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 July, 2002       Peak Climbing Section, Loma Prieta Chapter, Sierra Club Vol. 36 No. 7

World Wide Web Address: http://lomaprieta.sierraclub.org/pcs/

Next General Meeting

Date:               Tuesday, July 9

Time:              7:00 PM

Program:        BBQ and Gear Swap

Location         Serra Park in Sunnyvale
                        730 The Dalles Ave
                        Sunnyvale, CA 94087

Directions:     From I-280, turn North on DeAnza Blvd. in Cupertino, then left on Homestead, then right on Hollenbeck.  The park is on your left.

From I-85, turn East on Fremont, then South on Hollenbeck.  The park is on your right.

Deadline for submissions to the next Scree is Sunday 7/28/2002  •  Meetings are the 2nd Tuesday of each month.

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, Aug 3 and Sunday, Aug 4 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, call Health Education Services, 650-321-6500, reserve a spot for Sat. or Sun., and authorize a $45 charge on your credit card—or promise to bring $45 in cash to class. Cancellations get partial refund if a substitute attends (you get to keep the Wilderness First Aid book). For more information, call 650-321-6500.

Harvey Butchart


Those out there who have hiked in the Grand Canyon have most likely heard of the legendary Harvey Butchart who has hiked about 12,000 miles in the Canyon.

Late last month he died in Tucson at the age of 95. Butchart made his last real hike in the Canyon in 1987 when he was 80. When not hiking the Canyon, he was a math professor at the Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff for many years.

• George Sinclair

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.

Thor, Thweetheart?

Peak:            Thor Peak (12,300), class 2
Date:             June 8-9, 2002
Leader:        Aaron Schuman (aaron@climber.org)

As you hike up the Whitney Trail, and you pass through a meadow called Bighorn Park, you look up in horror at the tremendous sheer southeast wall of Thor Peak.  Lucky for you, you decided to join me on the ascent, so we walk around to the back side of the mountain, and scoot up moderate scree and talus to the summit.  My permit limits us to 4 people.  It's early, so there will be plenty of snow and  slush.

Echo Peaks

Peak:            Echo Peaks (11,000 - 11,160+) class-3/4/ and maybe 5
Dates:          June 16th, 2002
Maps:           Tenaya Lake 7.5' or Tuolumne Mdws 15'
Leader:        Ron Karpel, ronny@karpel.org, 650-594-0211
Co-Leader:  Jim Curl, jhcurl@pacbell.net, 415-585-1380

This is a restricted trip of the Sierra Club. Participants must be experienced in class-3 and 4 climbing.

Late last season, a debate about identifying a few of the peaks lead me to make an unplanned day trip to the area, and to realize that the 9 Echo Peaks are an attractive day trip destination.

We will set ropes for peak #4 which is 4th class.  If we have enough skilled climbers, some of us may climb peak #9 which is rated 5.7.  The rest of the peaks are 3rd class.

Send your Sierra Club member number along with a climbing resume to the leaders.

Kuna and Koip

Peak(s):       Kuna Peak 13,002', Class 2
                      Koip Peak 12,962', Class 2
Map(s):         Tuolumne Meadows Topo
Dates:          July 20-21 (Sat-Sun)
Leader(s):   Debbie Benham, 650/964-0558, deborah4@pacbell.net
                      Chris MacIntosh, 650/325-7841, cmaci@attglobal.net

Join us for a carcamp in lovely Tuolumne Meadows!  Saturday will be a long day as we summit Kuna and Koip Peaks with a total round trip of 16 mi. Sunday, maybe Mammoth Peak, depending on hikers' desires. Non-refundable fee of $4 holds your spot in Tuolumne Meadows Campground (Fri&Sat nights). Newcomers and Sierra Club members will be given preference and we're limiting total participants to 10. Contact Debbie Benham for further information.

Kings-Kern Divide Peaks

Peaks:          North Guard (13,327 - cl 3+), Mt. Ericsson (13,608 cl 3),
                      Mt. Stanford (13,963 cl 3), & Junction Peak (13,888 - cl. 3)

Dates:          Tues. July 23 thru Sun. July 28, 2002
Leader:        Charles Schafer, 408-354-1545, c_g_schafer@yahoo.com
Contact:       Bob Evans, 408-998-2857, robtwevans@email.msn.com

Tuesday we hike over Kearsarge Pass to East Lake.  Wednesday we will shoot for North Guard, and perhaps move our camp.  Thursday, Friday and Saturday we  will  go after Ericsson, Stanford, and Junction, moving our camps as need be.  Sunday we ll hike out and drive home.

This is a very scenic area.  All four peaks are  very special climbs.  Trip limited to experienced people. Ice axes, and crampons needed . Rope for North Guard

Mt. Langley

Peak:            Mt. Langley (14,026 feet)   Class 2
Dates:          July 12-14, 2002
Map:              USGS Mt. Langley topo, 7.5'
Leader:        John Wilkinson  jfwilkinson@sbcglobal.net  (408) 947-0858

A leisurely trip to climb California's southernmost fourteener.  We'll drive down on Friday and do a short backpack in, camping probably at or near one of the Cottonwood Lakes.  Saturday we'll dayhike the peak via Old Army Pass, and hike out and drive home on Sunday.  This is suitable as a beginner's trip.  Most of the route is on trail or use trail.

Limited to 10 people.  There is a $5 charge for the permit, payable at or before the trailhead.  Contact John to sign up or for more information.


Peak(s):       Tuolumne Peak, 10,845', Class 2
                      (optional) Ragged Peak  10,912', Class 2/3
Dates:          July 27-28 (Sat-Sun)
Maps:           Tuolumne Meadows
Leader(s):   Debbie Benham, 650/964-0558, deborah4@pacbell.net
                      Jim Ramaker, 408/463-4873, ramaker@vnet.ibm.com

Another beautiful weekend up at Tuolumne!  Saturday, we'll climb Tuolumne Peak. Then, on Sunday, an optional climb of Ragged Peak (class 3 summit knob!) for those so inclined. Non-refundable fee of $4 required to hold your spot in Tuolumne Meadows Campground (Fri&Sat nights).

Limit 10 hikers and newcomers/Sierra Club members given preference. Contact leaders for more information.


Peaks:          Minarets Mountaineering Classic, Ansel Adams Wilderness, California Trip #: 02154A
Dates:          July 26-August 4, 2002
Price:            $675; Dep: $100
Leaders:      Margi Waller & Anne Muzzini
Leaders:      Doug Mantle and Tina Bowman

SUMMARY: Experienced mountaineers will retrace the routes of the firstexplorers of the Minarets. On layover days we'll have opportunities to enjoy either technical (limit of six participants) or non-technical peak climbs. (Prior rock climbing experience is required for technical ascents.) A packer assist will lighten our loads and allow us to combine strenuous days with great food and a few creature comforts at night.


Gnarly Adventuring

Trip:              Gnarly Adventuring Above Yosemite Valley California Trip #: 02170A
Dates:          August 18-25, 2002
Price:            $615; Dep: $100
Leaders:      Bill Oliver & Will McWhinney

SUMMARY: John Muir came to Yosemite in 1868. He marveled at this wondrous place, exploring its canyons and climbing its peaks. We, too, will marvel, explore, and climb. First we spend four days among the pinnacles and domes of Tuolumne Meadows.  Then we backpack from the Valley to Little Yosemite Valley for a three-day finale. Ascents will include Cathedral Peak, Eichorn Pinnacle, Mt. Starr King, and Half Dome (cables). Rock climbing experience required only for optional summit blocks.  Non-climbers welcome for non-technical segments.


Mt Tom & Basin Mtn

May 12-13, 2002

Mount Tom is just like Cathedral Peak.  Both mountains stand out in front of their range, enormously visible from the highway, beckoning.  Both mountains reward the climber by showing themselves easily and often, giving a lifetime of reminders of a happy moment on the summit. 

There are other, more subtle differences.  Cathedral Peak is a stiletto of stone aimed at the heart of heaven.  Mount Tom is massive and round. 

We set out to climb Mount Tom and its neighbor, Basin Mountain, on the weekend of May 12 and 13, 2002.  Bob Suzuki was our leader.  Jim Ramaker, Alex Sapozhnikov and I completed the team. 

Bob accomplished the drive from Bishop to the trailhead in his 4WD Nissan Pathfinder, as Jim read directions from RJ Secor’s guidebook. I might attempt this drive in an ordinary passenger vehicle, for all but the last mile of the worsening dirt road.  The return drive turned out to be tricky, as side roads that looked insignificant from the east appeared more pronounced from the west.  Future drivers should snap waypoints at the junctions.

The driveable part of the road ends at a locked gate  (8300 ft), but the old mining road continues for many miles and thousands of vertical feet.  It may be a crummy road, but it is excessive as a hiking trail.   If we had chosen, we could have hiked four abreast up to our campsite at lower Horton Lake (10200 ft). 

We equipped ourselves for a day hike across mixed snow and rock, then headed south and upslope from Horton Lake, toward Basin Mountain.  We crossed a steep region that Bob and Alex climbed on slabs, and that Jim and I climbed in a snow chute.  We consumed a lot of time and energy surmounting this wall.   We stashed gear on top and continued over lower angle scree.  We could have made life easier for ourselves by staying on scree to the right of a rib, but instead we stayed near the rib, on its left, and worked harder scrambling up blocks.   By the time we reached the skyline, it was already 6:00 p.m.  Alex and I were pooped, and we were past our turn-around time.  We had ascended a false summit.  The true summit was another 200 yards, down to a notch and up a summit pyramid.  Jim and Bob completed the climb by themselves.  We all retreated to Horton Lake together, arriving at around 10:00.  Some of my trip-mates were too spent to eat, which is an unhealthy way to finish a day.  

Sunday we walked up the switchbacks of a branch road to another mine on the slopes of Mount Tom.  We stashed our ice axes when we reached the plateau, a choice we would later regret.  We clambered over talus that continually increased in size, until near the summit area, the scrambling became quite interesting and enjoyable.  At 12:30, we were all on the summit of Mount Tom. 

We could see an alternate route down to the plateau, one which would have featured a thousand foot glissade down a snow chute.  Unfortunately, our ice axes were down at the plateau, so we couldn’t take the elevator down.  Instead, we picked our way down a sandy slope.   Alex found the footing unsteady.  I was grateful to have taken a waypoint where we left our gear.  We were one quarter turn around the mountain, and features looked different. 

When we recovered our gear, we were near a second long snow chute that ran 1500 feet all the way down to the trail.  After some excellent instruction from Bob, Alex made the first big glissade of his mountaineering career.  From the bottom of the chute, we hopped back up the trail a short distance to our camp, arriving at 5:00 p.m.  We reassembled our packs and hiked back down the trail, returning to Bob’s car just before 8:00. 

We were so late that we debated driving part way and finding a motel room, but we didn’t want to face Monday morning rush hour traffic all the way from the San  Joaquin Valley to the Silicon Valley.  Bob did a heroic night drive, and we arrived at the Fremont Park n Ride at 3:00 a.m.

• Aaron Schuman

Temple Crag

Contact Crack Route

May 25/26/27, 2002

The plans were for Mount Baker in Washington and Mount Shasta as a back up.  As the week went along the weather for both Mount Baker and Mount Shasta looked unpredictable and unsettled.  We decided to change direction and head over to the Eastern Sierra.  On Friday evening Arun Mahajan, Dee, and I headed out of the Bay Area for an ascent of Temple Crag.

We avoided the bulk of the Memorial Day traffic by starting late and we ended up camping at the campgrounds on the Tioga Road on the south side just outside of Lee Vining.  Saturday morning we headed into Bishop for breakfast and a permit.  We landed smack in the middle of Bishop's annual Memorial Day "Mule Days Rodeo" where once a year fishermen, rock climbers, mountaineers, boulderers, and other lower life forms take a back seat to an invasion of broad brimmed hat wearin', pointy toed cowboy boot wearin', gigantic belt buckle wearin' guys and gals, cowboys and cowgirls, mule skinners, posers, and goat ropers.  The place was packed.  While waiting for the White Mountain Ranger Station to open we scored the mandatory waffle breakfast at Jacks and then picked up our permit.  Supposedly there was lots of room on the quota for the North Fork of Big Pine Creek Trailhead.

With a little difficulty navigating the back streets of Bishop we escaped from Bishop and headed toward Big Pine.  The Big Pine Creek trailhead was packed and about eight cars ended up being sandwiched into various overflow spaces.  This was as crowded as I have ever seen this lot.  I am not sure how all this translates into an excess of openings in the quota system.  We expected a lot of snow but the area around the trailhead looked quite dry.  The North Fork of Big Pine Creek was as well behaved as it usually is in early July.  Strange.  We decided to forget the snowshoes and headed up the trail for Second Lake.  After two and half hours we arrived at Second Lake and crossed the outlet for the south side.  Still very little snow.  We found two flat spots in the sand and scree and set up our tents.  The best spots were a little further around on Second Lake but these were filled by a tent city, or at least a village, inhabited by what appeared to be a species of Memorial Day Weekend Butt Sitters and a rather large dog.  Dee and Arun amused themselves for the rest of the afternoon by hiking up the side of Mount Alice and poking ice axe holes in the icy snowfields.  Secor refers to Mount Alice as "the biggest pile of rubble in the Sierra".  It was bad enough to be camped at the base of Alice and there was no way I was going to tromp around on this thing.  Besides, I was tired.

Sunday morning arrived bright and clear and by 6:20 AM we were moving.  Just above Second Lake was a fairly decent snowfield, which we climbed up in crampons.  This ended in a sandy area, which connected us to another snowfield that essentially went all the way to the top of Contact Pass.  When this is dry this area appears to be a big scree pile.  I was glad the snow had remained as long as it had, however, I expected much more.  At the top of Contact Pass is the obvious Contact Crack.  Just in case the navigation impaired mountaineer might have trouble locating this crack there is a rappel station with many bright slings located just above the crack about 60 feet off the ground.  We had anticipated that this crack would be fourth class so did not bring any gear other than a 100 foot section of 9 mm rope.  I anticipated "just soloing" the crack.  I attached the rope to my pack and headed up the crack.  After a minute or so I was at the top.  This scared the hell out of me.  I belayed Dee and Arun up to an alcove above the rappel station.  Arun arrived at the belay muttering something that sounded like "what the hell was that?"  A quote in the register at the summit from a soloist indicated he thought "the crack was somewhat harder than fourth class".  Arun swung out of the crack/chimney to the left and stepped over into the thin crack because he was having trouble with his pack in the crack/chimney.  I am not sure that would be a comfortable solo move.  The second edition of Secor's guide indicates it is now rated 5.2.  Whatever it is, it is a pain to solo with a pack on.

Above this is a fun 150 to 200 foot section of third class.  This brought us to the second class section of non stop scree and talus.  The summit is not visible from here but the route goes towards the highest point visible on the ridge to the west.  There was a snowfield that leads down and away from this high point.  We headed towards this snowfield and then exited it on the rocks higher.  There are many ways to go through this section but the goal is to head towards the obvious high point.  At the high point we peered over the edge towards the true summit.  It is about 50 feet away and requires a step over and short hand and foot traverse above an ugly slot to a notch in the ridge.  Exiting this slot requires another traverse with the feet in a solid crack and the hands on pretty good edges.  There is Big Air of about 300 feet to the next bounce just to the right (north).  At any rate we got through this without any trouble.  We arrived at the summit and lollygagged for a half hour or so.  It took us about six hours twenty minutes to achieve the summit.  Mount Sill, Palisade Crest, and the spectacular Firebird Ridge on Mount Clyde are clearly visible to the south.  The register is full of Peter Croft signatures where he has soloed all of the routes on Temple Crag.  This includes a combination of "Dark Star", 5.10b, and "Sun Ribbon Aręte", 5.9, both in the same day!  Amazing.

We headed back to Second Lake.  Reversing the airy moves went smoothly and we headed down the snow towards the second class rubble.  We thought we would try and go back down the third class route which accesses this second class slope.  It was clear where we had come up the third class section and achieved the second class slope.  From our perspective near the summit it appeared there was a big chute just to the right (southwest) of where we had gained access to the slope.  Unfortunately, just to the right of that is another big chute.  We headed towards the point on the slope where the Contact Crack route had come up and we hoped to find an obvious indicator as to which of these chutes was correct.  Near the entrance to the chute closest to our ascent route was a climbers trail which headed towards the Contact Crack Route.  There was no indication that the chute next to it was a viable route.  Arun brought a route description that indicated the potential for a horror show if we chose the wrong chute.  In spite of the fact we had no gear other than the 100 foot 9 mm rope we decided to get down the crack we had climbed up.  We headed down the third class section to the top of the crack.  There is a big duck to mark the top of the third class section.  At the rappel anchor I tied into the anchor.  Dee tied in with a "bowline on a coil" and I belayed her as she down climbed the crack.  We then lowered down all three packs.  I then belayed Arun down with the same system and Arun belayed me down on top belay from Contact Pass.  It turned out to be an interesting and satisfying exercise in making do with what we had to work with.  To quote Dee, "It was easier to climb down without a pack than it was to climb up with a pack".  We motored on down towards Second Lake and arrived about 5:20 PM.  My cranky right knee was aching so we opted to stay in camp and hike out the next day which is what we did.

This is a fun route on a fun mountain.  It involves about 2300 feet of elevation to be gained to get to Second Lake and another 3000 feet of elevation to be gained from Second Lake to the summit.  It is likely this route can be done in a day by an energetic sort.  See "The High Sierra: Peaks, Passes, and Trails", Second Edition, R.J Secor, the Mountaineers, 1999, ISBN 0-89886-625-1, for a route description.  The indomitable Norman Clyde first climbed this crack in 1926, no doubt without a rope and no doubt without fear.

• Rick and Dee Booth

Mount Lyell

May 24-26, 2002

A relatively light snow year gave me confidence that Tioga Road would be open in time for a private Memorial Day Weekend trip departing from Tuolomne Meadows.  Then a snowstorm hit just a few days before the weekend.

Tioga Road had in fact been opened earlier, but was then closed due to the snow dumped by the storm, and was scheduled to reopen as of noon on Friday, about two hours after this trip had originally been scheduled to start.  After some harried e-mail exchanges late in the week, we determined to continue but with a slightly later planned start and corresponding itinerary changes.

Thursday night Wolfgang Schweigkofler and I drove up and verified that the road was closed just beyond Crane Flat, so Friday morning we first went into Yosemite Valley to pick up our permit, then quickly drove back up to "get on line" at the gate.  We were quite surprised to find no line and no gate - it was about 8.30am and Tioga Road was already open.  So we happily sped on through a park largely devoid of traffic and park staff, arriving at the Tuolomne Meadow hiker's parking lot, which was completely empty.  As the morning progressed, the rest of the trip participants arrived, first Scott Sullivan and Elena Sherman, then Mark Eliot and Rhonda Neal.  After diligently overloading our packs, we set off on the JMT by 1pm, planning to walk as far as possible up Lyell Canyon.  It was a beautiful warm, calm day, there was very little snow anywhere, and we made good time. The afternoon zipped by and eventually we passed a roaring Kuna Creek, left the valley floor, and ascended through woods to reach an open bowl-like area west of Lyell Fork at about the 9100' level, with a steep forested snow-covered rise ahead.  A bit of scouting showed that the west side of this bowl had enough flat, dry spots above the trail to accommodate our group in separate areas so we settled down for the evening.

On the trail about 7.45am Saturday morning, right away we reached firm snow and put on crampons, climbing cross-country upwards and to the left towards Lyell Fork then, after several hundred feet of gain, parallel to the stream for awhile before reaching the bridge.

The trail was immediately lost again under snow, and we continued cross country on the east side of stream, climbing to approximately the 10,200' level, about where the map shows the trail to cross the Lyell Fork at the outlet of a small lake, by 10am.  Despite continuous snow cover a dry bare spot large enough for the entire group was found, so we set up camp and ate lunch.

At noon we set out for an afternoon hike, heading cross-country up the divide to our east.  After gaining approximately 1000' across steep but easy class 2 rock and snow we reached the top of the Tuolomne-San Joaquin divide which forms the southern boundary to Yosemite National Park.  Donohue Peak was a few yards to the east and Donohue Pass about < mile west.  In the warm, bright afternoon sun, the view of Ritter and Banner and far south into the heart of the snowclad Sierra was sublime.  We took the opportunity to eye the next day's route up Lyell.  Most of the group then sped up 12,123' Donohue Peak.  A couple of us savored the sunshine and relaxed.  It took less than an hour to reach the peak and less than that coming down and then around 4 pm the entire group retraced its steps back to camp.

With crampons and ice axes, we set out shortly after 5.30am on Sunday morning, intent on having the best possible chance of summitting 13,114' Mount Lyell.  We progressing steadily up the generally firm snow-covered drainage.  There was little wind, making the cool temp relatively easy to bear.  By the time the sun hit us, we had gained about 1000'.  With few breaks we soon reached the 12,000' level and the start of the glacier.

At this elevation, the new snow had not fully consolidated rather was crusty with powder underneath and each step sunk in about six inches.  From here we took turns breaking trail.  As we progressed higher, the new snow depth progressively increased and each person's turn at lead was shorter.

Lyell was almost entirely snow-covered, except for some snowy rocks on the ridge running up/down from Lyell-Maclure Col. We decided to climb the face of the summit area essentially head-on through snow, due to the soft snow conditions and the fact that the run-out was better and less steep than if we came from the Col.

The face at its most difficult became rather steep  clearly exceeding 50 degrees - for about 100 feet but the new snow was a good two feet deep and very soft.

Diligently applying ice axes in the stake position the group successfully reached the flatter summit area shortly after 9.30am and took a short break.  Then we proceeded the last few hundred feet to the summit, with the last fifty feet over modest class 3 rock.  An intense search and snow dig ensued, with several participants intent on finding the register, to no avail.  There was also some question about which of the two horns was the true summit, but the USGS marks on the eastern horn corresponded with the map and seemed higher anyway.  We appeared to have been the first party to summit this year.  All told we spent over an hour in the summit area, having lunch and taking pictures, before heading down around 11.15am.

For the downclimb, we left the crampons off given the soft snow.  Wolfgang, a native of the Italian Tyrol recently moved to Berkeley, walked down the steep slope face-out.  The rest of us carefully worked our way down face-in, ice axes again in stake position.  Before long we had all regrouped at the bottom of the face, pleased to have safely completed a somewhat exciting ascent and descent.  The pleasant jaunt back to camp was uneventful and we arrived at 1pm.  The group decided to stick to its original plan of hiking out on Sunday, so we spent the next 90 minutes eating lunch and resting while slowly packing up.  The confluence of soft afternoon snow and heavy packs finally gave us an opportunity to use the snowshoes we had been carrying all weekend.  As we headed out, we noticed the first footprints of the trip - one or two dayhikers had come up Saturday or Sunday.

After reaching and crossing the bridge back over to the west side of the Lyell Fork, by which time we had removed the snowshoes, I decided to follow the footprints as an expeditious method to negotiate the jumbled and steep terrain we were approaching.  This seemed to work fine for awhile, especially since I could see in a few bare spots that the footprints generally coincided with the trail.  We reached the top of the bowl-like area where we had slept Friday night, and then continued downhill over rock and snow several hundred feet.  Then - oops - the footprints disappear and a 10-foot drop in the rock creates an uncomfortable impasse.  We might have dropped the packs down and with a few class-3 moves downclimbed this obstacle but instead we opted more safely to retrace our steps, regaining a couple of hundred feet then working our way down through steeps of snow and trees closer to the Lyell Fork.  The snow soft and heavy packs meant frequent surprise postholes, but the steep angle and frequent downed trees made snowshoes not useful.  We slowly worked our way down the slope, the across the bowl, which turned out to be an avalanche debris field with quite of, well, debris.  Eventually reaching the far side of the bowl, the trail was quickly found, a few hundred feet south of where it rises from the valley floor.

The rest of the walk out was a long grind that everyone completed quite well.  The evening was pleasant, with a fine sunset.  The main obstacles were created by the immense amount of water on the trail.  Apart from the several significant stream crossings (in each case a low-risk crossing was found), there were literally dozens and dozens of places were a small streamlet swamped the trail, necessitating a 50- or 100- foot detour.  Finally at 11pm, the group reached the hiker's parking lot.  Quickly packing up, we sped away.  Four of us reached Lee Vining just before midnight and were able to purchase a passable dinner at the Chevron minutes before it closed.

While Sunday was a very long day, overall this weekend was one of those great snow climbs, with warm sunny weather and lots of snow, that make the Sierra a special place in the Spring.  Thanks go to co-leader Scott and to the rest of this strong group, all of whom contributed to a successful outing.

• Mike McDermitt

Yosemite Rock Trip

May 25-26, 2002

Our group size varied between 8 and 15, with people checking in and out to the last minute, but in the end 12 showed up.

Saturday, the 4 of us Anne and David, Arun, and I left camp at 5 AM to arrive at the base of Snake Dike (5.7) at 9:30 behind a huge group.  We got to start the climb 4 hours later, and although we made good time climbing, we got back to camp around 11:30.  Meanwhile, Rick and Jim climbed Chingando (10a) on Reed's Pinnacle and Deja Thorus (10a) in Church Bowl, Alexey and Maxym climbed Church Bowl tree (10b), Pole Position (10a), and finally got their rope stuck for the night (they got it back) on Bishop's Terrace (5.8), all in the Church Bowl area.   Hal and Joan climb Caverns (5.8) and Selaginella (5.8) on the Five Open Books, and Chris and Dot climbed The Grack (5.7) and the first two pitches of the Right Side of Goodrich Pinnacle (5.9) on Glacier Point Apron.

Sunday, Arun and I climbed the first pitch of Commitment (5.8) and decided to call it a day; Rick and Jim climbed Doggie Do (10a) on the Camp 4 wall, Hal and Joan went to climb Braille Book (5.8), Chris and Dot climbed Munginella (5.6), Claude's Delight (5.7) on Swan Slab and Alexey and Maxym climbed Pine Line (5.7).  Anne and David took a stroll around Mirror Lake.


Alexey Zelditch, Arun Mahajan, Anne and David Canright, Christine Kerr, Dot Reilly, Hal Tompkins, Jim Curl, Joan Marshall, Maxym Rybovalov, RickBooth, and scribe Ron Karpel

• Ron Karpel

Joan Marshall Adds:

Saturday: The Caverns and Saligenella (spelling?). Had both routes completely to ourselves. Took the Yosemite Falls Trail walkoff.

Sunday: Approach to Braille Book took 1 hour and ten minutes. No waiting in line!  Four hours to complete the climb,  20- 30 minute descent to the packs.  This is a starred route, with several stretches of chimney moves.  A 5.8 crux move, coming off a chimney move to a stemming move, and around a roof.  But, well protected. Has an airy down and to the right, exposed short traverse, and up an angled crack. Unprotected.

Joan took a 15 ft. fall, at the start of the second pitch, sore butt, but otherwise, no broken bones. Lots of rope stretch. Cold and windy at the top, but no rain.

We had a great time, and I thought it was a milestone to have Sierra Club sign off and approval for a rock climbing trip. Hope we can do it again.

Boundary and Montgomery

Boundary Peak (13143 ft, Nevada) and Montgomery Peak (13441 ft, California).

June 2, 2002.

Ten of us made our way into the desert taking Highway 120 from 395 to the quaint town of Benton.   Going North on Highway 6 into Nevada one comes to Janie's Ranch on the left. An unmarked dirt road off the right is Queen's Canyon Road.  The road was unobstructed by snow or anything else and we followed it until we saw Arun's Subaru with a makeshift sign marking this area as the PCS campsite.  By 7:30 PM the last of the group had arrived.

The area consists of three abandoned structures in various stages of disrepair.  Since it was raining a bit on and off, those of us with bivy bags used these as shelters for the night.

At 4:00 AM the camp was stirring and by 5:45 AM we had shuttled everyone up to the start of the climb.  We would have camped there but the turnout had been claimed by other campers. From this point the road continues up but is rugged in places.  We walked up the road to the Queen's Saddle where we found a use trail that climbs up to a ridge.  The trail is indistinct and we ended ups logging up the hillside.  Once on the ridge the trail reappeared and is quite good to another saddle.  The trail leading up to the next ridge is obvious but also steep and tedious.

We reached the summit of Boundary Peak at 10:20 AM and shortly thereafter the clouds started blowing in obscuring the summit of Montgomery.  We waited a while to see if they would blow away or turn into a rain shower.

More than half the group decided to turn back at this point.  Arun went with them, having summitted both peaks last summer.  I went on with three others to the summit of Montgomery.

We left the summit of Boundary and made our way along the ridge towards Montgomery.  In my opinion this is the best part of the climb.  The ridge offers some nice third class scrambling.  We skirted the many rock towers along the ridge on either the right or the left depending on which side looked less steep or where the snow patches were we wanted to avoid.  On the way back we found staying close to the top of the ridge, climbing up and down the  rock towers, was the better way to go.  In one hour and 15 minutes we had all reached the summit of Montgomery.

After perusing the military register and signing in the register for the rest of us we started back.  Staying high on the ridge we summitted Boundary again in 50 minutes.  One member of our party decided to skirt the slope lower down and avoid the summit of Boundary.  This was more direct but offered loose, slippery sidehilling.  We followed the same route back stopping once in a while to rest.  We reached the car at 5:05 PM.

I cannot improve on the trip report Arun wrote on August 11, 2001 so I refer you to that report for details on the route.  There was very little snow along the route, just patches here and there which could easily be avoided.  There was no need for an ice axe.

Leaders:  Arun Mahajan, Dee Booth  Participants:  Vince Coito, Tom Driscoll, Nancy Fitzsimmons, Chris and John Kerr, Dot Reilly, Bob Suzuki, John Wilkinson

• Dee Booth

Thor Peak

June 8, 2002

We felt exceedingly Thoracic, so equipped with our precious Whitney Portal permit, we packed up the trail to Outpost Camp, Dave McCracken, Tony Stegman, Rosa Sayed and I.  On the trail we had met PCS members Shree Mazumbar, Noelle O Sullivan, and John Stewart.   The cliffs of Thor Peak glared down at us, but we weren’t cowed.  We calmly lunched and napped beneath those walls, then rose up.  We followed the trail to Mirror Lake and went cross-country to the bottom of a cliff band.  Rosa returned to camp.  We exploited a weakness in the cliffs, and passed over scree, beneath the line of towers, to a gap just west of the peak.  We passed under the south side of the summit area, searching for the class 2 route up the steep blocks.  Tony waited about 300 feet below the summit as Dave and I scrambled up the wall, over to the north side, and up to the top of Thor Peak.   It was now 6:30 p.m., so we hustled down, racing the shadows.  We reached the trail at Mirror Lake around 8:30, just as it was getting dark, and returned to camp by headlamp at 9:00.  As Sunday morning cleared away the stars, we agreed that the complex route finding and the high quality rock made Thor Peak an underrated pleasure, one that we would recommend to others and even repeat another day.

• Aaron Schuman

Split Mountain

June 8-9, 2002

Six of us met 7AM at Fuller Meadow for this was a CMC (Calif.) trip. We had one Jeep (Matt H's) for the rough road; but it fit 6 packs and 2 people. So 4 of us walked the 2+ miles to Red Lake trailhead. It did take a while to find and cross Tinemaha Creek in its narrow channel. About 9AM we started up the trail. UP, UP, UP (4000'+ gain), but we continued past Red Lake to about 10900'. It had gotten REAL windy. We thought it would be more sheltered up there, but we could only crouch down behind the boulders. The gusts would knock you off balance, or cause you to crash while trying to walk the talus. A few of us congregated for a happy hour (minutes) but it was difficult in the biting cold wind. Patty R. and I managed to get up a tent sheltered behind a rock (half collapsed in the morning). Others crashed for the night in their bivvies. The cold wind ripped through most of the night but did abate by the morning. All were OK.

The route we intended, St. Jean Couloir, looked doable -- it had snow almost its entire length. However, I was skeptical since I hadn't been successful on climbing routes on two recent trips (one was CMC Darwin 3 days before), and the route would likely be icy in the cold after the windy front passed. It just wasn't reasonable to expect our group to get up the class 3-5 route and back to the cars before nightfall on Sunday. Two experienced rock climbers of our group, Matt and Sam P, even had their climbing gear set out but changed their mind because of the conditions. It also was hard to get an alpine start after the wind. So we 5 proceeded (Dot R. had had enough and packed out in the AM) toward the normal class 2 route. It was made more interesting by 3 of us using axes up a 1000' high snow slope and gully. Sam even did front pointing on some 50 degree+ snow. On top in 4 hours, the view was quite enjoyable. Interesting watching the dusty (due to the wind) air mass slowly being pushed far south for nice clear skies.

Pretty quick back down to camp, aided by some nice glissading (at lest 1000') on the softened snow. Left about 3PM for another 4500' more downhill, but on the direct and not excessively switchbacked trail. Flowers were in bloom down lower.  Karla W. carried the big rope all the way down. Finally at the bottom, 3 of us and 4 packs fit in the Jeep for the 5 mile ride to the cars. I ran x-c; Sam had started down earlier. We 4 at the cars at 7PM, he hadn't shown up. We drove to look for him, but he had crossed the creek from far down the road (with pack!) for some extra miles and showed up at 8. We were glad we got this 14,000er on what turned out to be a somewhat intense weekend.

• Ron Hudson

A Glass from the Past

Glass Mountain 11,140’

June 14, 2002

Glass Mountain is the perfect peak to climb in the spring. It is about 20 miles east of Mammoth, and the view of the snow-frosted Sierra from its summit is superb. About 760,000 years ago a huge volcano erupted and left one of the largest calderas known. Twenty miles across from east to west and ten miles from north to south, the Long Valley caldera has Mammoth Mountain on its west rim and Glass Mountain on its east rim. The details are noted in Geology Underfoot in Death Valley and Owens Valley by Sharp and Glazner. Richard Stover and I used this book as our guide to a fascinating climb.

We had the Sawmill Meadow "Campground," (9200 feet) all to ourselves. The marshy meadow was adorned with blooming irises, cinquefoil, and shooting stars. The class 1 climb is rated to take 3 hours by the DPS, but I suspect that time is for those who don't pause to examine the obsidian. We spent most of the day. On the summit, we spread out the Inyo National Forest map and spent an hour identifying peaks, checking out the caldera and other volcanic features below.

Naturally, we had to walk to the north summit. And all over the east and south sides of the mountain enjoying the black and brown obsidian and other volcanic rocks. Dang, that stuff is sharp! I cut my finger picking up a piece. Just below the north summit we ate lunch in the pines and watched the vivid pine grosbeaks. The trip was a clear success.

• Debbie Bulger

Seven with One Blow

June 15-16, 2002

When the Sierra Nevada where under construction, they have received a huge order of summits. Since the mountains where those summits were destined have not been completed yet, they have stockpiled the summits in Tuolumne Meadows, and delivered them one by one to their mountains.  Labor disputes have slowed the work, and a world war and a change in attitude brought the construction to a permanent halt. Nine summits remain waiting to be delivered until this very day, and were left standing on the ridge line circling Budd Lake. The mountains, which haven't received their summit names, are known today as 'piles of rubbles'.

Our departure had been delayed by the late arrival of the commuters from the Bay Area, but finally we left the Cathedral Peak Trailhead in Tuolumne Meadow heading along Budd Creek toward our destination. We have lost one participant, and our co-leader. Both have fallen sick just before the trip.

Arriving at the base of Echo Peaks (our destination) we have started to climb them in the order from the higher number to the lower. Along the way we skipped the more technical peaks concentrating on the class-3 peaks which were more suitable to our large group. Having some time left, we set up ropes on #6 and everybody had a chance at the summit.

The Echo Peaks is a collection of 9 beautiful summits, each could have crown any 13'er or 14'er in the Sierra Nevada. Instead they are all concentrated in one small area, only 3 miles from the trailhead. They feature solid rock, beautiful High Sierra scenery, and plenty of climbing at all levels. We got to do 7 of them -- starting with number 8, then 7, 5, 1, 2, 3, and then finally with the more technical #6. We celebrated Nancy's and Maxym's birthday with a bag of cookies on #8 and then again (with another bag) on #5. All in all, we spent 6 hours climbing the summits, taking our time to thoroughly enjoy each summit, never having to descent or regain significant elevation. It was like eating the frosting without the cake 7 times over.

Participants: Arun Mahajan, Chris Kramar, David Altmar, Jim Ramaker, Joan Marshall, Maxym Runov, Nancy Fitzsimmons, Scott Kreider, Tom Driscoll, and scribe Ron Karpel.

Special thanks to Jim Curl who was instrumental in helping with the organization, but unfortunately had to bail out at the trailhead, because of the bug.

• Ron Karpel

Gear Review: Petzl Tikka Headlamp

Every so once in a while a new technology appears that can be applied to old problems.  A new technology that has made it to the commercial sector is the LED or light emitting diode.  Engineers have figured out how to make a white LED and these have found their way into flashlights and now headlamps.   Petzl makes at least two of these LED based headlamps. These two are essentially the same, the Tikka and the Zipka.  The difference is in the strap.  The Tikka has the standard elastisized strap and the Zipka has a thin strap that winds into the headlamp for storage.

The light output of these headlamps is different from a standard bulb headlamp.  The light is sort of a wide or diffuse beam.  This is very useful in camp when cooking or puttering around and makes a good reading light.  This type of beam is adequate for trail hiking and walking but is not as good as a focused beam.  This is probably because these LED lamps are not quite bright enough.  This headlamp does solve the problem of whether or not to choose to bring a headlamp.  At 70 grams, or little over two ounces, there is no reason to leave a headlamp behind.  Just don’t expect the path to be as well lit as the higher powered headlamps.  I now carry mine on all long rock climbs for the usual “unanticipated” thrash down in the dark.  The Tikka uses three AAA batteries.  The only negative properties of this headlamp are the lens which has no protective rim and is therefore more susceptible to being scratched, and the on-off switch which is frankly a piece of junk.  These headlamps are available about everywhere at $35 but they seem to go on sale for about $28.

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. 

Matterhorn and Whorl

Peaks:          Matterhorn, Whorl, Class 3-4
Dates:          July 4-7
Leader:        Chris Kramar, ckramar@urgrad.rochester.edu 510-796-6651

Join us for a climb up to the Materhorn Peak and Whorl Mountain area just north of Yosemite NP. We will drive up Wednesday night and make the hike in on Thursday. From there, we will attempt Matterhorn and Whorl over the next few days. There still could be a lot of snow and ice at Whorl this time of year, so it might require use of ice axe, crampons, harness and ropes. You must have prior experience in the proper use of any equipment you wish to use. I have an 8-person permit. To sign up, send name, address, contact info including email, and check for $3 (for permit fee) to:

    Chris Kramar
    4302 Ribera St.
    Fremont, CA 94536.
Pioneer Basin Peaks

Peaks:          Mt. Huntington, Mt. Stanford, Mt.Crocker, class 2, class 3
Date:             July 12-14 (Fri-Sun)
Contact:       Vishal J, vishrj@hotmail.com, 530 332 9754

Pioneer basin is one of the most beautiful alpine settings, it will serve as our base for climbing peaks surrounding it. Trailhead:Start either from hilton lakes or go over Mono pass down to the 4th recess. If possible, the trip can include either/both thursday + monday to give us more time for more peaks!

Red and White

Peak:            Red and White Mountain 12850', class 3
Dates:          July 20/21
Organizer:    Peter Maxwell (408) 737 9770

This peak is notorious for loose rock on many routes, and the best route ithe northeast ridge, which is class 3 from Little McGhee Lake.  We'll hike in from McGhee Ck on Saturday and do the peak on Sunday.  Participants need to be accomplished class 3 climbers. 

Interested participants should send me their climbing resume.

Sierra Mountaineers Challenge 2002

Peaks:          10 Mountaineers Peaks: Whorl, Cathedral, Clyde Minaret, Bear Creek Spire, Thunderbolt, Middle Pal, University, Russell, LeConte, McAdie
Date:             Aug 17-26 (Sat-Mon)
Difficulty:      class 3, class 4, class 5
Location:      eastern Sierra Nevada
Contact:       Bob Burd, snwbord@hotmail.com

10 days of strenuous dayhikes to 10 of the Mountaineers Peaks accessible from the east side. Don't feel like carrying a heavy backpack and spending several days to climb one of these coveted peaks? Perhaps consider going fast and light, and enjoying a hot shower and a burger at Jacks when you're done. Come out for one or all of them, details at:


Mexican Volcanos

Peaks:          Citlaltepetl, (Orizaba, 18,400), Iztaccihuatl (17,340) & 2 more.
Date:             Nov. 22, 02 - Dec. 3, 02 (Fri - Tues, 12 days)
Contact:       Bob Evans, robtwevans@email.msn.com

Elected Officials

     Ron Karpel / ronny@karpel.org
     650-594-0211 home
     903 Avon Street, Belmont, CA 94002

Vice Chair and Trip Scheduler:
     Scott Kreider / pcs-scheduler@climber.org
     408-737-8709 home
     1007 S Wolfe Road #5, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

Treasurer and Membership Roster (address changes):
     Arun Mahajan / pcs-treasurer@climber.org
     650-327-8598 home
     1745 Alma Street, Palo Alto, CA 94301

Publicity Committee Positions

Scree Editor:
     Bob Bynum / pcs-editor@climber.org
     510-659-1413 home

PCS World Wide Web Publisher:
     Jim Curl / pcs_webmaster@pacbell.net
     San Francisco, CA

Publicity Chair:
     Rick Booth / rwbooth@attbi.com
     408-354-7291 home
     237 San Mateo Avenue, Los Gatos, CA 95030

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

Our official website is http://lomaprieta.sierraclub.org/pcs/

Subscriptions and Email List Info

Hard copy subscriptions are $13. Subscription applications and checks payable to “PCS” should be mailed to the Treasurer so they arrive before the last Tuesday of the expiration month. If you are on the official email list (lomap-pcs-announce@lists.sierraclub.org) or one of the email lists the PCS feeds (either the sierra-nevada@climber.org discussion list or the california-news@climber.org read-only list), you have a free EScree subscription. For email list details, send "info lomap-pcs-announce" to "listserv@lists.sierraclub.org", or send anything to "info@climber.org". EScree subscribers should send a subscription form to the Treasurer to become voting PCS members at no charge. The Scree is on the web as both plain text and fully formatted Adobe Acrobat/PDF.

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 7/28/2002  •  Meetings are the 2nd Tuesday of each month.

Peak Climbing Section, 789 Daffodil Way, San Jose CA 95117

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