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Scree for September, 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.
                September, 1999	Vol. 33 No. 9
     Deadline for submissions to the next Scree is Sunday 9/26/99

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, September 14
Time:	8:00 PM
Program:	Nepal 

Bruce Bousfield will show slides of his Nepal trip.

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.

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.

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

A one-way walk through northeastern Yosemite should provide 
some of the best early fall scenery available. Hopefully the 
mosquitoes will be dead or dying, and hopefully it won't have 
snowed yet. The plan is to enter at Saddlebag, exit at Twin Lakes 
(requires car shuttle). There is a bit of cross-country travel at the 
beginning and some 2nd class near the peaks, but basically it's a 
lot of trail walking (15 miles/day) with an average of about 4000' of 
gain per day. To avoid a dawn-to-dusk sort of trip we'll need to 
move fairly quickly, but skipping one or two of the peaks or adding 
a fourth day could provide an easier trip if desired

*** Bagg Gabb
Peak:	Mt. Gabb, class 3, 13xxx ft.
Dates:	Sept. 4-6 Sat-Mon
Leaders:	Kelly Maas maas@idt.com H 408-279-2054, W 408-330-1717

Gabb is a big 13er, set off just a bit from the Sierra crest. It should 
have great views of adjacent Abbott, Mills, Dade, Bear Creek 
Spire, etc. The real excuse for this trip, however, is to hike up the 
second Mono Recess. The west side approach is via ferry across 
Thomas Edison Lake, followed by a hike up Mono Creek and then 
the second Recess.

*** Mt. Dubois
Peak:	Mount Dubois, 13,559', Class 2
Dates:	September 25-27, 1999
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 

On Guard, Brewer!  June 25-27, 1999

We had perfect weather, with no bugs except a few between 9k 
and 10k (especially good since we camped bug-free and frost-free 
at 10500'), and we got both destination peaks plus we were home 
in time for dinner. I'll just post a few notes on the route and the 
climbing, especially since the PCS Mountaineering Committee 
had some concerns about allowing 3rd class rated leaders to 
attempt North Guard.

Secor's book says to go up the right (west) side of the Sphinx 
Creek drainage after crossing the creek on the Avalanche Pass 
trail. We went up that way, sloshing through bogs and climbing 
boulders in brush, with great slabs to walk on higher up. We 
came down entirely on the east side. Except for one boulder field 
around 9600', the east route is mostly shaded duff or grassy 
slopes that make for a much better walk in the park. On the way 
up, you can leave the trail just before entering the wet zone near 
the creek (8700') and stay well away from the water.

There are great campsites near the outlet of Lake 10514, and 
lesser campsites at the lake above. We were content with 5500' of 
gain with packs, and opted for the better view and sheltered 
spots, leaving5000' of gain with daypacks for the next day's peak 
bagging and a half day of hiking out on the third day.

Don't expect to see obvious "chutes" on North Guard's south face, 
despite what the books and various reports say. The notch to 
shoot for is about a tenth of a mile west of the summit, and the 
slabby "chute" gets tough about at the place where you can cross 
left into a 2nd class sandy "chute" that leads directly to the large 
notch... which is distinguished by a bulbous projection akin to a 
tall mushroom. There was an astonishing view and some ducks 
from the notch, and we added a few ducks of our own. The 
climbing is third class, with some exposure in places but they can 
generally be worked around if you are willing to drop 30 or 40 
feet and climb back up.

When you get to the summit, which is claimed to have a thin 
20'summit block hanging over the east face at "an embarrassing 
angle", you may agree with me that men just can't help 
exaggerating the size of such things. It's 10' of 3rd class, not 20' of 
4th.It takes two easy friction steps (and I hate friction climbing) 
to reach a nice foot ledge, from where I sat on the summit bump 
after flipping a sling over it while the others were still fiddling 
with the rope. If this is 4th class, Hooper, Tehipite, and others 
must be also... and perhaps Bear Creek Spire is 5th. Roper said 
there was a 4th class crack to the easy summit area, but my guess 
is that there's been some inflation in the rating: the SPS just 
raised the peak from class 3 to "3s4" meaning a class 4 summit, 
but we all thought a light-weight half rope and two slings would 
do just fine, and that the entire climb was really class 3.

Since this was Richard's first climb of the season, he sat out 
Brewer while the other three of us stormed up snow and rock to 
the summit register... which is on the lowest of three bumps, but 
clearly the named point. The register is completely full, with 
front and back covers used also, if anyone is heading there soon. 
Take another book! We needed ice axes for Brewer, but left them 
strapped to our packs everywhere else.

On the way out, we saw one "black" bear (actually brown) out for 
an afternoon stroll and several fresh piles of dung, indicating to 
me that people don't usually go on the east side of the stream. 
The bear ambled along quite unaware of us for close to a minute 
while we took pictures and talked about it, then suddenly caught 
our scent and wheeled in the opposite direction. Greg's first bear 
encounter was a pleasing one!

Participants were Steve Eckert (leader), Richard Vassar 
(coleader), Pat Callery, and Greg Johnson.

-- Steve Eckert

Bolton Didn't Go This Way! (or, How I Climbed Birch Mountain) Aug 1-3, 1999

From Birch Lake, we hiked into the cirque just west of Birch 
Mountain to find towering spires, permanent hard snow attached 
to the mountain side, and 45 degree gullies with partially filled 
snow, all directly in front of us. Given our time frame, lack of 
equipment, energy levels, as well as considering others' opinions 
and thoughts, with a tinge of disappointment, we bid arrivederci 
to B. Brown.  So, with mountaineering aplomb and savoir-faire, 
we headed for Birch Mountain at 13, 665'. Attaining the ridgeline 
then onto Birch's summit, looking back, we could see the wide 
plateau just NE of Bolton, and his eastern edge jostled with 
spires and pinnacles. A lovely day with views, once again, 
magnificent: Split Mountain, Disappointment Peak, Middle 
Palisade, Mt Sill, Polemonium, Winchell, and, Mt Humphries.

Personal Highlights of the Trip: 

On the use trail toward Birch Lake, we saw glorious wildflowers 
emerging from underground springs and tributaries in this eastern 
high dessert; wild rose, Indian Paintbrush, columbine, shooting 
star, Ranger's Buttons, Sierra Angelica, and sky pilot, higher up, 
near the lake. On the southeast side of Birch Lake, Paul and Will 
discovered remnants of a possible airplane crash(?) as they found 
a tire and shards of metal. Birch Mountain was a high point for 
the Brit on our trip, Jeremy. Congratulations! With more to come, 
I'm hoping Elmer discovered a gross mountaineering error in 
Robert Ludlum's thriller, 'The Aquitaine Progression', p. 570. 
Some of us spotted it:) The only wildlife on our trip was a wild 
mouse at campsite!  Paul wrangled with the critter inside his bivy 
bag (!) for a bit, and, once food was out, so was wild mouse.  

Kudos: to Paul who assisted with route finding; to Will who 
stopped every time I wanted a water break; to Jeremy who 
delighted us with his Euro perspective; and to Elmer who said, 
"This isn't a trail!"

By-the-Bye: Birch Mountain was named by Chester Versteeg in 
1936. The original Paiute name was Mountain of Stone 

Trip Participants: Debbie Benham, Will Hirst, Elmer Martin, 
Paul Penno, and Jeremy Westerman.

-- Debbie Benham

Mt Sill August 7-8

This past weekend Max Nachury, Karin Reif, and myself Mike 
Rinaldi went on an ambitious trek to climb both Mt Silly and 
Polemonium.  On the Topo they look fairly doable (even 
correcting for the mislabeling of Polemonium where Peak 13796 
should be).  Our adventure started at Bishop where we had our 
traditional pre-trip breakfast at Whiskey Creek.  By 9AM we 
were on the trail head at South Lake.  While hiking to Bishop 
Pass we met half a dozen Goretex and cap clad backpackers 
coming the other way.  They all said that the weather had been 
cold and snowy the previous day.  We were at the tail end of a 
freak August weather front.  As we approached the Pass it got 
much cooler and windier.  We quickly added  more layers and 
were soon at the Pass.

From here we headed cross-country skirting the base of Mt. 
Agasiz.  We wanted to stay on the 12000' contour as much as 
possible in order to be as close as possible to Thunderbolt Pass 
(12300).  This turned out to save elevation gain/loss but we 
defintely lost much time.  It's much more efficient to dropdown to 
11700 or so and then back up to T-bolt Pass since the terrain is 
much more managable.   Once over the Pass we dropped about 
300' to a pond.

We set camp here bypassing the lower main Barret Lake.  We 
thought that we would attempt Sill, the next day, by skirting the 
Palisades and going over the high ridge (east of Potluck Pass).  
The next day we learned from our previous days mistake.  Instead 
of trying to save altitude at the expense of harder talis travel we 
dropped to near upper Barret Lake and made for the high ridge 
east of Potluck Pass.  By bypassing Potluck Pass we were able to 
drop into the Polemonium - Sill cirque at about the 
13000'contour.  As we studied the face of Sill for our route we 
heard a tremendous explosion and crash.  We quickly turned just 
in time to see a VW bus size boulder dropping from near the 
summit crest of the Palisades down into the Sill snow field.  The 
boulder dropped some 1000' making only one bounce!

After our knees stopped shaking we composed ourselves and 
started up the ridge connecting  Polemonium and Sill.  Karin 
chose to stay at the base since she was not feeling well.  Max and 
myself quickly gained the summit with only minor class 4'ish 
traversing near the top.  We could have avoided this by taking a 
more direct route.  Once on top we enjoyed the tremendous view.

We opted to save the ridge traverse to Polemonium for another 
day since it was late (2:30pm) and some clouds were forming 
toward the west.  On our return trip to camp we decided to take 
the Potluck Pass route.  This proved to be long and laborius.  We 
need to descend over two boulder clad moraines  before climbing 
back up over Potluck Pass.  The rest of the hike to camp was 
uneventful.  Our roundtrip from near T-bolt Pass to Sill and back 
went about 10.5 hours.  The lessons learned from this trip were 
to camp south of Barret Lake toward Potluck Pass.  Then climb 
up and over the ridge east of Potluck Pass bypassing it to gain the 
Sill - Polemonium cirque.  Doing this on the return trip as well 
will save you much boulder hopping in the Glacier Creek 
drainage area.  Monday we hiked out and had a late lunch, again, 
at Whiskey Creek.  During the trip home we were greeted with 
rain and a wonderful sunset featuring incredible red hues and 
cloud formations on the Old Priest grade bypass road. 

Happy Climbing!, Mike    

-- Michael A. Rinaldi

Mt. Warren August 14-15

On the weekend of August 14 and 15 Noriko Sekikawa and 
headed to the east side of Yosemite to climb Warren Mountain 
and North Peak.  This is a trip report of our ascent of Warren 

Friday night Noriko and I drove up to and bivied at Saddlebag 
Lake.   In the morning back at the car we found Kai Weidman 
and Cecil Ann were parked right next to us.  Although we had 
never met I had seen Kai's slide show at the PCS meeting earlier 
that week and recognized him immediately.   We were soon 
discussing the day's agenda.  Kai and Cecil were on their way to 
do the West Ridge of Conness.

After breakfast Noriko and I drove to Camp 9 which is at the 
mouth of Warren Canyon to begin our trip.  Even though I had 
Aaron Schuman's and Steve Eckert's 1998 and 1997 reports in 
hand I eschewed both.    I couldn't see the eastern ridgeline and I 
didn't want to bushwhack blindly upslope. 

Besides from the map I figured we could find a route from the 
upper part of the canyon.  We followed a pleasant trail along 
Warren Creek up the canyon without bugs and not very muddy.  I 
eventually lost the trail in a small meadow at the upper end of the 
canyon and began heading NE around a spur through trees where 
we emerged below a steep W face.  We ascended easy talus to the 
right of the face and just below the spur.   At the top of this slope 
we found ourselves on the plateau below Peak 12177.  
Contouring N and up we summitted to where we could see that 
an easy ridge dropping to a saddle and up to Warren Peak.

On top of Warren we signed the register, took our summit photos 
and descended to escape the raging wind.  We found a little spot 
sheltered enough for us to enjoy our lunch before beginning our 
descent.  We followed the snow free drainage down talus to the 
eastern tributary of Warren Creek. 

I was curious as to where this tributary merged with the main 
creek so I followed it to a large isolated meadow but eventually 
had to diverge from the creek when the terrain became more 
steep and the bushwhacking more difficult.  Eventually we were 
following the main creek and soon crossed and were back on the 
main trail.

We ended our day by camping in the campground that can be 
found about an 1/8 of mile in from highway 120 at Camp 9 next 
to Warren Creek.  There was a large group of 10+ people camped 
in one of the sites but the sites are sufficiently far apart that we 
barely even notice them.

Warren is more or less a pile of rubble, and probably would 
better as ski-mountaineering trip, but the views of Mono Lake 
and Mt Dana are spectacular.

-- Greg Johnson

Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne Aug 20-22, 1999

I'm so used to descending at the end of the summit climb that I 
had to admit I was a bit disoriented when we lost altitude and 
had just started our trip! From White Wolf, we left, full of a 
scrumptious breakfast eaten at the resort's small and cozy 
restaurant. While heading down the canyon, a management fire 
was underway with a sign strictly forbidding us to go off trail. We 
saw reduced flames, smoldering ashes and clouds of smoke that 
hurt our eyes and muffled our breathing. This lasted for a little 
while, not too long, all in all. Continuing down, we glimpsed the 
Sawtooth Range in the distance, it's jagged teeth just visible.

Camping our first night at Pate Valley, a refreshing swim and 
splash greeted us before dinner. A fire kept the bugs away and 
kept us busy while we debated topical political events, told lewd 
jokes, listened to paragraphs from the New Yorker magazine, 
and, said what travels were next on our agendas. The following 
day was 14 miles to Glen Aulin. Those miles included the Muir 
Gorge with fantastic waterfalls carving lovely swirls in granite, 
bluegreen pools of water; elevation gain and loss, gain and loss; 
swimming to refresh and encourage for the climb up (oh dear!) 
ahead; with streaming Waterwheel Falls being one of the many 
cascades seen. Our second night, we were about a mile shy of 
Glen Aulin in a flat, broad, bush and birch-tree filled arena. 
Whew! glad to sit down. Reports had it that a bear was patrolling 
the Glen Aulin area. At about 5:30am, our neighboring campers, 
just across the way, were heard yelling, pounding rocks, and, 
making general helter-skelter to scare the bear. Someone in their 
party had left some food in a backpack, and, bears being as smart 
as they are in Yosemite, dragged the pack, foraged for the food 
only, then quickly departed. 

As we headed toward the cars on our third and final day, I was 
once again reminded of the grandeur of Yosemite with a view 
from Tuolumne Meadows: Unicorn Peak, the Cockscomb, 
Cathedral Peak, Echo Peaks, and, of course, our end point, 
Lembert Dome. Thank you to all who participated: Marci 
Barnett, Debbie Benham (author&leader), Rosalie Frankel, Bob 
Goeldner, Bill Kirkpatrick (coleader), Matt Smits, Eddie Sudol, 
and, Jeff West. 

-- Debbie Benham

Thunder Peak

As part of a week-long tour of the Upper Kern Basin, three of us 
climbed Thunder Mtn.. While much of the approach was very 
nice, and the final bit of 4th class quite excellent, the climb of the 
SE face was a rather abysmally loose exercise in class-3 climbing 
that pretty much cancels out the "classic" climb assignment for 
this mountain. Read on for details.


There were three of us: the Cat, der Bergkrabbler, and myself, the 
newly rechristened Lame Ape. ("Paraplegic" is too strong a term 
to denote my orthopedic limitations, and I don't want to offend 
those with more serious disabilities.) We began our sojourn by 
way of Shepherd Pass, taking two days to reach the headwaters of 
Tyndall Creek. Part of the Shepherd Pass trail has been recently 
rebuilt, and the previously heinous climb from Symmes Creek to 
the Symmes-Shepherd saddle is now, well, almost pleasant, 
featuring a total of 54 moderately graded switchbacks. The new 
route, however, has added about 1.5 miles to the trail distance. 
There was no water between Symmes Creek and Mahogany Flat. 
We camped at Anvil Camp, which is now much cleaner and more 
pleasant than it was a decade ago. Fire rings have been removed, 
and the campsites are no longer so "beaten out" as was previously 
the case. The final part of the trail over Shepherd Pass itself is in 
bad repair, with many small rockslides covering portions of the 
trail. After descending the west side of the pass, we camped at a 
lake by the junction of the Tyndall Creek and Lake South 
America trails. We took one more easy day to reach a medium-
size lake (elev about 11000'), located at the mouth of the canyon 
leading to Thunder Pass, and this was followed by a rest day that 
featured a pleasant solid-rock scramble to the top of nearby crag. 
The next day we would attempt Thunder Mtn.

The Climb

I was surprised! This supposedly "classic" climb looked like a 
pile of fractured rubbish. I shook my head and denied the obvious 
-- perhaps the rock was more stable than it looked. Surely 
Moynier and Fiddler wouldn't have included it as a classic for 
nothing! Their instructions for reaching the S. summit tower were 
not explicit: climb the SE face or E ridge. Ascending the E ridge 
looked silly: the jagged structure looked so tenuous as to collapse 
upon receiving a good kick. So, I decided to aim for one of the 
ugly chutes or rock ribs near the East ridge.

The SE face was precisely as ugly to climb as it had appeared 
from below. Stable talus below the face gave way to broken and 
unstable rock ribs that drained quantities of small, loose debris 
into adjacent gullies. The ascent was an unpleasant alternation of 
delicately climbing the unstable rock ribs, and "swimming" 
through the steep loose gullies. My compatriots were significantly 
dismayed by this effort. The Cat puffed herself up a bit and began 
growling about the tedium of this pileish ascent. Der 
Bergkrabbler, who was completely new to this kind of blatant 
intimacy with dangerous alpine garbage, was basically just scared 
out of his wits. "This is too tough for me" he moaned. I thought to 
myself: "nonsense, this is just too ugly for anyone with sense!" 
But, being a sado-masochist, I did my best to encourage them 
onwards, and eventually the horrible rock gave way to the south 
summit tower. 

 I had to break out the rope to get der Bergkrabbler up the final 
bit of 3rd class. The rock adjacent to the tower was so fractured 
as to make it difficult to set a reliable anchor. Der Bergkrabbler 
climbed past me and stood, uncertainly, upon the boulders of the 
S summit tower. "Off belay?" I asked hopefully. He looked 
scared, then minced his way carefully to the most unexposed part 
of the boulder pile, and then quietly allowed himself to go off 

 So, now we could see the final "airy" traverse to the N summit. I 
was thrilled: it looked like good, solid rock for a welcome 
change. Unfortunately, my companions were unimpressed by the 
view, and declined to continue.

The Cat professed an interest in preening herself and taking a 
nap, while der Bergkrabbler was so petrified that he wouldn't 
even consider moving from his boulder burrow, much less begin 
an exposed traverse. 

So, I had to solo it, and, fortunately, it wasn't particularly 
difficult. With careful route finding, there were only two short 
bits of 4th class, the first during the descent into the notch, and 
the second being a muscular move on the way up the summit 
block. which is just large enough to stand upon. This remote 
mountain does not get a lot of traffic; ours was the sixth ascent 
this year.

We found an easier way down. The western margin of the SE face 
has lower angles and broader ledges than toward the E ridge. It 
was still ugly, but, at least, not quite as nauseatingly loose. Der 
Bergkrabbler had substantially calmed down during my traverse 
to the N summit and back, but he most certainly wanted a belay 
to begin the descent. Two belays, together with substantial 
coaching from the Cat, got him down onto somewhat gentler 3rd-
class terrain that he could handle without a rope. The Cat has a 
marvelous way of purring instructions that can alleviate the fears 
of all but the most desperate.

The tedious loose ledges finally gave way to screeable gravel, 
then firm talus. All that remained now was to reverse the lovely 

Total time for the climb was a leisurely 11.5 hours. We concluded 
our climbing day by jumping in the lake.


The next day, we continued our leisurely traverse around the 
Upper Kern Basin, studiously avoiding use of any trails. We 
camped at a small lake just below the saddle where the Lk. South 
America trail crosses into the Tyndall Creek drainage. We had 
meant to go farther, but couldn't bear to leave this lovely high 
country! Instead, we took a quick stroll to view the precipitous 
scenery surrounding Harrison Pass. On the morrow, we took a 
combination of trail and cross-country walking back to Shepherd 
Pass, then descended all the way to Mahogany Flat. There is 
really only one campsite here, and, though it was already 
occupied by a ranger, she graciously allowed us to share her site. 
Anvil Camp is by far the preferable camping when ascending or 
descending Shepherd Pass. On our final day, we somewhat 
unwillingly covered the 6+ miles from Mahogany Flat to the 
trailhead under welcome cloudy skies that allowed us to mostly 
avoid the desert heat. On the way up, we had observed the 
substantial crop of elderberries near the trailhead (outside the 
wilderness), so, coming out, we collected some berries that will 
very soon become jam and pie. Yum!

It was raining in Tuolumne Meadows as we made the long drive 

-- David Ress

Tabula Rosa: Red Slate Mountain August 22, 1999 

I'm writing the report for the PCS climb of Red Slate Mountain 
and I wasn't even on the trip.  Kelly Maas led a group up the peak 
on the weekend of August 22, 1999.  His party was comprised of 
Greg Johnson, John Hossack, Bob Evans and Landa Robillard.  
Charles Schafer and I organized the outing but didn't participate, 
instead climbing the same peak on our own private trip.  

We hiked up the Convict Creek trail.  A couple miles up the trail, 
we gingerly stepped across the creek on partially submerged 
rocks.  Charles and I tried this trail once before in June of a heavy 
snow year, and were stymied by the crossing.  I recommend that 
you avoid this route any earlier than August or September.  We 
walked underneath bizarrely twisted cliffs of red, white and black 
metamorphic rock, past Mounts Laurel, Morrison, Bloody and 
Baldwin.  That evening we made camp at lovely Lake 

Before the sage grouses bellowed out their belligerent morning 
song, Charles and I walked up to the snowfield at the base of the 
implausible north couloir of Red Slate Mountain.  The PCS group 
awoke shortly afterward and scurried up the long scree slope on 
the west side of the peak.  They summitted at around 9:30 a.m., 
while Charles and I were still hacking and crawling up our ice 

The frozen crystals yielded to the points of our crampons. The 
hefty ice tool I borrowed from Kelly sunk into the surface, but my 
underweighted dragonfly ice axe tended to bounce off.  On the 
steepest part, which exceeded forty degrees, we maintained a 
running belay protected with pickets.  We were also able to 
anchor on the side cliffs by slinging horns and chocking cracks.  

About 500 feet from the top, the couloir appeared to exhaust 
itself, but we turned a corner to the right and found its 
continuation.  To get back on the ice, we had to cross a stretch of 
the loosest, steepest, least defensible rubble I've ever known.  
The rock is completely unlike the classic 

Sierra granite we love; slate shatters into millions of pointed 
shards.  We were finally climbing in sunshine, and I was able to 
refill my water bottle from a merciful ice drip.  

We walked out of the couloir directly onto the summit at 1:30.  
Unforecasted clouds were building rapidly, so we hustled down 
the west ridge before the lightning storm blew in from Lake 
Thomas Edison.  We met our carpool partner John at the lake.  
He told us the others had evacuated as soon as they saw us attain 
the summit.  

We three ate, packed, and hiked the down trail.  Slowed by our 
tiring ascent, we were overtaken by the weather.  For twenty 
minutes or so, we were pummeled by hailstones so large that I 
considered putting on my climbing helmet.  

Beyond the stream crossing, we slowed down so much more that 
we were enveloped in the blanket of night, and reached the trail's 
end under clear skies and the light of the moon.  

-- Aaron Schuman 

Merced Beaucoup (Merced Peak Trip Report) August 27-29, 1999

Fire off Hwy 120 with the road closed 10 miles east of 
Groveland; road closure of Hwy 140 from 10:30 at night to 
6:30am; a campsite in Yosemite Valley reminiscent of crowded 
family picnics in neighborhood parks on Fourth of July; what to 
do?? Go climb a mountain, far and away!

First day was long and sleepy what with 12 miles in to Lower 
Merced Pass Lake. We pitched our tents and made camp with 
vestiges of a bear-bagging rope hanging from a nearby tree. That 
evening, we ate dinner followed by songs around the campfire. 
Folksongs, French children's songs, Broadway musicals, and a 
rousing rendition of 'Yellow Submarine' - you name it, we tried it. 

WARNING: do not put your MSR fuel bottle in your bear 
canister-all food will be drenched irregardless of baggie 

The next morning, we arose to a beautiful, cool, summer day's 
beginning, and, our hike to the summit. Passing Lower Ottoway 
Lake, then off trail, around Upper Ottoway Lake, we caught a full 
view of the northeast ridgeline of Merced Peak. Hideous 
exposure. Heading toward the saddle between Ottoway Peak and 
Merced Peak, called Snow Pass by the by, we crossed snow 
bands and meadow grass, and splashy, tiny waterfalls over 
granite talus. It is important to note that to attain the Class 2 
route, climb directly from the saddle onto the ridgeline; 
otherwise, you run into Class 3 climbing (thank you Anouchka!). 
Newcomers learned to yell "Rock!" rather than "OH NO watch 
out!!".  Once on the summit, the sharp fin of Mt Clark engaged 
me, with Lyell & McClure, Roger's Peak, and, of course, the rest 
of the Clark range in view.

Retracing our steps back to camp, two runners passed us on the 
trail. They had come up from the Valley floor and were heading 
toward Glacier Point that evening and would probably reach it 
past 9pm. Simply amazing!  It had been a long day for us (12 
hours) and we were pooped. Not too long of a fire that evening, 
as we all took to bed as soon as supper was over. Our party 
almost lost Linda and Anouchka that night! As they were 
retrieving water from the lake standing on an old crumbly log, the 
log collapsed, and Linda managed to step off into shallower 
water, with Anouchka stepping on a firmer portion of tree. 

On the hike out, Sunday, we managed a swim, which, actually, 
Arlene had been doing each day! Refreshing, and much needed 
for the uphill switchbacks to Glacier Point. Thank you to all who 
participated: Debbie Benham (author&leader); Arlene Blum; 
Anouchka Gaillard (coleader); Chris Kerr; David McCracken; 
Steve Shun; Linda Smith; and Matt Stanton.

-- Debbie Benham

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. 

*** 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 and Glenn Pass 
into Rae lakes and eventually into Sixty Lakes Basin.  Estimated 
distance is 10 miles. This is kind of a chug. 

Clarence King has a fifth class summit block requiring a few 
moves of about 5.4.  Gardiner has a longish fourth-class summit ridge.

Requirements: Both peaks require rope and modest rock climbing 
skills. You should know my wife or myself.

*** Middle Pal & Norman Clyde
Peaks:	Middle Palisade (14,040'), Norman Clyde (13,920'), Class: 3, 4
Map:	Mt. Goddard 15' topo
Dates:	Sept. 4-6 (Sat-Mon)
Contact:	Bob Suzuki     day: 510-657-7555 >8pm: 408-259-0772 bobszk@bigfoot.com
		Rich Leiker   <2pm: 408-378-9522 >3pm: 408-453-4253 leiker@san-jose.tt.slb.com

This 3 day outing will be tough, but good. Saturday we'll drop our 
packs at our basecamp near Finger Lake then tackle the northeast 
face of Middle Palisade. We'll take all of Sunday to try our luck 
with a class 4 route on the north-northeast ridge or north face of 
Norman Clyde Peak. Only fast, strong peak climbers with 
previous class 4 and roped climbing experience will be considered 
for this outing.

*** 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

This is a class 3-4 climb up one of Colorado's more difficult 14'ers, 
noted for its exposed knife-edge ridge. The plan would be to fly to 
Denver Friday evening, drive to the mountain and hike in to a high 
camp on Saturday, make the climb on Sunday and hike out, 
staying overnight in the Aspen area. We would return to the 
Denver airport on Monday for return home. Roped climbing 
experience required. Contact leader for coordination of travel plans.

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

Depending on who signs up, we'll do the standard grunt to 
Needham over the top of Sawtooth, or we'll skip Monarch Lake 
and go directly to Needham (which might involve a bit of class 3 
scrambling on an unscouted route). This area is great in the fall, 
when the bugs are dead and the marmots have their fill of salt 
bush (so your car doesn't look like a buffet). Needham could be 
done as a ver

*** Annual Tuolomne Group Camp
Peaks:	(Need volunteer to lead day trips)
Dates:	September 18-19
Contact: 	Cecil Ann  (408) 395-4525 cecilann@earthlink.net

Join us Friday night through Sunday for the annual PCS group 
camping trip. Historically, we've had fabulous dayclimbs/dayhikes 
and this year will be no exception.  Camping will be at a group site 
in Tuolumne campground.  Children, seniors, non-climbers, etc. 
are welcome.

*** Mt. Dana: Introduction to Peak Climbing
Peak: 	Mt Dana (13,056') class 1
Date:	September 18
Contacts:	Bob Bynum (510) 659-1413; rfbynum@aol.com;
		Gretchen Luepke

Have you been attending PCS meetings and viewing slide shows 
of beautiful places, but never actually climbed a peak?  Then 
come on this relatively simple climb and experience all aspects of 
peak climbing. I will take people to the summit and Gretchenmay  
take people back to the trailhead who only want to go to the 
11,500' saddle. This trip is being run  in conjunction with the 
Tuolomne car camp listed above and we will start from there.

*** Mt Thompson 13494' 
Peak:	Mt Thompson, Class 3
Date:	September 17-19
Contact:	Peter Maxwell (408) 737 9770

We'll hike in from Lake Sabrina to Sunset Lake on Friday, do the 
peak on Saturday and hike out on Sunday. Ice axes and crampons 
may be necessary,   This is a private trip and participants should 
be experienced in class 3 climbing and at ease on steep, hard, icy snow.

*** 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 

*** Mt. Clark & Starr King
Date: Sept. 24-26
Peaks: Mt. Clark and Starr King
Contact: George Sinclair 650-941-2160; geosinc@aol.com

Description: Join the leader as he returns to the peak he first 
climbed 25 years ago when he first began leading Sierra Club 
trips.  One peak, and perhaps both will require the use of rope.  
Interested people should have some experience doing class 3 and 
know how to rappel.

*** 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.

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

Mt Gilbert (13106 ft). August 29, 1999

On Sunday, the 29th of August 1999, Scott Kreider and I, Arun 
Mahajan walked up Mt Gilbert. As walks go, it was rather long 
and our round trip time was a little over nine hours, five to 
summit, an hour of dawdling time at the top and the rest for the 
slog back to the car.

Starting at 7:40am at South Lake in Bishop and following the 
trail to Treasure Lakes, we were quickly at the top of the lower 
Treasure Lakes. The trail gets a little sketchy after the lakes but 
is clear enough till it gets lost near a short flat area where we 
took our first break to study the route near the right fork of a 
small stream. Continuing on further over boulders above this 
stream, we were at a tarn at approximately 11300 ft. Johnson was 
straight in the front and Treasure Col was to it's right. We 
climbed over the tarnon the right over more boulders heading to 
the ridge. One way to top this ridge is to do the Treasure Col but 
that looked unappealing due to the scree and sand so we picked a 
small rut in the rocks (it has a dark brownish color and is 
spottable if you look hard enough) to go to the ridgeline. This 
was class-3 and surprisingly at the top of this was a cairn. There 
are many possible ways to get to this ridgeline and ours was a 
nice clean route. There was nothing loose on it.

We could see this ridgeline, now climbing up but we stayed at the 
same level, traversing along and then we curved left and started 
the climb over sandy and talus-ridden slopes towards the high 
point, the summit of Gilbert. It is best to traverse up and left till 
the ridge line and then one meets the gentler plateau of Gilbert 
that is easier to walk on. At 12:40pm we were at the summit. 
Lots of haze in the distance but good views of the nearby peaks. 
We departed after spending nearly an hour at the top.

The hike back down to the Treasure lakes was tedious and long 
but then it was trail all the way back to the placid waters of South 
Lake where the disjointed voices of the fisherfolk in their boats 
calling out to each other under the warm sun and the gently 
circling birds overhead evoked such strong feelings of 
timelessness and somnolent leisure that I did not want to ever 
return back to the madding crowd and the hectic life of the Bay 

-- Arun Mahajan

Mt. Hoffman

"On no other Yosemite Park mountain are you more likely to 
linger."  John Muir

According to The Complete Guidebook to Yosemite (Steven P. 
Medley, Yosemite Assn., 1991) Mt. Hoffman is the geographical 
center of Yosemite National Park. It was named in 1965 for 
Charles F. Hoffman, one of the threesome who made the first 
ascent the year before.

In between rock climbs of the Tuolomne Meadows area, we 
decided to do a little hiking or peakbagging. I pulled out Secor's 
High Sierra guide and realized Mt. Hoffman was a Class 2 walk-
up. We stopped at Olmstead Point, took photos, acted like 
tourists, and marveled at the sublime view: Tenaya Lake and a 
multitude of domes to the East, Yosemite Valley to the West - 
dominated by the imposing Half Dome. With binoculars, we 
could clearly see folks headed up the cable route.

We drove to the May Lake trailhead, and told my brother (who 
would just day hike to May Lake) we could do Hoffman RT in 
three hours, even though it seemed to loom so high overhead. We 
stuck to our return time of three hours and started hauling ass. 
We x-countried to a gully which seemed to offer the only 
reasonable approach before reaching May Lake (a little Class 3 
scrambling) and sure enough, we hit the "trail". From there it's 
totally straight forward to the summit (and the radio repeater !!!!) 
on it.

Outstanding views, as concurs Secor. Mt. Hoffman has a virtually 
vertical north face for at least 1000 feet straight down to some 
lakes (didn't identify). A dizzying view. 360 degree views to 
Triple Divide Peak, and many peaks south and East, Minarets, 
many others to the North. We leisurely enjoyed the summit alone, 
even though Secor says many hike it (the "trail" shows it - damn 
cairns every ten feet, even though the "trail" is quite obvious). 
Pete Yamagata had placed a brand new register just 2.5 hours 
before our arrival. We were the third or fourth entry.

We blazed down, taking a "short-cut" which was kinda the 
wrong way. We had to traverse around the half the flank of the 
mountain, then pick our way through easy but improbable looking 
cliffs (linking up ledges and ramps) and dropping back into the 
basin. Still had to cross a creek and find the trail.

Continuing, practically running, we hit the trail and actually 
passed three people who passed us on descent while we were still 
on the way to the summit. Hit the truck in right around 3 hours 
RT. I was impressed with my partner and myself. Never have I 
more haphazardly x-countried a Sierra peak and been more right 
on. I didn't pull out a compass once, and only looked at the map 
one time. We hauled ass on the thing, and looking back at the 
peak from the parking lot, it didn't seem possible.

If you're in Yosemite NP, especially on the Tioga corridor, do 
yourself a favor and spend a couple of hours to do Hoffman. The 
views are sublime.

-- Michael Gordon


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 
arrive before the last Tuesday of the expiration month. If you are 
on one of the PCS email lists (either the sierra-nevada@climber.org
discussion list or the california-news@climber.org read-only list,
you have a free EScree subscription. For online info, send Email to
info@climber.org. EScree subscribers should send a subscription form
to the Treasurer to become voting PCS members at no charge. All 
subscribers are requested to send a donation of $2/year to cover 
operating expenses other than printing the Scree. The Scree is on 
the PCS web site (as both plain text and 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 9/26/99.
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!