July 2009     Peak Climbing Section, Loma Prieta Chapter, Sierra Club   Vol. 43 , No. 7


General Meeting

When:      July 14, 2009, 6 - 9 pm (available at 5 pm for kids)

Where:   Wildwood Park

               20764 Fourth Street, Saratoga

What: Outdoor BBQ and Gear Swap

The July meeting is our annual BBQ and gear exchange at Wildwood Park BBQ area A.  See http://tinyurl.com/6qpm4p.

Bring a dish to share, your own specialty, or choose according to first letter of your last name:

A-G    Main course (think grilled items)

H-M    Appetizer

N-S    Veggie or Fruit side

T-Z     Dessert

Bring your own beverage (alcohol is ok), $3, dinnerware, friends and family.

Bring the kids to climb on the play structures.  BBQ should be hot by 6 pm for families on an early dinner schedule.  Our reservation is 5–9 pm.

Bring whatever gear you find cluttering your garage or closet.  Someone may want or need it.  You can even charge something for it, but experience indicates that the lower the price the more likely for a sale.  Free is best!

Directions:   From 280: Exit at De Anza Blvd; go south for about 5 miles, crossing Hwy 85 about half way to Saratoga. The road changes name at Prospect Rd to Saratoga Sunnyvale Rd.

At the village traffic light at the intersection of DeAnza Blvd, Big Basin Way, Saratoga Ave and Saratoga Los Gatos Road, turn right on Big Basin Way and drive part way through downtown Saratoga.  Turn right on 4th St, the first through street on the right.  The park is at the bottom of the hill on your right.  Park in park parking (appears to be mostly hotel parking for Saratoga Inn), or park across the road, or along the road, where-ever parking is allowed.

Google driving map: http://tinyurl.com/6cpch4

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 1-5 – Eisen, Lippincott, Eagle Scout (Mineral King)

Leader:  Lisa Barboza

Jul 3-5 – Red, White and Blue Special (East side)

Leader:  Louise Wholey

Jul 11-12 – Amelia Earhart Peak and Toulumne Peak Leader:  Joe Baker

Jul 11-12 – Gibbs (Yosemite)

Leader:  Charles Schafer

Jul 12 – Mt. Lola (Tahoe area)

Leader:  Jim Wholey

Jul 25-26 – Kearsarge (above Independence)

Leader:  Charles Schafer

Jul 25-Aug 2– Goddard Divide (High Sierra from east side)

Leader:  Aaron Schuman

Jul 26-27 – Langley (14,026)

Leader:  Lisa Barboza

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

Leader:  Joe Baker

Aug 1 - 2 – University, Kearsage

Leader:  Kelly Maas

PCS Trip Details

Red, White and Blue Special

Peak:      Red and White Mtn (12,816), class 2-3
Date:      July 3-5, Friday - Sunday
Leader:   Louise Wholey (
Jim Wholey

Difficulty: Class 2, moderate trip, may be some snow climbing

Baclpack about 7 miles up the McGee Creek Trail starting at about 7800 ft to Big McGee Lake at 10,400.  Climb Red and White Mtn southeast face.  For faster stronger hikers, an option exists to also climb Red Slate Mtn (13,163) from McGee Pass.  These peaks are very colorful, great for celebrating our national birthday.

Amelia Earhart Peak and Toulumne Peak

Peak:      Amelia Earhart Peak (11,982) and Toulumne or Dana
Date:      July 11-12 Saturday - Sunday
Leader:   Joe Baker (joe@joebaker.us)
Judy Molland (judy@judymolland.com)

Difficulty: Class 2, moderate trip

Spend two days in the awesome Tuolumne Meadows area of Yosemite. We値l be doing two day hikes: on Saturday we値l meet early at our trailhead to climb the class 2 Amelia Earhart, one of the lesser known Yosemite peaks. This is a 16-mile round trip. On Sunday we値l summit either Dana or Tuolumne, both class 1. This will be a shorter day, so participants should be able to head back by late afternoon.

Mt. Gibbs

Peak: Mt. Gibbs (12,773)

Date: July 11, Saturday

Leader: Charles Schafer (408-354-1545) (c_g_schafer@yahoo.com)

Co-Lead: Needed

Difficulty: Class 1

Saturday we値l hike Mt Gibbs, an often overlooked neighbor of Mt Dana in the Tioga Pass area. We値l see what people feel like on Sunday, with perhaps a day hike of Warren, in roughly the same area but on the east side.

This will be a relatively slow-paced trip and the climbing will be easy, so it should be appropriate for beginners with a bit of stamina. I won稚 exclude climbers with experience, however. There should be some really neat views from both peaks.

Mt. Lola

Peak:      Mt. Lola (9,148)
Date:      July 12, Sunday
Jim Wholey (510-697-1858)
Co-Lead: Natalie Guishar (natalie.guishar@yahoo.com)

Difficulty: Class 1, beginner trip

This will be trail day-hike up Mt Lola.  We will meet  at Henness Pass Road, near Hwy 89 (~15 miles north of Hwy 80 from Truckee) at 9:00am  to carpool to the trailhead.  To join the trip leave a phone message indicating interest.


Peak:    Kearsarge (12,598)

Date:      July 25, 26
Charles Schafer (c_g_schafer@yahoo.com) or 408-354-1545
Co-Lead: Needed

Difficulty: Class 1, beginner trip

Saturday we値l go after Kearsarge Peak.   Sunday is open for discussion.  There are a number of peaks in the area that can be dayhiked, or some may want to opt for an early start to a long drive home.

This will be a relatively slow-paced trip and the climbing will be easy, so it should be appropriate for beginners with a bit of stamina, or experienced climbers who want to regale beginners with tales of brave deeds and daring exploits.

Goddard Divide

Peaks:       Haeckel, Wallace, Fiske, Huxley, McGee, Black Giant, Solomons, Thompson, Powell, Goode
Date:      Jul 25 – Aug 2, Saturday – Sunday
Aaron Schuman
Co-Lead: needed

Difficulty: Class 2-3, extended mountaineering trip

We値l trek for a week through the breathtaking Evolution region of the Sierra Nevada, backpacking to infrequently visited rockbound lake basins and climbing challenging summits. We値l make a loop from our trailhead at Lake Sabrina (near the town of Big Pine), packing cross-country across the Goddard Divide at Wallace Col, spending an average of two nights at each camp, and ultimately returning to our trailhead with a cross-country pack back across the Goddard Divide at Echo Col. We値l be challenged by the ruggedness of the terrain, the high elevations (up to 13500 feet), the weight of our packs with a week痴 food, and the mountaintops of class 2 and 3 difficulty. None of the summits require the use of a rope. This trip has a maximum of six participants.

Goddard, Scylla

Peak:   Goddard, Scylla, Henry, Red Mtn, McGee, Black Giant
July 30-Aug 7 (Thurs – Friday)
Leader:   Joe Baker (joe@joebaker.us)
Co-Lead: Judy Molland (judy@judymolland.com)

Difficulty: Class 2, moderate extended High Sierra trip

A chance to explore the beautiful Ionian Basin. We値l 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値l be heading into Goddard Canyon, where we値l summit Mt. McGee and Mt. Goddard, before arriving at the magnificent Ionian Basin, where we値l 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(kamaas444@sbcglobal.net)

Co-Lead: Linda Sun(lindasun@sbcglobal.net)

Difficulty: Class 2

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

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.

July 3-5, 2009 – Mt. Humphreys and Mt Emerson

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

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

October 2009 – Nepal - Mera Peak 21,300 ft

January 2010 – Kilimanjaro

Private Trip Details

Mt Humphreys and Mt Emerson

Peaks:      Mt Humphreys (13,986'), Mt Emerson (13,204')
Dates:     July 3-5, 2009, Fri-Sun, 3 days
Contact:  Bob Suzuki (suzukir@sd-star.com)

Difficulty: class 4, rope

Visit the scenic North Fork of Bishop Creek, Piute Pass and alpine Humphreys Basin. Endure the class 2, loose scree of Humphreys' southwest slope before enjoying the final two short, roped pitches over solid rock. A half rope-length rappel begins the decent. Required: climbing harness, belay/rappel device, roped climbing experience, group bear canisters; also, a $10 deposit to cover cost of the permit (forfeit if cancel, difference refunded at trailhead).

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 (suzukir@sd-star.com),

Jim Ramaker (ramaker@us.ibm.com)

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, deborah05@sbcglobal.net)

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) (jeff_fisher@sbcglobal.net)

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 (SuzukiR@sd-star.com)

Co-Lead:  Jim Ramaker (ramaker@us.ibm.com)

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, dstorkman@aol.com)

19 day trip to trek the tallest walkup peak

Rural experience.  Approach from the South East

Kilimanjaro 19340 ft / 5895 m, Tanzania, Africa

Peaks:     Kilimanjaro 19340 ft / 5895 m
Dates:     January, 2010
Contact:  Warren Storkman (650-493-8959, dstorkman@aol.com)

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




California Mountaineering Group newsletter on Yahoo Groups has lots of great reports: http://tinyurl.com/r4jc8u


June 25 – July 25

Baer Ridgeway Exhibitions presents EVEREST by William Thompson, a selection of Mount Everest aerial photographs taken in late 1983 by William Thompson on assignment for National Geographic Magazine. These photos represent the first and only complete aerial imagery ever taken of Mount Everest, and required a delicate navigation of the political, social and religious landscapes of China, India, Tibet, and Nepal.

Location: Baer Ridgeway Exhibitions, 172 Minna Street, San Francisco, CA 94105


August 14 – 16 (Friday – Sunday)

Clair Tappaan Lodge at Donner Summit invites you to the Lodge痴 Gala Celebration of its 75th anniversary. You can find more information at http://motherlode.sierraclub.org/sierranevada/gala.html. Many of us have had fine times at the Lodge, and this event looks like it痴 going to be a fine party. The Web site shows how to make reservations.

Trip Reports

Angora Coyotes, May 15 - 17

By Lisa Barboza

It is rare to sleep under ancient white firs in the litter of their boughs. We slept with the ancient ones and had piney dreams.  It is unusual to see the early spring heads of corn lilies just as they are about to break, with fresh prints of bear in evidence.  It is very common for the Peak Climbing Section members to be found in remote locales around the world. We hiked in to climb these infrequently climbed peaks, saw no one but bears and deer, and enjoyed the chorus of spring birdsong deep in the Southern Sierra.

We drove a long way to Lloyd Meadow TH, above Kernville CA.  There is a surprisingly good road to the trailhead, and after a dinner at Ewing痴 (avoid the fried food but the salads and view are fine) in Kernville above the snowmelt swollen Kern River, we drove to our trailhead about 10PM, on a surprisingly good road, camped in the parking lot, and awoke to an early start.

Day 1: 6:30 AM start: The trailhead is well marked; a luxury we soon found would not persist throughout the trip.  The weather was hot and dry, but on the hike down to the Little Kern River we found water at Jug Spring, and several spots afterwards as well.  Finding water was never a problem on this spring trip.  After the Little Kern steel bridge, caution must be taken to find the trail to Deep Creek.  The trails are very poorly marked after the Little Kern River, and in many cases the signs are either missing or broken into pieces.  In fact, we were deeply engrossed in conversation to solve many ills of the day and actually went past the turn to Trout Meadow. 

We eventually corrected our mistake by taking the trail from Trout Meadow following the sign to Round meadow, which is directly on the main trail in front of the ranger station.  There is an official looking water faucet there as well.  But the right way to do it is as follows;  After you cross the Little Kern river, hike about .45 mile to waypoint TRNCOY,36.20123,-118.45383, at 5980 feet elevation. The left hand turn to the trail is very indistinct, but you will see the graded levels.  From there, hike up to waypoint 4WAY,36.21301,-118.43412,at 6570 feet. This dry spot on the south side of the ridge is a four-way trail junction, and go left here on to the turn to Deep Creek at waypoint TRNDEP,36.22022,-118.46143,at 6439, feet.  From here, it痴 a nice hike north up the Deep Creek Canyon with a friendly stream to your west as you head upstream. The signs we found were missing, broken, or hidden, and we did some sign repair along the way.  We camped in a fine meadow, the first open, relatively flat meadow on the trail at 7800 feet.  We camped under some towering white firs.  Our bivi bags fit into natural hollows underneath the trees, just the right size for a human being in a bivi.

Day 2: Another early start: We were moving at 6:00 AM. This was a long day, about 16.5 miles, about 5000 feet of gain. We went up the trail, but not far enough to find the start of the switchbacks, we went up at the low ridge, and eventually found the trail.  The correct switchbacks turn can be found at Waypoint TRNANG,36.26935,-118.47282, 8350 feet.  The Trail is well-preserved, a bit of a surprise considering the remoteness of this area.  From the top of the switchbacks, it痴 an easy traverse over to Angora.  There was snow in patches, and frequent postholing.  We thought about going down the north slope of the saddle on the way to Angora both to save time and explore a different route, but the postholing put us off and we went back to the trail.  The snow there was in the woods and easy to negotiate, and there was almost continuous snow, from 2 to 4 feet deep, all the way to Coyote peak, although occasionally we could walk on trail. We experienced occasional post holes, but for the most part, we just walked on top of the well-consolidated snow. We decided to climb both Coyote Peaks – the high plateau to the Southwest of Coyote, as well as the named (read: the all important register) Coyote peak.  The view from the plateau was fantastic, with views of Florence, Vandever, Sawtooth and Black Kaweah, in addition to the southern Sierra Crest with Whitney, Langley in plain sight.  From the plateau, we went down to Coyote Lake and traversed over to the small saddle to the west of Coyote Peaks proper.  Yes, we climbed an additional 400 feet – but the view was fine and I was highly intrigued by the plateau, which was studded with ancient foxtail pines – truly an incredible spot, and rarely visited from the looks of it. 

The climb to Coyote proper was a fun 2nd class scramble over granitic rocks.  And the register was in place as well.  On the way back, we went over the saddle just south of the westernmost Coyote Lake.  This is the best way to climb the registered Coyote Peak if speed is your criteria. You will save 400 feet of gain, and about an hour of time.  (But the plateau is very interesting!) The saddle is forgiving and the terrain is free and easy down to a tributary of Grasshopper Creek.  On our trip, the north side of the saddle had 10 feet of snow, and we had some postholing on the way to the saddle.  But the south side was free and clear of snow for the most part. 

On the way back, at Grasshopper Meadow, we saw a large bear, which quickly became scarce. Other climbers have told me that they also found a bear at that meadow and I wondered if it was the same bear.  We made it back to the crest above the switchbacks by dark, and hiked the rest of the way in headlamps.  We were back to camp by 9:00 PM, and to a well-deserved dinner and some red wine that Louise had packed in.

Day 3:  Hike out.  It was hot. It threatened rain.  It got hot again.  It got hotter.  We met a man and his kid and his dog, out fishing.  They were cool.  It got hot again.  We got back to the trailhead and enjoyed some cold beer.

A good time was had by all, and the participants of this trip, Lisa Barboza, Aaron Schuman co-leader, Louise Wholey, and Frank Martin climbed some rarely visited peaks in an incredible place.

Three Spanish Sisters, May 23-25

By Louise Wholey

The weather forecast was not very good in most of the Sierra, but my guess was that we could climb these peaks on the western side.  Sonja Dietrich joined Jim Wholey and me for this adventure while many others canceled their plans.  Of course the rangers I had called said the area was 田losed which means we would find some snow.

The drive to Dinkey Creek where we needed to go through the usual 8 am permitting process was much quicker than expected, so quick that we had to stop in Shaver Lake for a fine dinner at the Trading Post.  Though these peaks can be done a day-hikes, Jim wanted to try to fish in the remote lakes, thus the permit.

We drove south of Wishon Reservoir to try to find the trailhead.  It was just after the main creek crossing, where an obvious sign that I failed to see marked the high-ground 4 WD trail.  The route along Rancheria Creek is fine in fall but not spring.  Our route was free of snow for a long way, but we lost the trail in snow in the trees below Garlic Meadow. 

After crossing the meadow we found the trail again on an exposed ridge and followed it to the summit area.  A short walk up the snow brought us to the summit where the view to the north was great!

We scooted down a snow shoot and down around a ridge until we could see Spanish Lake, then dropped down the rather soft snow which diminished in depth.  Finally we reached the lake and found a somewhat dry spot to camp.  Jim swung into action and brought in some fish for dinner.

Text Box:  In the morning we hiked across the ridge to Garlic Meadow and back down the 4WD route.  I was amazed to see new evergreen sprouts everywhere.

Our day was only half over when we reached the car.  Next was to drive to Courtright Reservoir and hike in to our camp at Cliff Lake below Three Sisters.

Again the plan was for Jim to fish for dinner.  They were a bit smaller than at Spanish lake, but still very tasty.

In the morning as we gathered water for the day the lake view was spectacular with its geographic regularity.

Our summit bid took us up the class 2 gully to a summit with a view of everything.  The early morning 9:30 am clouds were forming over Humphries, and by late afternoon the entire sky was dark gray, but we enjoyed picking out features up and down the entire Sierra.

Photos by Sonja Dietrich, Louise and Jim Wholey

Olancha Peak (12123 ft) 30/31 May,
with Scott Kreider, Linda Sun and Kelly Maas

by Arun Mahajan

Bad weekend weather has been a recurring theme thus far into the year and this particular weekend was no exception. We all had permits (thanks, Linda) for climbing Mt Mills via its couloir and the forecast made us decide to look for peaks further south and those perhaps with easier routes. After a flurry of emails, we decided on Olancha Peak, the highest southernmost Sierra Peak, despite predictions of bad weather. I was somewhat grudging in my acceptance of this decision because I had already climbed it twelve years ago but that had been a great trip and to re-do it with an equally nice group was good reason to return.

We were walking from the Sage Flat trailhead just before 9am on Saturday. The weather started off being nice but soon clouds gathered and it started to sprinkle on us by the time we made it to the Summit Meadows area where we set up camp. It had taken us only four hours for this. It is a nice and flat camping spot under the trees and has a rivulet flowing by. All that damp and water meant mosquitoes and that too, lots. Also, this place has remnants of being a place to hold stock of some sort...not exactly pristine. We aborted all thoughts of going for the summit right away since it was quite cloudy and we also met a party of dayhikers who had punted on their summit attempt due to snow/hail at the upper part.

So we rested and plotted a very early start for the summit on Sunday. We were off at 5.30am and we walked along on the PCT till we started to see Olancha.

First view of Olancha

There does not seem to be a preferred spot where one has to leave the trail to go to the summit on the talus but we left it where the trees started to get more sparse. The sky was clear and it was a little cool and we made good progress and by 9.15 were at the summit, just under four hours from leaving camp. The summit has a few man-made structures.

Kelly, pondering the Sierra View

Scott and Linda coming up

We had excellent views of the Sierra but soon the clouds started to gather and we decided to head down. It was fun, as usual, to go through the summit register and in my case, finding my own entry from 1997!

My own entry in the summit-register from 1997

It started to rain on us as we got to camp (noon) and this time we were quite soaked. Hastily packing our tents and gear, we were off at about 1.30 and to the cars before 4pm, this time under clear skies once again.

Thanks for the company, Scott, Linda and Kelly.

If you can handle the long drive (almost 800 miles round trip from the Bay Area), then Olancha is a beautiful peak to climb. High and of mow difficulty, this becomes a great early-season trip.

Shasta, June 6-7

by George Van Gorden

Nine of us set out on the Bunny Flat trail at about  11AM.  We, Artur Klauser, Meri Galindo, Robert Suzuki, Alex Sappozhnikov, Martin Alkire, Robert Iyad, Sandra Hao, Don Martin, and yours truly, George Van Gorden, were on the trail to our camp at Hidden Valley.  It had rained significantly the night before, and the day was damp and gloomy.  We were starting at Bunny Flat at 6800 feet , and we would be climbing to Hidden Valley at 9200 feet.  There were patches of snow at first and by Horse Camp primarily snow.  We soon entered a heavy fog, and I found myself frequently saying that if conditions didn't improve a summit tomorrow would be unlikely.  Really of course, it was my body speaking telling me from long experience that this climb wasn't something it wanted to do.  The climb to Hidden Valley took about three hours.  About a half an hour before reaching Hidden Valley, we walked out of the fog and into a view of the overwhelming presence of Mt. Shasta towering 5000 feet above us.  When we walked through the slot that guards entrance to Hidden Valley, we were suddenly buffeted by a gale, probably gusting to thirty to forty miles per hour.  We managed to find an area with some shelter from the wind and there we made our camp. 

The wind would be gusty throughout the night, but it did die down a bit and was manageable.  There were some clouds, but overall the weather by that evening looked promising.  We made dinner, melted snow for water and got ready for the next day.  We agreed to be walking by 4:30 AM.

And we were walking by 4:35 which I found impressive.  It was a good group.  We had very little wind, and soon we were shedding our down coats.  Bob started on crampons though the slope is initially slight, and the rest of us decided to follow his lead.  After that we trudged through the fading darkness, one foot ahead of the other up toward the summit and the light.  The sun wouldn't fall on us until many hours later when we reached the top of the gully.  We were climbing the West Valley route, which is only slightly used, has no crevasses and only a few short sections of moderately steep snow. 

From the beginning of the gully to the top of the gully at the base of Misery Hill is over three thousand, unchanging, vertical feet.  And why such agony, step after tedious step, pounding heart, leaning on the ax sucking at the thin air.  During those hours of unchanging terrain, I had what I can best describe as wispy thoughts, at the time left fragmentary and inarticulate, only to be filled out later, in these hours sitting in the comfort of my living room, into something that makes sense of the whole climb.  I think it happened for all of us, though not at the same moment, not at the same rest stop, not at the same moment staring up at what seemed to be the retreating top, but at a different moment for each of us, whether brought on by hope or despair didn't matter.  We were there to cleanse the doors of perception.  (William Blake,not Timothy Leary.) Maybe it was that moment when, very near the top of the gully, the sun rose above the southwest ridge and evaporated the inwardness born of cold and numbing routine and permitted the existential loneliness to fall away as the mountain all around us fell away into the clouds and forest and town far below.  Whenever the moment came for each of us, it was a hierophany, a ripping away of the mundane and a showing through of the sacred which is nothing more than a realization of our oneness with the earth and with all living things, those sentient and those silent.  What better place for such an experience of connectedness than there on the mountain, clinging desperately to the treacherous snow with a few pieces of sharpened steel, while all around the sanctity of Shasta sings for us its siren song?  Oh sacred mountain, (It might be here mentioned that, while Shasta is regarded by many as a sacred mountain, it is well to remember that Black Elk long ago said that any mountain approached with reverence and openness can be a sacred mountain.) oh sacred mountain, take me into your embrace, but don't keep me too long.

By noon all of us had reached the summit plateau and most of us had summited.  The wind on the summit plateau was irritating, gusting to over forty mph, but then isn't that what climbing mountains is about.

The descent went very well.  We covered three thousand feet of descent in less that a half an hour.  It was an exhilarating glissade with few thoughts of sacred mountains.  We were all back to our cars by 5PM.  Incidentally on the ascent we passed in the gully three people who had started out three hours before us, but then that kind of talk is not in the spirit of mountaineering, is it?

Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, June 13 - 15

by Judy Molland

We met up at 7:15 at White Wolf campground to start our 30-mile backpack in Yosemite: Kelly Maas, our trusty leader, Landa Robillard, Joe Baker, Dara Hazeghi, Dave McCracken and myself. The original plan was for Kelly and Joe to drive the two cars to Tuolumne Meadows, where they would be awaiting us on our exit, then pick up the permit, and then take the YARTS bus back to White Wolf, where the rest of us would be waiting.

However, the sky was dark with clouds, threatening rain, and it was cold, so by about 8:00 the four of us decided we really didn稚 want to stand around shivering for two hours. With the campground not yet open, we had nowhere to go, and now not even a car to sit inside. So we set out slowly on the trail down into the canyon, and met the first stream crossing within ten minutes. Not a difficult one, but a promise of more excitement to come. A pleasant trail through the trees, until we got our first overview of the canyon. We waited there for half an hour, enjoying the company of two deer, but no sign of our drivers, so we started heading down into the canyon. And delighted in discovering the first signs of spring flowers: yellow wallflowers, ground cover of white phlox, lupines, bright red snow plants, purple pestamons, and then, as we began the descent, the distinctive thumping sound of a male grouse in search of a mate.

Stopping again about two miles into the canyon, Kelly and Joe caught up with us, and we continued as a party of six. Although Kelly was our leader, he mostly assumed the sweep position, needing to take many, many photos!

It was at this point, early afternoon, that we got our first spectacular views of the canyon, looking west to Hetch Hetchy was especially impressive. The weather was clouding up by this time, and we got our first drops of rain. But who cared? It was magnificent, gorgeous, beautiful, and we were happy to be out there as we pulled on our rain gear.

Continuing our descent, we got glimpses of the winding path of the Tuolumne, looking east, and made our second stream crossing, in various modes: boots and gaiters on, crocs on, boots off but running shoes on, whatever, we all got somewhat wet, but made it just fine – only ankle-to-calf deep.

By the time we were setting up at Pate Valley, our camping spot for the first night, the rain got heavier, and I was happy that we had chosen the tent over the bivies.

Next morning was glorious, the sky wiped clean by the rain, so we began hiking under clear blue skies and bright sunshine. It felt good just to be in the moment, enjoying the aroma of the rain on the land. We had descended 10 miles and 3500 feet into the canyon, and now we followed the Tuolumne for about another 10 miles along the canyon floor before we began the steep uphill. On the way were several more stream crossings, and one interesting rock scramble to avoid where the river now flowed over the trail. A beautiful, clear day, brilliant sunshine, the full, rushing river, and so many waterfalls. We started the steep up, made so much easier by the magnificent sights: Waterwheel Falls were especially eye-catching and helped ease the pain of climbing around 4000 feet in about four miles.

We didn稚 quite go all the way – stopped and made our camp at California Falls, about a mile and a half short of the High Sierra camp at Glen Aulin. It was noisy and spectacular. As Dara said, how often do you get the chance to camp next to a powerful waterfall? It also made for some interesting water-soaked dreams!

Our final day took us a short but very boggy way up to Glen Aulin, and then another 1000 feet or so up to Tuolumne Meadows. Again the falls were amazing, especially White Cascade and Tuolumne Falls, until we got the first glimpses of the snow-covered peaks to the south as we emerged: Coxcomb, Echo, Johnson, and Rafferty. We walked out, checked out Soda Springs and Parsons Lodge on our way, got back to our cars at the Wilderness Permit office by 1 p.m. – happy, tired, dirty. A fantastic trip!

Kern Peak, June 20-21

by Louise Wholey

Blame the list!  It makes one drive ridiculously long distances to climb peaks that one has never heard of.  For Kern Peak the drive was about 800 miles round trip. The best daylight route is over Sherman Pass which is pretty curvy above the Kern River, then gets better. Fortunately I had good company!  One cannot get bored riding with Eddie Sudol as his extensive curiosity keeps a driver awake.  Others were unaware of how pretty this area actually is.

We hiked past Casa Vieja Meadows to camp at Redrocks Meadows and found a fine spot with no ant hills.  The trail from camp climbs nearly 1000 ft with good views of the Indian Head rock formation.

Cross country travel from the saddle at 9700 ft had minimal brush and led us to the summit with its great views.  Kaweahs are below.

An early start in the morning got us to the trailhead by 10 am.  I could celebrate Father痴 Day at home having dinner with Jim!

Hike is 8.6 mi to camp, then 11 mi XC RT with almost 3000 ft gain.

The Fourth Thompson:

Mt. Thompson 13,494 and Point Powell 13,360, June 19 - 21

by Lisa Barboza

 Participants: Lisa Barboza, Daryn Dodge (co-lead), Corinne and Bill Livingston.

Third time痴 the charm – an old folk saying – but really a testament to the power of human determination and endeavor.  Corinne Livingston had tried for Thompson 3 times previously, only to be stymied by poor weather, lack of time, or impossible snow conditions.  The SPS has listed a Thompson and Powell trip for the past 2 years, only to be defeated by weather.  And I myself had listed a PCS trip for each of the 2007 and 2008 PCS Trip listings on Memorial Day, only to be put off by sudden snowstorms.  So it was the third planned trip (but no footsteps) for me, the fourth time for Corinne, and the second time for Daryn Dodge who had climbed the peak back in 1997 with Steve Eckert.  This was also an official MOC (Mountain Oversight Committee) trip, sanctioned by the national Sierra club, which meant that we all had to fill out medical forms, sign waivers, and have a designated, PCS-approved, and WFA-qualified leader and co-leader.  Which Daryn and I certainly were.  We used helmets, crampons, and ice-axes for this fun spring climb.  We had been watching the weather for weeks, had experienced snow and thunderstorms since May 20th, hoping for improvement, and the conditions for the weekend looked like they would be clear.

Day 1:

We picked up our permit Friday morning at the Bishop Ranger station with no undue delay and headed up to the trailhead for Sabrina Lake.  You can稚 actually park at the trailhead; you have to drive your gear up about ス mile to the actual trailhead, and park down by the campground on the road.  This was Bill and Corinne痴 first outing of 2009, so we set a leisurely pace and found ourselves at the Baboon Lakes camp by 2:00 PM.  We read books,  and got some well-earned rest away from our busy professional lives of frequent air travel, meetings, technology, and office politics and found a great campsite about 100 feet from the lake, which was partially frozen, with snow around us. We delighted in the spring birdsong arising from the lodgepole pines surrounding the lake, which is actually 3 small lakes loosely joined together.  The lake outlet is a logjam of twisted whitebark and lodgepole pine, bleached white by the sun, and if hung could easily grace a modern art museum in New York, London, or Paris.

We looked anxiously at the clouds above us, just grazing the peaks and threatening rain, and there was a stiff wind blowing off the lake. After dinner, we agreed on a 5:30 AM start.  By 11 PM, it was raining with thunder and hail; my new Integral Designs bugaboo bivi held up incredibly well and I stayed dry all night, no internal condensation at all (thanx to Frank Martin, aka Alameda Frank, a gear expert).  But I did discover ス inch of hail on the sack in the morning. The thunder and lightning woke us up, and I知 sure we all thought that we were destined to climb in poor weather, with getting the peaks at risk;  and waited for what the dawn would bring us.

Day 2:

At 4:45 AM, the alarm buzzed and we woke up to the filtered early morning light of the dawn.  We were hiking up the snowy valley to the Thompson-Powell col by 5:30 AM.  The snow was crisp and our boots bit into perfect Styrofoam texture snow.  We climbed past frozen Sunset Lake on the west side, above and on top of some granite ledges, smoothed to a polish by ancient glaciers.

By 8:00 AM we were below the Thompson-Powell col.  The weather had turned out to be fantastic – not a cloud in the sky.  There were some avalanche slides from days earlier where the snow was broken up and hard.  The col is the right hand, lower chute, and not the NE chute of Pt. Powell, which will take you to the summit of Pt. Powell.  If you take the left hand chute, you値l end up on the south side of the col over some cliffy terrain.  So take the right hand chute.  When you池e climbing, this will be the chute just to the left of the rock massif of Pt. Powell, but not the NE Chute itself. It got steep quite a bit before the col, and we put on our crampons. The climb over the col was uneventful, but Daryn was leading and had to break trail in the softening snow. 

Mt. Thompson: Once over the col, we had to downclimb about 200 feet to traverse across the south side to Mt. Thompson.  We could have descended 400 feet to a snowy bowl, and climbed the bowl.  But we decided to traverse across a lower rock band. The traverse stayed mostly CL2.  We ran into a descending cleft after 200 yards that would be considered mid-CL3 were it not dripping with moisture.  But it was dripping, but not ice, and we all made it across it.  After that, it was a mix of snow and CL2 ledges.  We spied a lower angle chute ahead, on the left side of west face of Thompson, behind a pinnacle.  We headed for that, over some 35 degree snow slopes.  The chute ended up being composed of roseate quartz – quite delightful, and led us to the summit plateau.  Once on the plateau, an ancient, pre-Sierra rise surface similar to the plateaux on Whitney, Langley, Darwin, and a host of other Sierra peaks, the summit block rose ahead of us.  It痴 somewhat like a stack of pancakes, with the snow of confectionary sugar sprinkled on top.  We found the canister, and the register, and had incredible views.  It was 12:05 PM.  Going back: We got back following the same route, to the col by 2:30 PM. 

To climb Pt. Powell, we traversed along the base of Pt. Powell in the snow, and climbed the left-hand chute.  We were worried about the snow.  The sun had been on it all day, and we were concerned that the snow could be loose and slushy. To our surprise, the snow was delightful and we were able to break trail up to the summit plateau.  We reached the summit at 3:30 PM.  The register was missing, but the cylinder was present. Daryn had a register and placed it on the summit.  We decided to descend via the NE col of Pt. Powell (see picture 3).  The top was somewhat steep snow, so we decided to descend on the rock about 30 feet, and do a sitting glissade on the rest.  The NE chute is a great way to descend to Sunset Lake from Pt. Powell.  I recommend it to those who are comfortable glissading and it is a relatively low angle descent.  It saved us about an hour (not a concern on this trip), and was less steep than the south side chute that we took to climb the peak. 

We arrived back in camp at Baboon Lakes at 5:15 PM, and had a great dinner with Bill and Corinne. 

Day 3: Hike out, we left camp at 6:45 and were at the cars by 9:45.  The trail from Baboon Lakes to Blue Lake is somewhat indistinct, but if you lose it, just head west until you find it.  After a celebratory brunch at Whiskey Creek, we congratulated ourselves at finally gaining the Mt. Thomson Summit!

I realized that climbing these peaks in early spring is dicey.  You are at the mercy of the weather. They are great spring climbs, and if the weather is with you the climb is on snow and is fantastic.  But if the weather gods rule against you – my lesson learned is to postpone until later in the year.

Elected Officials

    Louise Wholey / PCSchair@gmail.com

    21020 Canyon View Road, Saratoga, CA 95070


Vice Chair and Trip Scheduler:
Jeff Fisher / jeff_fisher_5252@sbcglobal.net

    15064 Charmeran Ave, San Jose CA 95124


Treasurer and Membership Roster (address changes):
Jesper Schou / schou@sun.stanford.edu


Publicity Committee Positions

Scree Editor:

Judy Molland / screeeditor@gmail.com

PCS World Wide Web Publisher:
    Joe Baker/ pcs@joebaker.us

    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.

PCS Official Website

Our official website is http://www.peakclimbing.org.  Joining the PCS is easy.  Go to   http://www.peakclimbing.org/join

PCS Announcement Listserv

If you join the PCS Announcement Listserv you will receive announcements and updates of trips and meetings. Use the http://lists.sierraclub.org/SCRIPTS/WA.EXE?A0=LOMAP-PCS-ANNOUNCE&X=&Y= web page.

Climbing Classifications

The following trip classifications are to assist you in choosing trips for which you are qualified. No simple rating system can anticipate all possible conditions.
    Class 1: Walking on a trail.
    Class 2: Climbing using hands for balance.
    Class 3: Climbing requires the use of hands, maybe a rope.
    Class 4: Requires rope belays.
    Class 5: Technical rock climbing.

Trips may also be rated by level of exertion: easy, moderate, strenuous, or extreme.

Deadline for submissions to the next Scree is Monday,  July 27th. Meetings are the second Tuesday of each month.