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 July, 2004     Peak Climbing Section, Loma Prieta Chapter, Sierra Club Vol. 38 No. 7

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

Next General Meeting

Date:          Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Time:          6:00 PM

Program:    Annual BBQ and Gear Swap

As usual, the July meeting is our annual BBQ and gear swap meet at Serra Park in Sunnyvale. The park has been reserved from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM. All family members are welcome. Bring your own food and drink. Alcoholic beverages are permitted. Don't forget a plate, glass, cutlery, and maybe a big roll of paper towels. The charcoal for the BBQ will be provided.

Please bring $3 to contribute to the park reservation fee and the charcoal.

Historically, a gear sale and/or swap meet activity has been a part of the BBQ. Please bring your extra gear if you wish to participate in this event.

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

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

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

Deadline for submissions to the next Scree is Sunday 7/25/2004  •  Meetings are the 2nd Tuesday of each month.

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.

El Capitan

Peaks:          El Capitan (3000' above valley floor) Mt Hoffman, 10,850'
Dates:           July 17-18, Sat-Sun
Difficulty:       Class 1, on trail
Map:            Yosemite National Park (Tom Harrison Recreational Maps)
Leader:         Debbie Benham (h) 650-964-0558, and Linda Sun

Now is your chance to reach the summit of that famous rock wall!! Join us at Crane Flat for car camping and a fun weekend of hiking the trails at Yosemite National Park. Saturday we'll climb the backside of El Cap via Yosemite Falls and take in Eagle Peak along the way. Sunday, we'll have a leisurely stroll up Mt Hoffman. Newcomers and Sierra Club members given preference. Nonrefundable campsite fee of $8 reserves your spot. Contact: Debbie Benham: (h) 650-964-0558.

Mt. Dana

Peaks:          Mt Dana (13,057') via Dana Plateau
Dates:           July 31-Aug 1st (Sat-Sun)
Difficulty:       Class 2
Map:               Mount Dana 7.5' topo
Leader:         Debbie Benham (h) 650-964-0558, and Chris MacIntosh

Cross your fingers and expect a long day...we'll go for the Dana Summit on Saturday and may have to acquiesce to the Dana Plateau. On Sunday, we'll pick another peak...there are so many. Join us for a Tuolumne Meadows carcamp! Newcomers and Sierra Club members will be given preference. A nonrefundable camping fee holds your spot. Contact Debbie Benham: (h) 650-964-0558.

Hooper and Senger

Peaks:          Hooper (12,349, class 2 with a class 4 summit block) & Senger (12,286, class 1)
Dates:           Aug. 13 – Aug. 15 (Fri. - Sun.)
Map:               Florence Lake 7.5 & Mt Hilgard 7.5
Leader:         Charles Schafer, c_g_schafer@yahoo.com (408) 354-1545; Bob Evans, robtwevans@msn.com (408) 998-2857

Please contact Bob.

Friday we’ll hike from Lake Thomas A. Edison to Marie Lake where we’ll set up camp. Saturday we’ll climb Hooper and Senger, then Sunday we’ll hike back out.

The Marie Lake area is an exceptionally scenic place, and we should get some great views of the western Sierra. This trip is suitable for beginners with backpacking skills who are in very good shape, since it is a pretty long hike in. Also, any beginners will probably need to be content not to do Hooper’s actual summit block, since it is class 4.

Four Gables

Peaks:          Four Gables (12,720, class 2 or 3)
Dates:           Aug. 21 – Aug. 22 (Sat. - Sun.)
Difficulty:       Class 2 or 3
Map:               Mt. Tom 7.5
Leader:         Charles Schafer, c_g_schafer@yahoo.com (408) 354-1545; Chris MacIntosh, cmaci@attglobal.net (650) 325-7841

Please contact Chris.

Saturday we’ll hike in to Upper Horton Lake and camp. Sunday we’ll climb Four Gables and hike out. There are several alternate routes, and we’ll pick one that is suitable for the group’s skill level.

Upper Horton Lake is a really pretty place, and we should get some good views of the Sierra since the peak is right on the edge of Humphreys Basin.

This trip is suitable for beginners with backpacking skills who are in reasonably good shape.

Temple Crag-Dark Star Route

June 19-21, 2004

I remember reading the route description for the Dark Star Route on Temple Crag years ago. It seemed it was the most amazing route in the Sierras that I was aware of. At that time I couldn’t cross a street without hurting myself and figured there was no way the Dark Star Route would be a project of mine. Never say never, times change, and I can make it from one curb to the other without getting run over. On June 19, 2004, Alexey Zelditch and I headed up the North Fork of Big Pine Creek to attempt Dark Star on Temple Crag.

Team Alpine Machine got its act together about 11:30 AM Saturday morning and headed up the North Fork of Big Pine Creek. We cut across the outlet of Second Lake and headed up towards Temple Crag on the Mt Alice side of Second Lake. There is a very nice bivy area that is hidden from view from Second Lake on the other side of the moraine coming down from Mt Alice very near the climbing routes on Temple Crag. Unfortunately the good ones were covered with snow at this time of year but we found two decent spots close to the water supply and almost level with the ramp leading up to the start of Dark Star. This took about five hours which included a conversation with a fisherman who informed us we were out of our minds. The bivy spots near to the start of Sun Ribbon Arete were also clear. We rounded out the day by hiking up towards Contact Pass to get an idea what the snow scene was for the access to Contact Pass. The entire left side of Contact Pass was dry. We decided that the ice axes were not going to be needed in order to get down from Contact Pass.

Team Alpine Machine was rolling by 6 AM Saturday morning and at the base of the route by 6:20 AM. The Moynier topo indicates that the start of the route is near a burst of white quartz in the rock and sure enough there it was. Further to the right is the start of Barefoot Bynum. The crux pitch is the first pitch. Alexey got stiffed with this crux lead since I got the crux on Red Dihedral last year. It is 5.10b or so, a thin finger tips crack with some help from stemming and the left edge of the dihedral. A real early morning eye opener. This crack takes small aliens and stoppers. There are two fixed pins at the belay anchor at the top of this pitch.

The second pitch is about 5.8 and ends at a two pin and one bolt anchor. The next pitch is the best one on the route. It starts with a big reach into a hand crack protected by a dubious looking knifeblade piton and continues up another thin finger tips crack and ends at a two pin belay. This is also small aliens and stoppers country. This was also the last we saw of any fixed pins or fixed belays. Two moderate pitches later (5.7 to 5.8) brought us to a chimney pitch. This was totally fun. After that there is one pitch of 5.8 or so and then some fourth class. At this point the Moynier topo becomes extremely misleading. After about two pitches of fourth class we did indeed get to the “top” of the lower buttress but there is a bunch of fourth class and third class various and sundry “pitches” to get to the gap between the lower buttress and the upper buttress. This is obvious when looking up at the route from Second Lake but this is not indicated on the Moynier topo.

Eventually we ended up at the gap separating the lower buttress from upper buttress. We cruised up the second buttress but we have absolutely no idea as to where the route indicated by Moynier topo goes. Nothing was harder than about 5.7 and supposedly there is a 5.9/10a roof somewhere up there but we never saw it. This is followed by another bunch of fourth class and third class “pitches”, one rappel, and then finally two rappels to drop us into the gap between the upper buttress and the final summit approach. None of this is indicated on the Moynier topo. This was accompanied by the occasional snow flurry and then a couple of solid hours of non stop thunder coming from Owens Valley. Fortunately, none of the storm blew over the summit area of Temple Crag but it sure was disconcerting.

Once in the gap between the upper buttress and the main peak the climbing drops to consistent third class. An hour later we were on the summit signing the register. This was at about 8 PM and the sun was near to setting. We took off for the talus and scree heading for Contact Pass and found the rappel anchor just as it got dark. A 100 foot rappel dropped us onto the top of Contact pass and using headlamps we chugged down Contact Pass to the snow field at the bottom. We decided to go to the far right side of the terminal moraine at the end of the snowfield since the north side of the terminal moraine had been avalanching all day and night. Dangerous. The snow was still soft and we kicked steps down to the sand at the end of the snow. A short hike downhill and Team Alpine Machine had returned to camp. It was now 10:30 PM, about 18.5 hours after we left camp. Team Alpine Machine is not known for its speed but we made it. The next morning we headed for home.

Final notes:

This is an interesting but not overly difficult route. The most difficult climbing is on the first pitch but the difficult section is short. After that there is only one more pitch at the 5.9 level and that is pitch three. There is a lot of third and fourth class climbing on top of the buttresses. The route is very long and moving quickly is advised. Team Alpine Machine would have moved faster if we had recognized that we were on easier terraine and had coiled the rope. If it looks like third class it probably is. Coil the rope and jet. The Moynier topo should be taken with a grain of salt. The consecutive look of the pitches in the topo is incorrect and the so called fourth class pitches should be treated as “lots of fourth class”. This route should appeal to people who like third classing along ridges. I personally find this tedious and think the Sun Ribbon Arete is a far better route. While the Dark Star Route is considered a Sierra Classic, even Croft does not rate it as highly as the Sun Ribbon Arete. Croft does consider Dark Star to be one of the “Big Four” Sierra Alpine Routes and this probably contributes to the routes mystique.


The best spot for a bivy is above Second lake. To get there cross the outlet of Second Lake and then head down and around Second Lake close to the shore of Second Lake. There is a faint upward sloping trail through the scree leading up from the outlet of Second Lake towards the moraine at the end of Second Lake. This requires a bunch of sidehill climbing and walking which is tedious and tiring. It is much easier to just contour around the lake and then head up the moraine at the end of the lake. Keep going to the left and uphill. Head towards Temple Crag and this brings you to the sandy bivy areas. There are excellent bivy spots near the start of the Sun Ribbon Arete and good ones lower for Dark Star. The water here comes from melt water from a snow field and is somewhat temperamental. It should be flowing later in the day but can be dry in the morning. An extra water container or canteen is very useful.

Climbing route:

Once past the first pitch the route itself is quite moderate. A double set of small aliens up to orange and a selection of stoppers work well. We brought larger pieces up to 3 inches but only one of each. We used a single 60m rope. Bailing off this route would be difficult and a double rope system is recommended if the weather looks iffy. Be prepared for a “lot” of third and fourth class climbing on top of the buttresses plus a couple of rappels, none of which are indicated on the Moynier topo.


Head for Contact Pass which is towards the east. Mt Alice should be visible. There is a obvious gully heading down towards Contact pass in this direction. This is not the descent. The descent is to the left (north) and should be marked with a distinct climbers trail in the scree. Going down from this point keep drifting to the right. There is a obvious fin of rock to the far right which blocks further travel in that direction. The rap station is about 20 to 30 feet before getting to this fin and straight down. There should be a duck here and there in this area which indicates you are getting close. Once on top of Contact Pass head down to the north. Avoid heading down the terminal moraine at the end of the snowfield. It is dangerous. Either keep to the far right or the far left.


Climbing California’s High Sierra: The Classic Climbs on Rock and Ice, Second Edition, John Moynier and Claude Fiddler, The Globe Pequot Press (Falcon Guides), 2002, ISBN 0-7627-1085-3. Lousy topo and route description.

The Good, the Great, and the Awesome, Peter Croft, Maximus Press, 2002, ISBN 0-9676116-4-4. Lousy topo.

• Rick Booth

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. 

Trinity Alps Traverse

Peaks:          Trinity Alps Traverse
Dates:           Sept 4-6, 2004
Contact:    Tim Hult, timdhult@sbcglobal.net, 408-970-0760

This is a full 3 day traverse of the seldom visited little cousin of the Sierras. Think Granet peaks and rushing streams but on a smaller scale.

We'll drop a car at one end and circle around to begin our trip on the North. An attempt on Mt. Thompson will also be made on the 2nd day.

Nepal/ Chulu West Climb + Trek

Peaks:          Chulu West (21,752'), Trek Manang Region
Dates:           Oct 4-24 (Mon-Sun)
Difficulty:       Trekkers Peak Class A, Moderate to Difficult (Or Trekkers Can Skip Peak)
Location:    Nepal - Manang Region
Contact:    Warren Storkman, Dstorkman@aol.com

This trip to Chulu West (21,752') is a Class A trekkers peak from the Manang region of the Annapurna Circuit. We would leave for Nepal early October 2004. Trek Charges are US $1045.00 per person 16 day trek also covers internal air. Peak permit is US $350.00 for up to 4 persons – above 4 persons US $40.00 each. Extra Sherpa equipment allowance US $250.00 each sherpa. After peak climb the group will cross the Thorung La foot pass to reach the Jomson airport and then fly back to KTM. On the way to Jomson we'll visit Kagbini, a village that is the same as it was 500 years ago. Those who only want to do the trek without the peak climb are also welcome.

Aconcagua 22,800 Argentina

Peaks:          Aconcagua
Dates:           December 28, 2004
Contact:    Warren Storkman, Dstorkman@aol.com

A difficult walk-up to the highest peak in South America

Elected Officials

    Pat Callery / pcs-chair@climber.org
    1225 Bracebridge Court
    Campbell, CA 95008
    408-871-8702 home

Vice Chair and Trip Scheduler:
    Linda Sun / lindasun@sbcglobal.net
    P. O. Box 3208
    Saratoga, CA 95070

Treasurer and Membership Roster (address changes):
    Jeff Fisher / han1cannae@msn.com
    876 Lewis Avenue
    Sunnyvale, CA 94086

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 7/25/2004  •  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