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 May, 2003     Peak Climbing Section, Loma Prieta Chapter, Sierra Club Vol. 37 No. 5

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

Next General Meeting

Date:               Tuesday, May 13

Time:              7:30 PM

Program: Looking for Ansel Adams a slide show presented by Bob Evans

Looking for Ansel Adams: the peaks he bagged, the places he shot, the mystery revealed, from his first snap shot in Yosemite to the end of his active mountaineering, presented by Bob Evans.

Location         Any Mountain, Cupertino
                        20640 Homestead Rd.
                        Cupertino, CA 95014

Directions:     From I-280, exit DeAnza Blvd/Sunnyvale-Saratoga Rd. Follow signs toward Sunnyvale. Turn left onto Homestead Rd. Any Mountain is on the left.

Deadline for submissions to the next Scree is Sunday 5/25/2002  •  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, May 17 and Sunday, May 18 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 $40 charge on your credit card—or promise to bring $40 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.

• Marg Ottenberg

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.

Sequoia Rock Climbing Weekend

Peaks:   No Peaks, just rock climbing
Date:      May 31-June 1, 2003
Map: Sequoia NP
Leader:  Ron Karpel, ronny@karpel.org
Co-leader:  Arun Mahajan arun.mahajan@att.net

This is an official trip of the Sierra Club.  You must be a Sierra Club member to sign-up.

We are organizing a weekend long trip to Sequoia NP for clean and simple rock climbing fun.  You must have a partner, and one of you needs to be able to lead SAFELY the routes you are going to climb, while the other partner must be able to follow (at least).  You also must use your own gear. You must use a helmet.

I will be happy to keep a "looking for a partner list", but you will need to make the contact.

Sequoia has lots of multi-pitch routes and it is not crowded like

Yosemite. To help people who are new to the Sequoia rock climbing scene, we will group and go to some of the better locations on both days.

To sign-up, send a climbing resume (rock climbing), the name of your partner (or if you want to be on the "looking for partner" list), and your Sierra Club member number to the above e-mail address or call Ron Karpel at 650-594-0211 at home.

We will get sites in a nearby campground. Please indicate if you like to be included in the campground arrangements. There is also a possibility for free undeveloped camping at the National Forest area.

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.

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.

Climbing Day Hike

Young Lakes, White Mountain, and Delaney Creek
June 30, 2002

I set out one morning in the end of June, 2002, hoping to climb either Mt. Conness, White Mtn., or both. Since my plans were to return to Tuolumne Meadows via Delaney Creek, I decided to make a loop trip out of it and left the Meadows on the western Young Lakes trail. This path leaves the heavily traveled Glen Aulin trail just west of Soda Springs, ascending north into the woods over a series of ridges. Though much of the trail is in trees and generally viewless, there are clear patches from which fantastic vistas south to the Meadows and the Cathedral Range can be enjoyed. The topography of this trail, rising as it does over gradual ridges, sticks to a consistent rhythm of flat sections interspersed with more strenuous climbs. Personally, I think this is a nice way to hike, since the terrain eases up enough to catch one’s breath before starting uphill again.

After several miles of hiking like this, the trail wound through some sparse forest and started bearing right just beneath a prominent ridge line. I walked the 100 yards or so to the ridge, and was awarded with a gob smacking view. This is the first point on the trail where one can see any scenes to the north, and this particular ridge was well-positioned to dish out a wonderful panorama. To the northwest, the canyons and domes of north Yosemite stretched out undulating to the horizon, where they were capped by Matterhorn Peak, the Sawtooth Ridge, and a heaping of other peaks. Looking to the northeast, I could see the tremendous south face of Mt. Conness rising sharply above everything else around. It looked like it was just beyond the closest trees, but, as distances and sizes are so deceptive, I knew that it would still be a few miles to Young Lakes and the base of whatever mountain I decided to climb; drinking a last sip of water, I started back to the trail.

As I thought, it was a few more miles to Young Lakes. The elevation, though, was thinning the trees out, and it became more and more possible to get glimpses of the surrounding peaks from the trail. Ragged Peak climbs straight (seemingly) out of the trail to its eponymous summit several thousand feet higher, and Conness seemed always to be lurking around the corner, giving glimpses of its glistening white form from between whitebark pines or above a nearby ridge line. At the junction where this western approach to Young Lakes meets the eastern approach (which comes from Lembert Dome and the Dog Lake trail), I met up with a few backpackers and chatted for a few minutes. They were the last people I would see for 10 more miles of blissful cross-country wandering.

Shortly after the trail junction, the path drops down into the serene Young Lakes basin. The lakes are almost completely surrounded by peaks (Ragged, White, Conness) and the ridges that connect them. The terrain gives away to the northwest, where one can see the incredibly elongated Roosevelt Lake resting like a bathtub in its own basin, similarly surrounded by peaks.

Secor's guide claims that the ascent of Conness from Young Lakes is class 2 via the saddle between Conness and White. The approach was plain to see, and the topo map indicated that there was a small lake close to the top of the saddle, from which I could climb north to Conness or south to White. I had already decided to skip Conness and just climb White, because time was uncertain and White would be on my way back to Tuolumne anyway. The hike up to the lake was easy and enjoyable, with views that improved consistently as I climbed out of the basin. The lake, however, came as a bit of a surprise; it's not much of a lake! Actually, I've seen more recent maps that show it being a marsh, but mine didn't. At any rate, it was good to know that I was on the right path, and I walked around the pseudo-lake on its south side through a snowfield that reached a considerable ways up to the saddle.

The saddle between the two peaks has a fantastic, airy view down into the Saddlebag Lake region. Secor's guide also claims that there is some class 3 that goes through this point, but it was hard to see from above where it might have been. At the very least, it was snow covered for a long ways down and any slip would have resulted in a very unpleasant slide. The climb up to White from the saddle was straightforward class 3, though it was snowy in a lot of places. It would probably be easier late in the season once everything has melted and there are a few more options for ascending. I found myself traversing across snow with nasty falls below me a few times, and near the top I climbed a short class 4 crack, but these were the result (by and large) of other routes to the summit being snowed in.

As for the summit of White Mountain, there isn't a whole lot I can say for it. I didn't see any difficult summit block (as I have heard described), nor did I find a register. The summit, from what I can remember, was more like a quasi-high point on a plateau that then stretched out into a ridge connecting it to Ragged Peak. The views, however, made up for the lake of a dramatic summit, because I could see for miles around. I would get into all the peaks visible from the top, but that would be repetitive; from 12,000 feet you can, ya know, see unobstructed for a long way.

Anyway, I scouted out the class 2 south side descent route, but it was completely covered with snow, and the sides of it occasionally dropped steeply into the still-frozen upper Skelton Lake. I wasn't particularly interested in drowning in frigid water, so I descended instead by the snowless (but steeper) west face. This looked gradual enough from the top, but it soon got steep and a little sketchy. This descent involves, among other things, sliding down steep, sandy banks; traversing 3rd and 4th class slabs with some loose rock; down climbing A LOT of short 4th class cracks. At many points I was wondering if this was an advisable way to go, but I figured that I would be fine as long as I kept my head together and didn't do anything really stupid. This descent, along with its difficulty, also rewarded me with outstanding views of Delaney Meadow and the Cathedral Range, which the southern route doesn't have.

On level ground again, I hit Delaney Creek and followed it into the woods and then out into the amazing Delaney Meadow. This is probably my favorite meadow I've ever seen, and since it is a few miles from the nearest trail it is virtually pristine. The snow-swollen creek rumbled through it, picking up speed, while I took my time wandering through the thousands of knee-high boulders, enjoying the unobstructed views of Cathedral and Unicorn Peaks. The meadow gradually fades into a lodgepole forest for mile or two, then emerges into another meadow (not as large or nice as the first), at the far end of which is the Dog Lake trail. It was here that I saw the first hikers since way back at the Young Lakes trail junction, and I greeted them as I hopped over the creek at its crossing and walked the mile or so back to my cabin. This is a beautiful area of Yosemite, and a great place to spend a day hiking cross country.

• Any Steele

What Price for Pyramid?

February 21-24, 2003
Peaks: Pyramid Peak, Mount Price
Place: California
Difficulty: class 2, ice axe, crampons, skis, snowshoes, snow

In a new episode of our Series How many times do you need to schedule a winter trip to make it happen?, this climb was rescheduled after a storm hit for President's weekend 2002. This time, we sneaked it in a week after President's weekend 2003 (which was also stormy, amazingly enough). Trip participants were Tony Stegman on snowshoes and Steve Eckert, Kirsten and Stephane Mouradian all on skis.

We left the Echo Lake SnoPark on Friday morning at 8:00. The sky was perfectly clear with a sunny forecast for the weekend. There were a few inches of fresh snow and we got to break a fresh track across the Echo Lakes. We crossed Tamarack Lake and headed straight up the slope toward the saddle North of Ralston. The lower part of that slope was steep, so it was hard work getting up it. Next time I will remember to take the ridge leading to the saddle as I had drawn it on the map, although the ridge presents some steep grade and soft snow spots as well. From the saddle we dropped down toward Lake of the Woods. We crossed the lake and found a protected campsite to drop our packs. It was 3pm.

We woke up at 5:30am on Saturday and left camp at 6:45am. The water bottles that were next to the sleeping bag inside the tent were frozen solid. This was a cold weekend. We headed first toward Channel Lake in order to go around a cliff. This area at the foot of Pyramid is a little bit of a maze with many rolling hills, little cliffs and gullies. After reaching the southern tip of Channel Lake, we headed South West for a saddle and dropped 200 feet to Pyramid Lake. We aimed straight for the peak from there. About 600 feet below the summit, we switched to crampons and ice axe and followed a ridge straight up. We summitted at 11am. The weather was clear but the wind on top was bad enough to make us keep summit shots to a minimum. We quickly came down 600 feet to where we had left skis and snowshoes. From there, Tony and Kirsten headed back to camp while Steve and Stephane headed for a 2 mile traverse to Price. For the traverse on skis, we left the last point at noon and we first had to drop and regain 200 feet across a wide bowl but we were able to traverse upward toward Price thereafter. The approach to Price is very steep on the east side, so we looked for an opportunity to cross over the ridge and approach the peak from the back (the west side). About 0.5 mile south of Price, we found a notch in the ridge with a short but steep couloir. We headed for that spot and found the snow to be firm enough to kick steps, which we did while the skis were strapped to our packs. Steve estimated the slope to be at least a 45 degree angle in some sections. From the top of the notch, it was a very gentle 25 minute climb to the summit which we reached at 2pm, 30 min ahead of our turn around time. For the return, we retraced our steps back down the notch. From there, it was an easy and fast ski trip back down to camp, which we reached at 4pm, on time to enjoy the last sun rays. Pyramid and Price are doable in one day but one may need to be on skis in order to be back to camp before dark, at least in February.

Sunday morning, from my sleeping bag at 5:45am , I heard Steve cheerfully announced his thermometer read 12F (which he later corrected by saying it had dropped another 2 degrees to 10F). We nonetheless braved the cold and left camp at 7am. We left Ralston Peak for another time and headed in the direction of Echo Lake. An army of 25 kids had set up camp just above the lake and our initial single track from Friday had turned into a highway. The Echo lakes are definitely a popular skiing area on a nice weekend. There was an SUV stuck on the snow covered SnoPark road between Echo Lake and the parking lot. If that guy is still there when you head that way, try not to yell at him, he already got his dose. Back to the cars at noon, we had plenty of time to sample the hot sandwiches at the Strawberry lodge, which is a reasonable place.

After Lassen in January, this was another beautiful sunny winter trip.

Rescheduling can work!

• Stephane Mouradian

Kahweah Leasure Week

June 29 - July 6, 2002

Bob Suzuki, Eddie Sudol, Vishal Jaiswal, and I set off on this eight-day trip on the morning of July 2, 2002. About a mile up the trail, Vishal complained of hip pain, and when we happened to lift his pack, it was easy to see why -- the thing must have weighed 80 pounds! (And Vishal is not a big guy.) We asked him what was in the pack ,and he was actually a bit light on warm clothes and sleeping gear, so he must have been carrying 40 to 50 pounds of food. After a break, we persuaded him to continue at a slower pace, but after another mile he decided to bail out from the trip, afraid that he might hold us up.

Bob, Eddie, and I continued on, stopping for lunch at Monarch Lake and then hiking up the soft, sandy trail to Glacier Pass (11,080). The north side of the pass had loose class-2 boulders and a moderately angled snowfield, nicely softened in the afternoon sun (in the morning, it may require an ice axe and crampons). As we passed Spring Lake in the late afternoon, the mosquitoes became apocalyptic, and we ran past the lake and started the climb up to Black Rock Pass (11,600).

Around 7, it became clear that because of our 10 a.m. start and heavy packs, we weren't going to make it over the pass to our planned camp at Big Five Lakes before dark, and would have to bivvy on the steep slope heading up to the pass. This looked like it would be uncomfortable, but just east of the trail, we managed to find three small flat areas big enough for sleeping bags, and a small creek coming down from a snowfield above. With the nicely sculptured unnamed peak above Spring Lake to the east catching the evening light, and the lights of the Central Valley cities spread out to the west, this was actually one of the nicest camps I've seen.

Sunday morning we hiked over Black Rock Pass and got down to the bear box at Big Five Lakes by mid-morning. Dropping our gear, Bob and I headed off to climb Lippincott Mountain (12,260), while Eddie, not feeling well, rested in camp. Bob and I hiked down the trail for about 1/2 mile, then turned left and cross-countried through the woods to Lake 10,295. From there we climbed up to the right of some downsloping slabs to Lake 11,000, a especially beautiful lake surrounded by smooth slabs and soft grassy gardens. We then headed up the southeast face more or less straight toward the summit, which is class-2 with some strenuous class-3 blocks near the top. (To avoid the class-3, head for a notch on the south ridge and follow the ridge to the top.) The summit was windless and unusually hot for 12,000 feet. We descended, took a long nap at Lake 11,000, and arrived back in camp at 6:30. After supper, we fell into an exhausted sleep, broken only by the quiet thumping of deer poking around our camp.

On Monday morning we split our small party, with Bob heading cross- country to the north to do Eisen (12,160), and Eddie and I hiking down the trail into Big Arroyo with Red Kaweah (13,720) as our goal. The plan was for Eddie and me to find a camp at timberline on the creek heading up to Red Kaweah, mark it with a red handkerchief, and reunite with Bob for supper.

At the bottom of Big Arroyo, Eddie and I stashed food for later in the week in the bearbox just south of the old cabin, then stopped to talk to a group of about a dozen college students, who were the only people we saw during the middle five days of this trip. Led by two rugged-looking instructors, they were from Prescott College in Arizona, and were taking a natural history class that consisted of about 10 consecutive week-long hikes in the Sierras. We were impressed, and despite the heat and bugs, they were all in good spirits. On their fourth day out, the young women in the group looked like they'd just taken showers and put on clean clothes (how do they do that?).

Eddie and I headed uphill through the woods with full packs -- an exhausting slope of steep, soft dirt, loose scree, boulders, and small cliffs. Around noon we stopped at the first flat spot we came to -- a balcony-like ledge near the creek with just enough room for three sleeping bags. Instead of using my handkerchief, we draped Eddie's orange groundsheet over a boulder facing downhill and continued up through an area of gorgeous meadows and slabs to a large rockbound lake at 11,800.

After a break, we tackled the seemingly endless 2000' scree slope on the northwest side of Red Kaweah -- not a climb you want to do more than once. At the top of the scree is a cliff, which you pass on the right to get to more scree and finally to the summit, where we arrived at 4:15. We had a spectacular view of the steep, "sinister" (Secor's term) Black Kaweah, the sharp pinnacles to the south of it, and the vast hinterlands around Picket Guard Peak to the east. After a long break, we hurried down the scree, stopped at the rockbound lake for water, and then continued down out of the realm of rock. At 7:15 our camp came into view and we were glad to see Bob there setting up his tent. He said he'd spotted the groundsheet from half a mile away. By 8 we were eating supper and trading tales or our respective climbs.

Tuesday was the big day of our trip -- Black Kaweah (13,765). We left camp at 7, crossed into the next basin to the north, then hiked up over easy alpine terrain to a lake at 11,800 near the bottom of the face. The route descriptions say to climb a short way up the rightmost of two large chutes, then traverse into the left-hand chute and follow it to the top. The chutes are not obvious until you study the face for awhile -- it's a bit like the north face of Mt. Ritter in that respect. At 9:30 we put on our crampons and climbed a frozen snow slope up into the right-hand chute, until we were about 20 vertical feet below the bottom of a black waterfall pitch (dry when we were there). We then traversed left -- the best traverse line goes behind a smooth vertical slab about 50' wide and 20' high, which is obvious from below the peak. After traversing, it's important to head up the buttress between the chutes for several hundred feet before entering the left hand chute. This buttress is loose class 2-3, while the lower part of the left-and chute is smooth and quite steep.

Once we got in it, the left-hand chute had five short vertical steps of hard class-3, with the rest of it class 2-3. All of it is very loose and requires constant care to avoid rockfall. About 3/4 of the way up is an area of water- polished white slabs -- the area where Bob had roped up on his previous visit. We avoided these slabs by climbing a gravel ramp up to the left, then continuing up the buttress left of the chute. After a hundred feet or so, we were able to traverse back into the chute on an exposed ledge with a couple of class-4 moves. We reached the headwall at the top of the chute at 11:30, then climbed a scree ramp up to the right. Above that, a bit of class-3 and we were up. Yippee! Despite the loose rock, I thought it was a really nice climb. By climbing carefully, you can avoid knocking anything down -- it's not like some peaks with glacial rubble where any footstep sends down a cascade. To me it was an ideal Sierra climb -- some steep snow, some tricky routefinding, and lots of hard class-3 rock with a touch of class-4. And the remote setting with all of that steep black rock around you is hard to beat.

We relaxed on top for well over an hour, reading the historic register and enjoying the views. A recent addition to the summit is an engraved metal plaque to someone named Bruce Jay Nelson. According to the Internet, he was a respected mountaineer and computer scientist, and died not in a climbing accident, but from an untimely heart attack at age 47.

The descent required care, with the five vertical steps seeming harder than on the way up. Led astray by a duck, we started traversing back into the right-hand chute too high, which is an easy mistake to make and will put you above the vertical waterfall pitch. Luckily, I soon realized we were off route and we retraced our steps, destroyed the duck, and found the correct, lower traverse line. Soon we were back on easy ground at the top of the snow slope.

We took a long break at the rockbound lake at 11,800 below the peak, then another one in a beautiful meadow down at 11,100. It was a happy evening in our scenic "balcony camp," with Bob breaking out the deluxe summer sausage to celebrate our success (don't laugh, the stuff tastes great in the mountains).

Wednesday we had a mellow day climbing Big Kaweah (13,802), the hump-like peak to the south that resembles a jumbo-sized Mt. Dana. We cross- countried to the south through an area of meadows with huge trees that looked like an urban park in Paris. Like the rest of the Kaweahs, this peak has lots of loose rock, but we managed to avoid all of it by climbing up solid class-2 boulders to the left of the gully heading up to the saddle northwest of the peak. We then traversed southeastward along the crest of the ridge to the peak. It was all solid class-2, with beautiful views from the ridge.

For the descent, we decided to drop directly down the southwest slope -- a big mistake. About 1000' down this slope is a shattered cliff with some awful loose shit, and that was followed by endless sidehilling on unstable talus. Finally we dropped another 500' and found some better terrain, with areas of meadows and slabs. We finally got back to our creek several hundred feet above our camp, but better too high than too low. This is a big mountainside, the kind of area where a GPS could help you get back to your camp efficiently. We had time to relax for over an hour before cooking supper and spending our third night in our beautiful balcony camp.

Thursday morning we bid farewell to the Kaweah Peaks Ridge, dropped back into Big Arroyo to pick up some food at the bearbox, and then headed north on the trail. Around 11 a.m. the trail broke out of the hot buggy forest and into a nice area of green meadows and expansive views. The long, jagged west ridge of Black Kaweah was impressive -- Secor rates it class-3 but you'd never guess that from looking up at it.

A couple of hours later we set up camp at Lake 10,400 in Nine Lakes Basin -- one of the real beauty spots of the Sierras. Over lunch, we discussed our schedule for the rest of the week -- Triple Divide Peak was still far to the north and required climbing over a high pass and then descending into the basin of Lion Lake in order to get to it. Bob finally came up with an inviting solution -- skip Triple Divide, climb Lion Rock this afternoon, hike about 15 miles south tomorrow to get into position for Needham, then climb it on Saturday morning, hike out, and drive home one day early.

From Lake 11,100' high in Nine Lakes Basin, we climbed clean granite slabs and blocks up onto the south ridge of Lion Rock, then started traversing the ridge north toward the peak. According to the guidebook, this ridge has "a move or two" of class-4. No way -- the ridge has several sharp pinnacles that looked like they'd require a pitch or two of roped climbing. Our rope was stashed miles away near the bearbox, so our plan was to continue up the ridge until it got hard, traverse off to the left (west) into the bowl southwest of Lion Rock, and then climb from there up onto its west ridge.

When we tried this, we ran into a hidden cliff band low on the left side of the ridge, so we eventually had to backtrack along the ridge almost to where we got on it and descend into the bowl from there. The bowl was tedious and ugly -- loose boulders covered by soft snow, and it was already 4 p.m. We soldiered grimly on, our spirits lifted by Bob's constant chatter, and climbed up a loose, exhausting gully on the south side of the west ridge.

From the crest of the ridge, Bob spotted a high, smooth dagger of rock to the north and became quite excited at the prospect of a short death pitch. "That can't be the top," I whined. "I'm too tired to go that far and it looks too hard." Pulling out my photocopied page from Secor, I was surprised to see that I was right. It said to "follow the southern of two west ridges to the summit." We were on that ridge, but continuing up it looked harder than class-3, so we descended slightly into the wide gully between the two west ridges, climbed up the gully, up a smooth class-3 slab at its head, and then up onto the ridge to the left. A few exposed class-3 moves and we were up.

It was 5 p.m., and as was our usual practice, we took a nice long break despite the late hour. The descent into the bowl and the climb back up onto the south ridge went well, and by 6:30 we were at a nice vista point atop the south ridge, which justified another long break. Bob then led down the slabs and down past three lakes to our camp a couple of miles to the south. We had a celebratory banquet of summer sausage, cheddar cheese, and beef stroganoff, and had a happy 4th of July despite the lack of fireworks.

Friday we had a leisurely breakfast and then retraced our steps from Wednesday back down Big Arroyo to the bearbox, where we collected the rest of our food and some climbing gear. We then headed back uphill almost to our Sunday night camp at Little Five Lakes, then headed off on the trail to the south over a ridge to Big Five Lakes and then over a second ridge and down into Lost Canyon. Once again the weather was unseasonably warm, and the bugs, especially when we arrived at the creek in Lost Canyon at 6 p.m., quite bad. We hurried up the trail for a few more miles, finally finding a large area of sand, boulders, and small pine trees that was free of bugs. Lost Canyon is beautiful, with a nicely sculptured cliff on its south wall.

Saturday morning we hiked up the trail toward Sawtooth Pass (11,600). The plan was to branch off to the left at some point and climb Needham, but we figured that the higher we got before dropping our packs, the less elevation we'd have to descend and then reclimb after doing the peak. Eventually we decided, let's be really efficient and climb it from the pass.

Around 9 a.m. we arrived at Columbine Lake (11,000) -- a striking lake set in a basin of sculptured rock below the sheer north face of Sawtooth Peak (12,343). That justified another long break. After chatting with the first people we'd seen in four days, we continued up to Sawtooth Pass, hid our packs, and started traversing south across the west face of Sawtooth Peak. This went okay for awhile, then got steeper and steeper, until we crossed a rib and encountered big air. That's okay, we thought, we'll just backtrack a little bit and descend. Nope -- the lower part of the face has a cliff band running across it. Somehow we'd overlooked the little sentence in Secor saying that the only way to get from Sawtooth Pass to Needham is to climb over the summit of Sawtooth Peak. So we grudgingly headed up class-3 rock toward the summit of Sawtooth, about 500' above us. We gradually worked our way over to the cliff-edge on the right, from where we had our first clear view of Needham.

All three of us had the same thought -- what a crud heap -- an uninspiring pile of boulders separated from us by a mile of up and down scree slogging. Unfortunately for Bob, Needham was the last peak in the entire Mineral King - Kaweah area that he hadn't yet climbed. We worked our way up the class-3 face along the cliff edge, with Bob searching for a way to descend and head over to Needham. He and Eddie found a couple of possible ways down to the snow about 50' below, but I pointed out that we were almost out of water, it was 1 in the afternoon, and the trip over to Needham and back, and the hike down to the car would each take 4 hours or more, blowing our plan to drive home that night. After a long negotiation, Bob agreed to give up on Needham, and we headed up the pleasant class-3 blocks to the summit of Sawtooth, where all of us had been before. We then descended back to Sawtooth Pass the correct way, climbing on nice large blocks and ledges just left of the ridge crest.

On the hike out, I was punished for tampering with Bob's plans, as my four-year old boots quite suddenly gave out, and ridges of leather that had been developing inside them started tearing up my toes. I hobbled down the rocky trail on the north side of Monarch Creek with bloody feet, and was very glad to see the car when we reached it at 5:30.

The Pizza Factory down in Three Rivers was hot, crowded, and noisy. But after eight days out, sitting a table with a pitcher of ice water and a large pizza still seemed like heaven. We arrived home before midnight, and enjoyed a wonderful day of rest on Sunday.

• Jim Ramaker

Jack’s Peak

March 7, 2003

An ambitious troop of seven PCS mountaineers gathered in the Echo Lakes sno-park on a sunny Saturday morning, March 7, for a sojourn deep into the Desolation wilderness: Dee Booth, Steve Eckert, Scott Kreider, Arun Mahajan, Alex Sapozhnikov, co-leader Kelly Maas, and leader Pat Callery. Our objective was to climb two somewhat ordinary peaks, with very ordinary names. We found, as expected, that the majesty of the Desolation wilderness in winter belies its inconspicuous place names.

An enjoyable, if uneventful, cross-country ski & snowshoe brought us several miles from Echo Lakes to Lake Aloha, roughly paralleling the Pacific Crest Trail. We found it useful to stay well to climber's right of the drainage leading up from Upper Echo Lake towards Haypress Meadows, then staying high on the small ridge to the left of the PCT before dropping down steep forested slopes to the lake. As we made our way up through the meadows, fine views of Mt. Ralston gave way to the stunning profiles of snowy Pyramid Peak and the Crystal Range as we neared our camp at the lakeshore, still blanketed in white. A leisurely afternoon was spent constructing our various shelters, and we gathered for a group dinner on a large, dry rock outcrop near the shore. With dusk came strong winds, and all retired early.

The next day awoke before sunrise, and the team set off just as the morning sun began to break through the treetops to light our camp. The ski/shoe across the lake was deceptively long, and we reached the base of the steep south slopes of Jacks Peak after an hour or so. Many in the group donned crampons here, and plucked up various routes on hard snow between the exposed rocks and cliffs on the face. At about 9000' we reached a broad shoulder south of the summit ridge, and elected to traverse around the right to a steep snow slope on the east face. Climbing diagonally up the slope we crested the ridge, climbing over blocks, rubble, and snow to reach the broad snowy summit. All agreed that the climbing on the ridge was enjoyable; not too loose and not too exposed, but challenging enough in the winter conditions to make it interesting. Future parties may want to consider climbing the entire ridge from the south buttress.

As the hour was growing late, the team conceded the long traverse to Dicks until another day. The skiers were disappointed to find that the entire broad west face of the peak had complete snow coverage, whereas our chosen route on the south slope had weaved from left to right between cliff bands and rock outcrops, convincing us to ditch our skis at the base of the peak. Another reason to return. Descending, we plunged down the now softening southeast slopes into the large snow bowl east of the peak. We again traversed to rejoin our ascent route at the 9000' shoulder, now finding the snow soft enough for standing glissades on the steeper parts of the slope. Back to the lake, and the long trudge across the lake to camp. After a leisurely lunch, another long trudge brought us to the head of the Echo Lakes drainage, where the skiers found nirvana on impeccably sweet afternoon corn snow, worth the price of admission on its own. One more trudge, even longer, took us across the lakes and back to the trailhead as the sun set on another glorious weekend in the mountains.

• Pat Callery

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. 

Mt. Shasta

Peak:            Mt. Shasta 14160
Dates:          May 10-11, 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.

Red Slate

Peak:            Red Slate North Couloir (13,163)
Dates:          May 10-12, 2003 (Sat-Mon)
Difficulty:      Class 4, Snow
Contact:     David Harris, http://www.climber.org/WhosWho/David_Harris.html

Backpack seven miles into Constance Lake. Climb the 1000' 40 degree north couloir, possibly bypassing the cornice at the summit on 4th class rock. "A swell view from the summit." This trip will likely require snow shoes, crampons, and a short rope. You should be experienced traveling on steep snow and technical rock. If I haven't climbed with you, please send a brief climbing resume.

Limit: 6 climbers.

Wynne and Pinchot

Peak:            Wynne(13179) and Pinchot(13495)
Dates:          Friday, May 30 - Sunday, June 1
Difficulty:      Class 3, ice ax & crampons required
Contact:     Charles Schafer, 408 354 1545 c_g_schafer@yahoo.com
Contact:     Bob Evans, 408 998 2857 robtwevans@email.msn.com

Friday: Exact route depends on snow conditions. Hopefully, meet at base of Armstrong Cnyn and 4-wheel up; approach hike towards Mt. Perkins (12,591, cl 2) or Armstrong Col. (12,000, cl. 2). No snow alternative of Taboose Pass Trail.

Saturday: Wynne (if from Perkins, via E. ridge, cl. 2; if from Armstrong Col., via W. ridge, cl. 2); traverse to Pinchot (cl. 3); then return to camp.

Mt. Shasta

Peak:            Mt. Shasta 14160
Dates:          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:            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:
     Jim Curl / pcs_webmaster@pacbell.net
     San Francisco, CA

Publicity Chair:
     Rick Booth / pcs-pub-chair@climber.org
     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 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