November 2009     Peak Climbing Section, Loma Prieta Chapter, Sierra Club   Vol. 43 , No. 11

http://peakclimbing.org


General Meeting

Date          November 10, 2009

Time          7:30 – 9:30

Where       PCC

                  3921 E. Bayshore Road

                  Palo Alto, CA             

Program   Climbing Mount Vinson in                  1966 and 2006

Presenter Bill Straka

In December 2006, Bill Straka went to Antarctica as a member of the 40th Anniversary American Antarctic Expedition. The Expedition included four members of the original 1966 American Antarctic Expedition plus a son and a daughter of two of the original members who could not make it.

The original expedition made the first ascent of Mt. Vinson, the highest peak in Antarctica, and other peaks of the Vinson Massif and Sentinel Range. One of the goals was to place a plaque on the summit, honoring the first ascent party. Bill will show images of the expedition, along with images taken in Patagonia after the return to Chile.

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.

Google    

http://tinyurl.com/28ngaw

Editor’s Notes

Last month I was delighted to receive a stack of 1980’s Scree newsletters from former PCS member Thatcher Koch, who had been carefully saving them all this time.

A HUGE thank you to Alan Ritter, who is in the process of scanning them for us, so that we can post them to our Web site.

Chair Column

End of the year

Nominations

At the November meeting we hold our annual elections.  During October a nominating committee is formed to contact members about serving the section as officers.  This year the committee is pleased to announce the following slate of prospective officers:

Chair:                            Jesper Schou

Vice-chair/Scheduler:   Louise Wholey

Treasurer/Membership: Emilie Cortes

Additional nominations, if any, will be accepted from the floor, at the meeting on November 10. Elected officials take office on January 1, 2010.

Peak Climbing Section members offer a great many thanks to the Nominating Committee for selecting a fine group of people to hold offices for the 2010 year.  The committee this year was

Arun Mahajan

Jeff Fisher

Scott Kreider

Christmas Party

December 8 is our PCS Christmas Party, which this year will be held at Aaron Schuman’s clubhouse in Mountain View. Get ready for the hot tub! Lisa Barboza and Judy Molland, the PartCom, are organizing the event and will send out more information soon. But save that date for a great time!  And start looking through your photos for the best of the year!

First Aid Training

The PCS is planning to offer a week-night Wilderness First Aid training course.  There will be 4 classes on Mondays and Tuesdays of a couple of weeks in winter.  We are looking at Jan 11-12 and January 18-19 or March 1-2 and March 15-16.  Lisa, Lisa.Barboza@gd-ais.com, is collecting names of interested people.

A weekend class is also available from the chapter Feb 6-7.  Details are on the chapter website at http://lomaprieta.sierraclub.org/wilderness_first_aid_Feb2010.asp.

Red Cross First Aid offers CPR and choke training, supplements to backcountry training.  The schedule is at http://www.siliconvalley-redcross.org/images/pdfs/schedule2sem09web.pdf

Old Copies of Scree

Thatcher Koch has supplied the section with some Scree newsletters from the 1980’s.  Alan Ritter has agreed to scan them for posting on the PCS website archive  at http://www.peakclimbing.org/newsletter#backissues and on the climber.org mirror, http://climber.org/pcs/Scree/index.html.  We are very grateful to have this piece of PCS history.  Many thanks go to Thatcher Koch, Alan Ritter, Joe Baker, and Steve Eckert.

Happy Climbing and Skiing/Snowshoeing/

Boarding,

Louise

                Free to a good home!

Mariposa 1:250000 map, 1983. 2-sided – one side is Landsat, the other is “normal” topo map.

The area covered is Lee Vining to Big Pine, and Hwy 140 to Deep Springs Valley.

 Contact: Chris MacIntosh

                        cmaci@sbcglobal.net

            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.

http://www.sierraclub.org/outings/chapter/forms/signinwaiver.pdf

Nov 6 - 8 – Kennedy and Harrington

Leader:  Lisa Barboza

Dec 29 - 30 – Tahoe Backcountry Skiing #1

Leader:  Louise Wholey

PCS Trip Details

Kennedy and Harrington

Peak:  Mt. Kennedy (11,433’), Mt. Harrington (11,009’)

Date: November 6 - 8

Leader:          Lisa Barboza

Difficulty: Class 1 and 3

This is an intermediate trip, backpacking and climbing in Sequoia National Park. Participants must be in good physical condition and have experience backpacking. Due to the strenuous nature of the trip, it’s been classified as an intermediate trip. Individual commissary, but we will probably share tents. Open to all.

Friday – after carpool from Bay Area, from TH at 4600 feet, hike in 6.2 miles,, 3000’ gain to camp at Frypan Meadow (7800 feet). Saturday, Climb Kennedy – EL 11,433, CL1, 3800 gain, 9 mile RT. Sunday, climb Harrington, EL 11,009, 5.7 miles RT, 2200 gain, and CL3 Summit block, and hike out.

Tahoe Backcountry Skiing #1

Location: Tahoe Basin

Goal: Tamarack Peak, or other, depending upon snow

Date: December 29 - 30

Leader:          Louise Wholey 

Difficulty: Advanced skiing skills

Come join us for the first in our new Tahoe Backcountry Skiing Series. We will ski wherever we can find the best snow, with the target always being fresh deep powder. December is often the best powder.

Requires advanced skiing skills (resort black diamond+), avalanche training. Randonee or Telemark skis, climbing skis, avalanche beacon, shovel, and probe.

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.

Nov 6 - 8 – Telescope Peak

Leader:  Jeff Fisher

Nov 14 - 15 – Pinnacles

Leader:  Jeff Fisher

Jan 2010 – Kilimanjaro

Leader:  Warren Storkman

Jan 29 - 30 – Jim Weaver Memorial Ski Trip

Leader:  John Cordes

Private Trip Details

Telescope Peak

Peak:  Telescope Peak (11,050’)

Dates:            Nov 6 - 8

Leader:          Jeff Fisher (jeff_fisher_5252@sbcglobal.net) (650-207-9632)

Difficulty: Class 2

Car shuttle needed.
Will camp at Shorty’s Well at -250 Ft on Friday night Nov. 6. Get up Saturday morning at 3AM and be on the trail by 3:30AM. After summiting we will hike to Mahogany Flats to the waiting car shuttle. There is a spring in Hanapai Canyon at 3,500ft and 9 miles into the hike. But should bring
at least 4 liters of water. Hopefully those going in group #2 will camp with us and shuttle the cars around for their start at Mahogany Flats.

Group #2
Class 1
14 miles
3,000 ft of gain
Leave from Mahogany Flat at 8 or 9AM hopefully reaching the summit around the same time as group #1. Returning to Mahogany Flats and shuttling Group.

Leader Jeff Fisher Co-leader needed (650) 207-9632, E-mail; jeff_fisher5252@sbcglobal.net
Leader needed for Mahogany Flats start.

Pinnacles

Peak:  Your choice

Dates:            Nov 14 - 15

Leader:          Jeff Fisher (jeff_fisher_5252@sbcglobal.net) (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, dstorkman@aol.com)

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:

http://www.summitpost.org/trip-report/168519/kilimanjaro-warren-storkman-expedition-january-2002.html

http://www.summitpost.org/mountain/rock/150202/kilimanjaro.html

Jim Weaver Memorial Ski Trip

Location: Clair Tappan Lodge

Dates:            Jan 29 – 30, 2010

Leader: John Cordes

Difficulty: Beginner to Advanced Beginner

Learn the joys of cross-country skiing on gentle terrain in the Soda Springs/ Norden/ Donner Lake Area. This trip honors the late Jim Weaver, long time Sierra Club trip leader, who faithfully lead this trip annually. We’ll stay at the Sierra Club’s Clair Tappan Lodge in Norden. On Saturday we’ll ski the groomed trails around Clair Tappan. On Sunday, we will venture into beginner level backcountry in the area. People completely new to cross country skiing are encouraged to take a lesson from the lodge staff. Gear rental is available at the lodge. Sign up by contacting the leader, but please make your own lodging reservations by calling Clair Tappan Lodge (530-426-3632). The cost is $55+tax/nite-person for lodging and 3 meals. For more information about Clair Tappan, visit the Sierra Club website http://www.sierraclub.org/outings/lodges/ctl/ ... For more information about the trip, contact the leader. We will meet at the Living room at 9:30 AM. Saturday morning.

Leader: John Cordes 650-288-9645 email: johncordes@yahoo.com

Trip Reports

Mt. Julius Caesar (13,200’) and Mt.   Gabb (13,741’), August 2009

         by Debbie Bulger

Since Richard Stover and I had tickets to Shakespeare Santa Cruz’s production of Julius Caesar, I just had to climb the Roman’s namesake in the Sierra. There was a profusion of flowers including spectacular Blazing Star at the trailhead and the showy Cardinal Monkey Flower, which I had never seen before, a bit farther up the trail. On the hike in we met a Sierra Club group led by Yvonne Tsai headed for Honeymoon Lake. They were traveling light with most of their gear carried by packers. The first night we camped in a beautiful basin called Granite Park on a hidden bench above the creek.

The next day we hiked to Italy Pass. There are two routes up Julius Caesar from the pass: One is to go directly up the ridge; the other is to descend a short way over the pass and then take the use trail. We chose the ridge. There is a sort of trail that peters out, and one ends up climbing some large blocks.

There was no register on the summit. Only a picture of a bust of Julius Caesar and an old-looking, nickel-sized benchmark with the letters “USGS BM.” The view is sensational. Premier peaks in every direction:

Humphreys, Royce & Merriam, Seven Gables, Hilgard, Abbott, Bear Creek Spire. From the summit, where we stayed an hour, I heard rockfall but was unable to see where it had originated.

When we hiked over Italy Pass to Lake Italy the next day, I discovered the source of the rockfall. I had heard the tumbling remnants of a massive slide on the northwest side of what I will call “Jumble Point,” the peaklet on the west ridge of Julius Caesar dropping down to Lake Italy. We had planned to camp on the north side of the lake, but after seeing the fresh slide, changed our minds and stayed on the south side on a bench topped by an enormous boulder shaped like a cube.

That night I heard rockfall in the slide three more times. Thank goodness Richard slept through the tumult, but I was spooked. In the morning, so we decided to hike about two miles around the lake to avoid walking below the slide on our way to Mount Gabb. Since we would then be approaching Gabb from the west, we decided to climb through the “break in the cliffs” as described in Secor instead of ascending the easy slopes and ledges above Toe Lake to the east.

Starting to climb at roughly the middle of the north shore, we ascended a green ramp, then easy third class through the cleft, and solid second class avoiding the snow to the saddle. From the saddle it was easy to moderate third class to the summit.

About 70 feet from the top as I made a harder move, Richard decided he had had enough stems and liebacks for the day. He announced he wasn’t going any higher. I assumed the top was only 20 feet above, and increased my pace.

“Go around,” I suggested. “I’ll come down that way on easier terrain.” I climbed as fast as I could, hastily signed the register, and started down more to the east looking for Richard. He surprised me from above.

He had found an easier way.

After a short snack and rest, we descended the easier way toward Toe Lake. Since it was getting late, we gingerly braved the talus below the slide and reached camp just at dark.

The summit rocks on Gabb are very interesting. While the rest of the peak consists of normal-looking grey granite, the few summit boulders not only lack the black mineral feldspar, but are also full of concave pockmarks the size of tennis balls. These rocks must have been formed by different cooling conditions of the original magma.

We slept in the next day and spent two leisurely days hiking out. A highlight of the trip were several wonderful encounters with American pikas. These excessively cute creatures are not commonly spotted and are threatened by climate change. They live in talus piles and do not borrow underground. In the summer pikas collect plant material which they set out to dry into hay to eat during the winter. We have seen them from a distance previously, but on this trip saw several at close range.

North Pal (14,242’) and Thunderbolt (14,003’), August 2009

            by Julius Gawlas

Last weekend in August Jeff Fisher led a four day trip to west side of Palisades. Participants were: Steve Landis, Steve Walstra, Stan Huncilman, Aysel Gezik and Julius Gawlas (scribe). Steve and Stan were aiming for NPal to finish their fourteeners list and other Steve was going for another county high point. Aysel and Julius just wanted to get out to the mountains.

Tomato on Thunderbolt

 On Wed night we met at South Lake parking lot and started hiking before 8 AM on Thursday towards Bishop Pass. We reached the pass in good time and then took a traverse towards Thunderbolt pass. Last section through the boulder field with full packs was a bit of a grind but we all got there just after 1 PM. At that point we split - Stan, and two Steves decided to go to the camp site at Barrett Lake. Jeff, Aysel and Julius went up to bag Thunderbolt via the first southwest chute #1. We were a bit low on water but fortunately a bit higher (but below the chock stone) we found a patch of snow with dripping water. Jeff led us around the chock stone, on the ledges to the right, and pretty quickly we reached the top of the chute. Here we took the rope out of the pack and Jeff led a very short pitch of class 4. Shortly we were at the summit block. There we spend some time playing lasso with the summit block and finally succeeded. We all got to the top - great views and all. Aysel (as it is her custom, apparently) placed fresh tomato on the top; we all ate it - very delicious. It was getting late so we scrambled down the chute, reaching the pass as it was getting dark and than walked to camp. Pretty full day.

Next day (Fri) we were going to go for North Pal but it was not meant to be. After the long previous day we started late. We had some discussion about the route and most people were inclined to go what turned out to be the wrong way (despite Steve Landes pointing out the correct chute the whole time). Instead we scrambled up several chutes before Jeff figured out the correct one and decided it was too late and we would do it the next day. That evening we all had a nice dinner with engaging conversation about dogs, cats, culture and many other interesting topics. 

Stan above the Notch

 On Saturday Steve, Stan, Aysel, Julius and Jeff left the camp early aiming for U-Notch via southwest chute #2. From the day before we knew exactly were to go (look up from the lake - there are three clusters of white cliffs - aim for chute between 2nd and 3rd cliff from the left). There was a faint path that made it easier to go through scree and all kind of loose rubble. On the top of the chute (~13700) we went up the ledge aiming for Clyde variation. I think we went too far right and had to traverse through really exposed terrain (here we belayed everybody). Then, right before the summit we had one more obstacle - either take a big exposed step or down climb and go around. Finally we were on the top, Stan & Steve completing California fourteeners list! We lingered a bit, ate lunch and enjoyed the views. Finally we started down, used two rappels to get down to top of the chute and than took our time down the chute. Very loose, very easy to cause rock fall - good thing we were the only party going down.

           

Aysel on Thunderbolt Summit

 Sunday we decided to walk out using Knapsack pass - a bit longer but easier path avoiding boulder scrambling with packs. The weather was great and it was very pleasant hike. We reached trail head at South Lake around 3 PM. To finish off we all headed to Jack's and again had a nice conversation about misc things including hussy girls and dapper men. Great trip - thanks Jeff for organizing and leading it.

The Northern Whorld

Matterhorn Peak (12, 279’), Whorl Mountain (12,033’), Sept 26 - 27

by Lisa Barboza

Photography by Lisa Barboza

Participants: Louise Wholey, Lisa Barboza, Frank Martin, Sonya Dietrich, Ruth Van Rotz

Trip Abstract:

Day 1: Twin Lakes TH over Horse Creek Pass to small lake, climb Matterhorn

Day 2: Climb Whorl, hike out to TH

We tasted the last warmth of summer in the flat light of autumn.  This beautiful area, composed of a mixture of metasedimentary rock and Sierra batholiths granodiorite, was deserted, stirringly beautiful, and incredibly fun.  This part of Yosemite deserves more attention – it is vast and varied.  We had read several trip reports on the route up Whorl – after reading all of them, I decided to try to write the definitive report on climbing Whorl, and Matterhorn as well.  In the interest of improving this report – please contact me with suggestions for improvement at lisa.barboza@gd-ais.com

Saturday, September 26th  – 6.3 miles over Horse Creek Pass (3700), Climb Matterhorn (1550)

We arrived at the Twin Lakes trailhead (Mono Village 11 miles west of Bridgeport, CA) early, arranged our packs, and waited for the gate to open to pay the $10 overnight fee for parking in the campground lot.  Luckily, Mono Village Dave arrived early, at 7:30, and we were hiking up the switchbacks up Horse Creek Canyon by 8:00 AM. To get to the actual TH, you have to cut through the SE corner of the campground and cross over a steel cable gate, cross Robinson Creek across a large bridge, and then Horse Creek across a small log bridge.  (THMONO) Then up the switchbacks.  After a while, there is a sign at 8200 feet for the junction of Cattle Creek and Horse Creek trails.  We continued towards Horse Creek Pass.  The trail winds through beautiful meadows and small lakes, on the east side of the creek. 

Towards the bottom of an impressive scree pile, with an indistinct trail running through it, the trail passes to the west side of the creek where you will stay until you make the turn to Horse Creek Pass.  There is a faint use trail the entire way over the pass.  We reached camp at 1:00 PM, set up camp at a small lake (10,600) at the head of Spiller creek just below the pass bounded by a low cliff on it’s east side.  Water ouzels abounded. Louise went off to climb Twin Peaks, while the rest climbed Matterhorn. 

Matterhorn Peak (12,279), Southeast Slope. The route up Matterhorn is straightforward.  Go up the sandy east slope, aiming for a small pass south of the main summit block.  Once at the small pass, there is a low CL3 route just to the north of the small pass.  From there, it is an easy CL2 scramble to the summit less than 200 horizontal feet away.  We had stunning views of the Sawtooth ridge, Slide mountain, (where a landslide centuries ago left a large scar on the side of a mountain, and views of Tower Peak to the north.  This peak is climbed often.  On the way back, we happened upon a flock of 15 ptarmigan.  Gallinaceous birds – they stopped in their tracks while we were in their midst, just a few feet away.  After a while, they decided we were harmless and went back to their search for food.  So we went back to camp, arriving at 5:00 PM for a round trip time of 2.5 hours (1550 feet gain) from our camp.

On Matterhorn

Sunday, September 27th – Climbing Whorl, and hike back to the TH, and driving home

Whorl Mountain (12,033) Southeast Chute, 3.75 miles, 1200 feet gain. To climb Whorl, the key is to find the correct route to keep it at CL3.  We were able to do that, and also hopefully improve on the existing trip descriptions.  We left camp at 6:30 AM, and headed towards Whorl along the obvious eastern bench, low on the mountain, to the tiny tarn (10,475) (TARNWL) that is a good reference point.  From the tarn, slowly ascend about 200 feet to the bottom of the chute.  We found that the best place to ascend was 0.58 mile (GPS straight line) from tiny tarn, and at waypoint CHTWRL. Ascend a sandy chute, that goes at CL2.  Head for Waypoint LFTCHT which is the top of the chute. This is the famous left hand chute (We actually ascended a chute further south which was a waterfall chute, with one part that went at CL3; there is a further chute further south of that just below a prominent buttress coming down from the south ridge of Whorl – Don’t take either chute).  You will know that you are too far south if you have to climb the waterfall chute, or you are just below a prominent buttress that bounds the possibilities of ascent on the SE face of the peak.

Ascend the left hand chute almost to top of the south ridge of Whorl, about 50 feet below the ridgeline.  From there, we went into the middle chute through a small notch in a side ridge that leads to the middle chute. This went at CL2. The middle chute has two forks. We found ourselves on an exposed traverse slab with good handholds and footholds that went down the south fork of the middle chute past a small buttress.  Then, go up the north fork of the middle chute that went at non-exposed CL3, almost to the top; from there, climb over another side ridge to a CL2 sandy ledge that leads to the famous chockstone.

Inside the Chockstone

Once at the chockstone, a fun puzzle awaits you.  Hint: it’s CL2. At the top of the chockstone, drop over to the west side of the south ridge and an amazing, CL1, sandy sidewalk with hand rails awaits you.  After all of the route finding to get to the chockstone, it’s somewhat surprising to find this sidewalk.  The sidewalk is a ledge on the west side of the mountain.  At the end of the sidewalk, go through a narrow defile to a sandy area; from there, ascend low CL3 to the summit block.  From there, the summit is in sight.

Whorl at first light

From the summit of Whorl we had a fantastic view of the slide that came down from Slide Mountain in Piute canyon.  This event was dated, using dendrochronology to occur in 1740.  Over 2000 feet of granodiorite, faulted into large rectangular blocks, suddenly fell, creating a fifty foot high dam, backed by a lake, across Piute Creek.  This lake is now a marshy meadow.  This makes you think a bit differently when you camp below a cliff, which we do all summer.  Fantastic views abound.  After 30 minutes on the summit, we descended, reaching camp at 2:00 PM.  We packed camp, and were back to the cars by 5:30 PM.   My thanks to Richard Steele for a great reference report.  It is my hope that this report be of value as well.

Waypoints:

THMONO,38.14420,-119.37911,7113,10/08/2009,16:09:36,

JCTCK2,38.10143,-119.36571,9590,10/08/2009,16:09:36,

TARNWL,38.07606,-119.37706,10479,09/27/2009,07:13:23,NEW TRACK

CHTWRL,38.06939,-119.38339,10928,10/08/200TOPO! GPS Data Format Deg NAD83 ElevFeet Local-Time

LFTCHT,38.07166,-119.38463,11564,09/27/2009,12:36:56,NEW TRACK9,16:09:36,27-SEP-09 1:21:44PM

References:

http://landslides.usgs.gov/docs/wieczorek/reg015-08.pdf

http://www.climber.org/TripReports/2001/847.html

http://www.climber.org/TripReports/2003/1124.html

Red (11,699’), Gray(11,573’), Merced (11,726’), October 9 - 11

by Louise Wholey

Only one climber signed up for this trip, Frank Martin.  Perhaps others thought that the recent snow would make climbing too hard, but it turned out not to be a factor.  Maybe people thought that 16 miles to camp was too far.  It was definitely far, but the trail was good.  The only challenge was that the conditions were so dry, the streams were empty!

To get permits in Yosemite is always a challenge, but for this trip I learned that the ranger station at Hetch Hetchy issues permits as late as 7 pm.  We drove there only to find out that the computer was in the repair shop and permits for other parts of Yosemite could not be issued without it.  But for future reference this is a great option!

This was the last weekend before the Tioga and Glacier Point roads would be closed to overnight parking.  We camped at Bridalveil Campground, our coldest night, despite the low elevation of 7200 feet.  There was space, unlike in summer.

Starting from Mono Meadows our hike went through much burned forest.  Did the park service start these fires to control brush? Coyotes ran across our path.  Huge bear scat adorned the trail.  We passed domes inviting us to climb.

We reached camp around 5:30, made dinner and were treated to a great sunset created by smoke both evenings.

Red Peak was directly above camp, an easy pleasant climb.

Gray Peak was next.  We descended Red toward it and had the only snow problem of the trip.  The boulder field was slippery and took a while.  But the very pleasant weather made the long trek to Gray work fine, despite the crumbly slopes ascending Gray.  The summit ridge was fun class 3.  The scenery along the way was delightful.

Camp was a long way from Gray.  Here is the view back past Red to Merced.  Camp is behind Red Peak – right side.

For the return to camp we followed Lisa’s route over a pass to the Red Peak Trail.  We were amazed at the excellent trail building.  They had ground rocks to gravel rather than cover the route with small stones as found elsewhere.

For the last day we attempted Merced by the west ridge but found the difficult class 3 was too much for the time we had available.  The right skyline in this photo from Red Peak was our route.  If you see a jagged ridge, it will be hard climbing.

It was a 6 ½ hour hike back from camp.  Just below Mono Meadow Louise saw a big bear, but her car was untouched!


      Yellow Lichen Tower (11,220'),               October 21-22

                by Rod McCalley

Where the road from Kennedy Meadow east to Sonora Pass veers left and up along the gorge it's been following, is the place where Blue Canyon comes down from the south.  There is a small parking strip a hundred yards below the 9000' sign.  On a lovely late October afternoon, I backpacked up Blue Canyon from there on an OK trail, but soon got into fairly complete snow-cover (from the Oct. 13 storm).  In the valley below Blue Canyon Lake, there did exist a hidden snow-free place to camp (relatively rare up there) at 9700'.

Next morning, thankful I had brought my ice axe, I climbed the meandering snow slope up the steep rock headwall of the canyon.  My route stayed well west of Blue Canyon Lake, going more or less up the middle of the face.  At times the snow was so hard and crusty that scrambling up nearby rock was better.  The ridge crest suddenly provided a grand vista south over all of Yosemite (with Tower Peak blocking Banner & Ritter, but Lyell visible to its right).  North across the highway was an excellent view of Stanislaus and Sonora Peaks; and this pinnacle-loaded ridge extended east to the somewhat higher Leavitt Peak, about 2 miles away.  Just 5 miles south is Relief Peak, which was my very first Sierra climb (back in June 1971).  From the ridge it was a short talus walk west to the summit of Pk. 11220, which actually had a Register bottle in a little cairn!

The register was placed there in June of 1971, with sporadic entries through the '70's and '80's (including some ski climbs!), but fewer since then.  Most recent was September 2008, but there were no climbs at all in '07, or between '97 and '02.  Back in September 1975, John Simon climbed all the peaks on the ridge from Leavitt, and proposed the name "Yellow Lichen Tower" for this Pk. 11220 -- a very appropriate name, actually!  This name was endorsed in several subsequent entries, and I certainly recommend it, too.

Spending a calm and glorious hour on top, I left at noon and was back at the car by 3 PM, and then off to play in the big October chess tournament in Reno, Friday through Sunday.  After that mentally-stimulating (but poor-scoring) event, I capped the trip with a lovely aspen-filled 10-mile hike up Snow Valley Peak (overlooking the east shore of Tahoe) on the way home Monday.

Wildlife Safari, Virginia Peak(12,001’), October 24 - 25

by Louise Wholey

Photos by Andrea Drane and Louise Wholey

Climbing Virginia Peak was the original intent of this trip.  The first two significant snowstorms, however, presented winter conditions, hard pack snow with spotty soft snow.  Braving the conditions were Andrea Drane, Sassan Hazeghi, Dara Hazeghi, Jim Wholey and Louise Wholey.  Green Lake is at 9000 feet with snowy Gabbro Peak 11033 ft behind.

Clearly the season has changed. Virginia Pass was all snow.

But the scenery was especially nice with all the snow cover.  The group is at Virginia Pass with Virginia Canyon behind.

Virginia Peak is above the very snowy saddle on the far right.

We were unable to find camping except on snow in October!

A special highlight of the trip was the bear tracks everywhere!

Bear Tracks Photo by Andrea Drane

Lots of things were special, including the incredible sunset!

In the morning we hiked around the area to see Return Lake.

Everyone had a great time taking photos and seeing all the animal tracks (bear migration?) in great winter scenery.

Elected Officials

Chair:
    Louise Wholey / PCSchair@gmail.com

    21020 Canyon View Road, Saratoga, CA 95070

    408-867-6658

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

    15064 Charmeran Ave, San Jose CA 95124

    650-207-9632

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

    650-725-9826

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

    650-261-1488

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 Wednesday,  November 25th. Meetings are the second Tuesday of each month.