Home | Scree | Back Issues


June, 2005                                                    Peak Climbing Section, Loma Prieta Chapter, Sierra Club                         Vol. 39 No. 6

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

General Meeting


Date:              Tuesday, June 14th

Time:              7:30 PM

Where:           Peninsula Conservation Center

                        3921 E Bayshore Rd

                        Palo Alto, CA

                        (see below for directions)

Program:      La Ruta Normal of

                        Aconcagua, Argentina     

At an elevation of 6962meters (22800ft), Aconcagua is the highest summit in the western hemisphere.  Located near the Argentina-Chile border, this beautiful peak is a massif separated from the main crest of the Andes Mountain range. Come and enjoy this slide show presented by PCS mountaineer, Dan Tupper.

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.

Sierra Summit 2005

Join us at Sierra Summit 2005 and be a part of the largest gathering of Sierra Club members in history!

When, you ask?

September 8-11, 2005 in San Francisco

Our Purpose

The purpose of the Summit is to create a fun, educational, and inspirational three-day event for Sierra Club members and delegates that will create extraordinary good energy for, and within, the Sierra Club to carry out its mission.

Our Goal

The goal of the event is to inspire and enlist members of all ages to return home willing and prepared to explore, protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment in their homes and communities and beyond.

Sierra Summit will feature leading keynote speakers, 60+ educational seminars in seven key areas, opportunities for sharing information and making new friends from around the world, and an exposition hall with over 150 outdoor and green exhibitors ranging from energy and transportation, green building, apparel and home, hiking, camping and lifestyle products and services.  The Summit will be capped off by an evening of entertainment.

For more information, go to:



PCS Trips

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

Trickling Down the Hourglass

Date:       June 11-12 (Sat-Sun)

Peak:       Mt Dade, 13,600’  Class 2/3

                Ice axe and crampons needed; snow travel

Maps:    Mt Abbott

Leader(s):   Dee Booth, dlbooth813@sbcglobal.net

                    Arun Mahajan, arun.mahajan@att.net

The Rock Creek and Little Lakes Valley section of the Sierra offers some of the best scenery and high altitude climbing that one can get in this range and all within half-a-day’s walk from the trailhead.  Our objective this weekend will be to summit Mt Dade via the aptly named Hourglass Couloir.  We will hike in early and drop packs and attempt this route.  The longer days and the snow, softened by the afternoon sun on this moderate slope, will offer a good challenge to our ice axe and cramponing skills.  After summitting, we will get back to camp, then have a relaxed walk out on Day 2.  We will even be able to complete the drive and get back home at a reasonable hour!

Participants must be good Class 3 climbers and experienced in the use of ice axe and crampons on moderate to high angled slopes.   Since this is a restricted (official) Sierra Club trip, participants must be Sierra Club members.  Permit is for six people.

Mt Conness

Date:       July 30-31 (Fri night-Sun)

Peak:       Mt Conness, 12590’, Class 2

                From Saddlebag Lake

Map:       Yosemite National Park

Leader:   Debbie Benham, 650-964-0558


CoLeader: Allen Hu, 408-268-0430


A great route to the top of Conness (said to be the most popular from the east). Some scrambling but all Class 2.  We’ve reserved campsites at Tuolumne Meadows for the weekend. $8 nonrefundable campsite fee holds your spot. Hope you can join us!

Tuolumne Meadows Carcamp

Date:       August 6-7 (Fri night-Sun)

Peak:       Cloud’s Rest, 9926’, Class 1

Map:       Yosemite National Park

                (Tom Harrison Recreation Maps)

Leader(s):  Debbie Benham, 650-964-0558


                   Chris MacIntosh, 650-325-7841


Join us for a lovely time in that most pristine of all alpine meadows!  We’ve reserved campsites at Tuolumne Meadows campground for the weekend. Saturday, we’ll hike to Cloud’s Rest: the largest and most expansive granite face in Yosemite National Park. Sunday, we’ll decide which peak is next! Newcomers and Sierra Club members given preference. $8 nonrefundable campsite fee holds your spot.      



A Series of Fortunate Events

Date climbed: 4-7 March 2005        

By Harlan Suits [Harlan.suits@lmco.com]

(This report was first published on climber.org and is reprinted with permission from the author.)

It's satisfying to succeed on a backcountry project on which you earlier failed miserably. This was my experience skiing to Sentinel Dome--not the well-known nubbin on the south rim of Yosemite Valley, but the obscure nubbin on the south rim of the South Fork of the Kings River. Several years ago, my first attempt to reach Sentinel Dome bogged down in deep snow several miles short of the goal. This time, to sweeten the deal, I added an extra day and switched from an "up and back" trip to a loop trip that also sampled the high country of the Tablelands.

After camping in the Lodgepole parking lot, John Langbein, Rich Henke, Steve Cochran and I rose to find an inch of new snow on the ground and more on the way. Were we going to get dumped on like the previous attempt? The key to success was to make good progress on this first, bad-weather, day: the weatherman predicted sunshine for the remainder of our trip. By the time we began skiing up Twin Lakes trail, the snow had stopped, with patches of blue sky appearing.

Thanks to John's GPS and Rich's ability to discern snow-covered trails, we stayed on route through heavily forested terrain. We moved north over Cahoon Gap. The snow flurries returned several times more but never stayed long. The skiing was pleasant, through just a few inches of new snow. At 3:30 we crossed JO Pass. Below, the Central Valley brimmed with clouds. For that evening's campsite, we descended to Rowell Meadow in the basin between Kettle and Mitchell Peaks by 5:30. There we found a hole in the snowpack that exposed a trickle of water. Steve, the only person in plastic boots, graciously volunteered to wade into this swampy area several times to fill up our water bottles. Success: we had skied 9-10 miles.

Both our tents were equipped with homemade hanging propane/butane stoves. I marveled at how quickly these double-boiler contraptions heated water. The stoves helped us get away quickly the next morning: while the stove is cooking, the tent warms up and you can start packing in comfort even though it's still cold outside. We left camp at 8:00 a.m.

Our first objective Saturday was to ski to the top of Mitchell Peak. At 10, 300 feet, the summit pokes just above timberline, giving awesome views of the Monarch Divide to the north, the Sierra crest to the east and the Mt. Silliman area to the south. Mitchell had been the farthest point reached on my earlier attempt, and I felt the excitement of entering the "unknown" as we descended the north slope in nice powder.

Sentinel Ridge is a natural ski route, extending northeast from the summit of Mitchell gently downhill to Sentinel Dome. The dome is out of the way, but that's part of the appeal: I'd never heard of anyone skiing there. As the ridge narrowed, we traversed slopes on one side or the other to avoid having to ski up and over bumps. With about 2 miles to go, we dropped our backpacks and continued unladen. At last the domecame into view. It seemed "way down there," and the bald granite looked quite steep. Could we get up it? The final slopes leading to it were the best powder yet, about a foot deep under widely spaced trees.

So tiny from a distance, the dome looked impregnable as we approached its flanks: the two sides in profile were snow-plastered slab; the side toward us a vertical cliff. Undaunted, Rich kicked steps up to a wide chimney that split the face and, after a difficult mantel, disappeared from sight. About 10 minutes later we heard his summit whoop. The rest of us, loathe to try the move in wet ski boots, were content to let him uphold the group's honor.

We slogged back up the ridge to our packs, enjoying great views of the mile-high wall of Kings Canyon on the right and Sugarloaf Valley to the left. By the time we reached our packs the sun had set, so we pitched camp a little below the ridgetop at about 9000 feet.

The next morning we descended a south-trending spur of Sentinel Ridge into the Sugarloaf Creek drainage in preparation for our long climb up to the Tablelands. We were not looking forward to descending breakable crust, but found we could ski on top of the snowpack in most places. When we saw the enticing white expanse of Williams Meadow in the valley west of us we abandoned the ridge and made a beeline for easy ground.

Soon we had crossed the main fork of Sugarloaf Creek and were skinning up the broad, forested south-trending ridge between the South and East forks of Sugarloaf Creek. There are several parallel canyons that dead-end into the north wall of the Tablelands. A lot of them have significant avalanche slopes, but our chosen route looked pretty good on the map: just before the ridge gets craggy, a moderately angled ramp cuts southeast into the upper basin of the east fork at around 9600 feet. We reached the unnamed lake at the head of this canyon at 3:30. It seemed too early to camp, so we kept moving, ascending the obvious rounded buttress that exits the canyon's southwest wall.

The angle steepened to about 35 degrees and the powder increased to more than a foot. This was the one place on the day's route where a potential avalanche slope was unavoidable. Were two days of sun enough to stabilize the snow? Normally I would have stopped and dug a pit to evaluate the layers, but Steve was way ahead at this point, and he just steamed right up the hump with no dire consequences. Steve clinched the MVP award by breaking trail almost the entire climb, about 3400 vertical feet.

At the pass I scratched my head. Ahead of us was a broad snowy ridge, not the big drop into the Tablelands we were expecting. Soon we realized we had one more mini-pass to cross, a little over 11,000 feet. On the other side, the snow-plastered fangs of the Kaweah peaks came into view over the broad snowy basin of the Kaweah River's Marble Fork. To the south we recognized the popular ski peaks above Pear Lake Hut but saw no tracks on them. It was getting cold fast, but the advantage of being up high late in the day was an awesome light show as the peaks turned orange with alpenglow. There was no flat ground in sight for camping, but fortunately we found a suitable spot in a gulley as darkness fell.

The next morning our exposed campsite got early sun. The ski downvalley was a lot of fun-fast conditions on frozen snow. We arrived at Pear Lake Hut as the occupants were finishing a late breakfast. We reached our cars at Wolverton mid-afternoon. It was a great trip, about 40 miles of varied terrain and only a few potential avalanche slopes. The deep snowpack made the forested terrain surprising free of obstacles such as down timber.


Not Your Standard Mountaineering Experience


Huangshan, China (1886 m)


 By Ron Karpel [ronny@karpel.org]

Hotel reservation in one hand, and cable car ticket in the other, we took our place at the end of the long line. An hour later, we have squeezed in to the cable car together with 50 other tourists, and were swift up the 2000 ft ride.

Arriving at the upper station, we where greeted by a bunch of porters who have offered to carry our bags to the hotel for $15. The trail from the upper station to the Xihai Hotel is about 10 ft wide and well paved. Navigating around people is the only challenge. We spent the afternoon hiking around the hotel area, climbing the peaks around and taking sunset pictures. Dinner at the hotel’s restaurant was surprisingly good, and they had an English menu with pictures.

The following day I started early and headed for the summit, Lotus Peak (1886 m).




There were lots of ups and downs along the way, but with paved trails and staircases, I made good time. There were plenty of sites of interests where I could stop and take a picture of a tree or a rock of a particular interest. There where places to by drinks, snacks, fresh cucumbers seemed to be popular. Finally, the trail steepened and started to climb the final peak which seemed to be about 1000 ft. above the general mountain area. The trail was amazing, there where places where the concrete platform was just abutted to the cliff with one side hanging over air. Other places it went through tunnels which must have been dynamited through the rock. If not for the trail, it would have been a terrific rock climb, maybe it still is. But there were no rock climbers anywhere. Close to the summit things started to get dicey. The big exposure started to get to people, who are not used to it, and did not consider chain railing enough of a security. Finally, I arrived at the summit area. But with so many people trying to get their picture taken on the highest point or just hanging out, It was hard to move around. I stayed just enough for a picture and headed down to a quieter ledge to take my lunch break. 

Down from Lotus Peak I made my way to Celestial Capital Peak (1810 m). Here they have carved the staircase in the granite and also curved a hand railing from the rock. The end of the railing is shaped like a snake head, very creative.


At some point the trail narrows and passing over a large bolder on the ridge proper there are 1000 ft. drops on either side. Luckily, there were rope railings on either side and the path was cut flat. The summit area was a little less crowded then Lotus peak, so I could take a long rest on the summit.

My legs were starting to get sore as I made my way back to the hotel. The good trail and staircases mad it possible to keep a fast pace, but it took its toll on my knees.


Huashan (2160 M)


We were on a site seeing trip to Xi’an, the location of the Terri-cotta Worrier Museum when I took the opportunity to climb Huashan, one of the 4 sacred mountains of China.

The cable car dropped me off to about 1600 meter from where I started my way up the paved trail/staircase. The going was tough as I needed to find my way through hordes of people and paddlers. There where many trails going in every direction, but the cheep map that I bought was not very clear about which goes where. I just followed the crowd. Again, the trail was paved with stairs either cut in the granite rock or fashioned from concrete.

The most useful _expression seemed to by “bu yao”, which means “I don’t want”. This is what you say to paddlers who pushed their merchandize right in front of your face blocking your way.

There are 3 summits on the main Huashan area (Not counting the North Summit, which is a bit farther). I chose to go clockwise starting from the East Peak to the South Peak and then to the West Peak. The trail up the East Peak (2100 m) was the most interesting with one section of practically 90 degree steep. There where stairs cut in the rock and sets of chains to hold on to. The rock was slippery, but the chains held. I met a group of friendly Chinese who helped me navigate through a poorly signed area (There was plenty of Chinese, but no English). Later they wanted to take a picture with my. I became part of the attraction.

The South Peak (2160 m) is the high point, and there was a peddler offering to take your picture and print it right there, on the summit. They had a digital camera and a printer, the empty boxes where thrown out just below. Where did they get power? I didn’t find out. The West Peak (2038 m) boasts a small Buddhist monastery. Right in the middle were a few shops selling souvenirs and locally prepare food.

Generally, the summits are large enough that people where not a big problem, but solitude was no where to be found.


Great Wall Hiking Pictures



Playing Tourist Around Beijing




Less'en Lassen


Date climbed: 7 May 2005

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

In New England, what comes after two days of foul weather??  Monday!

After a few last minute dropouts because of the inclement weather which seems to be bent on making California seem like New England this year, the six of us assembled at the parking lot, about half a mile up the road from the ski chalet in the Lassen Volcanic National Park.  It had rained and snowed the day before and the day after was supposed to be bad as well but it looked as if the bad weather was already starting.  The road was ploughed quite a ways, almost up to Lake Helen but the gate was closed to traffic.  The ski chalet is being torn down and only a shell remains.

With George Van Gorden leading, the rest of us (Joan Marshall, Linda Sun, Wendy Ong, David Altmar and scribe – your unnamed source of bogus mountain climbing news, Arun Mahajan) started off a little after 9am.  Despite all that snow the night before and the early hour, the snow pack was slushy and we made heavy weather of climbing up.  We all had skis and used skins.  The so-called short cut that cuts the first large hairpin bend took longer than we thought. That got us back to the road.  While David and Wendy continued skiing on the snowbanks and bumps parallel to the road, the rest of us carried skis on the pack and walked along the road.  Some ski patrollers, after skiing near Lassen, heading back in their cars, stopped to chat saying that the snow was quite bad for skiing.  One member in the group hopped into their car for an early return.  Soon we met David and Wendy and started skiing once again.  As we were skirting the lake from the left, David and Wendy decided to call it a day and turned around.  We continued on ‘til we summitted the first rise above the lake.  Lassen was still in the clouds and the weather started to worsen so we also decided to turn around.  We got some good sections of downhill on the way back but all I can remember was that we walked quite a bit as well.  Considering the weather and snow conditions, we were glad to get a day out and some exercise, but, it was “less’en Lassen” this time!


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.

Date: June 17,18,19, 2005

Mt Shasta via the Hotlum Glacier

Contact: Dan Tupper, 408-742-8693 or 408-224-1072

Date: June 24-26, 2005

White Mountain (14246’) CarCamp and Hike

Contact: Kate Allen, 661-944-4056, kj.allen@att.net

Date(s): July 16-23, 2005

The Clark Range and Beyond: Gray, Red, Merced, Triple Divide, Ansel Adams, Electra, Foerster, and Davis

Contact(s): Bob Suzuki, suzukiR@sd-star.com

                     Jim Ramaker, ramaker@us.ibm.com

Date: August 12-28, 2005

Huayna Potosi (19,974’) and Nevado Illimani (21,200’)

Near La Paz, Boliva

Contact: Dan Tupper, 408-742-8693,


Date: October 1, 2005  (15 day trek)

Trek/Climb in the Mt Everest area, Nepal

Contact: Warren Storkman, 650-493-8959,


Date: January 14, 2006

Kilimanjaro, Tanzania  [optional safari following]

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


Telescope Peak  (11, 048’)

In May

[NOT a walk in the park…!]

Date climbed: Saturday, 14 May 2005

By Debbie Benham


I left Mahogany Flat Campgrounds (approx. 8800’) in high spirits – a lovely day with a slight breeze and few clouds with hopes of walkin’ up that Telescope Peak trail, then traipsing through some snow to the tippy-top, then back to camp.  As I rounded the corner and saw the peak, I stopped and my stomach flip-flopped.  I realized it would be a bit more work than I had anticipated.  The top 1000’ ft on the mountain was snow-snow-snow!   “I’ll just do my best,” I said,  “…and see how far I get.  Good thing I brought my crampons.”  As wonderful luck would have it, I ran into Randy and Janet Lieske,  a couple from Fullerton, California, by way of Minnesota and Wisconsin (loved their accents!).  We all commented later how fortuitous this meeting was, as, by ourselves, we probably wouldn’t have summitted, but, together, we attempted and did it!  J    Another meeting that proved fortunate was running into two gnarly dudes from Ridgecrest who had just summitted.  Their report was encouraging, especially the news that the snow was softened and no crampons were needed – just grit. 

On the way up, we passed Rogers Peak on trail, summitted Bennett Peak (9980’) due to reports of exceptionally icky snow on it’s west side,  and walked along the ridge line sans snow until that last 1000 ft.  As the slope steepened to 45 degrees, and we reached the last 300 ft, Randy kicked in steps all the way to the top ‘o the ridge.  I, at least, had my ice axe and Janet her walking stick – Randy just had icy hands!  A few more steps to go on trail and we made it. We enjoyed a bite to eat, signed the register out of an old army canister, wrung out socks, then started the hike down.  Of note:  Randy had a tech-thingie that had an accurate  altimeter with other stuff included.  It was great.  There were beautiful Bristlecone Pine trees gracing the slopes, and, laying in the snow,  ladybugs and smallish, fluorescent-green buglets on the ridge-line. We theorized the wind blew them in. Either that, or they like Telescope Peak and environs!  Another phenomenon encountered – postholing!  Ugh.  Slowed us down on the return trip and not much to our liking.  As the sun headed west, we were dead beat and it had been a long day.  Each of us commented on what we’d be eating for dinner, how long we’d sleep in, and lounging plans for the next day.  A wonderful adventure and thank you  Randy and Janet!!

The drive out Wildrose Canyon the next morning was fun with lots of turns and dips and some left-over wildflowers to view.  The temp was a bit higher on the flats but the “driving” breeze of rolled-down windows made it easy.   And thanks for the carpool Eugene – a good trip, all in all.


Singles Meeting Singles

Men Seeking Women

Have finished the list and am ready for the next challenge!  Looking for that special woman who loves to cook, clean, and carry firewood. Send picture to: P.O. Box 111, Likely, CA


I’ve climbed Double Cone and am now ready to Mt Humphreys. Seeking woman who is fit and tan, clean, and has less  facial hair than I do. Contact: biteme@straightup.com


Wanting a woman who loves the solitary beauty of the rugged outdoors. I have a  small cabin in the northeastern part of California.  Must like wildlife, communicating by email, and able to use a Winchester repeating rifle.  Inquiries to:


Women Seeking Men

Am looking to expand my  horizons! I’m fit, tall and blond, with large eyes. Am seeking that special someone to share life and love. Requirements: three car garage; Mercedes or BMW, estate among the hills of Saratoga; ponies for fun and vineyards for profit.   Call: 1-877-828-9167.

Missed Connection

Me: Cute and perky, sitting atop North Pal

You: Chiseled and dark with blue eyes and a great chalk bag

I lost your email address as I was rapelling off the ridgeline. I loved your jokes and would like to hear more!  Would love to rope-up with you sometime. Email me please: sweet16@momandpop.com


Editor’s Note: The deadline for the next ‘Scree’, July issue, will be moved up due to vacation!  Please submit all articles, trip reports, trip announcements by June 24, Friday.


Elected Officials

     Arun Mahajan / arun.mahajan@att.net

      1745 Alma Street, Palo Alto, CA 94301

      650-327-8598  home

Vice Chair and Trip Scheduler:
     Chris Prendergast / cprendergast@osisoft.com

      2973 Cataldi Drive, San Jose, CA 95132

      408-926-8067 home

Treasurer and Membership Roster (address changes):
     Bob Bynum / pcs-treasurer@climber.org

          510-659-1413 home

Publicity Committee Positions

Scree Editor:
     Deborah Benham / deborah05@sbcglobal.net

      505 Cypress Point Dr., #26, Mountain View, CA 94043

      650-964-0558 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:
     Linda Sun / lindasun@sbcglobal.net

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 Friday, June 24. 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