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October, 2005                                          Peak Climbing Section, Loma Prieta Chapter, Sierra Club                       Vol. 39 No. 10

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

General Meeting


Date:              Tuesday, Oct 11

Time:              7:30 PM

Where:           Peninsula Conservation Center

                        3921 E. Bayshore Rd.

                        Palo Alto, CA

                        (see below for directions)

Program:         The Ascent of Masherbrum

                        A slide show by Nick Clinch

The Ancient History Committee of the PCS is pleased to announce that the talk to be given this evening is entitled “The Ascent of Masherbrum.” This climb of a 25,660’ mountain in the Karakorum back in 1960 was the second highest first ascent ever made by Americans. Our speaker, Nick Clinch, was on the climb and he thinks he remembers most of it.  He also thinks he can find some of his slides so this should be an illustrated talk! As he lives in Palo Alto and can’t run too far to escape our wrath, he will try to do a reasonably decent job despite some mental fuzziness from age, alcohol, and being too high, too long, without oxygen.  He has just one request – if you slip out during the talk, please try not to trip over the projector cord.  This should be a talk you will remember even if you prefer to forget it!

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.


PCS Elections in November

Mark your calendars!!


It is that time of the year again!  Becoming a PCS officer is a great way to get involved with the climbing community and give back to the club which taught you so much about climbing.  The positions to be filled are:




This year, our Nominating Committee is:

Deborah Benham, 650/964-0558

Nancy Fitzsimmons, 650/938-2106

Bob Suzuki, 408/259-0772

Please contact them if you are interested in any of these positions.  Alternatively, feel free to contact any current PCS officers if you have questions on the tasks associated with their position.  Current officer’s contact information is on the PCS website and on the back of ‘Scree’.  We are looking forward to hearing from you!

n       Arun Mahajan, PCS Chair




PCS Trips

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

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.




Hardcopy Bites The Dust

(or, “How There Was No Discussion at the September PCS Meeting”)


Most members present at the September PCS meeting believed it was time to sunset the hardcopy ‘Scree”.  Yours truly, aka current editor, asked for comments, but, the general tone was “about time.” 


There will be an official Sierra Club vote at the beginning of the October meeting. Once again, the official proposal: The hardcopy Scree be discontinued. Stoppage will be effective immediately after a successful vote, and, as soon as the terms runs out for those members who have signed up for hardcopy.


If you have continued concerns or questions, please feel free to contact me or Arun Mahajan, PCS Chair.

n       Debbie Benham, Scree editor



Wilderness First Aid

This is a great class for learning and practicing wilderness first aid skills in an outdoor setting. In addition to a half day of outdoor scenarios practice of first aid and leadership skills, there is a focus on wilderness first aid topics, such as: patient assessment, shock and bleeding, head and spinal injuries wounds, musculoskeletal injuries, heat and cold illnesses. A three-year Wilderness First Aid certificate is available upon successful completion of this course and passing a written wilderness exam. For further information, go to www.fostercalm.com, or, contact Bobbie Foster at bobbie@fostercalm.com.  Local course offering:

Oct 29-30:  San Francisco

Through BAWT and to register go to www.bawt.org. To help out, contact Bobbie directly.



Mt Starr King, 9092’

Mt Clark, 11522’


Date Climbed:  2-4 Jul 2005

Participants: Bob Suzuki, Bob Evans, Chris Prendergast, and, author, Jim Ramaker [ramaker@us.ibm.com]

We set off to attempt these two peaks on Saturday July 2, departing from the Mono Meadows trailhead on Glacier Point Road in Yosemite. Is this the worst trailhead in the Sierras? It starts with a steep 500-foot descent  (meaning a 500-foot climb at the end of your trip) through a dry, dusty forest  still charred and blackened from a huge forest fire in the 1990s. At least  there were hardly any bugs. The Illilouette Creek crossing was a challenge,  with thigh deep water moving at a good clip and slippery boulders on the creek bottom. All four of us came close to slipping and falling in at the deepest part -- not really a safety issue because it would've been easy to thrash our way over to the far bank -- but it certainly would've gotten our  gear soaked.

After three hours hiking, we dropped our gear just off the Mono Meadows Trail a mile southwest of Starr King and headed cross-country toward  the peak. A tedious climb up a forested slope got us to the south side of the smaller dome just south of Starr King, and easy class-3 climbing took us straight north over the summit of this dome to the notch between the two domes. Here we roped up and Bob S. led us up two very enjoyable pitches of 5.0 or so friction climbing on flawless granite. It's such a fun climb that in a way, it's good that it's somewhat in the backcountry, because if it were next to a road, it would probably be jammed every day. An interesting summit register went back to the 80s, and of course more than a few dayhikers and solo climbers had signed in.

About 6 p.m. we descended the way we had come. On the way down to the packs we got separated by adjacent ridges, but luckily everyone remembered that our packs were behind a rock about 100 yards from the base of a prominent cliff. After regrouping, we packed up and headed up the trail at 7:30, and luckily within a few minutes found water and a decent campsite near a trail junction.

Next morning we awoke at 5:30 and headed cross-country toward Mt. Clark, four miles away. We made poor time on a less-than-optimal route through the forest, twice going straight over the tops of hills when it would've been faster to take slightly longer routes around them. About noon we finally headed up the final hill toward the base of Mt. Clark, encountering well-consolidated snow starting at 10,000 feet. The group got spread out here, and there was a long wait to regroup after the first of us reached the south ridge of Mt. Clark. We climbed up the west side of the ridge until blocked by a small cliff, then found the notch to cross to the east side. There we descended a bit of class-3 rock, put on crampons, and started traversing along the top edge of a moderate snowslope. It was hard to tell where the summit was, and twice I climbed up to an apparent high point on steep class-3 rock, only to find that the summit was higher and further north.


After another long wait to regroup around 4 p.m., I realized we were near the limit of how far we could go and still return to camp by last light at 9 p.m., so I proposed that we turn around. But I was outvoted, so we continued traversing. Bob S. then told us to rope up for a short class-4 pitch to the summit ridge, and my protests that we should turn around again fell on deaf ears. Bob argued that if we summitted, we could descend  the northwest ridge, which he said was nearly all class-3, and faster and more direct than the way we'd come up. I was dubious -- that didn't accord with what I'd read about Mt. Clark, and starting down a route unknown to three of us after 6 p.m. sounded like an invitation to adventure. Bob led us up to a platform just north of the summit. From there the way to the summit 20 feet above looks exposed, but is really not -- you climb over a block  into a body-width slot, and from there make an easy mantle onto the flat  summit.

Meanwhile Bob S. had decided that access to the northwest ridge was blocked by some large exposed blocks, so we would instead rap the northwest face. That looked hopeful -- a long ledge about 50 feet below appeared to lead rightward toward some smooth slabs that appeared from above to be class-3.  However, the last 20 feet of the ledge leading over to the slabs dwindled to almost nothing and looked very smooth and downsloping. We rapped down to the ledge, and then Bob led a traverse rightward along the ledge. He managed to get in a couple of cams before the smooth area, and then said laconically 'I'm gonna be coming off here.'  Hmmm -- if Bob couldn't do it without falling, what about the other three of us?  But Bob was better than his word, and made it past the smooth section without a slip. Bob E. and Chris followed, taking some tension from both ends of the rope, and then I cleaned the pitch.

But the area that had looked like class-3 from far above was much steeper -- solid class-5. And by now it was about 8 p.m., with the sun heading for the horizon. We rapped again, down to a square 10x10 foot platform that was still 50 feet above class-3 terrain. Everything on the platform was smooth and downsloping, except for, thank God, one solid block about six feet around. We rapped off that, burning some more of Bob's slings, and finally got down to some class-3 slabs.

Below the slabs a long snow gully began, hardening up now that it was 9p.m. and fully dark. Bob and I quickly descended a few hundred feet to a rock band, but Bob E. and Chris do not like steep snow, and we had a long wait at the bottom of this section, with the lights from the two headlamps above us dancing around on the snowfield.

It was looking like a long night, with maybe a bivvy, but no sense getting worked up about it. We were off the technical terrain, it was a mild evening, and the elevation was relatively low (10,000 feet and heading lower). As I relaxed on a little ledge, I could see out to the west the lights of the Central Valley cities stretched in a long sparkling band from left to right, and above them, just above the horizon, a band of deep orange sky lingering in the afterglow of sunset. The stars and Milky Way stood out sharply overhead, and although it was July 3, skyrockets from  a fireworks display were bursting above one of the Central Valley cities in the distance.

Below the snow was a wet, downsloping slab and then a deep moat extending down under the snow of the next, longer snowfield. Bob S. set up yet another rappel. Obviously the descent was not going according to plan, but one has to give Bob credit for going to great lengths to keep everyone safe. Back on snow, we plunged-stepped down, down, down for 1000 feet or more, the snow finally turning to scree and then to a steep forested hillside. Bob E. led us down through the woods, doing a great job of avoiding brush and small cliffs as we followed a creek steeply downhill. We were doing okay, descending by the light of our two functioning headlamps, but of course it was a lot slower and less efficient than hiking in daylight. The descent seemed endless, but finally, after more than 3500 feet of elevation loss from the summit, we reached the valley bottom and the Clark Fork of Illilouette Creek, with easy walking through a flat open forest.

By now it was midnight, with several more miles to camp, and we were running out of steam. After another hour or so, we decided to bivvy. Warm from hiking, I put on my rain gear, sat down on my ensolite sit pad (which added a lot of warmth), reclined against my pack, and fell asleep. In about 30 minutes I woke up shivering, the cold seeping in relentlessly.  Luckily, Bob E. was carrying something I never take on climbs but will not be without on future climbs -- matches. He started a campfire, and the other three of us gradually migrated toward it until all four of us were  reclined in a semicircle around it. It was a godsend -- it's amazing how much heat radiates from a small campfire, and soon the shivers were gone. It was even a bit pleasurable, lying on the ground around the fire as our prehistoric ancestors must have done, drifting in and out of sleep in a Neanderthal dream state. At some point I sleepwalked into the forest, gathered a bunch of wood, and piled it next to the fire, and then whenever the fire burned low, one of us would partially wake up and add a couple of sticks to the fire. Time passed, and finally I noticed I could see the shapes of trees against the eastern sky -- dawn was coming.


Around 5 a.m. we got up and stood around the embers of our dying campfire, warming our hands. A bit later we headed off toward camp --amazing how much better we felt with a bit of rest and some daylight to walk by. Bob E. led the way, navigating flawlessly as he had done the night before, and we avoided both of the hills we'd gone up and down on the way over, arriving back at our camp at 7:15. We cooked breakfast, or maybe it was the supper we'd missed the night before, then crawled into our  sleeping bags to nap for an hour. About 10 we left for the three-hour hike out, stopping at Illilouette Creek for 20 minutes to watch a group of inexperienced backpackers struggle unsuccessfully to cross the creek. By 1:30 p.m. we were sitting in our air-conditioned cars, sipping Gatorade and heading for home.



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



Recipes From the Hearth

As this is my second-to-last issue, I’ve decided to print some favorite recipes – for munching at home or hikin’ on the trail!  (Just think, if you volunteer to become the next ‘Scree’ editor, you, too, will be free to print what you would like ..!)


Lemon Bars

[thank you  Gisela Pearson]


1 cup butter

2 cups flour

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/4 tsp salt

4 eggs

2 cups sugar

2 lemons (juice and grated rind) 4 tbsp juice

4 tbsp flour

Mix first 4 ingredients. Pat into bottom of 13x9” pan. Bake at 350F for 20 min.


In a blender, beat egg with lemon juice and rind. Add sugar and flour. Mix well. Pour over shell and bake at 350F for 20 min.  while still warm, sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut into squares.


I sometimes use 5 tbsp of juice – does not seem to make too much difference. While cooling off, go around the edges of pan with knife.  Sometimes, it is sticking to the pan.  The bars freeze very well.

Thin Crisp Oatmeal Cookies

[thank you Roger Pantos]


1 cup soft butter

1 cup packed brown sugar

3 cups rolled oats (old fashioned)

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup boiling water


Cream butter and sugar thoroughly.  Add rolled oats. Sift flour together into creamed mixture.  Add soda to boiling water.  Add to the first mixture, blending well into a roll (about 1 1/2” in diameter) and freeze until roll can be cut with a knife.


Preheat oven to 375F.  Slice dough very thin (1/16 to 1/8”) with a sharp knife.  Place on lightly greased cookie sheet and bake 5-7 minutes until lightly brown.  Cookies will be soft when baked, but crisp when cool. Makes about 4 dozen.



[thank you Chris Prendergast]


Take all freeze-dried food out of bear canister. Rip open packages and pour into now-empty bear canister. Boil water the appropriately recommended amount of time to eliminate giardia-infested waters and pour said water into dry mixture. Stir around and wait about 11 minutes. Voila!  Dinner and snacks, all in one fell swoop!



Mt Russell-Startrekkin'/Mithril Dihedral

August 19-22, 2005

By: Rick Booth [rwbooth@Comcast.net]


On Friday, August 19, Alexey Zelditch and I headed up the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek to Iceberg Lake to attempt two routes on Mt Russell.  These two routes were Startrekkin' and Western Front, two technical routes.  The hike-in was slow, as usual, and uneventful.  One peculiarity of the hike was the extensive trail maintenance that has been done by the Forest Service.  The sequence through the Ebersbacher Ledges has several gargantuan cairns indicating the turns and the trail leading away from the ledges goes directly up hill to run against the upper cliff and is also marked by many giant cairns.  The presence of "Reforestation in Progress" sticks seems to indicate the Forest Service is determined to control the willy-nilly nature of the trail in this area in order to control erosion which is fairly extensive.  Further up the trail, the trail through the slabs above Lower Boy Scout Lake is also marked with huge cairns.  It looks like the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek has gone mainstream and judging by the well worn nature of the trail it appears there is a huge volume of traffic there.  Sort of sad, actually, the North Fork has now lost much of its charm with these additions since getting lost, yet again, on the Ebersbacher Ledges and  the upper slabs was always part of the hike-in ritual.

Saturday morning Alexey and I headed up over the Whitney-Russell Col to the south side of Mt Russell.  Our goal was Startrekkin' since  we decided to climb the easier route first.  We were in no big hurry to get to Mt Russell since it is always cold there until the sun shows up.  Startrekkin' shares the same first two pitches of the Mithril Dihedral.  These two pitches are directly below the dihedral.  Startrekkin' branches left at the end of the second pitch and Mithril branches right into the dihedral.  About 10:30 we started up the route.  The first two pitches are uneventful 5.7/5.8.  The belay at the end of the second pitch can be set on the right side below the roof at the start of Startrekkin' instead of hanging directly below the roof.  The roof goes at about solid 5.10a and is well protected.  About three moves, one of them a little weird.  This is followed by a crack that goes straight up and dies in the middle of a pocketed area.  The crack re-emerges a little to the left and continues to the top of a block system.  The second crack system looks like a wide crack but it isn't. It is just a little flared and there are solid hand jams inside the crack.  It is about 5.9 with a wild exit through the last eight feet to the top of the block.  Due to a couple of miscalculations we ended up climbing the sequence from the roof to the top of the block system in three pitches, which is unnecessary, especially with a 60 meter rope system.  Unfortunately, the summit is not at the end of this pitch and one blocky 5.6/7 pitch followed by two low fifth class pitches or a sequence of simul-climbing are needed to get to the summit.   Yuk.  We were off the summit by about 6 PM and back at Iceberg Lake by about 8 PM.  While we had Startrekkin' to ourselves, there was another pair of Southern California dudes about 20 feet to our left on a route called Bloody Corner.  These guys got WORKED and I would have felt sorry for them if it wasn't so funny listening to all the hollering.

The next morning, Sunday, two geezers looked at each other and tried to decide which route to climb that day.  Oh, sorry, that was Alexey and me.  We decided that getting a butt whupping on Western Front, 5.10c, was not in the cards and decided to climb the Mithril Dihedral instead.  Back up over the Whitney-Russell Col and chug, chug, chug, to the South Face of Russell again.  I am on a first name basis with every rock on this col.  Anyway, zoom, zoom, and back up the first two pitches, right turn to the base of the dihedral, set a belay and stall for about an hour waiting for the party above to figure out the third pitch.  Rats.  They figured it out and started moving and Alexey lead off and climbed about 170-180 feet to set a nice belay just to the left of the crack system on a narrow ledge.  This is a fair amount of tough climbing.  The first half is pretty mellow but after exiting the narrow squeeze chimney it is pretty sustained for about 40 feet.  This is rated 5.9 but is probably the most sustained 5.9 I have ever seen.  The next pitch is pretty easy except for a wild exit to the top of a ledge.  This is also about 5.9, supposedly.  The next pitch is a variation of the blocky 5.6/7 pitch from the top of Startrekkin' and the last two low fifth class pitches are repeated.  Yuk again.  We were on the summit by about 6 PM and back in camp by 8 PM.  I would rate this route 5.10a because of the sustained nature of the third pitch.

Monday Morning we hiked out after leisurely packing and watching the three plus parties on the East Buttress get started, the three plus parties on the East Face get started, and the Mountaineers Route conga line get started.  All this on a Monday.  Wow.

The traffic in and out of the North Fork has certainly increased dramatically over the years.  While the trail marking is one sign, the request by the Forest Service to "voluntarily" pack out your poop is another sign.  They are now providing a package system, shall we say, to facilitate this.  One trip to Iceberg Lake will convince you of the wisdom in doing this, there are fossilized "muffins" all over the place there, some of them not even buried under rocks.  Yuk yet again.  While it is annoying to have lightened the food bag by eating all that food only to have to carry approximately the same weight back out in a, uh, "converted form", it does make for some entertaining conversation.  Whilst hiking back out, poop bag attached to the back of the pack, the chance encounter with an attractive member of the opposite sex, no doubt smelling of high dollar fabric softener, would by necessity have to go like this: "Hi, how are you?  Where are you heading?  Which route are you doing?  And, uh, please ignore the glowing plastic bag with the green vapors roiling off it and stinking worse than a Tydee-Dydee dirty diaper pick up van with a broken air conditioner on a hot July afternoon."  Not a karmic moment, trust me on this.

Final Notes:

Mt Russell has a lot of interesting and fun back country technical routes.  Startrekkin' and the Mithril Dihedral are just two of them.  They are both about 5.10a.  Starrtrekkin' is probably a little harder technically but not super sustained and Mithril Dihedral is straightforward but very sustained finger locking and hand jamming.  Mithril Dihedral has a wide section which can be climbed with a few off width tricks but there is a second hidden crack on the right wall which makes the entire route much more manageable and protectable.  Both routes should go in four pitches of the fun stuff followed by the aforementioned uninteresting pitches.  We used a double 60 meter rope system in the event of bad weather and the rack consisted of a set of stoppers, single black and blue alien, double alien sizes from green to red, triple sizes camalot from .75 to one, double #2 camalot, and a single #3 and #3.5 camalot.  Both crack systems are finger and hand size extensive.  The #3 was handy and we placed the #3.5 somewhere but I can't remember where.  There are no bolted belays or other fixed gear.

The descent is as follows.  Heading back towards the east summit try and stay as close to the top of the ridge as possible.  This won't be possible for the first 150 feet or so but it is easy to get right back on the ridge.  Along this ridge is a gap which appears to go nowhere.  Go through this gap and keep looking ahead.  This should bring you to a fourth class down climb which is pretty solid and drops you onto the scree slope to the east of the Fishhook Arete.  This down climb is usually marked by a reasonably sized cairn.


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  Mithril Dihedral only, good picture, lousy topo.


The Good, the Great, and the Awesome, Peter Croft, Maximus Press, 2002, ISBN 0-9676116-4-4  Mithril Dihedral only


Climbing California's Fourteeners, Stephen F. Porcella and Cameron M. Burns, The Mountaineers, 1998, ISBN 0-89886-555-7 Startrekkin and Mithril Dihedral.  Fair photo, no topo


The High Sierra, Peaks, Passes, and Trails, Second Edition, R.J. Secor, The Mountaineers, 1999, ISBN 0-89886-625-1.  No topo and a fairly poor  photo


Ready to Reach?

“Scree” is looking for its next editor! Is it you? My last issue will be November.  Anyone?



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 Tues, Sept 27. 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