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December, 2005                                          Peak Climbing Section, Loma Prieta Chapter, Sierra Club                       Vol. 39 No. 12

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



General Meeting


Date:              Tuesday, December 13

Time:              7:00 PM

Where:            Caliper Life Sciences

605 Fairchild Drive

                        Mountain View, CA 94043

                        (see below for directions)

Program:         Christmas Party

hosted by Stephane Mouradian

The December meeting is our annual Christmas Party where we ignore the usual formalities of meetings and indulge in a potluck dinner and other wild, devil may care antics.  We'll have a slide show, where everyone is invited to bring about a dozen of their best shots.  Please bring something for the potluck either from the list below (using the first letter of your last name or the last letter of your first name).  Also, please bring your own utensils, drinking glasses, napkins or paper towels, and paper plates (or washable).


            A-F:     Snacks, Appetizers, Salads

            G-L:     Main Course

            M-R:    Drinks

            S-Z:     Desserts


However, if you have a really special dish you would like share with us that is outside your category, by all means bring it!


Note that the meeting room is equipped with PC and LCD projector, so feel free to bring digital pictures if you want, but please put the files on a CD, or even better, a USB flash drive, and bring it with you. Please do not email the large files to Stephane.


Location:          Caliper Life Sciences

605 Fairchild Drive

Mountain View, CA 94043


Directions:       From San Jose (Northbound Highway 101):  Take the Ellis Street Exit and turn left going back under the freeway.  Turn left on Fairchild Drive (first exit after freeway on-ramp).  Go approximately .25 miles to the Caliper building on the right.


From San Francisco (Southbound Highway 101):  Take Ellis Street exit and turn right onto Ellis Street.  Take the first left (100 ft) on Fairchild Drive.  Go .25 miles to the Caliper building on the right.


Thanks from the outgoing PCS-chair

By: Arun Mahajan [arun.mahajan@att.net]


I would like to thank you all for letting me serve as the PCS chair for the Nov-04 to Oct-05 term. It was an honour to serve the PCS and I was glad that I got an opportunity to give back something to the group whose member I have been for the past decade. It is due to the PCS that I have made many friends and have done numerous enjoyable walks in the mountains.


All these PCS officers helped me during my term,

Chris Prendergast: Vice Chair,

Bob Bynum: Treasurer,

Debbie Benham: Scree editor,

Rick Booth: Webmaster,

Linda Sun: Pub Comm Chair,

Paul Vlasveld: SCREE mailing,

Steve Eckert: List master,

Dee Booth: PCS MC Chair,

Scott Kreider and Rick Booth: PCS MC members.

Also, thanks to all the people who presented slide shows during my term and those who brought snacks to every PCS meeting.

Also my thanks to Stephane Mouradian for letting the PCS use his company's cafeteria for the PCS December-04 potluck meeting.

I hope that you all give the same support to the excellent new team headed by Tom Driscoll.

See you all at the December-05 PCS meeting and potluck


New PCS Officers

The PCS elections were held during the November PCS meeting (8th Nov, 2005).

The following officers were elected:

Tom Driscoll, Chair

Bill Kirkpatrick, Vice Chair

Landa Robillard, Treasurer.

They take office right away.

Many thanks to the previous team of Arun Mahajan (Chair), Chris Prendergast (Vice Chair) and Bob Bynum (Treasurer) for doing astellar job during their term.


Debbie Benham, Nancy Fitzsimmons and Bob Suzuki,

      The PCS Nominating Committee


PCS Trips

PCS trips must be submitted through the Scheduler (see back cover for details).

Mt Diablo

Date:      Sunday, December 4, 2005

Peak:     Mt Diablo (3,849’), class 1

Leader(s):  Aaron Schuman


                    Nancy Fitzsimmons, 650/938-2106



Join  us for a fun hike around and up Mount Diablo.  This conditioning  hike is a moderately paced trip suitable for beginner and veteran peak climbers.  The hike will consist of 16 miles and 4500 ft of elevation gain with some steep trails.  We will start at Mitchell Canyon, go to Eagle Peak, and continue to the summit.  Leave the ice axe and crampons at home.  Carpool 8am at Mission Blvd and I-680 Park & Ride (across from McDonald’s) or meet 9am at the Mitchell Canyon trailhead.

Snow Mountain

Date:      Sunday, December 11, 2005

Peak:     Snow Mountain   (7,056’)

Leader(s):  George Van Gorden


Bill Kirkpatrick



And now for something a little bit different, a snow mountain in December without snow, maybe. We will meet at the exit off highway 5 for highway 162 in Willows early on Sunday morning, drive to the trailhead, which will be a bit of a drive, climb the mountain and be back to our cars by dark.  The hike will be 13 miles with a few thousand feet of elevation gain.  We may need snowshoes.

Mt Sizer

Date:    Saturday, January 7, 2006

Peak:   Mt Sizer, Henry Coe Park

Leader(s):        Nancy Fitzsimmons, 650/938-2106


                         Linda Sun, 408/378-7533



This is a wonderful loop with great vistas from the ridge.  This hike will be fast and strenuous.  Please call the leaders if you haven’t hiked with this group.  Heavy rain cancels. Carpool: 7:30am at Cubberley High in Palo Alto (Middlefield & Montrose), or, 7:45am at Cottle and Hwy 85 Park&Ride, or, 8:30am at Henry Coe Park Hdqs.

This hike is colisted with the DHS.


Date:      January 20-22, 2006

Peak:     Sentinel  (9634’), class 2

Leader(s):  George Van Gorden


Bill Kirkpatrick



We will meet in Ballarat in the Panamint Valley on Friday morning by 10, car pool to the trail head for Surprise Canyon, and then backpack to the Panamint City.   We climb the mountain on Saturday and return to our cars by dark.  Weather permitting, we may do a hike on Porter Peak on Sunday or back to the Bay Area.  What we do will depend entirely on the weather.




Snow Camping Seminar prepares you for camping happily in the snow, and gives tips for day skiers or snowshoers caught out overnight. Participants must be experienced summer backpackers as this course will give you winter information and tips but doesn’t teach basic backpacking.

Three evening classes, held in the Palo Alto area, on Tues, Jan. 17, 24 and 31. One weekend field trip on Feb 4-5, 2006. Limited to 40 participants for the evening sessions, and 25 participants on the outing.

$40 cost includes books, instruction, and some common equipment used on field trip.

To sign up, send $40 check, payable to BSCS, to P.O. Box 802, Menlo Park, CA 94026. Include your name(s), phone #, email, postal address, Sierra Club member number (if oversubscribed, preference will be given to members). Upon receipt, we will acknowledge and send info and directions.


Questions? Contact

Chris MacIntosh at 650/325-7841, cmaci@sbcglobal.net,


Steve Sergeant at 408/937-8116, SteveSgt@effable.com



Snow Camping Seminar Application


Name:             ___________________________


SC Member #____________


Address: _______________________________



Phone: ________________________

Email: ____________________________




Allen Steck:  One Step At A Time

By: Debbie Benham [deborah05@sbcglobal.net]


At age 79, Allen Steck is still looking for climbing partners – and finding them.  I first heard of Allen Steck in connection with Steve Roper.  You know, Roper’s guide to the high sierra where beta says to ‘attain the ridge’.  He’s the guy who pioneered the ‘Steck-Salathe Wall’ and is co-author of the book, Fifty Classic Climbs in the Sierra.  I had a hard time finding Allen at home.  Phone call after phone call, message after message, and finally, a return call. He’d been climbing at Joshua Tree. 

I focused on the 1960’s -- a tumultuous time not only in the life of these United States, but for mountaineering and Allen Steck.  No slouch, this man; no couch-potato, this climber.

In the summer of 1963, Allen, Dick Long and John Evans traversed the Teton Range in Wyoming in 22 hours.  Steck commented, “Of course, now, climbers do it in 6 hours.” There’s always a backstory: “We had originally wanted to do the traverse of the Tetons, then go down to Estes Park to climb Long’s Peak. Well, we failed on our first attempt [of the traverse]. We were so tired coming off the first time, that we were falling asleep while walking. Someone actually fell off the trail. Anyway, we were going to leave the next day for Long’s Peak, and, I think Dick called a friend and they said, ‘Don’t come!  Bad weather.” I don’t remember who said it, but, we were sitting around camp, fire going, talking about the traverse, and someone said, ‘Let’s try again!’ and we did.”

In 1965, Steck joined Dick Long, Jim Wilson and John Evans to chart a new route on Mt Logan, at 19,550 ft, in Kluane National Park, Yukon Territory. The “Hummingbird Ridge” route has yet to be repeated and their trip is now legend.  Teamwork was critical on Logan. Steck recalled, “We really had no leader. When one was needed, one was there.  We knew it would take a long time; knew we couldn’t have a prima donna; knew we had to work together.  We were pulling a heavy load and we had to pull together or [the load] would be split apart.”  Allen remembers that several years later, another group attempted the same route.  They didn’t make it. There was  “…no cohesion and it all started to fracture. The leader did not do a good job.”

Mt Waddington in southwest Canada, British Columbia, stands 13,185 ft at the north end of the Tiedemann Glacier. Only one group has been successful in winter and their summit has not been repeated. Steck was part of that team. Eight Sierra Club members joined with British Columbia Mountaineering Club in 1969 to try new routes up Mt Waddington, specifically the northeast face and southeast tower. Steck and friends forged a new route up the southeast chimney. He used a pendulum move to close a 30ft gap from chimney to summit ridge.  Allen commented, “Luck was involved! We got to Vancouver BC and were [about] to fly to Prince George, just north of Mt Waddington. The weather report was pretty grim. A storm came into Vancouver and we thought to ourselves we’re not going to get in. Well…the jet stream was moving west to east. As it came in, it split and one part went north of Mt Waddington and another part went south [of the peak]. The weather was totally clear for a week. No wind. Calm.”

For a time in the mid-sixties, he was part owner of The Palisade School of Mountaineering. “Larry Williams started the Mountain Guide Service out of Bishop, California. He did some guiding in Yosemite and in the Palisade Basin area of the Sierra. He bought a twin-engine plane to help take people from the camp at Palisade Basin into town.  One flight, one engine failed and he was killed in the crash.  His wife didn’t know what to do with the business and I offered to keep it going.  I renamed it (PSOM) and it lasted for about five years. My son and daughter came and helped out at times.”  Due to growing liability issues and cost, Allen sold the business to John Fisher, at the time, a Yosemite climbing guide.

Back to present day, I asked Allen how mountaineering and climbing has changed.   Allen was quick to answer,   “So many more talented climbers now. It used to be climbs were graded to 5.9, then you’d have the aided climb rating. Now, the climbs are 4 grades of 10, all the way to grade 13.  I was at a climbing gym today [Class 5 in San Rafael] and I can occasionally do a 5.10, but some of those climbers… doing much harder stuff.  Another thing, equipment has changed. Take climbing shoes [for example]; you can get all kinds for all types of climbs.”

Allen no longer climbs at altitude. “I can’t. I had a heart event about 12 years ago. There was no invasive procedure, but there’s heart fibrillation. I can still rock climb, but now I’m doing mostly 5.8’s, 5.9’s.”   Wow.  I should be so lucky.  Thanks for the interview AllenJ

--Debbie Benham

[Reference: Ways To The Sky, Andy Selters, The American Alpine Club Press, 2004.]

Private Trips

Private trips are not insured, sponsored, or supervised by the Sierra Club. They are listed here because they may be of interest to PCS members. Private trips may be submitted directly to the editor.

For the following 2 trip listings, please contact:

Warren Storkman, 650-493-8959, dstorkman@aol.com

·Date: January 14, 2006

Kilimanjaro, Tanzania  [optional safari following]

·Date:  May 2006

Mt Kailas in Tibet, or, Meno Nani (7728m) in Tibet


Pinnacles Climbing

 November 19/20, 2005

By: Rick Booth [rwbooth@comcast.net]

Over the years many people have asked for suggestions for starting or improving their rock climbing and rope handling skills.  Those of us in the PCS with an interest in rock climbing have attempted to handle this interest in various ways.  This years project was designed around a weekend at the Pinnacles National Monument and the goal was to match interested people with the various PCS members with rock climbing skills.  This was very informal. In fact, Allan Johnson asked to be included based on a forwarding of my original announcement to the bayarearock group on yahoo.com.  Go figure.  In any case, on the weekend of November 19 and 20, 2005,  Bob Suzuki, Ron Karpel, Arun Mahajan, Scott Kreider, Linda Sun and Rick Booth climbed for two days with several interested individuals.  These included Joerg Lohse, Tom Driscoll, Jeff Fisher, Richard Vassar, Lisa Barboza, Steve Landes, and Allan Johnson.  Since we had plenty of room at the campsite, Kai Wiedman, Nancy Fitzsimmons, Chris Prendergast,  Stephane Mouradian, Brian (don’t know the last name), and Harry Xue joined us for hiking, biking and camping.  In addition, David Altmar and Helen joined us for climbing and camping.

Saturday was spent primarily at the Discovery Wall.  Climbs there ranged from the classic (and bird poop infested) Swallow Crack, 5.6, to the overhanging haul, The Big Pucker, 5.10d.  All the standard classics were climbed at the Discovery Wall.  On Sunday, several of us headed for the Discovery Wall to get an annoying squishing on The Cleft, 5.6 , and moved further up the canyon to the Back Door for a thorough thrashing on Sunwheel, 5.11a.  Bob Suzuki and several others added a few climbs at the Upper Crust before heading over to the Back Door.

The weather was surprising excellent, in spite of the early morning cold, and was even too hot in the Discovery Wall area once the sun had warmed the area up.  This was a good trip and everyone seems to have benefited.  I am considering arranging the same trip during April next year.


The picture captions got lost in the translation this time. The first picture is Scott Kreider on "The Cleft", the second picture is Bob Suzuki on "The Swallow Crack", and the last picture is Allan Johnson starting up "The Ordeal".



Mt. Russell, East Ridge

July 23 – 24, 2005


Leaders:       Linda Sun and Dee Booth

Participants:  Tom Driscoll, Chris and John Kerr,  Bill Holt


At 8:05 AM on Saturday we started walking up the Mt. Whitney Portal trail to the turnoff for the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek.  Water was thundering down the creek and, as we made our way up the drainage to Lower Boy Scout Lake, I saw streams of water I had not seen before on previous trips up the North Fork.  After negotiating the wet slabs above Lower Boy Scout Lake we arrived at Upper Boy Scout Lake at noon.

A trio from a neighboring campsite came over to say hello and told us about a route up to the ridge called the Rockwell Variation.  I was not looking forward to the long sandy slog up to the plateau so I was willing to consider this route.  After getting the details we all agreed to try it.

At 6:00 AM on Sunday we left camp and walked up the Upper Boy Scout Lake drainage staying on the right side of the inlet.  The boulders are solid and the scrambling was enjoyable.  We continued following the drainage past a tarn to just short of the permanent snow field at the end of the canyon.

At this point we turned right and scrambled up some third class rock which was followed by a few hundred feet of loose scree.  While this was unpleasant and tedious it was much better than the 1,600 feet of loose scree on the standard route.

At 8:30 AM we reached the base of the east ridge and started up, keeping to the right of the crest.  The exposure was moderate and the route was never harder than class three.  By 10:15 we were signing the register on the summit. Our rest was short-lived because clouds were blowing in threatening to obscure our view of the route.  Quickly, we returned to the plateau.

Since we arrived back in camp earlier than expected, around 1:00 PM, we decided to hike out.  Just as we began walking it began to hail.  I consider walking down the slabs to Lower Boy Scout Lake in a hail storm to be the crux of the trip.

An excellent description of the Rockwell Variation to the East Ridge route, complete with photos, is on SummitPost.


Dee Booth

Los Gatos, CA

Elected Officials

     Tom Driscoll /

     2149 Junction Ave #3, Mountain View, CA 94043

     650-938-2106  home

Vice Chair and Trip Scheduler:
     Bill Kirkpatrick / pcs2006@earthlink.net

    28 N. First St #100,  San Jose, CA 95113

    408-497-2957 work

Treasurer and Membership Roster (address changes):
     Landa Robillard / kellylanda@sbcglobal.net

     408-378-5311 home

Publicity Committee Positions

Scree Editor:
     Joerg Lohse / JoergPCS@gmail.com

     1233 Elm Lake Ct, San Jose, CA 95131

      408-452-1406 home

PCS World Wide Web Publisher:
     Rick Booth / rwbooth@comcast.net

     237 San Mateo Av., Los Gatos, CA 95030

     408-354-7291 home

Publicity Chair:
      Paul Vlasveld / pvlasvel@yahoo.com

     789 Daffodil Way, San Jose, CA 95117

     408-247-6472 home


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/

Email List Info

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 Fri, Dec 23th. Meetings are the second 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