April 2010     Peak Climbing Section, Loma Prieta Chapter, Sierra Club   Vol. 44 , No. 4


General Meeting

Date          April 13, 2010

Time          7:00 – 9:00 pm

Where       The Summit Room

                  Sports Basement

                  1177 Kern Avenue

                  Sunnyvale, CA 94085                 

Program   Climbing Mount Everest                                      

Presenter Robert Chang

Join us for an exciting night high in the Nepal Himalaya on the world's highest peak, Mount Everest with local climber, Robert Chang. Learn
more about the training, adventure of trekking and the challenge of climbing Mount Everest. The presentation includes video and slides of his journey in climbing to the top of the world for his sister who passed away from cancer.


Sports Basement

1177 Kern Ave

Sunnyvale, CA 94085


Notes From The Editor

* We only have two trip reports this month, (thank you, Yoni!), but plenty of plans for the summer.

* A message from Warren: If anyone is interested in Aconcagua, Argentina, or Ojos del Salado, Chile, in January 2011, let Warren know!

* You’re invited! Bob Reid was a very active PCS member from 1975 to 1985. He now lives in Carson City, NV, but he will be in the Bay Area later this month to promote his new book, Arctic Circle: Birth and Rebirth in the Land of the Caribou.

He’ll be reading and showing slides at these locations:

4/30, 7:00 pm, Green Arcade Bookstore, 1680 Market Street, San Francisco

5/25, 7:00 pm, Books Inc., 1375 Burlingame Ave, Burlingame

* And here’s my plug for myself: I’m going to be presenting my second book, Get Out! 150 Easy Ways for Kids and Grown-Ups to Get Into Nature and Build a Greener Future (Free Spirit, 2009) at several events in the Bay Area in the next few weeks. Here are the listings: I’d love to see you there!

4/15 – REI, 2450 Charleston Rd, Mountain View, 7:00 pm

4/21 – REI, 1119 Industrial Road, San Carlos, 7:00 pm

4/25 – Kepler’s Bookstore, 1010 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, 11:30 am – Children’s Storytime

4/27 – REI, 145 General Stilwell Drive, Marina, 7:00pm


Chair column

As you may remember from previous columns, we had a great trip planning meeting(thanks, Louise!) where many exciting trips were proposed. Unfortunately we have not heard from most leaders about details, so the official schedule is kind of thin. So please, all leaders (your truly included): Please send in details of your trips, get permits and so forth. Summer is not far away. And more trips are welcome!

As always, let me know if you are interested in giving a slideshow or know famous or infamous climbers who can be talked into it!

See you in the mountains this summer!


            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.


April 16 – 18 – Kearsage Pass Peaks

Leader: Louise Wholey

May 22 – 23 – Mount Shasta

Leader: George van Gorden

June 18 – 20 – Lyell and Maclure

Leader: Ron Karpel

August 28 – 29 – Unicorn, Cockscomb, Echo #4

Leader: Ron Karpel

PCS Trip Details

Kearsage Pass Peaks

Goal:  Gould, possibly Rixford, Bago

Location: Onion Valley, Eastside

Dates:            April 16 - 18

Leader: Louise Wholey     

Difficulty: Ski mountaineering experience with ice axe and crampons, advanced skiing skills, excellent physical condition, snow camping experience all required.

We will climb Gould from Onion Valley via Kearsarge Pass then directly to the summit of Gould on the south facing slope. The summit block is class 3. If time permits we will traverse to Rixford. We will include Bago in the trip if the group is strong enough by going over Kearsarge Pass to a camp at Kearsarge Lakes. Alternative route depending upon snow and the group is to go around to Golden Trout Lake to ski the east bowl of Gould. Ski mountaineering experience with ice axe and crampons, advanced (black diamond) skiing skills for the descent, excellent physical condition, and snow camping experience are all required. Must have avalanche training. WFA & ski patrol experience are a plus. For the summit block I suggest bringing light rock shoes. Equipment required: skis, skins, poles, ski crampons, boot crampons, ice axe, helmet, avalanche beacon, probe, shovel and snow camping gear. Sierra Club membership is required, as is the club medical form and signing the Sierra Club waiver. The medical form is at http://www.sierraclub.org/outings/national/participantforms/forms/medical.doc. Send skiing resume to leader: Louise Wholey (louisewholey at gmail dot com)

Mount Shasta

Goal:  Mount Shasta

Location: West Face Gully

Dates:            May 22 - 23

Leader: George van Gorden        

Difficulty: Must be trained in self arrest

We will climb the mountain by the West Face Gully. We will camp Saturday night at 9000 feet, attempt the summit on Sunday and return to our cars before night. The route is not nearly as crowded as the normal route and, although a little more difficult, the solitude and beauty make it worth the extra effort. Participants must have training in self-arrest and feel competent that they can use their skills if needed. Contact: 408-779-2320; gvangorden@gmail.com

Lyell and Maclure

Goal: Lyell (13,114’) and Maclure (12,880’)

Location: Tuolumne Meadows TH

Dates:            June 18 - 20

Leader: Ron Karpel           

Difficulty: Ice axe, crampons, class 3 rock, glacier

These are Yosemite's most sought-after peaks, so expect the roster to fill up quickly. Friday hike about 10 miles in the relatively flat Lyell Canyon from Tuolumne Meadows TH. Saturday climb the peaks. Sunday hike out. Participants must be in good shape, able to climb snow and ice, experienced in using crampons and an ice axe (prior experience a must) and be able to scramble class 3 rock. We will not carry a rope. Not for beginners.

This is an official Sierra Club trip. You have to be a Sierra Club member. You must include your Sierra Club number with your application to be considered.

One wrinkle to consider: it is possible, due to the early date, that Tioga Pass road will still be closed at the time of this trip. If this happens, we will try to decide on an alternate destination that will appeal to most participants.

Contact: Ron Karpel, ronny AT karpel.org
Co-contact: Bob Suzuki, SuzukiR AT sd-star.com

Unicorn, Cockscomb, Echo #4

Goal: Unicorn Peak (10,880’), Cockscomb (11,065’), Echo Peak #4 (~11,100’)

Location: Yosemite

Date:  August 28 - 29

Leader: Ron Karpel           

Difficulty: Class 4 rock, rope

Driving through Tuolumne Meadows one cannot but admire the surrounding peaks. Yet we are often too rushed to reach mountains in faraway places. The time we will stop and enjoy the ones nearby. To add to our fun, we have chosen peaks that require a bit of technical climbing. To be able to use ropes and climb as a group, the technical section is limited to one short pitch of class 4 or so. Participants must have previous mountaineering experience, must have experience with rock route of at least class 3, be experienced in tying in and giving top rope belay, and be in excellent physical condition. Not for beginners!!

This is an official Sierra Club trip. You have to be a Sierra Club member. You must include your Sierra Club number with your application to be considered.
Contact: Ron Karpel, ronny AT karpel.org
Co-contact: Charles Schafer, c_g_shafer AT yahoo.com

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.

April 1 – 4 – Late spring Ski Tour – High Sierras

Leader: Tim Hult

April 3 – 4 – Pinnacles

Leader: Jeff Fisher

May 8 – 9 – Ice Axe and Crampon Practice

Leader: Kelly Maas

October 2010 – Trek into Tibet

Leader: Warren Storkman

May 29 – 31 – Sierra Ski Mountaineering

Leader: Louise Wholey

October 2010 – Trek Into Tibet

Leader: Warren Storkman

Private Trip Details

Late Spring Ski Tour – High Sierras

Route: TBD

Dates:            April 1 - 4

Leader: Tim Hult

Difficulty: Excellent Skiing Skills and Winter Camping Experience

The route is TBD, but I'd like to do a 3 to 4 day ski traverse, possibly Mammoth to Yosemite, or Rock Creek to Mammoth. Otherwise open to suggestions. Mid April to Mid May are the target dates, weather and conditions dependent. Excellent skiing skills and winter camping experience required.
Contact Tim Hult for more information: timdhult at sbcglobal dot net
650-966-2215 (w)


Location: Pinnacles National Monument

Dates:            April 3 - 4

Leader: Jeff Fisher

Difficulty: Your choice!

Climbing, hiking and biking. Come down for the weekend or just for the day. A group camping site #134 has been reserved for the Saturday night April 3. If climbing, need shoes, harness and climbing shoes. Bring other gear if you have hit. We will meet at the Bear Gulch Ranger Station on the east side of the park at 9AM Saturday morning. Carpool from park and ride at Cottle Rd and Hwy 85 at 7AM. Carpooling encouraged because of the limited parking at the camp site. Camping fees average about $8 per person. Leader: Jeff Fisher  E-mail: jeff_fisher_5252@sbcglobal.net
Co-leader wanted.

Ice Axe and Crampon Practice

Location: Carson Pass

Dates:            May 8 - 9

Leader: Kelly Maas

Practice snow climbing techniques and maybe climb a peak

Spend a weekend at Carson Pass brushing up on ice axe and crampon skills. All skill levels are welcome, including beginners, but you'll get the most out of it if you do some studying in advance. My favorite all-round mountaineering skills book is Freedom of the Hills. Participants must supply their own equipment. There is a good chance we'll climb a peak. Be prepared to spend full days away from the car, and a lot of time lying down in wet snow (full rain gear). We'll car camp in a dry campground. Contact Kelly for further details. (kellymbase-pcs@yahoo.com or my kamaas4.. address) or 408-378-5311.

Sierra Ski Mountaineering

Location: TBD

Dates:            Mary 29 - 31

Leader: Louise Wholey

Sierra ski mountaineering trip, with target to be decided closer to the time.

Trek Into Tibet

Location: Tibet

Dates:            October 2010

Leader: Warren Storkman

An 18-day trip including Kala Patar. For more details, email dstorkman@aol.com or phone 650-493-8959.

Trip Reports

 Twin Lakes to Virginia Peak

March 12 - 14, 2010

By Yoni Novat

This back country ski trip was led by Louise Wholey and co-led by her husband Jim.  There were six other members of the party: Monique Messié, Alex Sapozhnikov, Stephane Mouradian, Peter Caldwell, Andreas Kränzl and I. 

Figure 1 Relief Map of Route (Google Maps).

Friday March 12, 2010

We met at the Twin Lakes parking at 8:30 on Friday with the forecast of a storm blowing in and 70 mph gusts.  Stephane had telelmark skis, Monique had snow shoes and a snowboard and everyone else had randonee skis.  We set off at 7200 ft in good weather, crossed Horse Creek and followed the canyon below the Matterhorn.  We ascended the 1200 ft, easily, with skins up the shelf that leads to the first plateau near the Hoover Wilderness boundary.  However, as we approached the plateau, the storm came in.  The gusts were strong enough to require us to reconsider our initial goal of camping at the top of the next plateau 1200 ft higher.  Another party of four was up there and one of them was knocked over by the wind. 

So it was, that at about 12:30 PM we dug snow caves into the side of a drift while Jim and Louise set up a tent in the trees.  After about three hours of digging, we made our dinners inside, protected from the howling winds and snow.  We were mostly in bed before 7:00PM and set to rise at 5:00AM for an attempt on Virginia Peak.  However, the night was rough.  Snow drifts sealed off the entrances to the snow caves and had to be cleared through the night.  Louise and Jim’s tent caved in under the burden of snow and sleeping bags inside of the caves were damp.

Saturday March 13, 2010

At 5:00 AM we awoke to howling winds and deep snow.  We decided against a 6:00 AM departure due to the conditions.  By 7:30 AM, the weather broke to reveal a beautiful world with a bright blue sky.  We could see where the slope had avalanched just up the canyon from us. 

Figure 2 Plateau and Twin Peak As Seen From the First Shelf at 8200 ft. Route is Approximate.

We set off to ski in the direction of Virginia Peak.  The snow was fresh and deep.  After Stephane, Peter and Andreas tested out the snow, we regrouped on the side of the canyon above our caves.  There was a beautiful bowl on the shelf that leads to the second plateau.  We determined to steer clear of avalanche danger and stay in the trees to the right.  There, three of the party we met the day before caught up and broke trail up the mountain.  Two thirds of the way up, we measured slopes in excess of 35 degrees. Peter dug at least two pits to examine the snow.  There was perhaps 12”of fresh powder on top of ~12”of packed powder before hitting a hard crust then softer snow below.  The other party was progressing slowly.  So Stephane, with his telelmark skis, took the lead breaking trail.  His route was tough to follow, perhaps because the telemarks allow him to climb at a steeper angle.  After using trees and other means, and a traverse across the top of an avalanche gully, we made it to the plateau, at about 9600 ft, where we ate lunch and the other party met up with us.  From here, we could see Twin Peaks and the false pass below Horse Creek Pass that would lead us over to Spiller canyon.

Our plan was to turn around at 3:00 PM, so that we could get back to the cars before the 6:00 PM nightfall and then spend the night in a hotel.  We continued up the drainage North of Twin Peaks toward Horse Creek Pass with Peter and Andreas taking the lead.  Near the top we reached a permanent snow field.  Everyone, except Jim and I, went up for a view of Spiller Canyon and the West side of Virginia Peak. 

Now the real fun began.  Monique made a clean run down on her snow board followed by Stephane on his telemarks..  We all made excellent time coming down the mountain with mixed snow.  Much of it was deep powder that was soft and manageable. 

Figure 3 Stephane Skiing and Monique Snow Boarding down from Horse Creek Pass.

At the snow caves by 4:00PM, we were on our way to the cars by 5:00PM.  We made good time except for me.  My limited control with a 40lb pack slowed us down.  For the safety of the group, Stephane and I switched packs and I made much better time. 

That night we stayed at a motel in Bridgeport.  We shared stories over wine and camp dinners while taking turns with the shower. 

Sunday March 14, 2010

Refreshed, after a good night’s sleep and having lost an hour to daylight savings time, we were off to ski toward Crater Crest, above the lower of the two twin lakes. 

Figure 4 Peter and Andreas on Route to Crater Crest.

We started out at about 9:45 AM and worked our way up 2000 ft to the half way point below the peak. The day was beautiful and the route gave us excellent views of the Matterhorn and the Sawtooth Ridge.  We could see snow blowing off the various peaks all day. The snow was initially soft.  At about 8200 ft, we encountered crusty snow that would sometimes break through. This made the going more difficult. Close to 9200 ft, it was a challenge to grip the snow with our edges on the steep slope. We ate lunch and determined to be back at the cars by around 2:00 PM so that everyone would have time to return home at a decent hour.

PS: I joined the trip at the last minute and was invited to fly with Jim and Louise in their Beech Bonanza single engine plane.  That made my trip ever the more rewarding. 

Arun’s Annual Round Top Trip Sans Arun

March 21, 2010

By Yoni Novat

Ron Karpel and Rick Booth led a trip from the Carson Pass Snow Park to Round Top Peak.  This trip has been an annual affair led by George Van Gorden then led by Arun Mahajan for the last several years.  Arun could not lead this year due to an injury.  Ron and Rick were joined by Isabelle Peyrichoux, Ozgur Yazlali, Sandra Hao, Linda Sun and husband Harry Xue, Emilie Cortes, Scott Kreider, Vicky Wong, Brian Roach and me. 

Emilie had camped overnight at the pass.  Brian dropped Lisa off at Kirkwood to use her new skis.

Figure 5 Relief Map of the Route to Round Top Peak.

We met at 8:00 and set out at about 8:45 AM with snow shoes.  The first day of spring was chilly but beautiful.  What a wonderful way to spend the vernal equinox.  As we ascended to the ridge above Winnemucca Lake, we warmed up and stripped off extra clothing. 

Figure 6  Round Top Peak Touched by a Halo Around the Sun.

However, once we began the ascent from the lake up to the ridge to the west of the peak, the wind picked up.  It was so stiff,  that at the ridge, six of our party called it a day and returned.  Ron, Rick, Sandra, Scott and I continued up to the peak.

Figure 7 Ascending to the Ridge Below Round Top with Lake Winnemucca in the Background.

There was sufficient snow to use crampons, but a lot of mixed rock and ice as well.  After reaching the false summit, everyone except me made the third class route to the true summit. Despite the strong winds, the day was clear, we had an excellent view of Lake Tahoe and the sun had a huge halo around it.  The descent to the lake was made with our choice of crampons or snow shoes since the snow was not so soft that we were post holing.  After regrouping at the lake, we cut to the right, below Elephant Back before returning to the trail and reaching the cars at about 4:00.


Elected Officials

    Jesper Schou / schou@sun.stanford.edu


Vice Chair and Trip Scheduler

    Louise Wholey / PCSchair@gmail.com

    21020 Canyon View Road, Saratoga, CA       95070


Treasurer and Membership Roster (address changes)

    Emilie Cortes / mountaineerchica@gmail.com


            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.

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, April 28. Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month.