ in Three Rivers.

I'm glad everyone had a good time, but I'm especially happy/proud 
that my wife had no problems and enjoyed her first trip. I now 
have only one more peak to finish the SPS Peaks List, and she'll 
be on that trip also. Stay tuned, and look for the Kern Peak list 
finish report in an upcoming SPS Echo. (If you don't get the Echo, 
contact SSullivan0@aol.com for an application.)

-- Steve Eckert

Clarence Coronation, September 11, 1999

The faces of mountains are as varied as the faces of men.  Some 
are broad, some craggy, some frail, and some furrowed.  They can 
be fresh, wizened, bulky, weak, open, penetrating, familiar, 
secretive, tender, radiant, unexpected and unknowable.  

The face of Mount Clarence King is an illustration from a 
children's story.  It rises sheer and narrow, gathering itself in as it 
lifts itself towards its featureless, furious, conical culmination.  
Clarence King is a mountain of myth, a mountain of dreams, a 
mountain that should never have existed in such a rock-real 

We set out to limn its ledges, to challenge its chimneys, and, if 
the mountain would allow us, to stand on the boulder where first 
ascender Bolton Brown stood, when he declaimed:  

"It is a true spire of rock, an uptossed corner at the meeting of 
three great mountain walls ... The top of the summit-block 
slopes northwest, is about fifteen feet across, and smooth as a 
cobblestone.  If you fall off one side, you will be killed in the 
vicinity; if you fall of any of the other sides, you will be 
pulverized in the remote nadir beneath."  

We were Ron Karpel, John Wilkinson, Arun Mahajan, Rich 
Leiker, and me, Aaron Schuman.  On September 11, 1999, we 
blithely sauntered forth from Onion Valley. An adult male bear 
saluted our crossing over Kearsarge Pass, over Glen Pass, over 
Rae Col, and into Sixty Lakes Basin.  Fatigued but impatient, we 
watched the galaxy-dappled and meteor-streaked dome slowly 
turn away.  At dawn we rose to disturb a flock of pheasants and 
explore the mountain's lower reaches.  We gained the saddle of 
the ridge uniting Clarence King with Mount Cotter.  

Up slopes strewn with blocks of granite the size of hibernating 
bears we slipped in silence.  The angle steepened.  We were 
funneled onto a diminishing ridge by a blank face on our left and 
a precipice on our right.  We arrived at the jam crack and squeeze 
chimney described by our predecessors.  With the help of a rope, 
we surmounted this obstacle, but to make the thin passage we 
were obliged to leave our backpacks behind.  Would the next 
challenge be so narrow as to force us to abandon our clothing and 
climb as naked as newborns?  

At last we stood before the forehead of the mountain, tall, smooth 
and vertical.  We slipped a few steps down and to the right.  Ron 
led. I belayed.  A crack followed by one ungainly move put Ron 
in front of Bolton Brown's spire.  Possessing only one hand hold 
and one foot hold, Ron stepped out over the abyss.  The 
emptiness beneath him seemed to extend all the way to the center 
of the earth.  The space was so large, so compelling, that it was 
as though the vacant void had substance and the mountain was 
mere ether.  A circling pair of golden eagles looked up at Ron in 
bewilderment.  Then there was a scarcely audible tap of rubber 
sole on stone, and Ron stood on the ceiling.  

Ron wrapped King's crown with a twenty foot loop of webbing.  
He secured himself to this anchor and belayed each of us up to 
the platform.  For a moment - who can say how long it endured - 
we five sat together outside of earthly space, outside of time.  

The eagle squawked a warning about the rising storm clouds.  
Her cry broke the spell.  We descended from the block.  One 
rappel took us down to a ledge.  A second long rappel would take 
us onto easy scree.  I was the first one down the rope, and I took 
shelter behind a boulder.  Rich fastened his harness and prepared 
to drop.  The doubled rope, dangling beneath him, knocked loose 
a hefty rock.  Four voices yelled at me in terror as a ton of granite 
ricocheted down the mountainside.  I cowered in my makeshift 
booth and stared as the waterfall of stone roared past me.  Rich 
came off rappel nearby.  Arun, the next man down, stopped three 
quarters of the way to the end, and called out that the rope had 
been cut.  Indeed it had.  Climbing ropes are made from the same 
fiber as bulletproof vests.  Kevlar is hard to cut, but this rockfall 
succeeded where a bullet would have failed.  The sheath was 
almost completely gone, and the frayed fibers of the core 
protruded dangerously.  Arun disengaged and downclimbed the 
remainder of the way to where Rich and I waited, then John and 
Ron joined us.  

After a visit to eternity and a brush with mortality, we walked 
down the slopes of the mountain to our camp.  

Monday morning, we awoke with tired bodies, a damaged rope, 
and a profound sense of accomplishment.  Though we had come 
to climb Mount Gardiner as well as Mount Clarence King, we 
decided that we didn't need to climb both in order to feel 
satisfied.  We went home one day early.  After all, we had been to 
the most daunting summit in the Sierra Nevada. 

-- Aaron Schuman

Ron Karpel adds:

Secor recommends a 20 foot sling to protect the summit.  I found 
this to be somewhat insecure, because the summit horn is quite 
flat and the sling is held by gravity alone.  There are no cracks or 
any other means to set up pro up there.  As a last resort, I threw a 
4 foot sling to back up the 20 foot one over the summit horn.  
Turned out that the 4 foot sling got jammed in place better than 
the 20 foot one.  I think the best way to get down is to downclimb 
the climbing route under tension and protection from above.  The 
last person can downclimb with protection provided from below 
and the rope running through the slings on the summit.  Once 
everybody is down a good jerk from below will get the slings down.

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. 

*** Whitney the Easy Way
Peak:	Mt. Whitney (14,495'), class 1
Dates:	Oct 22-24, Fri-Sun
Contact:		Nancy Fitzsimmons (408)-957-9683 Pkclimber@aol.com
Co Contact: Adrian Van Gorden   408-779-2320

Climb Mt. Whitney by the regular trail; enough of that 
mountaineers stuff. We will spend Friday night at Outpost Camp 
at about 10,300', and on Saturday start early and go all the way to 
the top. Back to the cars before noon on Sunday. Significant snow 
in the days preceding will cancel. Ice Ax and crampons may be needed.

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

Don't miss this adventure backpack into one of the most 
beautiful granite canyons near Yosemite.  Witness Cherry 
Creek charge forcefully through narrow slots. Gaze at 
granite domes in the distance. The scenery of this 25-mile 
loop backpack will dazzle you as you experience one of the 
Sierras' best kept secrets.


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

Vice Chair and Trip Scheduler:
	Ron Karpel / pcs-scheduler@climber.org
	650 594-0211 home
	903 Avon Street, Belmont, CA 94002

Treasurer and Membership Roster (address changes):
	Dee Booth / pcs-treasurer@climber.org
	408-354-7291 home
	237 San Mateo Avenue, Los Gatos, CA 95030

Publicity Committee Positions

Scree Editor:
	Bob Bynum / pcs-editor@climber.org
	510-659-1413 home
	761 Towhee Court, Fremont CA 94539-7421

PCS World Wide Web Publisher:
	Aaron Schuman / pcs-webmaster@climber.org
	650-943-7532 home
	223 Horizon Avenue, Mountain View, CA 94043-4718

Publicity Chair:
	Steve Eckert / pcs-listmaster@climber.org
	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 
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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 10/24/99.
Meetings are the second Tuesday of each month.

"Vy can't ve chust climb?" - John Salathe	First Class Mail - Dated Material

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