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 June, 2003     Peak Climbing Section, Loma Prieta Chapter, Sierra Club Vol. 37 No. 6

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

Next General Meeting

Date:               Tuesday, June 10

Time:              7:30 PM

Program:  Climbing in Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park a slide show presented by Bruce Bousfield.

Bruce will show slides from a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park in the summer of 2001, including a climb of the 5.10a route up the diamond on Longs peak, plus a couple of other local classics. 

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

Directions:     From 101: 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 6/22/2003  •  Meetings are the 2nd Tuesday of each month.

Conrad Anker Speech

Father's Day Special
World famous mountain climber, Conrad Anker, will be the featured speaker at a major fundraiser event for the Groveland Yosemite Gateway Museum on Sunday, June 15th, at 7:30pm at the Tenaya Gymnasium. Conrad last spoke in Groveland two years ago, so this should make a very special Father's Day outing.

Conrad will take you from the edge of your seat to the top of the world as he speaks about how exploration has changed in the past 100 years. From the early explorers who visited lands in the name of the nation state, to the polar explorers and mountaineers, how has the spirit of exploration changed? With our planet mapped, is exploration still significant to humanity? With a view to the future, how will exploration be a part of our culture? To illustrate the question of exploration in the 20th century Conrad Anker will feature images from Alaska, Antarctica, the Himalayas and North America.

Conrad is a 5th generation resident of Big Oak Flat and the son of local residents, Wally and Helga, of Priest Ranch. Conrad has trekked to the top and the bottom of the world. He has followed in the tracks of Sir Ernest Shackleton exploring Antarctica and discovered the body of George Leigh Mallory on Mount Everest. He is also the author of The Lost Explorer , a book about the Mallory expedition of Mount Everest in 1924. Visit Conrad s website www.conradanker.com to see more about what he s been up to. You can read about his current adventure as the live commentator on a Mount Everest climb, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of its first climb.

Ticket prices are $10.00 for adults and $5.00 for children under 12. Tickets are now available in Sonora at: Mountain Bookshop, Sierra Nevada Adventure Co., and, in Groveland at: Yosemite Bank, Pacific State Bank, Mountain Sage and the Museum. You may also order tickets by mail. Send a check made out to STCHS to PO Box 1849, Big Oak Flat, CA 95305. Your tickets may be picked up the night of the program. Check http://www.grovelandmuseum.org for more information.

Also, you can join the historical society for as little as $15 per year or call 962-0300 for an application. Membership gives you quarterly newsletters with fascinating historical tidbits, discussions on current exhibits, and advance notice on featured speakers. The STCHS website is http://www.grovelandmuseum.org.

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.

Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne

Peak:            Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, class 1, spring conditions
Dates:          June 6-8, 2003 (Fri-Sun)
Map:              Topographic Map of Yosemite National Park and Vicinity
Leader:         Charles Schafer 408-354-1545, c_g_schafer@yahoo.com
Co-leader:     Andy Macica 408-859-7634, amacica@pacbell.net

Join us for a spectacular hike along the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne. Early summer is the best time to see the waterwheels and cascades on the Tuolumne river in their full glory. We will meet Friday morning at White Wolf Campgrounds. We will then hike down into the canyon and follow the Tuolumne river upstream over the next few days. We will exit Sunday at Tuolumne meadows.

Bloody Mtn, Mt. Baldwin, Mt. Morrison

Peaks:            Bloody Mtn. (12,552), Mt. Baldwin (12,614), Mt. Morrison (12,277)
Dates:            June 14-15 (Sat-Sun)
Difficulty:        Class 2-3
Leader:          Aaron Schuman, aaron@climber.org
Co-leader:     Jim Ramaker, ramaker@us.ibm.com

We'll attempt these peaks as dayhikes from the Convict Lake area off Highway 395. Saturday we'll tackle Bloody Mountain (12,552, class 2) from the north.

Sunday we'll split the party -- Aaron will lead a climb of Mt. Baldwin (12,614, class 2) and Jim will lead a climb of Mt. Morrison (12,277, class 3) via the southeast face. Ice axe and crampons required.

Middle Palisade

Peak:            Middle Palisade, class 3
Dates:          June 28-30 (Sat-Mon)
Map:              Split Mtn 7.5 minute
Leader:        Ron Karpel, 650-594-0211 ronny@karpel.org
Co-leader:   Nancy Fitzsimmons Pkclimber@aol.com

Yet another 14'er... and this one should be fun. This is a restricted (official) trip. You have to be a Sierra Club member. You have to be able to use ice axe and crampons for traversing the Palisade Glacier. We will climb the class 3 route, which is long and sustained.

Three days allow plenty of time. We will starts at Glacier Lodge on Big Pine Creek, out of the town of Big Pine, and set up camp in the vicinity of Finger Lake. Sunday we will climb the Northeast Face route. If time permits, we can hike out Sunday after the climb. Otherwise we can camp another night and hike out on Monday, enjoying the view.

Note: This trip is currently full with a waiting list.

Izaak Walton

Peak:            Mt. Izaak Walton (12,077')
Dates:          July 4-6 (Fri-Sun)
Difficulty:      Class 3, some snow travel
Map:             Graveyard Peak topo
Leader:        Bob Suzuki, SuzukiR@sd-star.com

This should be a relaxed and pleasant (except for mosquitoes) holiday weekend outing. We'll start with a boat ride (~$20 RT) across Lake Thomas Edison, followed by a backpack hike of 7 miles to the granite slabs above Mott Lake. The next morning we'll work through the challenges of the class 3 northeast ridge as we climb to the summit of Mt. Izaak Walton. We'll spend some time there enjoying the mosquito free alpine air. Hopefully, the late spring snow won't make an ice axe necesary. However, a bear canister will be advised.


Peak:            Brewer (13,570’) Class 2
Dates:          July 4-6
Difficulty:      Class 2
Map:             7.5 min Mt Brewer
Leader:        Stephane Mouradian smouradian@hotmail.com
Co-leader:   Nancy Fitzimmons pkclimber@aol.com

This 3 day trip will start from Road’s End in Kings Canyon National Park. On Day 1, we will hike in the King’s Canyon itself and follow Bubbs Creek to establish camp at east lake (11.5 miles, 4400’ of gain). On day 2, we will climb Brewer from the East ridge (2.8 miles, 4000’) and return to camp. Day 3 will be used to get back to Road’s End.

This trip is suitable for beginners with strong backpacking experience and “comfortable” with 8400’ of gain + mileage over 2 days.

This is an official Sierra Club trip which requires participants to sign a liability waiver. Please sign up with Nancy. 

Donner Cabin Trip

Peak:            Castle Peak, Donner, Judah
Dates:          July 19-20, 2003
Difficulty:      Class 2
Leader:        Chris MacIntosh, 650-325-7841 cmaci@attglobal.net
Co-leader:   Deborah Benham, 650-964-0558 deborah4@pacbell.net

Luxury for PCS'ers! Hot showers, electricity, coffee maker! Stay at South Bay Ski Club Lodge at Soda Springs. On Saturday we'll climb Castle Peak (9103') whose ramparts loom above I-80. On Sunday we'll try a selection of the easier peaks near Donner Pass, such as Mts. Donner and Judah. This weekend is suitable for beginners comfortable with offtrail scrambling and for those averse to camping. Limited to 8, besides leaders, although one week prior to the trip it may be possible to add a few non-climbing partners, if space is available at the lodge. Send check for $24 for 2 nights (lodging only, not food), payable to South Bay Ski Club, and your hiking/climbing resume if we haven't met you before, to Chris MacIntosh, P.O. Box 802, Menlo Park, CA 94026-0802. If over-subscribed, preference given to Sierra Club members.

Matterhorn Peak

Peak:            Matterhorn Peak
Dates:          August 1-3, 2003
Leader:       John Wilkinson, 408-947-0858 jfwilkinson@sbcglobal.net

A leisurely trip to this Northern Yosemite peak. We'll meet in Bridgeport for lunch on Friday, drive to Twin Lakes, and backpack in to a campsite somewhere on Horse Creek. Saturday we'll dayhike the peak, returning to the same campsite. Sunday we'll backpack out and drive home. This is a Class 2 peak and the trip is suitable for beginners. Limited to 5 people. Contact John to reserve a spot.

Tenaya Peak

Peak:            Tenaya Peak, class 2, 10,301'
Dates:          August 9-10, Sat-Sun
Difficulty:      Class 2
Leader:        Chris MacIntosh, 650-325-7841 cmaci@attglobal.net
Co-leader:   Deborah Benham, 650-964-0558 deborah4@pacbell.net

Join us for a backcountry stroll up the sloping side of Tenaya Peak! We've reserved two nights (Fri-Sat) at lovely Tuolumne Meadows campground with plans to climb Tenaya Peak on Saturday and 'pick-a-peak' on Sunday. A non-refundable fee of $8 will reserve your spot. PLEASE CONTACT DEBBIE TO SIGN UP. Must be comfortable hiking off-trail.

Mount Conness via the Glacier Route

June 30, 2002
Armed with a favorable snow report from the guys at telemarktips.com, I made plans to head back to the backcountry skiing mecca of Tioga Pass -- specifically, to climb Mount Conness and ski the chutes and bowls on its east ridge. I was joined by a good crew of friends: EB, Lance and Griffin joined me from the Bay Area, while Ross and Chris came up from the Sacramento area. Chris set off on Friday night to spend a day fishing the lakes of the 20 Lakes Basin. The Bay Area crew and Ross met up at Saddlebag Lake on Saturday night at around midnight. Taking advantage of the warm weather, we eschewed tents in favor of car camping and sleeping out underneath the clear, starry skies.

We woke before 6am to a perfect day. Already the sun was bright and the air was warm. The morning alpenglow on the east ridge of Mount Conness was a spectacular sight from the trailhead. Fortunately, there was still some snow clinging to the peaks, so we strapped the skis on the packs and began our hike along the rocky west shore of Saddlebag Lake. After about 35 minutes, we arrived at Greenstone Lake, where we picked up Chris and headed up towards Mount Conness. The hike up to the Conness Lakes is spectacular -- lush green meadows and waterfalls contrast with nasty looking chutes begging to be skied. We climbed the granite slabs above the lower Conness Lake, and then the big snowfield leading up to the Conness Glacier. At this point, Ross decided to hang back and ski the bowls above the lakes instead of pushing for the summit. The rest of us donned crampons and made our way up the "dirty snowfield" towards the base of the prominent Y-couloir that splits the peaklet to the east of Conness. Our goal was to gain the ridge via the chutes in between the Y-couloir and the summit. One small problem stood in our way, however: a monster bergschrund. But it was to be our day! Upon closer inspection, we discovered that the bergschrund could be crossed on a narrow snowbridge to climbers' right. Being the guinea pig, I gingerly inched out towards the snowbridge and poked at it with my ice axe. "Solid as a rock" was my expert assessment. I crossed without incident and led the way up the steep couloir to the east ridge. At the saddle, we dropped our skis and snowboards and made our way up the surprisingly exposed summit ridge. 

After snapping the obligatory summit photos, we headed back down to the saddle. Chris dropped in first, ripping up the 45 degree chute and making it look so easy. At the bottom of the couloir, Chris opted out of the snowbridge exit, instead carving a turn off the lip of the bergshrund and airing over it. Very impressive. The rest of us took the easier way out, skiing down towards the snowbridge, and then pointing them down through the narrow gap to the glacier below.

A high traverse of the Conness Glacier brought us to a point below the "notch", the obvious 11,800'+ col that splits the east ridge of Mount Conness to the northwest of Alpine Lake. From below the notch, we skied a steep finger of snow down to the Conness Lakes. In contrast to the deep suncups we encountered on the traverse, the 800' or so "snow finger" down to the lake was silky smooth corn snow. Lance, Chris and I traded huge grins at the bottom of the runout. We debated hiking back up a bit to climbers' left -- to the top of Flinty's bowl -- but given the late hour and our drained bodies, we decided against one more run. As we looked up at our tracks dropping down from the ridgetop, we called it a fitting end to a great season. Well, at least for some of us. Not content with that as his last run, Chris put his board back on the pack and set off for the nicest looking line on the entire mountain -- the serpentine "S couloir" that rises above the 10,667' Conness Lake. We all took up our positions on a sunny rock as Chris booted his way up the shaded couloir. At the top, getting doused by a waterfall, Chris clicked in and bombed it perfectly. Shouts of joy accompanied rooster tails of corn as Chris exited the couloir to the lakeshore below. I'd say that's the way to finish the snow sliding season. As Chris is fond of saying, "there's a right way and a wrong way."

Photos are on my website at: http://www.tahoebackcountry.net/features/conness/default.htm

• Richard Steele

Lee Vining Mobil Station Restaurant - and Starlight Pinnacle

Thursday, July 18, 2002
Morning rain showers made Steve Cochran and I beat a hasty retreat from our camp spot at Saddlebag Lake. We drove to Lee Vining and took refuge in the Mobil Station restaurant. I had been eager to sample the cuisine at this establishment, having heard that it had the best food on the East Side, and we were not disappointed.

My omelette was light and fluffy, filled with cheese and other fillings that you can select yourself from an inspired menu. The fried potatoes were delicately seasoned with paprika, garlic, and another unidentified but delightful spice. And the whole wheat toast was hot and perfectly prepared. Even Steve's "two egg" scramble was masterful; it filled his plate. Storm clouds over Mono Lake furnished a dramatic backdrop, while the waitress and short order cook-cum-world class chef provided witty repartee. Truly a delightful place to dine, the Lee Vining Mobil will soon be in German travel guidebooks as a "must see" destination along with the town of Bodie. If it isn't already.

Started our hike at the Glacier Lodge trailhead under inauspicious weather conditions - rain, heavy at times. But it had mostly cleared by the time we reached Third Lake.

Friday July 19th:
Did an acclimatizing hike up Temple Crag via Contact Pass. There's one pitch of low-5th class right at the pass. Peter Croft figured prominently in the register; he apparently does the Grade IIIs and IVs on the North side of Temple Crag as we would a stairmaster workout. Steve and I scrambled back down to camp, then carried our gear up to the tarn below the Palisade Glacier.

Saturday July 20th:
The couloirs on the Northeast side of the Palisades are melted out early this year. Bergshrunds are significant; you might want to have ice screws and even two ice tools for the U-notch, V-notch, or Clyde Couloirs if you do them later this summer. We had intended to climb Starlight via the Clyde. But one look at the icy bergshrund made us reconsider, as well as lose bladder control. We cramponed up to the base of the Underhill Couloir (also known as "Loosy-Goosy"). There was little snow in it, and we made our way up the crumbling gully until we felt compelled to rope up. After a few pitches traversing up the left wall (being careful not to pull out the holds) we were on the ridge.

A lot of 3rd , 4th class and several belayed 4th / low 5th class pitches later we had made it up the ridge to the base of the summit monolith on Starlight Pinnacle, the top of which was perhaps twenty feet above us. This is the sort of bouldering problem that you would turn away from, if you hadn't invested six hours getting to that point. I insisted on protecting it as best we could by throwing part of the rope over the shoulder of the Bottle, and anchoring it down on both ends, so that I could tie a prussik on it and secure it to the rope I trailed on the way up. This was probably not necessary; the climb up the monolith is straightforward and this extra protection did not constitute full protection anyway. We both made it to the top of the pinnacle and got lowered down in succession. We had a snack as we looked through the register. I was impressed that the PCS got a party of seven climbers to the summit on July 14th.

The descent was tedious; we did a few rappels but mostly downclimbed that which we had climbed, the leader placing protection on the way down. For a few hours the weather looked grim as thunderheads built up to the West. And for a few minutes the rocks "sang" with static electricity. But it never did rain on us. Three rappels in the Underhill brought us back to where we had first roped up. The melted-out glacier had stayed so icy that we kept our crampons on most of the way back to our camp below the tarn.

Sunday July 21st:
Hiked out yesterday in windy conditions. We had lucked out on the weather for our summit day. Drove back to the Bay Area. Alas, time did not permit us another Epicurean adventure at the Lee Vining Mobil Station, but I fondly look forward to another visit.

• Roy Lambertson

A Whale of a time

March 24-26 2003
After two terrific days wandering through the scenic Rockhouse canyon and visiting the ruins and spring which reside there my partner, Kate Doehring, and I decided to try something more exciting and climb Whale peak. We headed south on the S2, also known as the Great Southwestern Overland Stage Route of 1849. Soon we cut off onto a dirt road that skirted through the desert and into Little Blair Valley. We reached the end of the road late in the day. We set out at the trailhead that advertises Pictographs 1 mile and after a brief one-mile backpack by the rather lackluster pictographs we set up camp and got a good nights rest.

The next morning we arose with beautiful blue skies and a fairly brisk wind blowing. From our camp situated a few hundred yards north of the pictographs we headed towards the canyon to the southwest of Whale peak. Finding rather fresh footprints in the sand we followed a wash going directly up the canyon for a few miles and watched the large numbers of sharp prickly and painful cactus give way to pine trees as we gained elevation. Before we reached the top of the canyon we wandered out of the wash and headed east, the general direction of Whale peak. It is interesting to note that coming from this direction one cannot see the summit of Whale peak until you are only a few hundred yards away from. On the way back down we decided to follow the trail we found going up. We followed it down and discovered it broke away from the wash only a few feet father up the canyon than we broke off. It is in fairly good condition and not too difficult to follow. We walked back down the canyon were back at camp it. Soon we ran into a trail that was heading in the same direction we were. We followed this trail with some difficulty until it was clear where the summit was. We walked through the brush the last few hundred feet to the summit. We enjoyed a splendid view at the top as we ate our lunch and took pictures by mid-afternoon. On the way back to camp we found a balloon resting peacefully on some shrubs. 'Happy Birthday from all of Us' it read. Obviously the person who put that there had not realized that my birthday was five months ago. I packed out the rest of the way. Back at camp we packed up our things and walked the last mile out to the car. During that last mile my partner nearly stepped on a baby rattlesnake that seemed to be taking a mid-afternoon nap in the middle of the trail. We got back to the car long before dark and drove out back to L.A. that night after a very nice trip.

• Will Molland

Southern Sierra in Spring

March 29-30, 2003
Peaks: Lamont Peak, Sawtooth Peak
Leaving my home of San Luis Obispo on March 29th my mom, Judy Molland, and I headed east to enjoy a weekend in the Southern Sierra. After driving for more than three hours we turned on Canebrake Road and headed toward the Lamont Peak Trail. Soon we crested the saddle on the road and parked at the very well marked Lamont Peak trailhead. After a short lunch we headed up the trail at about 2:45 in the afternoon. Although it was promised that the trail would be improved later in the year, for the time being it was indistinct at best. We followed the outline of a trail up the ridge that leads to a highpoint southwest of Lamont Peak. After reviving our legs from the car coma they had been in we were able to get up the first third of the trail, which is quite steep, without much difficulty at all. From here one can see Lamont Peak clearly to the northwest. We traversed along the backside of numerous high points that litter this ridge and continued in a northwestern direction towards Lamont peak, following some pieces of pink tape that had been placed on trees as markers. We went down to a small pass and then back up it losing the trail numerous times. Not that it matter though as route finding is very easy. Going up the final ridge there is a very intricate system of cairns which lead to the summit. The last fifty feet of Lamont peak offer some very nice scrambling and boulder hopping. We got to the summit with the sun still rather high in the sky and a rather cold wind blowing at us. We admired the view and scoped out tomorrows objective of Sawtooth peak. We didn't spend too much time at the top, as it was quite cold. After being the forth party to sign the register that year we headed back to the road. We went back down the trail and were back at the car by 6:15 as the sun was setting. A perfect hike for the timeframe we had. We drove farther down the road and camped at the thoroughly deserted Chimney Peak Campground.

The next day we got up at the crack of 7:30 and were ready to go by 8:30. We set off for Sawtooth via the PCT. The PCT is .2 miles from the campground and as one would expect is in very good condition. We walked up the PCT for about three miles until we got to a saddle where the PCT turns right in a southern direction. From here we went to the north up a few hundred feet of loose scree, rocks and sand that was most definitely not pleasurable. After fighting our way through that mess we got to a plateau where it was possible to see the peak of Sawtooth. From here we followed a ridge that originally goes in a northwestern direction, but then turns going nearly due north. This ridge goes all the way to the summit without any downward sections or drop-offs. The going was not overly steep and was on firm sand that was not only pleasant to walk on but did not slide under your feet. The start of the ridge is very clear of anything other than trees. Farther up the ridge there is brush, but nothing at will make the going overly difficult. After going up the ridge at a rather leisurely pace we reached the top of Sawtooth peak. The views from here are magnificent with Spanish Needle and Owens peak directly to the South with Olancha Peak and Whitney area to the north and the Mineral King area and Kaweah's to the northwest. All the high peaks were snowcapped, which gave the area even more aesthetical value than it already possessed. After spending more than an hour on the summit eating lunch and admiring our surrounding we descended back down the ridge and through the most undesirable section of sand and scree. We got back to the PCT and hiked out. The weather was absolutely perfect for this day with the temperature in the high sixties and a very slight breeze.

The next day we arose at 6:20 and drove back to San Luis Obispo so my mother could catch her fight back to Washington D.C. and I could go back to school (sigh). Alas we all have to live our other lives as well.

• Will Molland

Unpronounceable Peak

April 26-28, 2003
April 26-28 I went to Death Valley to climb Wahguyhe Peak, which I had been wanting to do for some time. I started from the parking lot at the mouth of Titus Canyon around 3 pm, and took the trail leading north to Fall Canyon. I ascended the canyon past the first dry fall, which is fairly easy to bypass on the right, even with a full pack. I had hoped to make it to the base of the second dry fall, but had to camp about two miles short.

I was on the move by 6am with just a daypack. At 7 I reached the dry fall, the only part of the hike that was at all technical. There are actually two falls in quick succession, with a bit of fairly exposed Class 3 to get around them. This is the only technical difficulty I encountered all day. I would not try to do this with a backpack.

Above the falls the canyon gradually opens out and enters the pinyon-juniper zone. Wahguyhe Peak appears straight ahead, a very symmetrical rounded cone, still several miles away. Eventually the canyon forks, a large branch leading off to the east. I kept to the main branch; about a half-mile later, it forks again. Both branches are plausible routes; I chose the right-hand branch, heading northeast. Soon a litte water began to appear, and I noted some deep puddles in the rock that I would be able to collect from on the way back. Eventually I exited the canyon on the left and made my way to the top of a ridge that sloped gently toward the base of the peak. The peak itself is a classic pile of rocks at the angle of repose. It does not seem to make much difference which way you go, and I did not succeed in avoiding loose rock. A little before 1 pm I reached the summit, where I spent half an hour enjoying the view, including Telescope Peak, Grapevine Peak, and the Sierra. I got back to camp around 7. The round trip was about 20 miles with 6000 feet of elevation gain.

Considering that it is the second highest peak in the Grapevines and offers splendid views, Wahguyhe is curiously neglected. It is not on the Desert Peaks Section list. It has a pickle-jar register placed in 1998 by a Santa Barbara hiking group, containing seven or eight entries.

• John Wilkinson

Handful of Hoodlums Hike Hood

May 10, 2003
'Meet me at the Avis desk at the Portland airport,' Nancy instructed her companions. With ice axes and crampons tucked away in our checked baggage, we converged on Oregon, ready to test our luck on Mount Hood.

Our team was Nancy Fitzsimmons, Tom Driscoll, Chris Prendergast, Charles Schafer, and your reporter, Aaron Schuman. Tom drove the rented Windstar only about 75 miles to the vicinity of the mountain. We stayed Friday night at the Mount Hood Inn, which was a mighty fine motel, with a pleasant fireplace and a hot tub. Too bad we didn't get to enjoy it. We set the alarms for 4:30 a.m., so we could meet the snow cat at the Timberline Lodge at 6:00. Our motel rented us an emergency beacon for the low, low price of $5. Pull the ripcord and a positional signal goes out to Search and Rescue.

At the lodge, I filled out a wilderness permit, required even for day use. It included a long checklist: do you have extra clothing? ice axe? headlamp and fresh batteries? common sense? The price was right for the permit, gratis.

The snow cat driver piled us into his vehicle. It rolls on tractor treads like a tank. Inside, it has two facing benches that could hold ten in a pinch, but it was roomy enough with five. The air inside was laden with diesel exhaust and the rumble of the engine was deafening. It was quite a mechanized way to start a wilderness experience! But it made the mountain a lot more reasonable as a day hike, taking us from the lodge at 5900 feet up to the top of the ski lift, at 8400 feet. It cost us $25 each.

By 6:45 a.m. we were walking. The visibility was worsening, and we couldn't see the whole mountain, but we could follow the footsteps of earlier climbers in the snow. By the time we climbed to 9000 feet, we had crossed through the cloud ceiling, and we were unable to see much of anything but the trail through the snow at our feet. Someone had left a trail of wands (slender bamboo stakes tied with reflective tape). The idea is that even in fog, the traveler can see ahead to the next wand. But it didn't work all that well for us. Occasionally we could see one wand ahead, but most of the time we just continued in the same general direction as the wand trail, up the mountain.

Around this time we put on our helmets, because Mount Hood has a reputation of dropping crumbly rock onto the glacier. My helmet fit snugly with my polar fleece cap and my balaclava worn underneath. We were still hiking with ski poles and crampons, with ice axes stowed. The snowshoes we wisely left back in the car; they weren't needed at all on the consolidated spring snow. We passed under a place called the Hot Rocks, which stink of the sulfur of vulcanism, and above a place called Devil's Kitchen, a large bare area where the volcanic heat prevents snow from accumulating, and a malodorous mist rises. Mount Hood is a grumbling, discontented volcano, but it hasn't become deeply angry during recorded history. Tomorrow most of our party would go to Mount St Helens, which has earned a much harsher reputation.

The top of Mount Hood is an old volcanic plug. Geologically, it is a place where lava filled an earlier crater, and then remained as a tower after the more friable surrounding rocks eroded away. To the climber, it is a place where the mountain becomes significantly steeper for its final 200 vertical feet.

The glacier arises at the base of the plug, and begins with a bergschrund. The crevasse appeared to be about 25 feet deep (although I can't estimate the depth of the soft snow in the bottom). It was easily bypassed to the left. We stowed our ski poles and prepared to self arrest with our ice axes. We didn't require a rope. There were two other parties nearby that did choose to rope up. They used three pickets left behind by previous climbers as protection pieces.

With words of encouragement shouted from one to another, we passed the steep area and at 11:30, came upon a broad, flat place. 'The summit!,' Tom exclaimed. 'Where?' 'You're standing on it!' We were at 11240 feet, higher than all of Oregon, but in the weather, we couldn't see more than about 50 feet of Oregon. It's fitting, in a way. If we had come to Mount Hood and the sun had been shining, we would have missed the true Oregon experience. If we wanted to climb in sunshine, we would have stayed in California.

We took a couple of goofy posed photos and started moving. The summit was no place to linger on a day like that. We were motivated to get down before the weather got any worse.

Descending the steep snow of the volcanic plug was tricky for a couple members of our team. They took plenty of time, faced into the mountain, and planted their feet with care. Soon enough, we were back on the moderate slopes above Devil's Kitchen and walking down.

The foot path in the snow that we followed up the peak was filling in with fresh snow and windblown old snow. We followed the wand trail for a while. At about 9400 feet, we couldn't see the route at all. The sky was gray, the mountain was gray, and there was no horizon in our featureless world. There were just five climbers stepping through blankness. We followed a compass bearing, and felt fortunate to have a GPS and waypoints for the top of the ski lift and the lodge.

At 8400 feet we dropped below the cloud and saw the towers of the ski lift. There is a climber's trail right at the ski resort out-of-bounds fence, and it goes right down to the lodge. The day finally began to warm up. Snow balled up on our crampons, and we removed them. We peeled off a few outer layers of clothing. Though we had only seen a couple of dozen climbers on the mountain on our climbing day, it looked like there were about one hundred backpackers heading up for a high camp and a Sunday summit.

Down in the parking lot at the lodge, at about 3:00 p.m., though soft, fat snowflakes fell on our bare hair, the clouds parted just long enough for our only glimpse of our peak.

We drove back to Portland, where the team dropped me off for a Sunday flight and a Monday workday. The others drove on to Mount St Helens. The remainder of my report is second hand information, pieced together from the accounts of Charles and Tom. Most of it is probably false. Don't look so shocked. Climbing stories always benefit from the imaginative impulse.

The post-eruption ecosystem of Mount St Helens is rare and fragile. 25 years after the cataclysm that killed 57 people and ravaged a huge swath of Washington state, the forest is slowly returning to the ashen soil. For this reason, the rangers strictly limit the number of people who can use the mountain in summer. But before the snow melts, human footsteps can't do much damage, and their is no use quota. A ranger told the PCS group that there were 800 permits granted before theirs for Sunday, and that they expected to issue 400 more in the morning.

Because the last open weekend day before quota season is Mothers Day, for the last 25 years there has been a tradition of making a Mothers Day celebration of the climb. Climbers wear the costume of mothers, whether they are mothers, or whether they are even women. Over their polypropylene and polar fleece and spandex, they wear dresses. Nancy claims to have documented this uphill costume party with a roll of photos. I hope she shows her pictures at the PCS Kwaanza party next December.

The climb up St Helens is longer than the climb up Hood, and after Saturday's push, the party was fatigued. They turned around at 11:30 a.m., with another 1600 feet remaining. At least they saw a little more of the mountain then we did the day before.

There are tasty rumors of a return visit in 2004, prompted by Kelly and Landa, who missed this trip, and the five of us, who still want to see what the area looks like.

Aaron's Aunt Betty responds, in an email titled what would your mother have said !!!!! :
: OMigosh, what a report! Sounds like a long, exciting and exhausting day. And thank heavens nobody slipped. Seriously, tho' - to me,it seems rather scary. I guess it's always poor visibility?? And I know you are a pretty experienced climber, so I shouldn't be worrying, right?? I must say I'm delighted to have your colorful report. Here in my sunny corner I'm wondering what my father would have remarked about your favorite pastime. Not to mention your own father!  

• Aaron Schumann

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. 

Mount Williamson

Peak:           Mount Williamson: Northeast Ridge Class IV or North Arete III
Dates:         June 6-8
Contact:      John Street 415.377.7767 streetly@yahoo.com

I am looking for 1 or 2 compatriots to climb this peak in two days or in one BIG push if possible. It is an aggressive bid, but with good weather and a strong party moving fast and light, we should have success. Interested individuals should have seasoned experience climbing and mountaineering and currently in very good physical condition. This route is known for difficult route finding and we will inevitably be faced with up to 5.5 - 5.8 short technical sections. Read a good TR here: http://www.bearbnz.net/peaks/fourteeners/williamson/will_details.htm We will have a couple meetings leading up to the trip to get familiar and discuss mountain business.

Mt. Davis

Peak:           Mt. Davis (12,303')
Dates:         June 14-15 (Sat-Sun)
Difficulty:     Class 2, ice axe, crampons
Contact:      Bob Suzuki, SuzukiR@sd-star.com

Mt. Davis sits at the northwest end of the Ritter Range and the Minarets. Our backpack from Silver Lake to Thousand Island Lake will be 6 miles with 2,600' of gain. Sunday morning we'll ascend the snow chute leading to North Glacier Pass, then traverse in sunlight to the summit of Mt Davis. Ice axe, crampons and bear canisters will be necesary, snowshoes will depend on conditions.

Trojan and Versteeg

Peak:            Trojan Peak (13,947'), Mt. Versteeg (13,470')
Dates:          June 20-22 (Fri-Sun)
Difficulty:      Class 2-3, ice axe, crampons
Contact:       Bob Suzuki, SuzukiR@sd-star.com

The backpack up to Shepherd Pass makes this a strenuous trip. Our primary destination will be the summit of Trojan Peak. If time and motivation allow we'll also try to enjoy the views from Mt. Versteeg. Ice axe and crampons required.

Mt. Shasta

Peak:            Mt. Shasta 14160
Dates:          June 21-22, 2003
Contact:       Geroge Van Gorden, 408 779 2320 vangordeng321@aol.com

We will be climbing the mountain by one of the non-glacier east side routes if access is available and if not by the Hotlum-Bolum ridge route on the north side. These routes are not as crowded as the standard route and offer a little different perspective on the mountain. We will be camping on the mountain for one night. Experience with crampons and ice axe is necessary.

Clyde Minaret

Peak:          Clyde Minaret
Dates:        July 19-21, 2003 (Sat-Mon)
Difficulty:    Class 4
Contact:     Bob Suzuki suzukir@sd-star.com
Contact:     Jim Ramaker ramaker@us.ibm.com

Even by its easiest route, this mountaineer's peak is steep and challenging. Saturday we'll hike in to the Ediza Lake area. Sunday we'll attempt the peak via the "rock route," which involves crossing a steep snowfield, some class-4 climbing, and some rappelling on the way down.

Experience in all three areas is required. Required gear includes ice axe, crampons, harness, and helmet. Monday we'll hike out.

2003 Sierra Challenge

Peaks:          Virginia, Banner, Red + White, Gabb, Thompson, Sill, Norman Clyde, Tyndall, McAdie, Langley
Dates:          Aug 9-18, 2003 (Sat-Mon)
Difficulty:      Class 2-4
Location:     Eastern Sierra
Contact:      Bob Burd, snwbord@hotmail.com

Ten (10) challenging dayhikes in the High Sierra, from Virginia Peak in the north to Mt. Langley in the south. This is the third year for this private/ non-sponsored event, drawing on a new list of peaks, including 3 14ers and 3 'Mountaineers' Peaks. Join us for one or all, from easy class 2 to challenging class 4 climbing. If you've ever wondered why you need to take 50lbs of gear and three days to climb a Sierra peak, this may be the alternative you've been looking for. Information, details and sign up info can be found at: http://www.snwburd.com/bob/challenge/

Triple Trip

Peaks:            Glacier Ridge, Whaleback, Lion Rock, Mount Stewart, Triple Divide Peak, Kern Point, Picket Guard, Milestone Mountain, Midway Mountain
Dates:          Aug 16-24 (Sat-Sun)
Difficulty:      class 2, class 3, class 4
Location:      Western Sierra Nevada (Triple Divide 15', Mt Whitney 15' map)
Contact:     Steve Eckert
Contact:     Aaron Schuman

The ninth annual Climb-o-rama rumbles to the Triple Divide in the very heart of the Sierra Nevada. Entering from the west side of Kings Canyon National Park, we'll pack to Roaring River and up Cloud Canyon, climb the Whaleback, Glacier Ridge, Triple Divide and maybe even its southern outliers, Lion Rock and Mount Stewart. We'll cross the Great Western Divide at Colby Pass, climb Picket Guard and Kern Point, even the rarely visited west side of Milestone Mountain, and finally Midway Mountain. After all of these successes, we'll hike out the same long trail that we took into the center of the range. Limit 15.

Beyond the Pale

Peak:           Palisade Crest 13,553'
Dates:         Sep 13-15 (Sat-Mon)
Difficulty:     Class 4, helmet, rope used
Location:    Eastern Sierra Nevada (Big Pine 15' map)
Contact:     Charles Schafer, 408-354-1545 c_g_schafer@yahoo.com
Contact:     Aaron Schuman

Webster's dictionary defines a palisade as a wall of large pointed stakes set in the ground for fortification. One of those intimidating posts is a pale. The Palisades are the best defended ridge in the Sierra Nevada. We will besiege the Palisade Crest, a particularly steep and jagged medieval battlement, and if we are fortunate, we will catapult ourselves up to the very crenels. Endurance, sangfroid, teamwork, and skill in roped climbing are essential for success on this trip. Limit 6 people.


Peak:          Chulu West 21,752 ft.
Dates:        October 2-25,(Thu-Sat) 2003
Contact:     Warren Storkman, 650-493-8959 dstorkman@aol,com

Class A TrekerPeak
The Manang region off the Annapurna Circuit
16 day trek and climbimg $800.00 total
Air travel in Nepal $245.00
Peak permit (6 persons) $60.00
Climbing sherpa (2) (6 persons)$80.00
Tenative air from SF to KTM $1,250.00


Peak:          Kilimanjaro
Dates:        January, 2004
Contact:     Warren Storkman, 650-493-8959 dstorkman@aol,com

Kilimanjaro is shaping up for middle of January 2004. Considering the Western Breach route.

7 day cost: Park fee: $480.00; Forest fee: $20.00

Fully equipted package $670.00

Total $1170.00

3 nights at the hotel $30.00 a night includes breakfast and dinner. More to come later in the year. Open to all.

Can try this website for first information on Kilimanjaro climb:


Elected Officials

     Stephane Mouradian / smouradian@hotmail.com
     650-551-0392 home
     1340 Hull Drive, San Carlos, CA 94070

Vice Chair and Trip Scheduler:
     Andrew F. Macica / andy.macica@kla-tencor.com
     408-859-7634 home
     430 Roading Drive, San Jose, CA 95123

Treasurer and Membership Roster (address changes):
     Tom Driscoll / tdriscoll@eooinc.com
     650-938-2106 home
     1745 Alma Street, Palo Alto, CA 94043

Publicity Committee Positions

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

PCS World Wide Web Publisher:
     Roger Dettloff/ pcs_web_roger@pacbell.net
     Redwood City, CA

Publicity Chair:
     Arun Mahajan / pcs-pub-chair@climber.org
     650-327-8598 home
     1745 Alma Street, Palo Alto, CA 94301

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 5/25/2003  •  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