August 2009     Peak Climbing Section, Loma Prieta Chapter, Sierra Club   Vol. 43 , No. 8

General Meeting

Date          August 11, 2009

Time          7:30 – 9:30

Where        PCC

                  3921 E. Bayshore Road

                  Palo Alto, CA

Program   The Descent of Robber’s           Roost

Presenter Hal Tompkins

Hal Tompkins will describe canyoneering in the Robber’s Roost area in October, 2008. His party descended 5 technical canyons and then did a two-day non-technical backpack into the North Fork of Robber’s Roost Canyon.

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.


                Editor’s Notes

Filling Louise’s shoes is no small feat, (pun intended) but I’m working on it. Thank you, Louise, for all your help. And thanks too to all the people who have responded to my Scree Deadline! emails. Yes, we writers need deadlines to force us into action.

This is only my second issue as editor, but already I’ve discovered an enormous, unexpected benefit of the job: I am learning about all sorts of peaks and areas of the Sierras (and other states, in this issue) that were unknown to me before, which is a delight.

At this point, I am really not editing, more like cutting and pasting whatever PCS members submit. That way, there’s a great mixture of styles, humor, photo styles, even grammarI!

I do, however, have quite a bit of experience with professional editing, so could be more ruthless. Let me know what you think.

And thanks again to all of you for your submissions. Read on – this is a packed issue.

Judy Molland

Chair Column

Trip Ratings

There are many trips on our schedule.  Some are labeled beginners trips, some moderate difficulty, or perhaps class 2 climbing; some are Lisa trips.  What does it all mean?

First of all, you cannot expect to climb peaks if you are totally out of shape, even if you were once active and fit.  We do, however, offer some slow-paced trips led by Charles Schafer for people who are not sure if they are fit enough.

The class rating is described on the last page of Scree and is repeated in every issue. 

Class 1 is either trail hiking or cross-country travel that is almost as easy as walking on a trail.  People looking for a start at peak climbing should consider trips with such a rating.  You get the pleasure of reaching a summit and seeing the great views with the least possible exposure to danger.

Class 2 is climbing using hands and feet, but the hands are mostly for balance.  Typically it is on large blocks of rock called talus.  A fall could hurt you substantially but is not likely to kill you unless you hit your head.  A helmet is good protection for your head and is highly recommended.  People with a good degree of agility should be able to learn to climb this kind of peak.  Sometimes descending can be hardest.  Skilled climbers will prance from boulder to boulder as if they were on the dance floor - not so easy for most people.

Class 3 is quite challenging climbing which requires the use of both hands and feet.  It is also exposed such that a fall would quite possibly be fatal - not for the inexperienced.

This year I have asked leaders to rate level of exertion. 

Easy should be fine for people who are fit from other activities.  Altitude is, however, an unpredictable factor.

The moderate level is likely to include a 4-6 mile backpack to camp, then a several thousand foot ascent of a peak, then packing out.  Most trips are moderate.  To do such trips, you should have previous recent experience at altitude and be fit.

Difficult requires significant previous experience.  Unless you know you are well-acclimatized, very fit and strong, as well as capable of climbing quickly at the indicated class level, you should not consider tackling such a trip.

Happy climbing!  See you out there!


               PCS Trip Calendar

These are required statements.

Note: CST 2087766-40. Registration as a seller of travel does not constitute approval by the State of California.

Note: All Sierra Club trips require you to sign a Liability Waiver.

Jul 30-Aug 7 – Goddard, Scylla (High Sierra from west side)

Leader:  Joe Baker

Aug 1 - 2 – University, Kearsage

Leader:  Kelly Maas

Aug 28 – 29 – Goode, Cloudripper

Leader:   Charles Schafer

Sept 12 – 13 – Cherry Creek Canyon

Leader:  Kelly Maas

Oct 10 – 11 – Langley

Leader:  George van Gorden

PCS Trip Details

Goddard, Scylla

Peak:   Goddard, Scylla, Henry, Red Mtn, McGee, Black Giant
July 30-Aug 7 (Thurs – Friday)
Leader:   Joe Baker (
Co-Lead: Judy Molland (

Difficulty: Class 2, moderate extended High Sierra trip

A chance to explore the beautiful Ionian Basin. We’ll start from Florence Lake, making our way initially along the John Muir trail, before going cross-country to our first peak, Mt. Henry. From there, we’ll be heading into Goddard Canyon, where we’ll summit Mt. McGee and Mt. Goddard, before arriving at the magnificent Ionian Basin, where we’ll climb Scylla and finally Black Giant. Peaks are class 1 and 2

University, Kearsage

Peak:    University ((13,589), Kearsage (12,618)

Date:    August 1-2

Leader:  Kelly Maas(

Co-Lead: Linda Sun(

Difficulty: Class 2

Saturday we will hike University. Sunday we will day-hike Kerarsage. Car camping at Onion Valley campground Saturday

Goode, Cloudripper

Peak:    Goode (13,085), Cloudripper (13,525)

Date:    August 28 - 30

Leader:  Charles Schafer ( (408-829-0381)  

Co-Lead: wanted

Difficulty: Class 2 and 3

Friday we’ll climb up to Chocolate Lake where we’ll set up camp and then climb Cloudripper. Saturday we’ll hike over to Bishop Lake where we’ll set up another camp and then climb Mt. Goode. Then on Sunday we’ll hike back out.

This will be a relatively slow-paced trip and the climbing will for the most part be easy (although it will be Class 3 on Cloudripper), so it should be appropriate for relative beginners who have done a bit of climbing.

Cherry Creek Canyon

Peak:    None

Date:    September 12 - 13

Leader:  Kelly Maas

Difficulty: Class 2+

Another no-peaks trip, this will conclude my Yosemite canyon trilogy of 2008-09. I've done this a couple of times, but I can't resist repeating it.
We start at Cherry Lake (reached from Sonora or Hwy 120), and the first day we hike upstream on the Kibbie Ridge trail, then drop down into a wonderland of granite that forms the upper part of the creek. On Sunday, we do a trail-less descent of the creek, sometimes traversing steep rock to avoid having to swim through pools. The water flow will be low in September. As usual, we'll bypass the committing "teacup" section. Unlike my previous trips, this time we'll be early enough in the season that the gate at Cherry Lake will be open and we can drive an additional 4.5 miles, which will eliminate 9 miles of hiking on a dirt road. yeah!


Peak:    Mount Langley (14,000+)

Date:    October 10 - 11

Leader:  George van Gorden  

Difficulty: Class 1

This is a good beginner trip. On the first day we meet in late morning at the Cotton Wood trailhead (10000feet) and hike into Long Lake, about 5 to 6 miles. We will have a beautiful camping site by a lake. The next morning we get a moderately early start and climb the mountain by way of New Army Pass. We will have about 5 miles and 3000 vertical feet to the summit. We should get back to our camp by mid-afternoon. After a short break we will break camp and return to our cars. We should reach the cars before dark.

Private Trip Calendar

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.

August 1-8, 2009 – Brewer, S&N Guard, Table, Thunder, Jordan

August 8-11– Elektra Peak

August 27-September 1 – North Palisades and nearby peaks

September 4-7 – Clarence King, Gardiner, Cotter, Fin Dome

October – Nepal - Mera Peak 21,300 ft

November 14 – 15 - Pinnacles

January 2010 - Kilimanjaro

Private Trip Details

Brewer, S&N Guard, Table, Thunder, Jordan

Peaks: Brewer (13570), S Guard (13232), N Guard (13327),
             Table (13632), Thunder (13517+), Jordan (13320+)

Dates: Aug 1-8, 2009; Saturday-Saturday

Contact:  Bob Suzuki (,

Jim Ramaker (

Difficulty: class 4, rope

A long and strenuous backpack from Road's End in Kings Canyon NP to our base camps near East Lake will position us for attempts on nearby class 4 summits. If interested please be fast, strong, confident and skilled on rock and snow.

Elektra Peak

Peak: Elektra (12,442'), Class 2

Dates: Aug 8-11, 2009; Saturday-Tuesday

Leader: Debbie Benham, (650/964-0558,

Difficulty: extended cross-country travel

Starting from Tuolumne Meadows, we'll head up Rafferty Creek, over Vogelsang Pass, follow then cross Lewis Creek, pass by the Cony Crags, then head up the Lyell Fork drainage to climb Elektra Peak. Permit for 5. Must have backpacking experience and comfortable hiking cross country (we leave the trail as we follow the Lyell Fork drainage). To find out about the peak's namesake, read Sophocles's play 'Elektra' (410 B.C.), based on the famous Greek Orestes myth.

North Palisades Peaks

Peak: N. Palisades (14,375) and other peaks

Dates: Aug 27-Sept 1

Leader: Jeff Fisher(650-207-9632) (

Co-Lead: Needed

Difficulty: Class 4 and 5

We will be going over Bishop Pass and going up from the west side. There are 4 other 14,000ft. peaks in the area If interested in some of the other peaks let me know. Helmets would be required on the Thunderbolt and Starlite, climbing shoes recommended.. I have a permit for 7, but walk up the day before may allow us to get more.

Clarence King, Gardiner, Cotter, Fin Dome

Peak:    Clarence King, Gardiner, Cotter, Fin Dome

Dates:   Sept 4-7

Leader: Bob Suzuki (

Co-Lead:  Jim Ramaker (

Difficulty: This is a technical trip requiring a high level of skill.

To avoid holiday traffic we will leave the Bay Area on Thursday.
After a long, strenuous backpack to camp we will have 2 fairly difficult climbs
each day, with short belayed climbing on Clarence King and possibly on Gardiner. If interested please be in very good shape with confidence on class 3 & 4 and with some roped climbing experience.

Mera Peak 21,300 ft, Nepal

Peaks:     Mera Peak (21,300 ft), Nepal
Dates:     October, 2009
Contact:  Warren Storkman (650-493-8959,

19 day trip to trek the tallest walkup peak

Rural experience.  Approach from the South East


Peak:    Your choice

Dates:   Nov 14 - 15

Leader: Jeff Fisher ( (650-207-9632)

Co-Lead:  wanted

Difficulty: Class 1 – 5, your choice

Come down for a weekend or just for a day of climbing or if you prefer hiking or even biking. There will be climbers of varying abilities. We have reserved group campsite #134 at the Pinnacles campground on the east side of the park. Camping cost is usually about $8 per person. Shoes, harness and helmet needed if you are going to be climbing. We will meet at the Bear Gulch visitor center at 9AM on Saturday. Carpools meet Saturday morning at 7AM at Cottle Rd. and Hwy 85 park and ride.

Kilimanjaro 19340 ft / 5895 m, Tanzania, Africa

Peaks:     Kilimanjaro 19340 ft / 5895 m
Dates:     January, 2010
Contact:  Warren Storkman (650-493-8959,

Trip will be similar to Warren’s previous trip to Kilimanjaro in January 2002.  A couple of detailed reports on Summit Post supply myriad detail:



August 14 – 16 (Friday – Sunday)

Clair Tappaan Lodge at Donner Summit invites you to the Lodge’s Gala Celebration of its 75th anniversary. You can find more information at Many of us have had fine times at the Lodge, and this event looks like it’s going to be a fine party. The Web site shows how to make reservations.

Your advertisement here!!
Trip Reports

Izaak Walton (12077’), June 13-14

By Arun Mahajan

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

This original title for the trip report was suggested by a PCS member who was on this trip and who doubles as an author and has written such well known tomes like 'Grape Expectations' (about the wine country) and 'Tale of the Two Tweeties' (about the rise and further rise of Twitter).

The reason why this is so apt...

Bob and Linda had organised a climb of Red Slate by the north-couloir but facing yet another bad weather weekend and not really wanting to stay home curled up on the sofa reading the zippy works of the above author, decided that bad weather could be a little easier to deal with if, a) the climb were to be mellower and b) made further mellow by a western Sierra approach as it had been forecast that the west side of the Sierra would have slightly better weather.

So, we set out, the seven of us (Bob Suzuki, Linda Sun, Julius Gawlas, Jim Ramaker, Louise Wholey, Ron Karpel and I, Arun Mahajan) under a gloomy sky after a hearty breakfast at the Vermilion Resort. A van that had milk crates for passenger seats and should have been long retired into that block in the back lawn took us and packs to the inlet of Lake Thomas Edison where a couple of old looking motor boats, perfectly complementing that van, awaited us.

The surprisingly long boat ride took us to the other side of the lake. It was cold/cool and remained so for the entire hike in. The hike into camp (Mott Lake) was very scenic. It was long but the gain was not that much (7 miles and 2000 ft+). The stream crossings, I think we counted three, were not too hard either and we were able to cross them over logs. The damp and cloudy weather and the general greenery reminded me of hiking in the hills of New Hampshire. The weather cleared up at Mott Lake which is a beautiful High Sierra jewel tucked in-between high cliffs. The hike in from the trailhead on the other side of Lake Edison to Mott Lake was about five hours.

We started off very early on the steep mountainside north of us, our destination being the ridgeline. As we approached the ridgeline, our path was seemingly blocked by a headwall of snow but we found a straightforward way to get by it and were on the ridge looking at a line that had several bumps, none very striking. A brief look at the maps suggested that the center bump was the summit and so we dropped down to the other side of the ridge, into a bowl below, completely filled with snow with the intention being to climb out of it on the other side and take a line that would take us to a bench and then to another and then to the slopes below the summit. Some wore crampons and some didnt but the snow was not very hard. The perfect corn quality made us dream of the skiing possibilities! As we made our way to the top, the summit was, as usual, the point further than what we had assumed from the bowl below.

A wonderful catwalk of snow, the termination point of a couloir that came in from the north got us to the true summit as evidenced by a war whoop by Jim Ramaker who had bolted ahead. Soon the rest of us followed, each posing at the catwalk for hero shots.

We had started from camp at 5.40 am and we were at the summit in exactly three hours. We looked across to the giant form of Red Slate which would have been our destination today. A cloud hovered over it but we wondered if we should have taken our chances with the weather and done it as planned.
The ominous looking Red and White peak, composed of horribly loose rock, the closest named peak to Izaak Walton, stood out in relief right in front.

After a few minutes, we headed down and mostly retraced our steps with the softening snow in the bowl making it a delight to climb out of. We were back at camp in two hours, an hour to break camp and we were off. The ferry from the other end of Lake Edison picks up people at 5pm and we were interested in not missing it but we were also thinking that if we got there earlier, perhaps the resort would not mind sending the boat(s) earlier. As we were hiking back, at the first chance that I got cell reception, I called Vermilion and requested for an early pickup. We made our time of 3pm but there was no boat. The sky was clear this time and it had been a completely different experience hiking out than getting in but it was cold and windy as we waited for the ferry to arrive and finally it did but we were pleasantly surprised to get a more modern and faster boat and after some quibbling the driver even agreed to load all seven of us with full packs and very soon, in perhaps half the time of the older boats that had got us here, we were back at the other end. This time, we passed on the dubious allure of that van ride from the pier and simply hoofed it and after wolfing down pie and coffee at Vermilion, drove home.

Thanks, Bob and Linda for organising the trip and leading us to the top.

So, it was the worst of times in that we missed out on our planned peak, Red Slate and the planned couloir route and the weather was cold and wet on the way in but it was the best of times in that we did a beautiful peak under perfect conditions and had a wonderful view and to top it all, the best of comaraderie....a Dickens of a good time. So, take that Sydney and stick it in your Carton.

Kautz Glacier, Mt. Rainier,

June 20-24

By Tye Chapman

(Submitted by Linda Sun)

Last Saturday the team gathered for the half-day orientation and instruction day here at HQ.  Guides: Brian Warren, Andy Polleczek, Karl Rigrish and Austin Shannon. Our climbers were from all over the place but several of them already new each other so that made for a pretty fun group. The others who came independently fit right…throw me into the mix and you’ve got quite the team!

After the gear check we all went our separate ways for the night. Several members of the team stayed in the tents here at HQ and were awoken for breakfast by the resident alarm clock a.k.a. the peacock across the street - yes a peacock!

After breakfast the team reassembled at roughly 8am. We loaded the van and trailer then hit the road. About an hour later we arrived at Paradise in some marginal weather but it wasn’t too bad (yet)…

Camp 1About an hour into the hike we pulled off the main trail and roped up to begin our glacier travel across the Nisqually Glacier and up the Wilson Glacier to our first camp at roughly 8500ft or “Lower Castle”. The weather during the day was extremely varied - I put on and took off my gore-tex jacket at least 4 times! In about a 30 minute span it was blowing snow sideways then sauna like conditions in the clouds and right back to snow. Once we got to camp, Mt. Rainier turned up the weather dial to sustained heavy winds and snow. We all hastily put up our tents. By now it’s 5:30 or 6:00. Austin and Andy drew the short straw that night and had to cook dinner and fill up the water bottles. On the menu was cous-cous, sausage and stirfry veggies (not freeze dried!). Andy and Austin took the food from tent to tent to make sure everybody was fed - thanks boys! Just a crack in the zipper meant endless snow would blow in so a quick unzip, fill up the bowls, drop the water bottles off and zip er back up was about it.

High CampTwelve hours later we awoke to beautiful weather, hot drinks and breakfast - again prepared by Austin and Andy. The goal for today was to breakdown camp and get moving up to High Camp at roughly 10,700ft at the top of the Turtle Snowfield. Not a huge day vertically which is great as we would be getting up early the next morning for our summit attempt.

After a few hours of some relatively standard glacier travel we pulled into camp -this time the weather was perfect. We made some nice tent platforms and got settled. Karl and Brian would be on dinner that afternoon and summit morning breakfast. We hydrated and dined on some pasta, meatballs and veggies around 4pm. After dinner we topped off the water bottles, had a hot drink and tried to get some shuteye. The plan: wake up at 12:30am and be walking by 2:00am.

Summit Day: 12:30 Brian shakes the tent and jumps in on top of Andy, Austin and I - Breakfast & Hots - come and get it! We moan & groan in general disgust. The temps were moderate and the winds weren’t too bad…yet. The team once again efficiently got ready and we were off close to 2:30am.

The lower off the rock stepDirectly out of camp is low angle terrain to the first challenge - the rock step. The guides lower everybody down the 25-30ft step to a moderate snow slope where we put on crampons…

Climbing the ice at dawn. After a quick uphill and a short traverse we find ourselves at the base of the Kautz Ice Chute. The type of climbing from here reallly depends on time of year and general snow conditions - for us we had some great conditions with the recent snow covering the ice giving us some nice hard snow to dig the crampons into. Mixed into the snow was some hard ice where front-pointing was necessary. Above the first ice section we found some good snow and moved quickly through to the next ice section. The ice was in great shape so the team moved efficiently through these two pitches. Above the ice we took our first real break. By then it was 6:30 or so and the sun was just out of reach behind the top of the Wapowety Cleaver and  the wind was picking up.

After a break we extended out into glacier travel mode to the sunny side of the Wapowety Cleaver for our next break. Even in the sun folks were getting pretty chilly so we moved on up through the upper Nisqually Glacier to our High Break at about 13,800. Winds were steady but the sun was out and the summit was in sight. We made the final push in about a half-hour and made the summit at about 10:30. After a quick walk to Columbia Crest we loaded up to get out of the winds and back down to High Break for some food and water.

Lowerinig Down Ice ChuteWe made quick work of the upper mountain on the way down and back at the ice the guides lowered everybody two by two down the Ice Chute. Back at the bottom of the ice we traversed back to the rock step and after some mild rock climbing we regained the step and made our way back to camp…2:30pm. 12 hours round trip - nice work everybody!

A look across at the routeOnce back at camp we radioed to George Dunn back at HQ, he promptly told us of an expected windstorm coming in that evening.  After some spicy rice noodle stir-fry, story-telling and some hot drinks we tightened up the tents and readied for the storm. Windy it was indeed! Ear plugs sure came in handy that night, but we all made it through the night - and so did the tents! We awoke to some great weather and were able to see Paradise 5000ft below us. After about 4 hours of walking we pulled into Paradise to our awaiting van, cold soft-drinks and some salty snacks!

Mt. Rainier let us sneak one in and we were all grateful - and hungry! After some hugs, hand-shakes, and signatures on the summit board we once again went our separate ways.

A big thanks to Andy, Karl, Brian and Austin for a safe and successful climb!

Recess Peak, June 25-26

By Louise Wholey

As a relative non-driver, driving to Lake Thomas Edison on the famous winding potholed road is something I hoped to do as few times as possible, yet I have declared myself to be a peak-bagger intent on finishing the 248 peaks on the SPS peak list.  Recess Peak looms above the lake, as does Silver Peak, so I signed up for Aaron's trip and went a couple days early to visit Recess Peak.  The climbing route is on the right skyline.

The approach I chose was up the Bear Ridge Trail to the PCT, reaching it in 2.5 hours.  Then I crossed the PCT and followed a trail that goes to Volcanic Knob.  When the trail went too far from the direction to Recess, I went cross-country to the small shallow lakes below the peak.  The travel was as easy as trail hiking.  I set up my camp, a simple bivy, and decided it was too early (~2:30) for anything but climbing the peak.  The view of Seven Gables was great!

Back in camp I was treated to a great sunset that seemed to last forever.

In the morning I decided to return via Bear Creek Trail to enjoy some of the waterfalls and pools.

The longer hike allowed me to connect back to my car at the dam. I used the Bear Creek Cut-off.  Along the way I felt bad disturbing a local resident rattlesnake. 

I tried to get into a good position to get its photo, but when I moved its head moved as if totally synchronized to me.  Its tongue and rattles never stopped moving, so I finally just left.

Silver Peak, June 27-28, 2009
By Louise Wholey

The Silver Peak trip had many people, Aaron Schuman, leader, Rod McCalley, co-leader, Kelly Maas, Paul Magliocco Matthew Blum, Greg Johnson, Eddie Sudol, and Louise Wholey, scribe.  The plan was to hike to camp at Devil's Bathtub, a very pretty place despite the name, then climb the peak the same day.  Rod advocated camping higher and climbing on Sunday, which would have been wise for better acclimatization and being able to actually reach this quite remote peak. 


After unloading camping gear we headed up the valley.  The forest is reasonably easy to pass through though we were unable to find a use trail in spots.  The alpine meadows above the forest were very pretty, but the group failed to make the turn to the right as necessary to gain the ridge leading to Silver Peak.  In the photo below the route goes left of the waterfall, then crosses it and continues on the right side.  After that the route goes diagonally up to the right on ramps to a ridge that separates this basin from the basin below Silver Peak.

The group reached a point too high to get easily over to the route and chose to climb a peak above the high point.  Nobody else wanted to try to reach the actual peak on

Sunday so Eddie and Louise signed out of the trip, hunted for the correct route, and returned to camp for some sleep before trying again at first light Sunday.  We followed the ramps to the top of the ridge and could see a long snow slope leading down to a basin that we had to cross to get to the peak.

The other side of the basin looked relatively easy.

We each took a trekking pole to make the steep snow decent.  The first part was vertical, but kicking steps worked.  Looking back we could see what we had descended.

Views from the top were wonderful.  I was excited to see Red Slate and Red and White Mtn which were the target for the following 4th of July weekend.

We returned the way we came and found our steps at the top of the vertical snow held.

We reached our cars at 6 pm and were very happy to have a great dinner at VVR (Vermillion Valley Resort) rather than drive home at night.  The Mono Creek campground gave us well-needed rest after two strenuous days.  An easy morning drive allowed Eddie to catch the 11 am train to the city.

            Colorado, July 1 – 5

              by Linda Sun

I wanted to climb some peaks without the backpacks, so Harry and I flew to Denver on July 1st.  We stayed at echo lake campground, half way up the Mt Evans road.  After taking a nap in the usual afternoon thunderstorm, we drove to the top of Mt Evans road.  From there, it's easy ten minutes walk to the top  of Mt Evans, 14264 feet, our first colorado 14er. 

Thursday, we drove to kite lake trailhead at 12,000 feet, and climbed Democrat 14,148 feet, four hours round trip.  We didn't get too early a start, and thunder/rain prevented us from combining the three 14ers nearby. 

Friday was a rest day.  We slept in, and read books.  We stayed at campground east side of Turquoise lake near Leadville.  I ran eight miles along the lake shore, geez, it was hard to run at 10,000 feet.


Saturday, we got up and had an alpine start of 630am from north Elbert trailhead.  4.5 hours later, we were on top of Mt Elbert, Colorado's highest point!  It took us three hours down.  Total 9 miles roundtrip, 4400 feet of elevation gain.

Sunday, we drove back to Denver, and relaxed.

There was some form of precipitation every day.  We always aimed to get down below tree line by noon, which worked.  Lots of thunderstorms. 

Except the first night, we walked in to all our campgrounds.  Not bad for a holiday weekend.

I used "Colorado's 14ers, 2nd Ed: From hikes to climbs" by Gerry Roach.  Very useful and accurate information.

I also checked to find peaks we would like to try.  It has a selector tool that allows to choose by distance, class, etc.

Lippencott – Yes!

Mt. Lippencott (12,265 )  Mt. Eisen (12,160 ) Eagle Scout Peak (12,000 ), July 2 - 5

By Lisa Barboza

Day 1: TH to Little 5 Lakes – 6.25 miles, 4700 feet gain.

Day 2: Little 5 Lakes to Eagle Scout Peak 15 miles RT, 2600 feet of gain.

Day 3: Little 5 Lakes to Lippencott, then Eisen 14.5 miles RT, 4200 feet of gain.

Day 4: Little 5 Lakes to TH 10.5 miles, +2000 feet, and lots of loss back to the cars.

Participants: Lisa Barboza, Chris Franchuck

Grudge Peaks – an odd name for something that you tried to do once, but the mountain said no.  So some bear a grudge.  But how can you bear a grudge against a majestic, noble, animated monolith of granite and hanging roof pendants? It’s so arrogant – and well, human. And then there are the “Orphan Peaks” – I have a few of them – peaks that are so far into the backcountry that a special trip must be made to climb them.  But these peaks were neither orphans or grudge peaks, they were wonderful granite assemblages that called us to climb them. In June of 2008, we attempted these climbs but were stymied by lots of snow – we couldn’t travel fast enough.  We came back 13 months later to climb the peaks.  Just a note – the mosquitoes were quite hungry throughout the trip.

Day 1:

We picked up our permit at the Mineral King R.S., parked our car across from the Ranger Station sans marmot protection (which wasn’t necessary as the marmots had all headed for parts more favorable to their culinary habits), and headed up the old use trail to Sawtooth pass on the north side of the creek. We climbed over Glacier Pass.  The summer sun had exposed the use trail over the pass, and even though there was plenty of snow, it was soft and we easily did standing glissades down to Spring Lake. From there, it’s a climb over Hands and Knees Pass, via a use trail on the south side of the west face leading to the pass. 

From Spring Lake, one must wonder how to climb it – but once up the face, there’s an easy notch to pass through, and an easy cross country route to Little 5 lakes.  The trick is to get up on top of the granite slabs and follow the spine of the ridge down to a low pass just above Little Five.  Once at the middle lake, stay on the south side of the waterfall to the easternmost Little Five Lakes, where the bear boxes and campsites are located.  This route is also called the “Ranger Freeway”, since the Little Five Lakes rangers use it to get out quickly.  It’s very fast, less than 6 hours out, even with a moderate pace.  Which we were.

Day 2:

 After a 6:00 AM start, we set out for Eagle Scout.  Chris Franchuck is an Eagle Scout.  We stayed on the trail, north to the Big Arroyo and almost to Kaweah Gap.  This is a well-travelled trail, although we did have to ford  Big Arroyo Creek three times (boots off).  We left the trail at waypoint TRNEAG (See Waypoint list below).  This was an easy traverse, up to the base of a bench of granite (paternoster formation) common to the Sierra, and glacial in origin.  We stayed right of the creeks cascading down the granite, up easy granite steps and ledges that went at high CL2.  A good descent route is a bit further north where is goes on a broken scree slope at firm CL2.  We went to the saddle, to the south of the peak, and climbed on CL2 and some low CL3 to the summit. We summited at  Eagle Scout is climbed very frequently by…mostly Boy Scout troops!  There were many, many Eagle Scouts signed in.  We spent a very leisurely hour on the summit.  We arrived back at camp at 5:30PM to a hearty dinner, joined by our friends, the gourmet mosquitoes, most likely Aedes hexodontus.

Day 3:

Another 6:00 AM start, and we decided to climb Lippencott and see if we had time for Eisen.  Again, we headed down the trail from Little Five Lakes to Big Arroyo, but left the trail at the 10,350 foot level at waypoint W2LIPP, and headed for the north shore of lake 10, 295.  Once at the north shore of 10,295, we found it best to continue along the shore of the lake to the right hand (north) side of the bench at the start of the lake.  Once there, you will find granite slabs.  At first, they look too steep to climb; move to the right of the slabs and climb up through the thin forest; after about 150 feet, you can move over to the slabs and from there it’s very easy going on fine alpine slab geology.  Beautiful wildflowers were everywhere.  It’s best to head for Waypoint SADDLE (See Waypoint List below), and climb the peak from there. This saddle is higher on the ridge, closer to the summit, than lowest saddle on the ridge. Once you get there, drop over the ridge.  It goes at CL2, some low CL3 on the west side of the ridge.  We summitted at 10:00 AM, stayed 30 minutes, and then on to Eisen. 

To Eisen – from Lippencott, we went back to the trail; headed north back to the northernmost cluster of the Little Five Lakes.  Actually, there are two sets of “Little Five Lakes” on the topo map. In the northern cluster, the route to Eisen goes right next to the drainage dominated by lake 10,410.  We found the south side of the lake to be easy going, and were soon moving up the snow slopes to a small tarn at 11,012 feet.  This tarn is a glacial cirque; the headwall, slightly to the north, has a dark water stain from the spring waterfalls.  The headwall, about 80 feet high, is the signal to turn southwest and climb the ledges and ramps immediately to it’s left.  Climbing this, you will gain the bench, and then determine how to scale the headwall ridge that leads to the peak.

Eisen has two summits, the true summit is the southern one.  There are at least two ways to scale the headwall; we chose a long ledge system that led diagonally to the ridgecrest.  It went mostly at CL3, but there was at least 1 CL5 move, exposed, and a crack climb.  Having no protection, we carefully climbed it; it was the crux of the climb. I don’t recommend this route, and I spied a much easier descent route that went at CL2 for the downclimb.  Once on the ridge, you are confronted with a very interesting, slightly unpleasant traverse which varies from CL2 to CL3.  You will have to go up and down up to 30 feet to keep the route easy.  The summit block is a mix of CL2 and CL3.  We summited at 430 PM, spent 30 minutes on the summit, and headed back to camp. 

The downclimb – the landmark on the ridge is the first obvious saddle, and has a pronounced gendarme just to the south of it.  It has a use trail, goes CL2 or low CL3, down to the snow line.  It’s loose, and we took care going down separately.  We were wearing helmets as well.  From below, this notch, which is my recommended way to climb the peak, looks like a saddlehorn with the horn on the south side of the notch.  There is a further, deeper saddle on the ridge; the saddlehorn notch is midway between the lowest saddle and the summit point.  It’s very straightforward.  A guide to finding it on the map – it’s above a very small tarn, shown on the map as a kidney bean shaped lake; it’s below the saddlehorn notch.  We got back to camp at 8;30, enjoyed a meal with our hungry friends, and hit the sack.

Day 4:

Hike out – We chatted with the ranger, Alison, and determined that the best way out was to ascend to Hands and Knees pass by ascending the bench above the lowest of Little Five Lakes on the south side of the lake, near the waterfalls.  This is the fastest way to get to Hands and Knees; it is not necessary to access the notch on the way to Hands and Knees by keeping to the trail to Black Rock Pass.  We got back to the cars, and found no damage to our parked car. 

All in all, a great weekend, 3 peaks in 4 days.





Amelia Earhart Peak and Mt. Dana,             July 11 – 12

               by Dara Hazeghi

Day 1: Amelia Earhart Peak - ~20 miles (16 on trail) - 3400 ft.

For the hike to Amelia Earhart Peak, the eight of us met at the Wilderness Permit Office parking near Tuolomne Meadows.  Our group included hike leaders Joe and Judy plus Isabelle, Jeff, Leo, Lesley, Sassan and myself.  We set off at 8AM beneath clear skies and the beginnings of a warm summer day.  Only a few minutes past the trailhead, we encountered a researcher in a lawn chair distributing GPS units to dayhikers to track hiking patterns in the park.  We agreed to participate, and Leo as the tallest ended up with the extra piece of hardware attached to his pack, but we never quite succeeded in figuring out our position from it.

Following the JMT from Tuolomne Meadows in the direction of Lyell Canyon, we skirted the meadows, passing in and out of thin pine forests for several miles before finally emerging at the edge of the Lyell Fork. Lyell Canyon proved to be in the late stages of spring, covered in lush green, with the gently murmuring creek at its center.  We saw a number of backpackers, but also marmots, pikas, and other locals.  We arrived at the Ireland Lake trail junction, 6 miles out, around 10:30AM.

The original plan was to follow the trail along Ireland Creek for a short bit, then climb the spine of the ridge to Potter Point and follow along that ridge to Amelia Earhart.  Viewed from close up, this proved less appealing, owing to the ridge's quite steep initial incline. Accordingly, we took the Ireland Lake trail up from the junction and ascended 1000 ft. over the next 1.5 miles through a thick pine forest into a large basin below Potter Point.

Shortly below the waterfall, Joe led us across the creek and through the rock slabs and bushes of the northwest slope of the Potter Point ridge. Opting not to gain the ridge before the saddle between Potter and Amelia Earhart, we traversed the mountainside at around 10800 feet, and did not gain the ridge until we were almost directly below the saddle with the first of several small lakes in the basin directly below us.

The last 200 ft. to the ridge were quite steep.  The first stretch after the saddle involved clambering over larger boulders and slabs, but became a straightforward scramble over scree for the final 500 ft.

The summit of Amelia Earhart Peak wasn't especially prominent, and it was only the presence of the register which indicated that the true summit was not another 200 ft. further along the ridge.  Nonetheless, we had expansive views, east across Lyell Canyon to Mt. Lyell and Donohue Peak, south to Parsons and Simmons peaks, west to Ireland Lake and especially north and northwest to peaks well beyond Tuolomne meadows. Exotic cloud formations decorated the horizon, near and far.  Because we didn't summit until 2:30PM, we had a relatively brief stop on top.  We found a number of familiar names in the register (which consisted of 3 books going back to the early 1990s).  In the absence of the catered lunch Joe had promised on the way up (too late?) we made do with a quick bite before leaving!

Returning to the saddle by the ridgeline, we descended immediately to the basin below instead of traversing, abandoning the route we'd taken for the ascent.  It was a quick scramble down and by 4PM we'd crossed Ireland Creek and were making our way over the wide plateau to its west.

 Finding the trail was a slightly more difficult task as we reached the edge of the woods on the northwest side of the plateau without any sign of it.  Joe's idea to follow the drainage of the small unnamed stream there worked very well, and we intersected the Ireland Lake trail only ten minutes later. The rest of the route was the same as it had been in the morning.  We'd reached the trail at 5PM near the 10000 ft. mark.  By 6PM we were at the junction with the JMT, with Lyell Canyon bathed in the soft late afternoon light.  Judy led at a brisk pace, and aside from pausing to observe a small herd of deer whom we'd startled by passing, we continued uninterrupted back to the trailhead at Tuolomne Meadows which we reached, feeling somewhat sore, after 8PM.

Day 2:  Mt. Dana - 6 miles - 3300 ft.

Feeling a bit sore but otherwise refreshed, we met the next morning outside the Tioga Pass park entrance.  Despite the stiff breeze, the consensus remained to climb Mt. Dana, and we were off before 8AM.  The trail shortly emerged from the thin pine forest on Dana's west slope presenting splendid views of the area including the previous day's route.  Lupines, forget-me-nots and other wildflowers were plentiful.

Arriving on the large plateau below the peak (10800 ft.) at 9AM, we were immediately greeted by a brisk wind.  This only got stronger as we climbed up the trail and skirted the two remaining snowfields on the west side of the peak.  Everybody was wearing additional layers by the time we reached the northwest ridge (12400 ft.).  We arrived at the summit 3 hours after setting out.

From the top of Mt. Dana we admired vistas that included Mono Lake, much of Yosemite Park, the Ritter Range and what Jeff pointed out was Mt. Goddard far off in the distance.  Amelia Earhart peak was visible too, although it was surprisingly hard to identify.  After taking time for plenty of photos and a snack and getting pretty chilled in the process, we turned back to return the way we'd come.

Unlike the ascent, we saw a fair number of folks making their way up as we went down.  The wind was even stronger than on the climb up, and several of us nearly lost our hats.  Arriving back at the parking at 1:30PM we found an impressively long line of cars waiting to enter the park, a reminder of what a popular place Yosemite can be on a sunny Sunday afternoon!  After the previous day's late finish, we were all happy to have had such a scenic but shorter climb for the day.

                        Mt Lola, July12

                  by Jim Wholey

Leaders: Jim Wholey & Natalie Guishar

Participants: Simon Kenney, Amy Segal, Eli Davidian,

Abby Myers, Matt Detz, Major Kumar, Xavier Menendez-Pidal

Early July – blue skies, wildflowers at their peak and manageable snow patches made for a delightful day climb of Mt Lola up the trail from the north for a group of nine people.

A few sheep caused a bit of a delay getting to the trailhead!

The trail was easy, and stream crossings no problem.

Fun in July!

Elected Officials

    Louise Wholey /

    21020 Canyon View Road, Saratoga, CA 95070


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    15064 Charmeran Ave, San Jose CA 95124


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    1975 Cordilleras Rd, Redwood City, CA 94062


Scree is the monthly newsletter 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 classifications are to assist you in choosing trips for which you are qualified. No simple rating system can anticipate all possible conditions.
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