Date: Tuesday, Sep 9, 2008
Time: 7:30 pm
Where: Peninsula Conservation Center 3921 E. Bayshore Rd.
Palo Alto, CA
Program: Chile's Torres Del Paine
Presenter: Kelly Maas
Come and explore the temperate forests and granite peaks of the remote southern Chilean national park.
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 and enter in the back of the building.
For a Google map click http://tinyurl.com/28ngaw
Fall Trip Planning Meeting
Why is the schedule missing dates beyond mid-October? We need to hold our next twice annual trip planning meeting.
Each fall we hold a trip planning meeting to plan our trips for late fall, winter, and early spring. Please start thinking now about what you want to do. If you have ideas about what you want to do or lead, please send them to Scree Editor Louise or Trip Scheduler Rod.
I sit here editing the newsletter wondering when my broken foot will heal, wishing for very fast recovery so I can be active again. For those that are inactive for no reason, I have no sympathy. The best I can offer now is not trips but trip reports, plans, and other articles for you to vicariously enjoy the mountains. The best I can do is to ride this new beauty:
Features this month include a review of the SPOT tracking/rescue device, notes on plans to change our bylaws to enable the chair to serve more than one year, introduction to a new book on the High Sierra Route, upcoming trips, trip reports, and officer/section contact information.
Page Trip Report
7 Black, Red, and Big by Lisa Barboza
10 Mt. Davis by Louise Wholey
11 Not-so-silly Silliman by Debbie Benham
12 Mt Russell – The Western Front by Rick Booth
13 Observation Peak by Jim Wholey
13 Mt McDuffie, Observation, Giraud by Louise Wholey
15 Whaleback, Glacier Ridge,
SPOT 911 Rescue by Louise Wholey
From the Chair
By Lisa Barboza
We’ve reached our goal of over 50 trips for the 2008 season, counting both official and unoffical trips – I want to thank all of the leaders, and encourage those who have taken OLT 101 and 201 to get on a trip as a co-lead and get approved as a trip leader. Leadership has many privileges to go along with the effort of planning an leading a trip; including Sierra Club liability insurance. Our Nominating Committee is in the formation stage, and I’m sending out a call for new officers. We need a Chair, Vice Chair, and Treasurer for 2009. I have to say that serving as your chair has been one of the most rewarding activities and I’ve really enjoyed it.
Bylaws – You’ll see a revision of the bylaws, via broadcast message, for discussion at an upcoming meeting.
Safety. Four of our PCS have sustained injuries this season, mostly broken bones, and thankfully nothing life threatening. So be careful out there – and See you on a peak sometime.
Wilderness First Aid
Most people take first aid because it is required for something they want to do. For example, PCS trip leaders are required to complete Wilderness First Aid, WFA, every 4 years. But if you go to the backcountry and something happens, you can be extremely helpful if you have this training. I recommend it for all trip participants.
Bobbie Foster of Foster Calm has been doing great WFA classes for many years. Some are sponsored by the Sierra Club. Here is a list of upcoming classes.
September 6-7 -WFA - Donner Summit
Space Available. Contact Sierra Club lodge at
September 14 - 8hr BWFA - Palo Alto - Sierra Club.
September 20-21 - WFA - Bay Area - Aruba Adventures.
September 27-28 - WFA - Palo Alto - Sierra Club.
Contact Tom at TripBTom@aol.com
Nov 1-2 - WFA - Bay Area.
From George Barnes
Honor: Former Sierra Club Director Honored
North Palisade peak, located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains could soon be known as "Brower Palisade" in honor of former Sierra Club Executive Director and distinguished mountaineer David Brower.
U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer have proposed to rename the peak to honor Brower for his decades of leadership in protecting and championing the environment.
A Mountain for a Giant
Former Sierra Club Executive Director and distinguished mountaineer David Brower's contributions to the environmental movement were recognized last month by U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, who proposed renaming the Sierra Nevada's North Palisade peak "Brower Palisade." The Palisades were among Brower's favorites among the many mountains and natural lands that he helped protect.
Want to learn more about David Brower and his lifelong fight for the environment? Check out the film Monumental from Sierra Club Productions.
U.S. Board on Geographic Names Comments
Dear Ms. Barboza,
Our apologies for not responding sooner. We appreciate your interest in this issue and will add your letter to our files. However, we must report that the proposed renaming of “North Palisade” to “Brower Palisade” has not come before the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN) for consideration. While the BGN is responsible by law for standardizing geographic names for use by the Federal government, and all new names and name changes must be approved by the BGN, it appears this is one of the very rare instances where the proponents of a name change have chosen not to involve the BGN and have taken their request directly to the United States Congress. Like you, we learned of this renaming effort via a third party and as such we are not clear exactly who initiated it or why they chose not to consult our office. We also have confirmed that the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service, as the administering agencies for the Inyo National Forest and Sequoia-Kings Canyon Wilderness, respectively, were not aware of nor have they been involved in this effort to honor Mr. Brower.
It is our understanding that the Senate Bill establishing Brower Palisade as the summit’s official name has yet to be signed, having been referred in late July to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. However, if the bill should pass, and assuming we are notified of the action, the Federal BGN would have no choice but to accept the name change. Although Congress established the BGN to handle geographic names issues (by Public Law in 1947), it is the only body (other than the Executive Office) with authority over the BGN when it comes to naming features. In the 118 years since the BGN was first established by Executive Order in 1890, Congress has been directly responsible for (re)naming a natural feature on only a handful of occasions.
If a proposal to rename North Palisade had been submitted to the BGN, as is the case for approximately 350 new names and changes in a typical year, the BGN would have advised the proponent that the BGN’s philosophy is to determine “local use and acceptance.” That is, as part of our research efforts for any name proposal, we would seek the recommendations of the appropriate county government(s); the Federal or State land management agency; the State Geographic Names Authority (in this case, the California Advisory Committee on Geographic Names (CACGN)); and any other organization such as your own that we determine might have an interest in the issue. Only after all parties have had an opportunity to comment would the case be presented to the BGN for discussion and a decision. To the best of our knowledge, the CACGN also has not been involved in the decision to change the name of North Palisade. Both the CACGN and the BGN are reluctant to change names in long-standing local and published use, and indeed will only approve such proposals if there is evidence of widespread local support to do so.
Once again, we appreciate your interest in this matter, and we shall attempt to keep you apprised of further developments. However, since this is not an active proposal presently before the BGN, we are also dependent on others to keep us informed. If we can assist further or if you have general questions regarding the Federal (re)naming process please do not hesitate to contact us.
Jennifer Runyon, research staff
For Lou Yost, Executive Secretary
U.S. Board on Geographic Names
U.S. Geological Survey, Geographic Names Office
12201 Sunrise Valley Dr, MS 523
Reston, VA 20192-0523
Phone/fax: (703) 648-4550 / (703) 648-4549
Lou Yost: (703) 648-4552 or email@example.com
How To Do It
By Scott Kreider
Maybe this is old news to others, but I thought this was a really cool site. I just took a "self rescue" clinic and had a hard time getting some of the knots down. I found this really helped a lot...
Sierra Crest Route
AND OTHER ROUTES LESS TRAVELED
Sierra Nevada mountaineer and author Leonard Daughenbaugh has carved a 228-mile, totally cross-country, mountaineering route through the Sierra Nevada that never strays farther than one mile from the Sierra Crest between Haiwee Pass, located west of Haiwee Reservoir, and “Island Pass,” located at the western edge of the Sawtooth Ridge, just southwest of Bridgeport. (Most of the route, however, is either on or within ¼ mile of the Sierra Crest.) Also included in this book are hundreds of miles of other cross-country routes that allow a traveler to explore virtually all of the High Sierra the same way as did John Muir and the Range’s other early explorers.
This book was published by Sierra Nevada Publishing
House in August of 2008. For copies to review and feature, please contact
Sierra Nevada Publishing House at the book’s website, http://www.sierracrestroute.org, or
the author at P.O. Box 285, Bishop, CA 93515, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find Me SPOT
By Lisa Barboza
A new device recently came into my hands, a Satellite Personal Tracker. It’s new in 2008, and many are being sold and used. I carry it on all my trips, including private ones, and it came in very handy on August 20th, where a backcountry rescue was actually carried out. (See Whaleback, Glacier Ridge SPOT 911 Rescue report on page 15).
The SPOT is both a GPS Receiver, as well as a transmitter. When activated, it receives a signal from one of the GPS satellites, and then transmits another signal to Globalstar L-band satellites, which then downlinks to a terrestrial receiving station and connects to the internet. The SPOT weighs 7 ounces, operates on lithium batteries with a substantial life, is waterproof to 5 feet, functions up to 21,000+ feet, works to -40F to 180F (should you ever decided to tread in these conditions). In my experience it has proven to be very reliable and rugged.
It has 3 basic functions, assigned to 3 buttons:
OK button – sends up to 10 people emails/cellphone text messages indicating that you’re OK, as well as a link to Google Earth showing your latitude/longitude, and exact location. It allows a predefined one-way text message of up to 115 characters to be sent to the recipients. It can be sent to an email address, as well as a cell phone as a text message. The messaging is quite accurate and very reliable. I’m in the habit of pushing it at dawn and dusk to let my loved ones know where I am and how I’m doing. It’s also a great way to connect them with the wilderness.
HELP Button – sends your primary contact (s) a predefined message indicating that you have a non-life threatening emergency. This alerts your primary contact to communicate the need for help to the nearest ranger station or other source of help. But you’ll have to use your judgment on when to push HELP or when to push 911. The backcountry party should use the HELP button to initiate non-time critical SAR activity. Press the button, and repeat at nominal hour intervals. If the need passes, indicate this by use of the OK button. The front country contact calls the relevant agency with a SAR request, making it clear that there are no immediate life threatening conditions. The major drawback with the HELP button is that the message is one-way only; the rangers told me that a 2-way device with text messaging is in the works.
911 Button – sends a signal to the SPOT dispatch center, which then will alert the nearest authorities based on your location. For the Sierra, that means the US Park Service rangers if activated in a national park. Our 911 rescue experience was at a lake just over Colby Pass; we were about 27 miles away from the trailhead, and 14 miles from the nearest ranger station at Roaring River. We pushed the 911 button at 6:25AM. At 6:30 AM, it was received by the SPOT dispatch center in Texas. At 6:40 AM, they called Brian, and alerted him that there was a 911 activation of the SPOT. It took some time to round up the EMS personnel, as it was early in the morning. By 9:30 AM, a helicopter flew over Colby Pass, and landed on a flat treeless area about 100 yards away. The rescue was successfully completed, and the personnel were very professional.
The spot activation cycle from button push to rescue has ranged from 45 minutes to 3 hours in our case. So far this year, there have been 4 SPOT 911 activations in SEKI parks.
It’s a great device, I carry it with me on all PCS trips and private trips, and also the SEKI rangers have all been given a SPOT to carry as well. I can think of several recent situations where this device would have saved lives – the Mt. Hood disaster of December 2006 comes to mind. I recommend you check it out.
Additional notes from Louise:
GEOS SEARCH AND RESCUE website:
Only pre-defined messages can be sent
No real-time messaging or feedback on successful messaging
Confusing LED indicators
Low sensitivity GPS receiver
Costs $169.99 with monthly service $9.99 or $99.99 yearly
Unlimited SPOTcasting of position for $49.99 annual fee
PCS Trip Calendar
Sep 5-7 - Mt. Russell
Leader: Lisa Barboza
Sep 5-7 - Mt Goode & Cloudripper
Leader: Charles Schafer
Sep 12-14 - Mt. Langley (14026)
Leader: George Van Gorden
Sep 19-21 - Twin Peaks, Virginia
Leader: Tim Hult
Sep 20-21 - Mt Conness East Ridge Dayhike
Leaders: Arun Mahajan, Stephane Mouradian
Sep 27-28 - Florence, Vandever
Leader: Lisa Barboza
Oct 3-5 - Onion Valley peaks - car camp
Leader: Lisa Barboza
Oct 11 - Mt. Whitney (14495)
Leader: George Van Gorden
Oct 12 – Black Hawk Peak
Leader: Louise Wholey
Private Trips Summary
Important: 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 Scree editor. Details on these trips follow the trip reports. In this issue.
September 6-7, 2008 – Tenaya Canyon
September 19-21, 2008 – Silver Peak
October, 2008 – Kanchenguna Trek
November 8-9, 2008 – Pinnacles: Hike, Bike or Climb
May 2009 – Nepal/Tibet
October 2009 – Nepal - Mera Peak 21,300 ft
PCS Trip Details
Peaks: Mt. Russell (14088), maybe Carillon(13517)
Leader: Lisa Barboza (email@example.com)
Class 3 exposed east ridge route. Wait-list only at press time.
Mt Goode & Cloudripper
Goode (13,085’, cl 2) & Cloudripper (13,525’, cl 3)
Dates: Sept 5-7 (New Trip!)
Leader: Charles Schafer (firstname.lastname@example.org, 408-354-1545)
Friday we’ll hike up to camp at Chocolate Lake and then climb Cloudripper. Saturday we’ll hike over to Bishop Lake for a second camp, and then climb Mt. Goode. We’ll hike out on Sunday. This will be a relatively slow-paced trip with the climbing easy for the most part (although it's class 3 on Cloudripper) -- appropriate for beginners who have done a bit of climbing.
Peaks: Mt. Langley (14,026, class 2)
Dates: Sep 12-14 (New Trip!)
Leader: George Van Gorden (email@example.com, contact after 8/14))
Co-lead: Bill Kirkpatrick (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This will be a good trip for people trying to get their first 14er. We will meet at the Cottonwood Lakes trailhead on Sept. 12 at 11am. We will hike about 6 miles into our camp which will be either at Long Lake or one of the Cottonwood Lakes. Sat. we will climb the peak using either Old Army Pass or New Army Pass, depending on conditions. We will return to our camp and then depending on time either spend another night or hike out to our cars. The whole trip is about 21 miles.
Twin Peaks, Virginia
Peaks: Twin Peaks (12323), Virginia (12001)
Leader: Tim Hult, 650-966-2215 (w)
Saturday, hike in from Green Creek TH (5.5 miles north of Conway Summit on Hwy 395), 3400 feet gain, camp at lake 10,500. Climb 1 peak if time. Sunday, climb other peak and hike out. CL2 climbing.
Mt Conness (12590 ft), East Ridge, Dayhike
Peaks: Mt Conness (12590 ft), East Ridge, class-3
Start on Saturday morning from Saddlebag Lake to dayhike one of the most striking peaks of the Yosemite high country by the east ridge. This route is mostly class-2 with some class-3 sections. We will stay below the crest of the east ridge to skirt the class-4 (and harder sections). We will descend by the 'usual' class-2 route via the notch between Conness and White.
It is recommended that you drive up on Friday evening to be ready in time for an early start on Saturday morning.
Meet in front of the boathouse from where the ferry departs, at Saddlebag Lake at 7 am.
Note that we will not be taking the ferry.
Mineral King - Florence & Vandever
Peaks: Florence (12432), Vandever (11947)
Leader: Lisa Barboza (email@example.com)
Be prepared for fall mountain conditions with possible cold temperatures. Suitable for beginner-intermediate climbers.
Friday 9/26/08, drive in carpools from Bay Area to Mineral King. Car-camp at 8000' trailhead.
Saturday, dayhike both peaks. 3.5 miles to Farewell Gap, 2700 ft. gain, climb both peaks (about 3 miles and 2000 feet of gain). Sunday, drive home. Contact Leader with experience.
Onion Valley peaks - car camp
Peaks: Rixford, Bago, Kearsarge, Gould
Leader: Lisa Barboza (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Lots of peak-begging but no further details at press time…
Peaks: Mt. Whitney (14,026, class 1)
Dates: Oct 11 (New Trip!)
Leader: George Van Gorden (email@example.com, contact after 8/14))
Co-lead: Bill Kirkpatrick (firstname.lastname@example.org)
We will meet at Whitney Portal at 6am on Sat. morning. We will plan to climb the mountain using the standard trail. The round trip to the top and return is about 22 miles. We should get back to our cars shortly after dark. We will have a turn around time to avoid being on the more difficult sections of the trail in the darkness. If there has been significant snow, then it is possible that we will need to carry crampons. This is unlikely. Although crowded this is a climb of great beauty.
Black Hawk Peak
Peaks: Black Hawk Peak (10348, class 2)
Dates: Oct 12 (Sun)
Leader: Louise Wholey
Co-lead: Lisa Barboza
This will be a long day hike (22 miles RT) from the northern Kennedy Meadows. Excellent physical condition and recent altitude experience will allow participants to summit and return.
Note: 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.
Sep 6-7, 2008 – Tenaya Canyon
Difficulty: Class 4-5, rope, rappel tools
Contact: Kelly Maas (408-378-5311, email@example.com)
This is a technical trip. Contact leader for details.
Sep 19-21, 2008 – Silver Peak
Difficulty: gentle paced three day trip
Contact: Aaron Schuman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Devil's Graveyard sounds like a place name out of The Blair Witch Project, but that's what the Sierra National Forest calls our campsite. We'll hike from Lake Thomas A. Edison (2330 m) on easy trail onFriday, easily reaching camp beside Devil's Bathtub (2794 m) before noon. Saturday we will all head cross country for class 2 Silver Peak (3620 m). Sunday hike out and drive home.
October, 2008 – Kanchenguna –
North and South Base Camp
Contact: Warren Storkman (650-493-8959, email@example.com)
This will be a 20 day trek in Nepal.
This is my 30th year leading treks in Nepal and Tibet. I do not handle any of your funds. We pay the trip provider in Nepal.
November 8-9, 2008 – Pinnacles
Difficulty: Class 1-5, rope, bike or walking shoes
Contact: Rick Booth (firstname.lastname@example.org) or
Jeff Fisher (email@example.com)
Hike, Bike, and Climb at Pinnacles National Monument. Come to the interesting and popular Pinnacles National Monument for a Fall trip. A group camp site has been reserved at the campground for Saturday night, November 8.
This is a great area where you can hike, bike or rock climb. Plenty of good hiking and road biking. This is a private trip; no rock climbing instruction is available so be prepared to operate on your own.
May, 2009 – Nepal/Tibet
Contact: Warren Storkman (650-493-8959, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Camping 14 days, Hotel 7 days
Mt Kailsh – Lhasa
October, 2009 – Nepal - Mera Peak 21,300 ft
Contact: Warren Storkman (650-493-8959, email@example.com)
19 day trip to trek the tallest walkup peak
Rural experience - Approach from the South East
Black, Red, and Big
Black Kaweah, Red Kaweah, Mt. Kaweah, Aug 1-5, 2008
By Lisa Barboza
Abstract: August 1st – 5th, 2008. Participants: Lisa Barboza (leader), Remy Goglio, Samantha Olson, Ruth Van Rotz
Day 1:8/1/08: Hike in to Big Arroyo from Mineral King TH, 15.3 miles and 5900 feet of gain – 3200 feet of drop...We took the Lost Canyon trail – see below…
Day 2: 8/2/08 Little Five Lakes to Camp 11,500 above Big Arroyo, 4.4 miles, and 2000 feet of gain – xxx feet of drop, climb Mt. Kaweah from Camp, 6.2 miles RT and 2200 feet of gain
Day 3: 8/3/08 Climb Black Kaweah 5.1 miles TR, 2300 feet of gain
Day 4: 8/4/08 Climb Red Kaweah, 3.6 miles and 2100 feet of gain,then hike out from Camp 11500 to Little Five Lakes, 4.2 miles, 2000 loss, 900 gain.
Day 5: 8/5/08 Hike out from Little Five Lakes to Mineral King TH over Hands and Knees Pass to Spring Lake and Glacier Pass, 8 miles and 2000 feet of gain.
Day 1 – 8/1/08: We camped overnight at the Cold Spring campground in Mineral King. Ruth had picked up our permit the day before and we were on the trail by 7:45 AM. At this time of year, we were assured by the rangers that no ‘Marmot protection’ was needed at the trailhead. The Mineral King marmots are famous for eating radiator hoses, hood insulation, and other plastic materials during the early spring, and in June indeed, I have seen significant damage to autos from their predation. The recommended tactic is to wrap your auto in a large plastic tarpaulin; one drives onto the tarp, and wraps up the car using rope. While this saved my car during a June 2008 trip, another auto in our group, wrapped identically, did suffer damage, so possibly the chicken wire and tarp method is best. Our plan for the day was to hike to our base camp 2000 feet above Big Arroyo to be in position to climb Mt. Kaweah and Red Kaweah in a single day. But that would have been a hike of 16+ miles, with 8200 feet of gain, and 4500 feet of drop in a single day. We ended up at Little Five Lakes, near the bear box instead. From the Mineral King TH, we took the climber’s trail, which is the left hand turn before main trail crosses Monarch Creek. It’s a bit more than ½ mile to the turnoff. The trail is maintained at first, but quickly turns into a romp through old bits of trail, crosses meadow, and joins the main trail at the foot of the Sawtooth pass ascent. The Sawtooth pass trail is sandy, not maintained well, but at this time of the year wasn’t too bad. We arrived at Sawtooth pass above stunning Columbine lake at 1130 AM, took our lunch break, and headed down the Lost Canyon. The Lost Canyon is a beautiful canyon with a creek down the middle. We made great time downhill. If you’ve never been down this canyon, I recommend it if you’re not in a hurry. There is a junction with the trail north to Little Five Lakes. This turned out to be a good trail, but long. The group was tired and we stopped at Little Five Lakes for the evening.
Day 2 - 8/2/08: To base camp, and Mount Kaweah. We left camp at 6:00 AM for the hike to the Big Arroyo Cabin and the climb to our high camp. It’s all downhill to the Big Arroyo. Behind the cabin, is a very faint use trail to get you started, but there is no trail up the steep 2000 foot mountainside. We arrived at our high camp at 11,500’. We had a great campsite by a stream, good gravel, just big enough for 4 small tents or bivi sacks. At noon, we left for the climb of Big Kaweah (13,802). This is a CL2 climb over high tundra, and then over boulders and sand. We summited at 3:30 PM, and enjoyed the views all around. The registers were there – a spiral notebook dated back to 1981, and there is also an official register placed in 1995. After 30 minutes on the summit, we went back to camp, arriving at 6PM.
The View From Mt Kaweah
Day 3 - 8/3/08: - Black Kaweah (13,765) An ideal Sierra Climb – I want to go back! We left camp at 6:00 AM, summited at 10:30 AM. To get to the base of the peak, we traversed into the next basin to the north around the spur that descends from the southwest ridge of Black Kaweah, staying at 11,500 feet, our camp altitude. Ruth wasn’t feeling well and stayed behind. From the lake at xxx feet, you will see a seeming maze of chutes leading to the summit.
The right hand chute is where you start, and you quickly transition to the left hand chute. The left hand chute is steep and CL4 in the lower sections. The key to finding the starting point is to see the small black waterfall stain in the lower chute, and about 20 feet below it, a ‘flat’ white granite slab, about 10 feet wide and 25 feet long (EL approx. 12,500). That flat granite slab is where you go to start. You climb up large talus boulders above the small twin lakes at XXX feet to get to the starting slab. From there, there is a clear ramp leading to 30 feet of CL3, then another ramp that wraps around the buttress to the left hand, main chute (EL approx 12,750).
Once in the main chute, the route will be obvious, and you will encounter five stair steps (waterfall pitches), ranging from 10 to 30 feet high (the first at EL approx 12,800). All are easily climbed, with low CL3 moves, and the rest of the chute remains at CL2. There is lots of loose rock, but not as bad as some peaks (Disappointment comes to mind), and the handholds were good. We stayed to the left for the most part, although one is also passed on the right. At the fourth stairstep, you’ll come to a CL5 vertical wall, and the chute will jog over to the left (EL approx 13,100). There is a gravel ramp, with a square black cave at the top. We climbed the ramp, did a stemming move to get above the black cave, and then continued up the ramp. At the highest stair step, there is a tricky CL3 move (which you wouldn’t want to downclimb). This can be passed by going left, over a small horn, which leads above the chute and then drops back into it. At this point, the summit block will be in sight. Below the summit block, follow a short, narrow ramp to a small gendarme at the top of the chute. From the small gendarme, it’s an easy CL3 move to the summit. The register dates back to 1920, although it was placed in 1924 and annotated back to the earlier date. Amazingly, the register was precariously perched on the summit block, not even glued or bolted down. I spent some time making a secure spot for it, bounded by rock on all sides. The views are fantastic all around, and we got a good view of the route up Red Kaweah. We spent a very leisurely hour on the summit, reading the register and enjoying the view. We downclimbed both chutes, and by 2PM, we were sunning ourselves and napping on a big flat rock, perfectly sized for 3 people. We were back in camp by 5PM. We called this our ‘rest day’.
Red From Black
Black’s Register Box
The Main Chute
Day 4 - 8/4/08: Red Kaweah (13,720)
Another 6:00 AM start, and we summited at 9:05 AM. We gradually climbed over tundra and talus to the base chute. Red Kaweah has a very obvious main chute, CL2, which splits into two chutes near the top. We found it best to take the left hand chute up, as it had less loose rock and we were able to stay on the buttress that divides the left and right hand chute and found good CL2 boulder climbing. At the top of the left hand chute, you’ll traverse right into the top of the right hand chute. A look at the loose rock and scree in the right hand chute told us that we’d made the right decision. You’ll see what looks like a low CL3 wall, but this is easily avoided by following a shallow, broad ramp to the right. Before you drop into the imaginary dividing line of the drainage to the south, you’ll head east, up a low CL3 move to the summit plateau, actually a 20 degree CL2 talus and boulder field. From there, follow the north ridge to the summit. The register on the summit dates to 1936 to 1987, and there is a newer register as well. We had a fantastic view of the peaks along the ridge from Black to Red Kaweah. We left at 10AM, and were back in our high camp at 11,500 by noon. We packed up, and downclimbed to the Big Arroyo. At this point, it started to rain gently, and we managed to stay mostly dry on the trail to Little Five Lakes. On the way, we met the Ranger, Martin Oliver, who was stationed there. On the trail just below the lakes, we smelled frying fish, and ran into Ruth, who had hiked out a day earlier. She had just caught 5 large trout, and was enjoying them, pixie like, under a tree while a gentle rain fell. She offered to share, and we enjoyed some of the best fish I’ve tasted. We checked out the ranger’s yurt, and shared wildflower sightings.
Red Kaweah North Ridge
Black from Red
Ranger’s Front Yard
Day 5 - 8/5/08 Hiking out
Another early start at 6:30 AM, at the cars by 1:30 PM We climbed over into the Big Five Lakes drainage, and climbed over Hands and Knees (Cyclamen Lake Pass). It’s all CL2, sandy ledges, glacial polished boulders and slabs, and the west side above Spring Lake has a use trail to the left down to Spring Lake. From there, we found another use trail, close to the outlet stream of Spring Lake, which takes you in some of the most beautiful terrain to Glacier Pass. There was a bit of snow, but a CL2 trail to the east side of the pass led to the sandy trail system which leads up to Sawtooth Pass. From there, we easily reached the cars, and headed home after a lunch in Exeter, CA (well worth the visit).
TOPO! GPS Data Format Deg NAD83 ElevFeet Local-Time
TRAILJ,36.45612,-118.58601,NA,08/14/2008,18:40:02,OLDNEW TRAIL JCT
Mt Davis, Aug 2-3, 2008
By Louise Wholey
This weekend was spectacular, with outstanding weather, extremely clear air, and delightful Sierra wildflowers. Our group of 5, Monique Messie, Sandrine Thomas, Alex Sapoznikov, Kelly Maas and I (leader) started our trek from the Rush Creek trailhead near Silver Lake. The trail had great views right from the start. It was so green. Flowers were everywhere. This yellow one was new to me.
The trail climbed lots but we enjoyed the wonderful flowers, greenery, wildflowers, and mountain views. Finally we arrived at the spectacular Thousand Island Lake.
Monique needed no encouragement as she quickly went for a refreshing swim. Our destination is visible in the photo at the far right end of the ridge. Banner loomed overhead. Wow!
Past the lake we took off cross-country to climb to Catherine Lake through more beautiful meadows, flowers, and creeks, all with great views back down to Thousand Island Lake.
Camp at Catherine Lake was welcome after the long climb. Monique brought a bottle of nice red wine for our enjoyment.
The climb to the summit was fun, with great views in every direction (Kelly below). We hiked quite fast back to the road to be able to fly home in daylight. Sandrine was very quick with her camera to get this lovely deer near the trail’s end.
The flight home was quick. The lights of San Jose greeted us as it grew dark. More photos are on the web at
Not-so-silly Silliman, Aug 2, 2008
By Debbie Benham
Slab walking, water flowing over granite, panoramic views, sun with a slight breeze, meadows and hillsides covered in wildflowers, birds flickering by… ‘these are a few of my favorite things!’
Dayhiking Mt Silliman (11, 188’) was tiring but worth the price of admission. I recommend all who want to try Mt Silliman in a day (4428’ gain) to read a trip report found on SummitPost.org/mountain/rock/151634/mount-silliman.html.
We followed route descriptions precisely, but what was also helpful was running into a Sierra Club group from Los Angeles who were backpacking into Silliman Lake. These trip leaders had scouted the route two weeks prior and gave us tips on the use trail up Silliman Creek, as well as an alternate to the descent on granite slabs from Silliman Lake (as you’re heading down, stay to the left, in the gully – not so hard on the knees).
As we ascended, we saw an abundance of flora and fauna: Mountain Bluebirds, a Flicker, Juncos, American Robins, Chickadees, fast Hummingbirds, Mountain Quail, Foxtail Pines (near the summit), red/yellow hybrid columbines, Sierra Lilies, Monkhood, Rangers Buttons, three species of Monkey Flower, Pinedrops, Whiteveined Wintergreen, Elephant Heads, Jeffrey Shooting Stars, Sneezeweed flowers, and, of course, your resident marmots and cute mule deer. Silliman Lake stayed high and we thought for a while that it was all a dream as we granite-slabbed our way up.
But, beautiful and a bit buggy, we made it, then continued on our way to the summit. Class 2 via a scree-ish gully, smooth walking along the ridge line, and we were there. Views from the top included: Black Kaweah, Great Western Divide, Milestone, Table, Thunder, Brewer, South Guard and North Guard. The cirque just below the summit was remarkable and the next day, from the summit of Big Baldy through binoculars, we saw the dramatic, vertical, north side, as well.
Other highlights: Participants enjoyed the appetizers and beer waiting back at camp Saturday evening. One hiker remarked that there were no 5 o’clock follies as advertised, but, the flowing beer and lively conversation more than made up for that lack of planning. Sunday, as we hiked Big Baldy, one bird spotted was a White-headed Woodpecker, a first for me. Swifts zoomed around at Big Baldy’s summit.
Another gorgeous mountain climb in our beautiful Sierra, with a special thank you to Chris Prendergast for routefinding assistance. We were fortunate to have a couple of naturalists on the trip, Chris MacIntosh and Chris Prendergast. All we had to say was, “What’s that flower?” or “Is that a Jeffrey Pine?” or “What bird is that?” and our questions were answered. Thanks to all who came and enjoyed: Debbie Benham (leader and scribe), Barry and Rosemary Brisco, Chris MacIntosh (coleader), Chris Prendergast, Linda Smith, Jeff West and Miguel Vieira. [Photographs taken by: The Brisco’s, Miguel Vieira]
Mt Russell – The Western Front
August 2-4, 2008
By Rick Booth
Mt Russell is a formidable peak from just about any direction. The easiest route, the East Ridge, is rated “only” third class and is considered a classic, however, it has stymied many a mountaineer. The rest of the mountain is harder. In some sections it is a lot harder. The West Face of Mt Russell is pretty much vertical and has the peaks hardest routes. The Western Front is right in the middle of the West Face and while not the hardest route there it is a butt cutter. The Western Front is described in Peter Croft’s book listing forty routes he considers to be outstanding that are in the Sierra. This route is a combination of two routes, the Rowell-Jones route, or West Face Route, and the Bartlett-Walker route, or New Era Route. Essentially, it follows the first two pitches of Rowell-Jones and avoids the 5.10d pitch by heading diagonally left to pick up the top part of the Bartlett-Walker route. Avoiding the 10d pitch turned out to be only marginally helpful since the Western Front is rated 10c, however, the 10c wasn’t the hard part.
Rounding up rock climbers to do an alpine route isn’t easy. Fortunately, I have a few friends who aren’t too smart and can be talked into these projects. Dan Clawson volunteered enthusiastically, which I should have taken as a warning, and on Friday afternoon, August 1 we headed off to Whitney Portal. Saturday morning we headed up the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek headed to Upper Boy Scout Lake. Dan is hyper altitude sensitive so we thought camping lower would be helpful and that we would cruise down the East Ridge back to camp.
Sunday morning we were up and hiking by sun up. Chug, chug, chug up to Iceberg Lake, chug, chug, chug, up to the Whitney-Russell Col, a scree strewn pile of junk, and on down past the Fish Hook Arête to the base of Russell and over to the West Face. We could hear two parties of climbers on Russell, one on the Fish Hook Arête, not surprisingly, and one on the Western Front. Western Front gets climbed about twice a year but we showed up on the one day the OTHER party was on the route. Fortunately, it was Dave Nettle guiding a client up the route so they were moving fairly quickly. Besides, it was freezing over there and we were in no hurry to get started.
Finally around 10:30 AM we decided to head up the route. Dan lead up the first pitch, which was about 5.8/5.9 to the top of a little tower. I got the supposed crux second pitch which went well except I fell off under a little roof when a foot hold broke, which clocked Dan on his helmet. This pitch featured some exciting 5.9 or so face climbing on a little arête up higher with minimal pro. The third pitch headed up and left to get into the corner defining the New Era Route. This was rated 5.9 but seemed harder. The fourth pitch was rated 10a but seemed easier. Go figure. This brought us to the fifth pitch, rated 5.10a. Dan got this one, and I am sure he regrets it now. The belay pro was kind of hinky so Dan’s first problem was to get in a decent piece to protect a weird step over to a crack. He managed to get in a solid #1 Camalot, fortunately, and made the step over to the crack. This was the beginning of a fairly long section of lay backing, without a prayer of a rest. At about 13,600 feet this was exhausting. After a while the crack eases up some but it remained weird and awkward with intermittent lay back moves, finger locks (sort of), and the occasional hand jam. Dan stopped short of the 200 foot length and set a belay. It was exhausting just following and cleaning this pitch. This pitch kicked both our butts. I had zero gas in the tank at the belay so Dan finished off the next 10a section and I lead up the 5.8. Then we wandered around on the third/fourth/fifth class “bonus” sections at the top of Russell, not getting on anything I recognized from before, and landed at the summit.
Smilin’ Dan Clawson, not knowing what he has gotten into, arriving at the belay at the end of pitch four
We bailed off the summit around 8 PM and the sun was riding low in the sky. We decided to go back the way we came instead of heading down the ridge since I wasn’t sure I could remember how it went in the dark which was coming up shortly. So Dan and I headed down the fourth class to the rubble next to the Fish Hook Arête, chugged back up to the Whitney-Russell Col and down to Iceberg Lake. By now it was 10 PM.
At Iceberg Lake there were headlamps shining all over the place, which was curious given the late hour. It turned out Dave Nettle was having a slight problem. It seems that while he was guiding his client on Russell, and then escorting her down to Whitney Portal, and then running back up to Iceberg Lake, a family of four had crawled into his tent having run out of energy and daylight on their ascent of the Mountaineers Route. This was compounded by the fact they had only one headlamp, which was apparently not working. Dave offered to trade us a couple of quarts of water if we would walk with them down to their camp at Upper Boy Scout Lake. This we did, in spite of the fact it took two hours. Dan fortunately had an extra headlamp which made the whole grueling process somewhat easier. At midnight we fell into our sleeping bags and passed out. Monday morning we jetted for home.
We used a double 8.1mm 60M rope system. One pitch is listed as being 200 feet long, however, it is not necessary to go that entire distance. We brought a set of stoppers, which were useful, a double rack of Aliens, size black (smallest) to red, and a double rack of Camalots, #.75 to #3. An extra #3 would have been helpful at the belay at the end of pitch 2.
The rating of the route is suspect. The 10c pitch was rated about right, and, in general, my experience with Croft’s recommended routes has been that his ratings have been remarkably accurate, given he walks on water and I don’t. The problem is pitch 5 which is rated “only” 10a. It seemed a lot harder than the supposed crux pitch which was pitch 2. Maybe it was the altitude.
The Good, the Great, and the Awesome, Peter Croft, Maximus Press, 2002, ISBN 0-9676116-4-4. This is really the only description of the route since it is a link up of two routes and Croft did the link up. Lousy topo.
Climbing California's Fourteeners, Stephen F. Porcella and Cameron M. Burns, The Mountaineers, 1998, ISBN 0-89886-555-7. This has pictures and location of the West Face Route and New Era. No topos.
Observation Peak, Aug 8, 2008
By Jim Wholey
Louise and I were camped in LeConte Canyon, below Mount McDuffie, as part of a more extended trip. After a day of fishing I was excited to try for the far-away Observation Peak. It was an early start and easy going on the JMT – southbound for about 6 miles. A wet crossing of Palisade Creek near Cataract Creek marked the departure from the JMT. An old use trail continued along the west side of Cataract Creek, more or less to Amphitheater Lake. But our more direct route from climber.org took us up a bit more to the west, through valleys with plenty of larger boulders until reaching the crest just east of the summit. From that point it was a bit easier, although somewhat confusing due to our GPS downloaded maps identifying the summit a half-mile away from the high point and the register. On our return, we chose to go past Amphitheater Lake, and managed to arrive at the Palisade Creek crossing and JMT at sunset. A bit of night hiking, fortunately along a superb trail brought us back to camp. In all, it was a 17 hour day! Whew!
McDuffie, Observation, Giraud
Aug 6-10, 2008
By Louise Wholey
Climbing trips sometimes happen just among friends from previous trips, which is pretty common if you have companions doing the list. Sierra Club Angeles Chapter Sierra Peaks Section has a list of 248 peaks that were voted as worthy of climbing. Some of us are drawn into this challenge when we realize that we have climbed quite a few of these peaks. One especially nice feature of trying to climb all of these peaks is that the list takes us into less-traveled areas of the Sierra. Another is that it gets us out fairly often.
McDuffie is rather far into the heart of the Sierra lying on the forbidding Black Divide, a set of peaks that includes killer peaks like Devil’s Crags. Susan Livingston had not climbed it and neither had I. Daryn Dodge had climbed McDuffie but was anxious to replace the summit register. John Cheslick and Scott Sullivan completed the group of people who had all climbed over 200 of these peaks. In fact, after McDuffie Scott has only one more peak to finish the list, Clouds Rest, which he will do in early September, way to go Scott! Then there was me with under 200 and Jim who planned to fish.
The fire-fighting was severe early this summer. A fire at Mammoth brought this neat fire bomber to Bishop.
The hike over Bishop Pass and down into LeConte Canyon had fiery flowers requiring no human care on display.
The main target for the group was Mt. McDuffie. Our route went around the foreground ridge and up to a ridge far to left.
Then we dropped into a basin and scrambled up the left-hand long loose gully. The summit is in back, not obvious.
The climb was over 5000 feet, and quite convoluted, taking close to 6 hours each way. The views were outstanding. Here is one view over Ladder Lake to the Palisades.
Jim greeted me in camp with a string of fish and said he wanted to do something with others the next day. I had planned to climb Observation Peak, a 24 mile round trip, half on trail and half who knows what. Jim did it and summited.
Our route followed Steve Eckert’s on the way and went via the common route past Amphitheater Lake on the return. We found intermittent trail at all elevations on the return. We enjoyed sunbathing in the creek most of the following day, then hiked up to Dusy Basin for my planned climb of Giraud.
The left-hand horribly loose chute and behind it is my route.
Whaleback, Glacier Ridge,
SPOT 911 Rescue, Aug 16-20, 2008
By Louise Wholey
It is fun to write about experiences when things go well, but otherwise it feels more like an obligation to write something in order to help others avoid the same pitfalls. Unfortunately I do not know what I could have done differently to avoid this accident and all the bills that keep pouring into my mailbox.
This trip started out fun enough. We hired mules to carry our gear in to Cloud Canyon, about 20 miles from the Rowell Meadow trailhead, just west of the Kings Canyon National Park. You can follow our adventure on Tom Harrison’s Mt. Whitney map. On our hike we had a view of many peaks.
View Hiking On Hike to Roaring River
Our first night was at the Roaring River ranger’s station campsite. Our duffle bags and packs survived the mule ride under the skilled hands of our wrangler Jack. For the 6 of us, organizer John Cheslick, Lisa Barboza, Daryn Dodge, Susan and Bill Livingston, and scribe Louise Wholey, we had many potluck dinner dishes ranging from fresh fruits and vegetables to spaghetti and meatballs, all to be accompanied by 3 bottles of wine. What a feast!
Our second day was to include hiking to camp in Cloud Canyon followed by climbing Whaleback. The mules carrying our packs were quite slow arriving at camp which caused us to get a late start of 1 pm to climb our peak. Daryn continued on to Colby Lake for a climb of Milestone and Midway the following day. Though we had a description of how others climbed Whaleback we managed to miss the correct route and climb too far to the right of the peak. The targeted headwall was a very short distance to the right of the peak, well to the left of the trees.
After lots of traversing we finally found the anticipated route that passes behind several flakes at the top of the mini headwall. Lots of care allowed us to escape any rock-fall incidents. On the way down, however, I stepped in the wrong place, apparently undermining a large rock, which proceeded to slide down my leg and onto my foot before I could react. Ouch! A frantic pull got my foot out from under the 2 ft x 1.5 ft x 8 inch (big!) rock.
A short rest did not mitigate the pain, about a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10. I tightened my boot and tried hiking. It seemed to work ok; the pain did not increase unless I stepped at a funny angle, so my placements were very careful. Darkness would soon be with us, so keeping moving was important. We were at the bottom of the canyon when we turned on our lights. I hobbled a bit slower than normal across the ledges and through the boulders back to camp.
The next day my foot was still not swollen or bruised. Walking seemed to work ok in my boot; I did not try barefoot. Though I had at first thought my foot would have been broken by a rock as big as had fallen on my foot, I thought a break would swell instantly and also show bruising, none of which appeared. So I thought maybe I had damaged a tendon rather than a bone and ventured on the new days’ climb of Glacier Ridge.
We again moved swiftly up Cloud Canyon, so much easier in daylight than at night. We climbed mostly ledges, with some broken areas in between them to the ridge left of the summit. Some scrambling took us to the exposed summit area (rated 4th class) where everyone but Lisa took a belay.
Approaching the Glacier Ridge Summit Block
Climbing the Summit Block
To my delight my foot was well-behaved both up and down. Back at camp we packed to hike to Colby Lake after visiting with Daryn on his way out after successful climbs.
I was apprehensive about hiking with a full pack further from the road on my injured foot, but it did work. We stashed some supplies near our camp to lighten our loads since our side-trip was max 3 days. The following morning we continued over Colby Pass. My foot started getting a bit sensitive on the way down from the pass. We spotted a lovely isolated lake at 11,200 ft for camp. The photo below shows Kern Point to the north (left) and Picket Guard to the south (right).
Tiny Lake East of Colby Pass for Camp
We began side-hilling to Kern Point. About 5 minutes into the hike, rushing to catch up after setting up my GPS for the peak, I stepped badly on a pinecone, twisting my foot, and completing the break! Now it really hurt, 10 on a scale of 1 to 10, though it backed off to a 7-8 after a while. I pressed each foot bone to see what was broken. It was clearly the 4th metatarsal. I tried to walk. I could not stand. Now I was really in trouble. The others rushed off to climb their peak, thinking, I suppose, that it would be trivial for me to get back to camp. It was only 5 minutes outbound, but I could not stand or walk on my foot. My trekking poles were back in camp. The ground was too rough for crawling and squirming along on my butt. Finally I staggered painfully to a fallen tree and took a branch from it as a crude crutch. An hour later, which seemed like forever, I struggled back into camp.
The afternoon was very long, but at least my foot stopped hurting when I did not use it. But soon I was out of water. Using my trekking poles as crutches I was able to move about the area with less pressure on my foot and thus less pain. The lake was full of creepy crawly worms and bugs so I used my water filter. Boredom ensued. After a while I decided to try to eliminate feeling very grubby by bathing. The lake would be impossible due to access through a lot of deep mud. My map showed a stream about ¼ mile away at the same elevation as camp. Hooray for trekking poles! They enabled me to get to the stream where I washed both my clothes and body. I found that I could essentially eliminate pain if I walked with my foot totally relaxed, pretty tricky but I did it.
The peak baggers returned to camp late in the afternoon. We talked at length about how to get me out of this location 27 miles from the nearest road over a pass that mules can do only without riders. Lisa had a SPOT device. I thought the HELP button was the way to go but Lisa had not arranged anything for that button. The other peak that was the reason for the trip was Picket Guard, planned for the next day. People thought they could hike to the ranger station after the climb to ask the ranger what to do. Everyone thought that using the 911 button would send the wrong message; this was not an immediately life-threatening situation though some sort of rescue was ultimately needed.
In the morning my foot was swollen to twice its normal size. I started to worry about delaying a visit to the doctor and told Lisa that I was ready to use the 911 feature of SPOT. She agreed. At 6:25 am our message went out. For hours we wondered if it was working as there was no feedback. We wished we could send a simple message “broken foot” to distinguish our plea from a “severe fall” or “heart attack” kind of request, but SPOT does not yet have that highly desirable feature. At 9:30 am one put-put of the helicopter engine was all it took for me to fly out of my tent.
Rescue (Photo by LIsa Barboza)
The park service rangers were very pleasant and did not complain that I was not dying. The chopper took me to the Ash Meadow park headquarters on a spectacular flight past Triple Divide Peak to Nine Lakes Basin, past the Valhalla (Angels Wings) and Hamilton Dome, and down the very dry Middle Fork of the Kaweah. After examination and interrogation by the EMT and failure to find a ride, I agreed to an ambulance ride to the Kaweah Delta Hospital in Visalia. The x-ray confirmed the broken 4th metatarsal in my foot. Jim flew our plane to Visalia to give me a ride home.
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Scree is the monthly journal of the Peak Climbing Section of the Sierra Club, Loma Prieta Chapter. Current and back issues are posted on the web in PDF and html.
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The following trip
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qualified. No simple rating system can anticipate all possible conditions.
Class 1: Walking on a trail.
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