Home | Scree | Back Issues

 November, 2002     Peak Climbing Section, Loma Prieta Chapter, Sierra Club Vol. 36 No. 11

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

Next General Meeting

Date:               Tuesday, November 12

Time:              7:30 PM

Program::       The 1970 Wug Expedition by Rod McCalley

The 1970 Wug Expedition to the Cordillera Vilcanota of Peru:  2nd & 4th ascents to about 19000' ".  The trip includes interesting scenes around Cusco and Machu Picchu too (you could still camp in the ruins back then!).

Location:        Peninsula Conservation Center
                        3921 East Bayshore Rd
                        Palo Alto, CA

Directions:     Exit at San Antonio Road, Go East to the first traffic light, Turn left and follow Bayshore Rd to the PCC on the corner of Corporation Way. A sign marking the PCC is out front. Park behind.

Deadline for submissions to the next Scree is Sunday 11/24/2002  •  Meetings are the 2nd Tuesday of each month.

Annual Election of PCS Officers

The nominating committee is pleased to announce the following slate of candidates for 2002-2003. Election of PCS officers occurs at the November meeting and nominations will be accepted from the floor at the meeting. Elected officials take office right away.

Chair:                              Stephane Mouradian
Vice chair:                        Andy Macica
Treasurer:                        Tom Driscoll

Rick Booth, Nancy Fitzsimmons and Arun Mahajan, PCS Nominating Committee

Advance Trip List

This is the list of trips planned for Winter and Spring.  Please do not contact the leaders until the trips are announced in the "Scree" or on the broadcast list.

•  Scott Kreider






Sat 7-Sun 8

Lee Vining Ice Climbing

Arun Mahajan, Ron Karpel



Sat 4-Sun 5

Lee Vining Ice Climbing

Arun Mahajan, Ron Karpel

Sun 12

Junipero Serra

Arun Mahajan, Ron Karpel

Sun 19

Mt Diablo

Kelly Maas

Sun 26

Silver Peak

Kelly Maas, Ron Karpel



Tue 4- Mon 10

Ice Climbing: Utah & Ouray, Colorado

Arun Mahajan, Ron Karpel

Sat 15-Mon 17


Kelly Maas

Sat 22-Sun 23


Charles Schafer



Sat 1-Sun 2

Freel Peak

Nancy Fitzsimmons & David Ress

Sat 8-Sun 9

Desolation Peaks

Pat Callery

Sun 23

Round Top

Arun Mahajan



Sat 24-Sun 25

Yosemite Rock Climbing Weekend

Ron Karpel & Rick Booth

First Aid Practice

Date:             Monday, November 18, 7:00-10:00 PM
Time:            7:00-10:00 PM
Location:      UCSF campus, San Francisco
Contact:       Bobbie Foster
                      15135 Lake Lane
                      Nevada City, CA 95959
                      Phone/ FAX 530-265-0997
Cost:             FREE but, sign up by calling 415-476-2078 before Thursday, November 14

Outdoors Unlimited and Bobbie Foster are sponsoring a patient assessment practice session for those of you who have taken a wilderness first aid class.

In your wilderness first aid class you learned the importance of an accurate patient assessment to providing good care. If it has been awhile since you last practiced or used this skill, come join us for an evening of review and skills practice.

Yosemite Climbing History

For the past 12 years, Mike Corbett and I have been accumulating climbing artifacts pertinent to Yosemite's climbing history. We want to form a climbing museum in Yosemite Valley. We ended up with thousands of historically important items such as these.

• A George Anderson bolt from the 1877 route on Starr King

• The notebooks compiled by Richard M. Leonard during the first ascents of Lower and Higher Cathedral Spires in 1934

• John Salathe's climbing gear from the 1940's

• Raffi Bedayn's carabiner collection from the 1930's and 1940's

• Pitons and other gear used on the first ascent of the Nose of El Capitan in 1957 and 1958 including 2 Stoveleg pitons

• Royal Robbins gear including the rurp that he fell onto during the first solo ascent of El Capitan.

• Mark Wellmans jumar from the first paraplegic ascent of El Capitan and Half Dome

   I am starting a non-profit organization called the Yosemite Climbing Association. The primary goals are to expand this collection, to preserve Yosemite's climbing heritage, and to make it available for public viewing. Y.C.A. is headed by Tom Frost, Ted Hansen, and myself, and is supported by Honorary Board Members including Yvon Chouinard, Royal Robbins, Al Steck, Steve Roper, Glen Denny, Jim Bridwell, Ron Kauk, Lynn Hill, Steve Gerberding, and Dean Potter. Other historical items have been pledged once we have a public display area.

  For the last 4 months, Tom Frost and I have been negotiating with the National Park Service asking for space at Yosemite Lodge to put these items on display. We asked a public lounge to be reestablished at the Lodge of similar proportions to the old lounge, which is currently the Mountain Room Bar and the Cliff Room. Our intention is to have a climbing museum around the perimeter of the new lounge with a manned booth offering up to date climbing information and services for climbers and non-climbers alike. N.P.S is in the planning process of the Yosemite Lodge Redevelopment Project as part of the Yosemite Valley Master Plan. Tom and I met with the architects that are working on this project and voiced our intentions. The Park Service is taking and reviewing public comments until mid October and then they will draw up the plans for the new Lodge.

To be included in the Yosemite Lodge Redevelopment Plan, the Park Service needs to hear public comments in support of this project. To help, please write or email your comments to the N.P.S. planners as soon as possible. If you know others that are interested in a climbing museum, please pass this on. We need as much public support as possible. Thank You.

Send comments to:

N.P.S. Planning
P.O. Box 577
Yosemite, California 95389

Or emailed to: Yose_Planning@nps.gov

If you have any questions or suggestions, call me in the evening at: (209) 379-2302 or email at Yager@inreach.com

• Ken Yager

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.

Adams Peak, Mt. Elwell

Peaks:   Adams Peak (8197'), Mt. Elwell (7818')
Date:      Nov 16-17 (Sat-Sun)
Leader:  Mike McDermitt http://www.climber.org/WhosWho/Mike_McDermitt.html
Coleader:  wanted

Our goal is to climb these Class 2 peaks before winter sets in. Adams, located 35 miles north of Lake Tahoe stands relatively high   and offers great views of Shasta, Lassen and others. We will find out about the view from Ewell when we get there. Saturday we will climb Adams (2000' gain, 8 miles roundtrip) then drive to car camp near Elwell. Saturday evening enjoy leisurely dinner (bring an tern). Sunday climb Elwell (+2000', 8 miles r/t).

NOTE: Adams is in an area that gets little snow, but this is not a snowshoe or ski trip and therefore significant snowfall will cancel.

Ice Climbing in Ouray, Colorado

                There you are at the November PCS meeting and the up coming ice climbing season is being discussed.  Suddenly you notice a new member attending the meeting and at first glance it is he/she/it/non-gender specific attractive person/barnyard animal/whatever of your dreams.  You decide to take the opportunity to impress he/she/it/non-gender specific attractive person/barnyard animal/whatever (got to keep this politically correct…) with a discussion of ice climbing and a possible invitation to the first ice trip of the season in December.

                "…so we have to hike up into Lee Vining Canyon in the morning…", you say.

                "Is it cold?", he/she/it/non-gender specific attractive person/barnyard animal/whatever                  interrupts.

                "Um, well, it can be sorta chilly…"

                "Well, can we at least get warm later by going out dancing and partying afterwards?"

                "Um, er, no, it is Lee Vining…"

                "How about a cool place to eat, at least?"

                "Aaaaaaaah, there is Nicely's…."

                "Nicely's….o-mi-gawd….where do you stay at night?"

                "Well, we sometimes camp out in the visitor center parking lot…"

                "AT FORTY BELOW ZERO?"

                "…well, we can end up in the motel…"

                "No way in hell am I spending a night in a motel with you."

                "…and about four other morons, stacks of drying ropes, dripping wet ice gear, smelly clothing.…" and off goes he/she/it/non-gender specific attractive person/barnyard animal/whatever to the snacks table to scoop up some diet water and a stack of diet rice cakes and some diet hummus.  Well, that does it.  And you didn't even get to the best part where you explain that Tami Knight draws ice climbers in her cartoons using barbwire for butt wipe.

                It doesn't have to be this way.  How does a warm motel room within an easy 100 yard walking distance of endless sheets of ice sound?  How about a warm hot tub for the evening?  How about a public hot springs where you can either sit or swim?  How about a couple of reasonably decent restaurants including a happening Mexican place?  How about a local climbing shop right in town?  How about local skiing about 40 miles away if you decide ice isn't for you?  That is all nice but let's get to the point: how about lots of local ice that is easily top roped, can be lead if desired, lots of frozen water falls and all without it being biting cold?  How about the Ice Park and environs in Ouray, Colorado.

                The Ice Park in Ouray, Colorado is probably unique in the United States, if not in the world.  Ouray is a sleepy ex mining town up against the Rockies in western Colorado.  A quick look around town and it is clear there is no skiing here such as may be found in the well-heeled town of Telluride, which is about 40 miles away.  The main business of Ouray is catering to summer hikers, mountain bikers, and four wheelers.  Unique to Ouray, however, is a nice steep sided canyon called the Uncompahgre Gorge running right through town with a creek at the bottom.

                This gorge is the basis for the Ice Park.  Several years ago enterprising locals installed a sprinkler system at the top of this gorge.  The sprinklers are turned on late in the day and after a period of time with the nightly freeze ice forms on the walls of the gorge.  Accessing this gorge is quit easy.  It is within walking distance of downtown Ouray and there is lots of parking near the gorge if you choose to drive.  Heading for the southeast end of the gorge you will eventually get to the end of the ice and be able to hike down to the creek bed area, which should be frozen over.  This is the Schoolroom and has about ten (10) top rope anchors for practicing on the ice there.  The difficulty of the routes in this area ranges from WI (water ice) 2, which is considered easy, to WI 4, which is reasonably hard.  If you can climb 5.9 then WI 4 should be within your range.  Heading downstream towards town the routes get progressively harder, ranging from WI 4 to WI 5+.  This includes several mixed routes.  All the routes in this part of the gorge may be top roped from the walkway on the water pipe at the top of the gorge.

For the routes here a 60 meter rope works for top rope belaying from the creek bed in the Schoolroom.  Further down stream a longer rope will likely be required if you choose to belay from the creek bed.  The usual slings, carabiners, and one or two ice screws will help in making all the top rope anchors solid.  Most of the anchors are bolted but be prepared to tie off trees.  In this area all of the routes are recommended.  In particular, try Rooster’s Roost, Schoolroom Pillar, Verminator, Duncan’s Delight, Pic O’ the Vic, and Tangled Up in Blue.  The routes further downstream are also excellent but somewhat harder.  Be careful of climbing near overhanging icicles when the sun is beating on the top of them.

After getting a little used to climbing on the ice near downtown Ouray then it is interesting to visit the many areas outside of town.  Just outside of town heading to the north (back towards Montrose and Grand Junction) is Dexter Creek Slabs, WI 3, which is a great introduction to back country waterfall climbing.  On the south side of Ouray, also within easy driving distance and hiking distance, is Horsetail Falls, WI 4 to 5.  Further away in the town of Silverton is the excellent Stairway to Heaven, WI 4, which is likely the quintessential alpine ice route at that grade in the area.  Also outside of town within easy driving distance is the Skylight Area.  All of the routes here are one or two pitches.  Finally, for hard dudes and dudettes, is the Ames Ice Hose route near the town of Ames.  It is amazing.  This is a 600 foot tall frozen waterfall and is usually rated solid WI 5 and that is when the first pitch is 100% ice without the “incidental” 5.9 mixed move on rock.   Needless to say, I have not climbed this one. The best time to go to Ouray seems to be during January and February. The ice season here is shorter than one would hope for but it may be climbable in December and March but for the last few years it has been too warm in early March.  The local weather is typical of Colorado, the days are usually quite clear and sunny and the nights quite cold.  Perhaps the daytime sunshine contributes to the short season, however, the area is dry so the chances of bad weather are small but not zero!  Be forewarned that in spite of the clear dry weather it can be very cold.  When Ron Karpel and I headed off to climb Stairway to Heaven this last February it was –17 degrees F.  That is dang cold.

Two major events are held in Ouray during the winter.  The first is the Ouray Ice Festival, which brings all the worlds hot shot ice climbers together to compete.  The second event is far more interesting.  It is the annual “Chicks with Picks” ice climbing seminars.  This is the brainchild of Kim Reynolds, no shrinking violet as an ice climber in her own right, and is a first class seminar intended to interest and train women in the activity of ice climbing.  Kim has arranged for many of the best women ice climbers to help her with these seminars.  The participants are separated into groups of approximately the same level and the intent is to learn ice climbing.  The top level of difficulty involves training in mixed rock and ice and is taught by the very best women ice climbers in North America.  For a woman, I cannot think of a better training ground (or ice).  First, the weather and temperature are far more moderate than the icebox in Lee Vining Canyon.  Second, instruction is from women and all the participants are women.  Third, there is a huge selection of equipment donated by all the top manufacturers available to try.  Finally, there is a chance to meet like-minded ice climbing women.   The opportunity to try out a selection of ice climbing equipment is extremely useful.  Most ice tools behave differently and swinging a selection of ice tools can give a beginner a good choice in ice tools if she decides to participate further.  It turns out the length of the tool and the odd vibrations each tool seems to generate are all different.  A good deal of confidence can be gained by arriving at a comfortable tool.

 It is too bad there is not an equivalent for men, however, I am not sure I want the T shirt with the name of the seminar on it.  Think about it.   At any rate,  “Chicks with Picks” is a winner.  A nice benefit for both men and women is the slide shows that are given.  Three years ago Ron and I saw a great show by Annie Whitehouse and last years show was by Kim Czismazia, who is arguably North America’s best female ice climber.   Other slide shows have been given by Kitty Calhoun, a world-class alpine climber and this years slide show was given by Catherine Destiville.  For more information go to www.chickswithpicks.net.  Kim Reynolds can be reached at kim@chickswithpicks.net or at (970) 626-4424.

Ouray, Colorado is located in western Colorado on state route 550 and is about 40 miles from Telluride.  The closest airport is in Montrose, Colorado, however, the air flight selection and prices should be better flying in to Grand Junction.  It is approximately two and one half hours drive to Ouray from Grand Junction.  There are many motels in Ouray but most of them seem to be closed for the winter.  The popular motels for ice climbers are the Ouray Victorian Inn, 50 Third Avenue, (970) 325-7222 and the Box Canyon Lodge and Hot Springs, 45 3rd Ave, (970) 325-4981.  The owners of the Victorian Inn are ice climbers and are part of the driving force behind the Ice Park.  The “Chicks with Picks” group also operates from the Victorian Inn.  As a consequence the Vic may be booked.  These two motels are the closest to the ice park.  About a block away is the very nice Circle M, 120 6th Ave, (970) 325-4394, which is a good deal quieter since it is off the beaten path.

Eating in Ouray can be problematic.  While there are several good choices for dinners, the options for breakfast are somewhat bleak.  The Vic supplies a continental breakfast, which consists of cold cereal, marginal coffee and orange juice and the worlds slowest egg cookers for hard boiled eggs only.  I am not sure what the Box Springs Lodge offers.  There used to be an excellent breakfast spot in town but the woman running it has decided to sell fudge instead.  Fudge.  There may be other options but as of this time I am not aware of them.  For lunches you are pretty much on your own.  There is a modest but adequately supplied market in town but it closes early so if you absolutely must buy food in Ouray be sure to check the closing time.  The best place for purchasing food supplies is back in Montrose or Grand Junction.  For dinner the most popular restaurant seems to be the Mexican Buen Tiempo.  Others include The Outlaw, a place for steaks, burgers, beers, and surly waitresses, and the Italian restaurant Bon Ton, which is located in the St. Elmo hotel.

The local climbing and outdoors sports store is the Ouray Mountain Sports, 722 Main Street, (970) 325-4284.  The proprietor is Bill Leo, another Ice Park supporter, and he can be reached at mtnleo@rmi.net. The staff at Ouray Mountain Sports all seem to be reasonably knowledgeable about conditions in the area so this is a good source of information for the local conditions.  In the event that you might be interested in using a local guide service to try something harder than your abilities or happen to be solo in the area, try San Juan Mountain Guides, LLC P.O. Box 895, Ouray, CO 81427, or by phone at (970)-325-4925.  San Juan Mountain Guides has a website with more information at www.ourayclimbing.com.  Have fun!

Guide Books: Colorado Ice Climber’s Guide, Cameron M. Burns, Chockstone Press, 1997, ISBN: 1-57540-086-3 and Colorado Ice, Jack Roberts, Polar Star Communications, 1998, ISBN: 0-9656109-0-X.  Ouray seems to be getting some press in the climbing magazines so there may be more information there.

• Rick Booth

Battery Testing

Paul Wilson and Steve Eckert have published data on Paul’s battery testing. This is located at the following url and summarized below.

http://www.climber.org/gear/batteries.html - wilson

Duracell Ultra is slightly better than the regular Duracell and has a little less energy than the Photo-Lithium at normal temperatures.

At –20C, Photo-Lithium excels. There is data on many alkaline batteries and there is not much new.

Discount store batteries are a very good value and perform better than the various alkaline Eveready batteries. So like many have observed just put new discount store batteries in your gadget each time you head for the mountains. They work great value for those 1-3 day summer trips.

Caution about the Photo-Lithium - The initial voltage is on the high side so one should verify that the 1.775v is not to high for your gadget. The Duracell Ultra initial voltage is always 1.61v by comparison.


Machame Route

January 2002

Here I am, at my laptop, listening to my favorite African Music on a warm July day, six months after the climb thinking of  the many memories I have of climbing this beautiful mountain.  Climbing any mountain is an act of discovery, magic and wonder.  I am writing before I forget the details.

Little did I know that I would feel such a passion for the mountain, the landscape, the people, and a glimpse of “the old Africa”. Each day the allure of Africa grew and has left it’s stamp upon me forever.

Perhaps I should start at the beginning.  The excitement began in the planning stage. Kilimanjaro represents a unique gear challenge since one treks through several climatic belts ranging from sub-tropical to subartic in just six days.  The “gear gathering” and trips to REI was all part of the fun !

Finally on January 8, 2002 I settled down on a long flight to Amsterdam and began reading “The Shadow of Kilimanjaro” by Rick Ridgeway.  As I began the book so did my love affair with Africa.  I learned about the birds who as a couple sing a beautiful duet-the male sings the first notes and the female the second.  Also fascinating was that elephants mourn for a period after the death of their family members.  The characters were equally exciting and I began to wish that I had gone long before this, my first trip.

After a nap, Yehuda, (one of the other climbers) and I made our way into town arriving at the beautiful train station.  A quick search for food brought us to a quaint little restaurant where the waitress was charming and spoke perfect English.  Her parting words of advice were “never trust anyone in Amsterdam, even a little old Chinese Man”.  The lighting at dusk over the canals and bordering streetlights was intoxicating. Another way to get intoxicated would have been to take part in the legal smoking that was offered in the Amsterdam Cafés which along with the Red Light District is one of this cities unique features.

The next morning after a wonderful Dutch breakfast (which included baked beans) we headed back to the airport for the 9-hour flight to Kilimanjaro.  There my friends Stan and Sarita were waiting for me-as well as our capable leader Warren Storkman, his wife Dixie and the other climbers.  15 climbers in all-12 men and 3 women.  A compatible, strong, fun-loving group that covered a wide age span from 20’s to early 70’s.  Their generous spirits were present not only on the trip but extended well after our return to California.  I remember Danny on summit night giving me an anti-fog solution for my glasses.  Bob was always willing to split a beer (my limit being a half) on the safari.  John and Leif seemed to be grinning at all times and ready to share their Pepto-Bismol tablets.  Stan kept the dinner conversation lively with his quick wit and many “Bezerkeley Stories.”  Raoul, upon our return, put together both a wonderful Photo CD and one with African Music that I love playing.  Fred’s video of both the climb and the safari are of documentary quality.  Jeff Fisher spent much time coordinating our reunion party and gifts for Warren and Dixie.  For this event John Wang arranged for a party room at his condo.  John by the way stayed to climb Mt Meru after we left for safari.  This is the second tallest mountain in Tanzania.

We finally arrived in Africa late at night at Kilimanjaro International Airport-then a several hour bumpy bus ride took us to the Hotel Maranyu, our “base camp’ for the next two days.  The first day was spent decompressing, walking to the nearby villages and eating really fresh sweet little bananas.  ‘Jambo”was the greeting given to us by the natives, which was easy to return.   As always, near the equator, twilight is short and darkness comes quickly. That evening my tent-mate Sarita and I tried to count sheep most of the night. We were not very successful sleeping after crossing 10 time zones.

Kilimanjaro consists of a number of unique eco-systems, which would change as we gained altitude. The climb began in the rain forest with a “monkey sighting” overhead in the trees.  Not long after we started it began to rain and soon a cloudburst was upon us. The Spanish moss on the giant tree branches gave the forest a kind of fairy-book enchantment.  The undergrowth was thick with tree ferns that overhung the trail and water dripped off the ends of their feathered fronds.  Simply beautiful, I loved the mountain immediately and this foreplay to the summit. Warren passed by, casually carrying an umbrella and wearing his “Nepal cotton.”  Despite his lack of Gore-Tex, he seemed very much at home and fit right into the scene.   It was here after a few miles that Sarita noticed a hot spot in her boots, the prelude to her blister epic.

We left the rain forest that afternoon to move into the open moorland with tussocks of grass and alpine type vegetation for our first camp at 9800 feet.  After finding our tents the porters had arranged we were guided by the sound of the dinner bell (i.e. wood spoon on pan) to the “chow tent”. At both breakfast and dinner we found lively conversation, unexpected fresh food, great soups, complete with tablecloth, cloth napkins, and chairs-one tent for the “meat eaters” and one for (as Warren called them) “the grass eaters” i.e. vegetarians.  Four more camps and four Eco-systems to go before the alpine-like ascent to the summit.  After six months many impressions of those days are still with me.

One memory that comes to mind is the graciousness of the head cook, Hubert.  His face appeared early each morning, often in the rain, at the door of our tent with a tray of cups and asking if we wanted sugar in our tea.  John, my porter, carrying the weight of my gear on his head-always smiling.  I am used to carrying my own backpack in the Sierra, but here with this system, only a daypack.  Their language (Swahili) was lovely and one of my favorite memories is the day I hiked with John and several other porters while they would chat non-stop in their musical tones.  He explained to me in his limited English that it helps them to “make noise” as they climb the mountain with their heavy loads. 

Through most of our ascent the mountain kept itself hidden in a mysterious cloak of clouds, sleet, light snow, and always more rain.  We climbed to the summit on what the natives call the “Whiskey Route”-Machame, said to be more difficult than the more traditional “Coca-Cola” Route.  It rained everyday and the porters served us hot tea at lunch which warmed the dampness in our bones.  One evening I was at a loss how to dry my rain-soaked boots and suddenly remembered a very wet bike tour in Colorado. There we stuffed our bike shoes with newspaper everynight to dry them for the next day. With this sudden thought (and much to Saritas dismay) I began to tear out the early chapters of “The Shadow of Kilimanjaro” to crush into my boots.  This didn’t really work and I regretted such an impulsive act the next morning.  After transversing the rainforest and moorland, we moved upward through, alpine desert, rocks, and snowfields.  Amazing, all on the equator.

Sarita had severe blisters that required her to push on through pain instead of pleasure.  But she did, and never once entertained the idea of turning back as each evening and morning she dressed her heels in liquid skin topped with a ‘ducktape jacket.”   I tried to help and upon arriving at our tent I would gather rocks and build a “stone patio” in front of the door in an attempt to help keep out some of the the mud for this procedure.

The 1000-ft. Baranco wall was fun, steep in places, to high camp at 16,000 ft.  Each night I found it was easy to sleep despite the altitude.  This could have been because of Diamox the high altitude drug.  I opted for the time-released version, taking just one every morning and had no side effects.

When we arrived on the 5th day at high camp (16,000 ft) in a sleet storm our tents were scattered about on a fairly steep incline.  I thought we looked like Sierra Marmots dotted among the rocks.  Charles, the head guide, decided we would move higher the next day to a better campsite.  We did so in a wet snowstorm.

 After the last high camp we woke at midnight to begin our ascent to the summit.  Little was said as we put on our layers of clothing, checked headlamps, and put socks on our cameras to keep them from freezing.  After tea and biscuits in the chow tent, ready or not it was time to go!  Our world was then reduced to cones of light from our headlamps showing the way.  The sound of breathing and boots crunching on the snow was all that was audible.  During the pageantry of our funeral-like procession I remember staring at the snow crystals on John’s pack in front of me and thinking how beautiful each one appeared.  Far, far below us the lights from the city of Moshi twinkled in the night and above us the stars shone brightly.  I felt not only a bombardment to the senses but the emotions as well. 

Charles set a somewhat slower pace than expected, but one that let us enter the high altitude without any problems.  Either the time flew by quickly or we were in another zone, for it seemed very soon we were at Stella Point-last pause before the summit.  The climb took nearly 6 hours but it seemed as if only an hour had passed.  Breathing was quick and short as we kept going for the top at almost 20,000 feet.  Knowing it was close I felt elated and the mountain-scape appeared as if I were walking on the moon.  I tried to surpress a laugh as I performed robot like movements with my hiking poles just for the fun of it!  As we approached the summit the hint of a sunrise could be felt more than seen.  Then in the dim light we saw the summit sign “You are now at UHURU Peak, the highest point in Africa”.  As the sun grew higher and we stood on The Roof of Africa on January 17, 2002 we hugged, took photos and admired the magnificent all-encompassing view.  Then the descent to high camp and thousands of feet more to our last camp before we left the mountain.  At the conclusion of this 18-hour day of hiking I just curled up on the tent floor and fell asleep.  There was no need to count sheep and no order to our sleeping position or our possessions.  Usually we had “high altitude” friendly debates over who had the biggest share of the tent and whose sleeping bag was closest to the wet tent wall.

The next morning the rains ceased, the sun shone, and the mountain stopped playing “peak a boo” as if to say you earned this, you stood on summit! The descent was beautiful with what seemed like hundreds of birds beautifully singing our praises. We glanced back in triumph at Kilimanjaro for both picture taking and admiration.  When we got back for the official “signing in” I was rewarded with a Kilimanjaro Label Beer.  This time I drank the entire bottle.

We returned to the Hotel Maranyu for our award ceremony with all of the climbers and porters.  That evening the “Great Baboo” (ie grandfather) Warren gave the porters the used clothing and shoes we had collected and brought from California. Warren and Dixie have been doing this for years it was easy to feel the affection for them. Charles presented us with a certificate-and with mine a stem of my favorite flower, a stem of bougainvillea. The entire group then sang to us in Swahili at the conclusion.

Later, everyone was in high spirits at the dinner.  Another group dinning near us had not such a success story-It seemed that their guide got them lost and they spent the night in a snow cave before descending without a summit victory

Parting shot: This took place in the bus after the safari on the way to the Kilimanjaro Airport as we prepared to leave Africa.  Mt Kilimanjaro in a rare moment was visible and imposed herself on the landscape above us.  Sarita and I were mesmerized and stared in silence.  Glancing to the other side of the bus we could see a magnificent African Sunset.   Turning our heads and from side to side we speechlessly drank in this breath-taking scene as our farewell gift from Tanzania.  If life is made up of moments, then this was one of the unforgettable.  Asante Sana is the Swahili expression for thank you.  We may have missed the ineffable magic of old Africa but for this moment.

Back in California, renting the video“Out of Africa” was a tearful experience knowing there is something in Africa that transcends the visual.  If the earth has a pulse it is surely here that it beats the loudest.

One evening several weeks later after re-entry into the “real world” we found ourselves standing in Sarita’s kitchen, remembering the trip and regretting its passing.  As an expansion to our nostalgic conversation and with great spontaneity she picked up a wooden spoon and banged on one of her hanging pans-ah serendipity was in effect for it sounded exactly like the call to the chow tent on the mountain.  We smiled, our hearts warmed, all was well!

Hakuna Shida as they would say in Swahili, Don’t worry, is happy!

• Liz Harvey

Mineral King Trip-let:

Mineral Peak (11,610’), Needham Mountain (12,520’), Sawtooth Peak (12,343’)

September 14 – 15 2002

The Cold Spring Campground at the end of Mineral King Road was full, so we all ended up at the walk-in sites.   We were Dee Booth (leader), Dot Reilly, Linda Sun, Greg Johnson, John se  Jerman, Kirsten and Stephane Mouradian, scribe and co-leader  (using this trip as class 3 check-out.)

The goal was to establish camp at Crystal Lake and climb Mineral Peak on day 1. On day 2, climb Sawtooth and Needham, and then pack out the same way

The Mineral King Ranger Station opens at 7am on Saturdays, which is convenient since you have to pick up the permit in person, even with a reservation.  We left from the “Sawtooth Pass” trailhead, which is a mile beyond the ranger station and   mile before the end of the road.  After about 2 miles of uphill hiking, we kept right on the trail to Crystal Lake.  It took 3.5 hours to get from the trailhead to Crystal Lake.  We set up camp at some established campsites just below the tiny dam.  Later on, we found a spur trail just before the dam, which switchbacks around a hump and leads to nice flat spots between Crystal Lake and an unnamed small lake.   This would be a less windy and prettier place to camp and camping there would shave 10 min of hiking on summit day.   Next time…

For Mineral Peak, we walked around the South side of Crystal Lake (that was before we tried the said spur trail), then used a prominent rock/grass ramp leading to the saddle on the east ridge of  Mineral Peak.  From the saddle we followed the ridge, first on van sized boulders, then smaller boulders to the foot of the peak.  From there, it is a very satisfying mostly class 2 scramble on solid rock to the summit.  Total climbing time from camp was 1 hour 10 min.  We signed the register and rewarded ourselves with a one hour break on top.    On the return, we did not quite go all the way to the saddle but came down a talus slope leading to the small, unnamed lake. Then we took the shortcut trail down, which starts on the West side of that lake.

On day 2, we left at a dark and windy 6:05am. Following the spur trail initially, we then took the same ramp as the day before and caught an easy grade trail through the sand leading to the Class 3 Crystal/Amphitheatre Pass.  From there, we headed North below the ridge, picking a route through very large boulders and high angle slabs while dropping about 300’as we  turned North East toward Needham.   From the North edge of the grassy area, we headed for what looked like cliffs below the first saddle West of Needham.  These cliffs are actually easy scrambling and they offer a nice alternative to the otherwise very sandy slopes.  We did have to cross a sandy band, which wore everyone out but enabled us to follow rock (rather than sand) from there all the way to the saddle.   The climb to Needham was mixed sand/boulder with some moderate class 3 for the summit block.  John braved the gusty wind and briefly stood on the summit.  We spent about 30 min on the summit.

The traverse over to Sawtooth was accomplished by dropping to about 11,500’ in order to clear the cliffs from the ridge.  At one point in the traverse, we faced a small ridge perpendicular to our direction of travel but we found a nice sand/rock ramp which allowed us to cross the ridge easily.  Once below Sawtooth, we headed through the easy boulders just below the East skyline.  Unfortunately the best approach to the summit block is from the south ridge, so everyone but John had to downclimb about 40’ and go around to the South in order to reach the summit. John found a way through some kind of cave under the summit block but this required very awkward moves beyond the rating of this trip.

The initial plan for the way down was to follow Sawtooth’s South ridge back to our original saddle.  This ridge is class 2 if you go as far as the saddle between Monarch and Amphitheatre but we determined it was at least class 4 beyond that point.  Instead, we came down hugging the bottom of the ridge on the Amphitheatre side (the East side.).  We found some easy gullies in between the high angle slabs that brought us to the saddle.  This brought us about 1/3 miles North and below our initial Class 3 saddle.

Back at camp, we packed in 30 min and headed about 4 miles and 3000’ down.  We reached the cars at 6:40pm.  Everyone was worn out by the 12.5 hour day but happy we had accomplished our objectives.  We had a cohesive group and every member held their own in spite of the long day.

I would definitely recommend doing this trip as an overnight rather than a day hike; due to the length of the trip and because sleeping at altitude helps prevent altitude sickness.

Dee Booth assiduously recorded all our times during the trip and I combined her notes with data from TOPO:

Day 1

Trailhead to Crystal lake: 3.8 miles, +3300’  3H30min.
Crystal Lake to Mineral Peak: 0.6 miles, + 700’, 1H10min

Day 2

Crystal Lake to Needham Mountain via Crystal/Amphitheatre pass:  1.8 mi,  +2000’  3H35min.
Needham Mountain to Sawtooth: 1mi, +1000’-1100’ 2H20min
Sawtooth to Crystal Lake:  1.4 mi, + 300’ –1800’ , 2H30min
Crystal Lake to Trailhead: 3.8 mi, +300’  -3300’ , 2H25min

• Stephane Mouradian

Mount Clark Day & Night Hike

September 14-15, 2002.

Nancy Fitzsimmons and I had  planned this classic dayhike  for a long time. Mount Clark from the Yosemite  Valley. Participants were Hal Tompkins, Tom Driscoll, Sue Leeder, Chris Prendergast, Nancy and myself.  We were fortunate in having Hal's expert assistance.

Nancy, Tom, and I carpooled together, leaving Milpitas a little after 3 pm on Friday.  What with the traffic on 580 and stopping at the Iron Door in Groveland for dinner, we didn't get to our campsite at Crane Flat until after dark, and we turned in early, with Tom's alarm clock set for 3:45. Chris, Hal, and Sue arrived about 10:30, and at 1:30 a large group showed up at an adjoining campsite, started a large fire, and settled in for a night of drinking.  Consult Chris for a full transcript; most of the rest of us did manage to get some sleep.

By 5:30 Saturday morning we were on the Mist Trail, and before 10 had started the cross-country approach, following  roughly the drainage of the unnamed creek west of Clark Canyon.  This is steep and wooded for a couple of thousand feet before it opens out as you approach the small lake at  9200 feet, where we stopped for lunch.  Nancy  unfortunately twisted her ankle, so she and Tom decided not to try for the peak, but to cross over into the Illilouette drainage and hike out. I gave them my car key, fortunately for them as it turned out.

After lunch the rest of us headed east, aiming to cross south of the peaklet 10960+ north of Clark.  Hal, with Sue close on his heels, was setting a pace faster than I could maintain, so he suggested that I lead for a while.  Eventually things started to look familiar to me as we approached the steep red caprock.  This we surmounted with a little Class 3 scrambling; the rock is very solid with excellent holds.

We now could contour around fairly easily to a point below the northeast face of Clark.  Hal decided to scout ahead and took off at his usual blinding pace, while Sue, Chris, and I followed up the rather tedious sandy ledges.  We wandered somewhat too far to the left at this stage and had to descend a bit.  Hal summitted and tried unsuccessfully to direct us from above, then  kindly descended and guided us through some easy Class 3 twists and turns until we reached the crux Class 4 pitch, which he belayed us up, after teaching us all to tie a bowline-on-a-coil (as precious minutes ticked away). There remained only an easy scramble to the summit.  The last register entry was from August 28.  Chris managed to get us all in a summit photo, which required setting the camera up on one of the summit blocks and then scrambling to make it over to the block where the rest of us were gathered  within ten seconds.

By now it was after five and we were running pretty late.  Unfortunately our troubles were not over:  we still had to cross over to the Illilouette side, and here we made a route-finding blunder.  We rejected too soon the possibility of crossing close to the peak, and instead chose a chute farther south.  This looked thoroughly nasty, but since I had been there before (as I thought), I reassured everyone that it couldn't be as bad as it looked, or I would have remembered it, a very flimsy argument. For a while it wasn't so bad, but the top 200 feet or so were a nightmare of loose rock, compelling us to ascend one at a time.  Chris named it "Loosifer's Chute."  By the time we all reached the top it was almost 6. It was now an easy descent into the Gray Creek drainage, but it was far too late to make the trail before dark, despite Hal's expert route finding. We were still able to enjoy an incredible sunset, but after full darkness enveloped us, it got to be less and less fun, at least for me, and I confess I gave way occasionally to irritable outbursts (Sue:  "We'll be at the trail any minute."  John:  "Sue, we're making half a mile an hour, we're not going to be at the trail any minute, so stop trying to cheer me up!").  Around 9:15 we did finally reach the Mono Meadows trail and stopped for a water-and-snack break.  The relief of reaching the trail was tempered by the thought of the nine miles that remained.

Once we reached the Panorama Trail, I began to believe that the hike was eventually going to end.  We took the upper part of the Muir Trail and then the cutoff to the Mist Trail.  At least it wasn't crowded. After reaching Chris's car around 1:30, Sue drove us back to Crane Flat while the rest of us passed out. Fortunately the revelers from the previous night had departed, though I think I could have slept through anything.

I had expected to be faster this year than in 1996, when I had had little information and inadequate maps on the Illilouette side, but the topography allowed few variations, and the actual peak took much more time than I had expected.

30 miles, 8500 feet, 20 hours. 

• John Wilkinson

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. 

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

Nepal - Tibet

Goal:             Kala Pata (18200'/5545m), Mera Peak (21100'/6437m), Tibet
Date:             Apr 12 - May 12 (Sat-Mon)
Difficulty:      Peak Climbing - mixed
Location:      Nepal - Tibet
Contact:       Warren Storkman dstorkman@aol.com

April 2003 - Nepal Two trips running simultaneously, both will be in the Khumba area. One group will climb Mera Peak 21,100 ft (6437 meters) then cross Amphu Lapcha and do Island Peak (Imjatse) 20,300 ft (6189 Meters) returning through Namche. The other trekking and climbing group will trek to Lobuche 16,200 ft. with options of Everest Base camp or walk up Kala Pata 18,200 ft. (5545 meters) Then over to do Island Peak (Imjatse) – with a layover day for the trekkers.

May Option - Tibet: There will be a two day lay over in KTM (Kathmandu) after trek / climb before going to Tibet. We fly to Lasha and motor back to Nepal. This is 8 days - 7 nights of hotels.

Will include full board. (no camping) My wife will arrive in KTM with some trekkers wives, and others, for Tibet trip. As in the past I do not ask for any of your money. You pay the provider.

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  the email list the PCS feeds (pcs-issues@climber.org), 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 11/24/2002  •  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